Variations of Palm Canyon

I spent this past weekend out in Palm Springs with my girlfriend and got in one of Southern California’s Classic Epic rides,  Palm Canyon.  I have done this ride quite a few times but the plan was to do a different variation on the route for this outing.   All of the logistics has been carefully worked out a day or so before the ride which meant that would be not be how things would actually go down.    

Everyone pretty much arrived on time and after some introductions and early morning chit chat while jostling bikes between vehicles we were on our way out of Palm Springs and up the mountain to the upper trailhead.    We met up with most of the San Diego crew at the top and were soon off and rolling through the Pinyon Pines trails which is the most commonly taken variation on the classic route.   It was really good rolling up and down singletrack goodess before getting serious about dropping into Palm Canyon.

Lance, Matt and Ben were the rabbits of the group and they were being mighty zippy with the pace.   I should have known better than to chase those guys but I’m a slow learner.  After  a few miles I found myself in cardio distress hanging over the handlebars whezzing like a 90 year old chain smoker with screaming quads and the only coherent thought I could hear in my melon over the sound of blood pounding through my temples was  “What The F$%k!”.      

After regaining some composer I was back on the peddles and was able to notice what a glorious day it was now that I was back in my proper place in the whole age/weight/fitness lineup.    The thought did not escape me that we connoisseurs of  tasty malted and hopped beverages seemed to be pushing similar paces.

Palm Canyon is known for finding weaknesses in your gear and exploiting them. Steve had one of his pedals strip out of the crankarm. We tried a variety of McGuyver options to keep him rolling but as the ride progressed the pedal got worse and worse and worse. He ultimately ended up have to do at least 6 miles of one legged pedaling, hiking and coasting across the desert before you was able to hit a bail out point and head downhill towards civilization.

The trail conditions were pretty good despite it being a fairly dry winter in these parts.   None of the stream/creek crossing had water in them.  

 

Here are Steve, Michael and Evan heading out on the Indian Poterro  trail.   I managed miss every catcus gauntlet on and along the entire trail but I managed to step into a cholla while getting setup for this shot.     I plucked out a good dozen spines and I’m sure I will pluck another dozen out of my leg over the next few weeks as my body works to push out the ones that broke off flush or under the skin.

Michael had a couple of the evil chollas jump out and attack his tires over the course of the day.   Evan was kind enough to donate a Slime tube after the second flat.

One of the variations on the route involves not going up the 3 mile wash climb and the follow on descent of the Hahn Buena Vista trail which represents a big cost followed by a big reward section of this route.   Instead we only climbed about 10 percent of the 3 mile Dry Wash and the hung a left onto the East Fork trail where we did some rolling ups and downs over to the Vandeventer trail before settling in for a climb along the fern canyon trail up to the saddle of  the upper end of Wildhorse and the Clara Burgess trail.   The next variation that was being thrown in on this day involved taking the Clara Burgess trail up and over Murray Hill and down into the bottom of Goat Trails with a follow on climb that would take us back up near the top of the Goat Trails again.   I have gone over Murray Hill in the opposite direction and I knew it was going to be a real beater.    After taking stock of what I had left in the tank, I along with three others opted to forgo this section and meet at the next variation point along the Garstin trail.   Above are some of the manly mens group heading up the Clara Burgess trail.

Dave and Michael making their way to the top of the Garstin trail.

The peak to the left is Murray Hill and saddle were the manly men started from is off to the right side of the frame.   If you play a little “Where is Waldo”  you can see them working their way up to the Garstin trail.  One of the manly men had to bail after Murray Hill from being completely bonked to the point of being sick.  We ladies of the shortcut crew had spent every bit of an hour changing our feminine napkins, snacking and napping.  Did I mention what a glorious day it was?

The final variation on the traditional route today had us dropping the Shannon and Henderson trail out of the Goat Trails.   Above is the top part of the Shannon trail before it gets really steep with a series of hella tight switchbacks.  It was a really cool section of trail but not for those who get a freaked out when exposure is involved.  Blowing  some of those switch backs to the outside would not make you a happy camper and could net you an appearance on “When Vacations Attack”, “Worlds Most Amazing…” or any one of those other “Awh Shit” shows.

As a bit of coolness bonus along this trail you go by Bob Hope’s house.  Its the big domed pad on the right hand side of the picture.    The Shannon and the Henderson trails dump you out on surface streets that we took back over the traditional bottom of the Palm Canyon route in Von’s Rimrock Shopping Center.      Tasty beverages were soon being had along with post-ride chit chat before more bike jostling ensued before we made our way over to Rancho Mirage for dinner at  Babe’s BBQ and Brewhouse.   I helped shuttle folks back up to top before rolling back down to the hill to finish out the weekend in Palm Springs with my girlfriend.

Back in Japan – Yoko Dirt Time

Due to my last work project running long in Sasebo, my time back at home was just a week long before I headed back to Japan for some work in Yokosuka.   I flew back into Japan on a Saturday evening and decided to try and shake off some jet lag with ride on Sunday.

After grabbing a rental bike and setting it up with my pedals and some sizing tweaks I was through on the bike garb and on the road.   Today was not an exploration ride but a return to the Fugato-yama area which is one of my regular stomping grounds when I am in this neck of the woods.

It was a beautiful sunny day with a touch fall briskness in the air.  Despite only having about 6 hours of sleep after being up for 26 hours I felt really good on the street riding out to the trails.   I think this was a combination of being a bit fitter than I have been in the last six months coupled with still be ing a bit on Japan time with only having a week on US time.  Whatever the reason, I was digging having some energy in the tank and some iron in the legs while out in some nice nature.

The trails were in exceptionally good condition.   Obviously it had not rained heavy for maybe a week as some of the sections that are hellishly slippery when moist were fairly managable which was another bonus. 

It was a substantual act of being unselfish that I stopped to take this photo.  This is a long section of awesome flowing gravity feed goodness that just makes you smile.  Most times of the year the steep hillside is somewhat hidden by the vegitation.  With winter on its way the mixed forest flora is thinning out some to reveal more of its often “stealth” exposure.

Yoko-Reflective Sign

I did not have a huge route planned out here on this day as I had plans for the evening.   I had a handful of street miles to ride back to my hotel after popping out of the woods.  So there I was “just riding along” on the sidewalk along highway 16.  I managd to clip a sign like the one above while going about 20mph that jerked my handlebar pretty hard.  I was able to correct enough to keep from going full on body surfing on the concrete but the bike went way off line and Iended checking a concrete wall with my shoulder.    My head also smacked the wall, but my helmet completely earned its keep so the melon was no worse for wear.

For those who have been wondering, my test reveal that roadside Japanese concrete seems to have an average grit fact of somewhere between 30 and 45.   

After a very stingy shower, I hopped back on the bike and rode a did a few more miles of street riding over to friends Ken and Emi house.   We had nice evening of catching up things over tasty Japanese microbrews and a yummy homemade dinner.   It was a mighty fine opening day back in the land of the rising sun!

Farewell to a friend and Quality Time

A wad of short blonde hair going in 27 different directionsu nearly buried under a pillow was all that could be seen of youngest son, Jake’s this past Sunday at  6:30AM when I went to wake him up. 13 year old boys are not fond of this time in the morning and he fully looked the part of a coma rattled teenager when I rousted him out of dreamland.    We were headed out to Laguna Mountains for a different kind of bike ride.

A few week ago a good friend of mine Cliff Walker made an unscheduled dismount from the ride of life.   I can’t use the word “close” and  “dear” without feeling some sense of guilt.   Cliff had lots of friends who were much more involved with his day-to-day life than I.    Cliff was one of my “MTB Buds”.  One of those friends that you primarily assoicate with while mountain biking.   We have done a couple of road trips and races together as well as many rides and some epics together.   A solid good person you just a joy to be around.

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Jake and I were headed to the Laguna Mountains to join some of Cliffs other friends for a memorial ride.   Twenty-nine riders gathered up to take a spin around Big Laguna Meadow and honor Cliff’s Life.

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The ride was timed to end at about the same time that some of his family and no biking friends could gather up as well to celebrate Cliffs life.   The gathering swelled to over 70 people who sit under the shade of the meadow’s pine trees to share and tell stories about how Cliff had touched each of thier lifes in some way.   Cliff had a very diverse group of friends and the stories about Cliff I had never before really showed just how impressive a life he lived and how he had touched so many people’s life in a positve way.   

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There was more than a couple of stories that included Cliff’s perpencity to be the first person up the hill.   More than a few of us recalled getting up to the top of the hill to find Cliff walking around in circles looking under the various bushes and behind the trees.   Once we questioned Cliff would look at you with this devilish smirk and reply “I dropped a hammer have you seen it?”    It was always good for a laugh and the celebration of his life gathering was no different.   A special thanks goes out to Chip Brent for making the celebration event happen.

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Afterwards, Jake was down for just a father/son ride.    The memorial ride was just along the meadow and he had not down some of the other trails in the area before.   We decided to add Wooded Hills and Los Gatos Ravine into the mix.   A pretty significant event happened on the Wooded Hills climb.  Jake was riding strong and then you decided to see how quick he could go.   I saw him lift the pace and I was having a tough time matching it.   It was not long before kicked up the pace enough more.  

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 I saw the half-sly turn his head to see how far back I was.   That was his moment.  The moment when a Son knows he is beating his Dad something.   Not just something, but his Dad’s thing.   He knew he had me and he was not letting up.    I knew he had me too, I was not going to catch him, the best I could do give a good showing for second place.    I was weird mix of pride in my Son and a relevation that I’m slacking.     Sure I could make excuses and rationalize things like the fact I weigh about 90lbs more than he does and I did a respectable climb after a couple of beers at the celebration but no matter who you slice it my son kicked my ass up that hill.      I got to the top about 45 seconds behind Jake and he was already off the bike with his helmet off and was hoofing and puffing.      After a bunch of praise from me, he looked a me with a very smirky look on his face and calmly said, “Yeah, I dropped a hammer. Did you see it?”

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Lagging at La Costa

So I spent last week working in Southern Japan.   I was hoping to squeak in a bike ride but the rental place was out of mountain bikes.  The weather was pretty freaking rough as well as I don’t think the humidity every dropped below 95%.  I think that even if I would have had a bike I would have had to muster up some serious motivation to get out in the woods when it is 99 degrees out with 99% humidity.   So I took in a bit of traditional and limited sight seeing during this visit.   I will be back for a longer period in the fall so I will get my time on the trails.JA-Sasebo-JUL12-04

Yesterday was my travel day back to the San Deigo.  With the International Date Line in the mix, I did Sunday twice in the course of my 27 hours of planes, trains and automobiles.   I was pretty freaking toast by the time my head hit the pillow yesterday.    I did sleep well last night but was still dragging a bit today.   I decided that a lunchtime ride would help to snap the body back onto my timezone.    I decided to ride Rancho La Costa a few miles away from Casa Del Bill.  I also decided to ride my bike to the trailhead as I could use the extra excercise on the several intervening hills along the way.

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I was meeting Michael (aka YetiRider) that works near the trail system and routinely knocks out a lunchtime loop out there.   I knew I was going to feel a little tired but was quite surprised just how freaking tired I felt about five minutes into the commute to the trailhead.   My body was quite certain it was a little before 2AM its time.   I made it to  Michaels work shortly before his lunch break and we were soon hitting up the last bit of asphalt to get to the trailhead.    I was feeling a bit better in that I did not feel so fatigued by the time we got to the trailhead.

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I climbed alright on the way up but I certainly felt off in the way of not firing on all cylinders.   On the way down I realized my reflexs were more than a little off and I found myself dabbing in spots I would not normally dab in.  It was good to be out on the bike but it was a little disconcerting to be all out of wack.

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The pavement return back to my place drained the rest of my energy so I don’t think I really helped out the jet lag out at all today because after a shower and snack I knapped away the rest of the day.   It was still a good experiment.

Pimping New Kicks

So my MTB shoes have been getting pretty ratty and have enough “extra” ventilation these days that I end up with more dirt on the inside of my shoes than I do on the outside of the outside of the shoes.  I have found that I hold out on my shoes as long as possible just because it always seem to be such a painl to pick out a pair of shoes.   I used to just use the SIDI Dominators as they would last me for several years.   That was until I became more skilled in riding technical terrian and spent more time exploring  “Back 40” type trails.  Those same shoes that were light and comfortable started lasting less than a year.  The toes and outer edges of the shoes were being shredded from brushes with rocks, brush and other chunk. With the price of those shoes I was not willing to spend that kind of money that often for them.  So the search for a comfortable well working shoes that did not kill the bank was in order. 

My awesome girlfriend sprung for the Happy Feet effort with a nice birthday gift certificate to BikeBling.  The number of different shoes available was crazy and I spent at least an hour farting around with all the different model.    I ended up with getting a pair that was felt really comfortable, had a nice stiff sole and looked like it would hold up well.  The shoes is a bit on the flashy side for my taste but I predict it will dull down quite nicely once I get a good dirt patina on it.   I was told that much like wearing a Spongbob Squarepants jersey, (i.e. photo above) if you are going to wear shoes like that you had better bring “IT” on the trail. 

  New Shoes

I’m also going to to try out one of boot protector products out there.  Either KG’s Boot Guard or Tuff Toes.   If I could spend about $20 extra bucks and get a year or two more out of  the shoes that would pretty cool.   That also means I could delay the whole process of getting the clipless pedal cleats all dialed it.  Stay tuned for photos of loud jerseys and shoes in action.

Messing around in the San Jacinto Mountains

This weekend I decided to head out for an overnighter in the San Jacinto Mountains.   There are a lot of great trails around here and we were interested in messing around in some lesser ridden areas.  Bill O’Neil and I met up fairly early in the morning and the temps were already quickly climbing.

We did a bit of driving around on some of the back dirt roads to finalize our game plan and investigate all of the options.    This gate showed much promise so we decided to add this area to the two-wheeled investigation efforts.

With a plan negoiated that included such phrases like “Do you think those thin brown lines are too close together on the map”,  “It sorta flattens out after the first seven miles” and “Just for the record, this segment is your idea”  we started turning the pedals into the dry 90 degree heat.

After what I would consider a rough opening bit of terrain, heat and grade we got up onto a small plateau were thoughts of tasty steaks and carne asada burritos started running through our heads.

This small herd of around 10 or so cattle were following the old ranch road we were taking.   Special note on Trail Etiquette – Bikes yield to horns. 

The old ranch road turned out to be a nice route that we took.  We soon worked our way over to the next segment that turned out to be a bit brutal when combined with the growing heat and pockets of dead air.   My hiking calves got some work in here and there on this segment.

As we neared the top of the ridgeline sadddle we were shooting for we got into some trees and a breeze picked up which made a huge difference.  We were already considered with rationing our water considering how far we had to go still.

Once at the saddle we proceeded along a trail that followed the ridgelines for quite a long way.  There were some great views along this route.

This was most definitely a pretty cool trail.

Cool rock formations on the ridgeline.  The wind was often howling up here which was great for beating the heat but it was enough to blow me off my intended line a time or two.

This was really cool bit of exploring we did but it was certainly no cakewalk with the heat that was out.  By the time we got back down to the truck, we were more interested in our first liquids being water more so that tasty hop and malt goodness.  After a bit of truck-side recovery we were off to the  Paridise Valley Cafe were some excellent baby back ribs with the fixins were chased with a couple of tasty beverages.   After that we found a back corner of the Garner Valley area to set up camp in the dark.  We spent the rest of the evening  recounting the festivities of the day while sampling tasty San Diego area micro-brews.

View from the tent when I opened my eyes

The view from my tent when I first opened my eyes.

Aliso and Wood Canyons

Bill O’Neil and I met for a cruise through  Aliso and Wood Canyon Park in Laguna Hills of Orange County today.  My last ride out here was cut short due to a mechnical so today was really my first time seeing the majority of the trails in some number of years.   I found it amazingly depressing how bad some of the trails have been widened with go-arounds that seemed to be at nearly every minor obstacle.   The Cholla trail for example is just a complete mess compared to a handful of years ago.  I wish people could just check their ego and get off and walk the stuff they can’t ride instead of making or taking the go-arounds.   (I know preaching to the choir here) 

 

Here is a shot at the top of the Rock-It trail. Plenty of go-arounds here as well.  This was a mighty fun descent (following the original lines).   Once down Rock-It we worked our way over to Mathis.  My memory of the steepness and length of this climb has been dulled over the years.   It was quite vividly refreshed today as it took quite a bit of gruntage to get my Intense UZZI up this climb.

Once up to the top of Mathis we continued up along the ridge fireroad to “Top of the World”   This was a good place to take a breather and enjoy the views of the Pacifc and Laguna Beach.   From here we went back down to Mathis and picked up the “Car Wreck” trail.

This was my first time on this trail and it was quite a bit of fun.  I managed to not get any pictures taken of the technical bits.  The picture above is just after all of the technical bits along with the namesake remains of an old vehicle.  This trail feeds right into the Oak Grove Trail.   A pretty section of trail.

The next trail we hit up was the Dripping Cave trail.   There were some nice tree lined bits as well as some short grunt working climbing in the direction we were going.

We farted around a bit at the at actual dripping cave

Some of it was just downright photo posing.    It was right about this time we thought we heard the sound of tiny bubbles trying to escape from finely crafted brown glass bottled far off in the distance.    We set out to investigate the sound and found the offending bubbles (in my truck).    Ballast Point’s Sculpin IPA and Mission Brewing’s Dark Seas Russian Imperial Stout were tasty accompaniments to post-ride chit-chat.   Another NON-Bad day to be on a bike.

Longest Day of the Year Ride

With Wednesday being the longest daylight day of the year it only seemed right to get out on a bike.   My Wednesdays are normally booked up but this particularly day was open so it was time to hit the trail.

While the temps were nowhere near what they are going to get, they were enough to cause this weather weenie, to suffer on the climb up out of Alpine to the “playgrounds”.  Clearly I have been enjoying plenty of tasty beverages without earning them and the climb was making me pay!    Long climb story short, I sucked on the climb but  I climbed non the less.  

While Steve was up to his usual airborne antics…

I was content just to keep the wheels on the ground and play in the chunk.  

The chunk and rocks were where it was at with me today.   The dirt is definitely in “Summer Mode” which means there are combinations of exceptionally loose dirt combined mega-compacted hard pack that can make for some interesting turns here and there.   It is quite a contrast from the “Hero Dirt” seen out here in the winter time.    There was a bit of relearning to do on some of the trail.   The rocks however are for the most part a know value.  

  

Of course for those that play here all the time it was Perfect Flight Weather.

The “Three Miles of Smiles” descent offered up both adrenaline giggles and a few Oh Crap moments due to some loose bits.   Coming hot out of one corner Steve thought this was a rattler at first but it was a Rosa Boa instead.  These things are pretty cool snakes that are quite docile.   After our feel of Boa fondling we were along our way to the trailhead and onward to Alpine Beer Company for some yummy grub and tasty beverages.   Not a bad use of Summer Solstice in my mind.

Big Laguna Meadow Cruise

The weather was pretty freaking awesome this past weekend out in the east end of San Diego County.     It was a wonderful time to head out to the Laguna Mountain Recreation Area for some playing around on the Big Laguna trail.

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While just a few days away from the offical start of summer, there was plenty of green and patches of wildflowers here and there.

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While riding technical stuff and challenging yourself is always fun and exciting sometimes just getting out on a nice sliver of singlerack in some beautiful countryside good for the soul.  Such was the case of on this day.

Tasty Beer from Alpine Beer Company afterwards does not hurt either!

Arrrgh….Swabbies get yer CPO Jersey

Okay so quite a few of you know I spent a couple hundred moons or so kicking around in US Navy.   Wither you have already joined the ranks of the quitters like myself or you are still the country’s good work at the pointy end of the spear, here is a jersey you members of the Goat Locker might like.   Some active duty folks have put in a good chunk of work with primal to get this custom jersey put together.     

The front view

The back view. 

“NAVY”  is printed in nice and big letters on the yellow side panels.  This will allow all your Army buddies to know exactly what happened when you shred past them on those downhills.   (At least if there is a bar at the bottom the hill) 

If you dont know what size you wear in the Primal apparel line check out their handy dandy sizing chart.

You can order these jerseys directly from Primal from now until March 9th.  Orders placed by March 9th will be delivered the week of May 21st.   Like most custom orders, they need to get a minimum order together the make the deal go through without someone taking in in the shorts

Here is the link for the Men’s Jersey and here is the link for Women’s Jersey.

I already have mine on order.  Even if you are not interested pass this along for those that maybe. 

I had to get one as it matches one of my bikes quite nicely.