Return of Wednesday Stoke in Alpine

It had been way too long since I had been out to Alpine for some Wednesday stoke with Steve (AKA Aquaholic).  So some emails were sent and in the very first reply Steve was laying the ground for a lackluster performance.  He saud he has been doing nothing but working on stupid human tricks on his Jet Ski and has not been on the bike in five weeks.

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So I know Steve has been indeed working on said tricks, but not whining about no riding and bad fitness, that’s just classic Steve sandbagging.

 

Not that Steve and I race up Anderson, but I can count on one hand how many times I have gotten up that trail ahead of Steve so I was expecting to call him all sorts of synonyms for sandbagger on the ride.    When we left the trailhead it was 89 degrees and we have gathered enough brain-boil data over the years to safely assume that there a few spots along the climb that are typically about 5 degrees warmer than the trailhead.  After the initial bit of pavement spinning and the opening section of descending the climbing started in earnest.   What the Hell? Steve was already waving me around.   I declined and decided to just ease up and chit chat some.  The kind of idle chit-chat that kills me when I’m struggling as it demonstrates the person behind is not completely winded and its some subliminal pressure to give moving you slug! Steve was talking about the heat.  Now the heat normally kicks my ass, but I had just spent nearly the last month working in the middle-east where the daytime highs got up to as high as 108 and the night-time lows got down to maybe 98 at best.   These low 90’s were just downright refreshing!

After the next wave around, I took Steve up on the offer and he slowly started tailing off.  I was feeling pretty strong and the while I was not trying to push myself up the hill,  I was aware that I gears were ticking over easier than they have in the past.   I’m having and good day and Steve is having a bad time with the climb.

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About a little more than halfway up the climb the trail has been jacked by some four-wheeler folks who got themselves stuck off the trail.  There solution was to bring in a dozer and widen and “clean up ” the trail.

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So I made it up Pistachio Point well ahead of Steve and had time to document the lack of any fresh Steve droppings.

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Shortly after arriving Steve was curled up in fetal position and he even had to use the emergency binky that up until now had only been used to taunt the riders behind him.  Shortly after this picture was taken the thing fell apart from dry rot after it first only usage.

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Once the climbing was done, the tables were turned and life popped back into Steve and he was right back into the airborne routine.  I was a completely different story.   I had not been riding any “wheels off the ground” technical stuff as of late and I had not been out here in a long time.   All the rocks looked bigger and more menacing while the ruts looked deeper.

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I was able to get a little bit of air under the tires but for the most part I did not feel comfortable at all.   I just did not have the feel for it today.    I clearly need to get back out on these kind of technical bits more often.

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The main descent back down was in summer dirt mode and the upper section where the doozer had gone through really removed much of the character of this trail through there.  A few good rains should spruce it back up.   It was good to get back out on the trail with Steve again.   Plans for more Wednesday stoke were plotted over tasty beer and BBQ at Alpine Beer Company afterwards.

More Alpine Playtime

It was time for another round of playing on the rocks out in Alpine yesterday.  There was going to be four of us on this ride.  Brian was going to start later in the day and meet us up top.   Jim was joining us today and this was  going to be his first excursion out here.  It was an amazingly nice day out which made the climb not too terrible.    After a big ride on Sunday and a really descent workout at the gym yesterday my legs felt flat  for the climb up to four corners.   After that point the kinks in the legs seem to work themselves out and climbing was a bit better the rest of the way up. 

I ride out here a plenty and still think a bunch of this stuff is just crazy so I had forgotten just how shell shocking the first time can be out here.    Jim seemed to be digging the place in “You gotta be f$%^ing  kdding me” kind of way.   I recognized the look and it reminded of the things that came out of my mouth during my first exposure to the technical riding of the North Shore of Vancouver BC in 2003.

We fiddle farted around on some of the features while waiting for Brian to catch up with us.

Steve messing around on the “Collar Boner” section of the “Triple Bypass”.

An Old Skool wheels on the ground line.

Jim rolling along

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Brian boosting a rock

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Brian working the 911 roll.

The trail was in pretty good shape and the descent back down the main trail was a blast. (Meaning No Pictures!)   The Exponential Hoppiness  from Alpine Beer Company after the ride was a mighty tasty beverage to enjoy while chatting up the ride and chimping pictures.    There are far worse ways to spend an idle Wednesday afternoon.

Video Tinker Time in Alpine

This past week I made a long overdue appearance at Steve’s Wednesday Stoke ride in Alpine. The weather was great which made the climb up to the top go pretty well. 

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I was playing with both my Digital SLR camera as well my GoPro Hero 3 today.    This was the second outing with thing so I doing quite a bit of tinkering with mountings and camera setup.

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One of the angles I really like was using the roll bar mount near the bottom of the downtube to view the front tire action.   One downside to the roll bar mount was I needed use one of the extender arms on the mount to get the angle right.   No matter how hard I tightened the the knob for teh extender arm.   It would still sag down after some hard compressions like a landing or bigger chunk.   I will have figure out some kind of secondary support strap or something to use this angle much.

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My Canon 7D DSLR can also shoot HD video so I played around with shooting video with it.   It will be interesting to show how the whole video editing workflow is going to pan out with multiple formats and frame rates going into a single project.

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I also used the seat post/handlebar mount for a rear facing shot. I did not use an extender arm for this mount as the angle looked good.

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The “good” angle was based on the seat post being up.   Once I started going downhill and play in the chunk I lowered the seatpost and found that I was unable to get the camera angled up enough for my liking with too much of tire being in the frame and not enough view behind to keep from chopping off the head of a rider behind me.

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For the main run back down the trail I had the side mount for the helmet on.   The trail conditions were pretty freaking awesome that begged you to stay off the brakes.

Back to playing in Alpine

With my various travels over the late summer and fall I have not spent too much time riding in the usual SoCal spots.      Home was home base long enough last week to allow for a bit of playtime out at one of the usual haunts in Alpine, Anderson Truck Trail.

The weather was pretty freaking awesome for December with perfect temps and great winter afternoon light.

I always find it interesting how the rocks look bigger upon my first return out here after some time away from the place.  I was quite happy to stick to two-wheels-on-the-ground play for the day. Whenever I ride while on work trips I make a point to not push my technical limits as the last thing I want to do is have to make a phone call to tell my boss and tell him he needs to fly someone halfway around the planet to take over for me because I jacked myself up out on the trails. All this riding well within my limits makes jumping back into the pushing your limits in the technical arena a bit of a mental adjustment.

Steve of course was up to his usual airbourne antics.

Brian was sporting some air time himself.

With the shorter days we finished up the ride with a only a handfull of minutes of daylight left in the day.    It was nice to be back on some local tech stuff and catch up with some friends I had not seen in quite some time.   I am pleased to report that the beers at Alpine Beer Company still are mighty tasty.

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.

Alpine Return

It had been far to long since I have have been out to play on one of my favorite tech play grounds out in Alpine but I finally got back out this week.  This ride was nearly called off due to impending rain, but since San Diego attracts on the sharpest weather guessing minds, the afternoon turned out to be a go.

There was some new trail side decorations on the climb up.  Silly 4x4er, this is a bike trail!

It is funny how after a bit of time away for this trail the rocks look gnarlier upon your return.   

The storm was coming in and the clouds made for some interesting backdrops for pictures that we typically do not see much of here in SOCAL. 

Front row seats for Circ-de-Soul-Steve.   In a rare moment seldom caught on camera Steve did prove that he is indeed not a green blooded alien from a far away solar system in the  in the Dirtus-Major Constellation. 

A mighty fine afternoon on a bike

Wednesday Alpine Stoke

Ahhhh, Wednesday, time for something different.    Uhhhh, maybe next week.   This week it was time for another session of Wednesday stoke in Alpine.   While warm, it was not stupidly hot so the climb was not quite the usual summertime brain boil fest.

The lack of death heat was good thing as my legs has some sting in them from the ride yesterday.   I actually felt better on the second half of the climb than I did on the first half.  I’m thinking I worked some of the kinks of the legs from the day before.    Steve was climbing strong as usual and I’m pretty sure he had litte something extra in the tank today.

Before long we were at the top and with our offering to the gravity gods giving it was time point the bike downhill.

Steve flying the “Garth Gap”  

I was mighty happy to join Steve in getting both wheels a little further off the ground today.   It has been a good while since I had hit “The Corndog” and while I had no style, grace or even looked okay in the air, it was a successful landing.    

Further down the trail I gave the 911 roll a few dry runs but could not pull the trigger.   Maybe next week.

Picture of the Day – – I am pretty stoked to have gotten this shot.     It came out pretty much how I had envisioned it the techncial aspects of the shot worked out for a “one and done” shot.

There whould be no pictures taken on the final descent as way too much fun was being had.  The evening was finished off with a recounting of the day at Alpine Beer Company while enjoying one of the guest beers.    The Double IPA from Hollister Brewing Company apted named “Crosseyed and Painless” was a might tasty beer.   

 

Today did not suck!

Summer is Here – Midweek Stoke

So I started the mid-week stoke out on Tuesdays with a ride out at Sycamore Canyon and boy was it hot.   The heat has always been my nemesis and it takes me what seems like the better part of summer to acclimate to it.  I took the UZZI out here mainly because that was what ended up in my truck.   There is no reward  to speak of for riding a 7″ travel bike out here.   It was however a good workout and it was a good test for figuring out how the bike would work me over in an XC enviroment.  Overall the bike will git-r-done but it is going to make you work for it.    I was good and pooped by the time I finished up the ride.  
Wednesday, I met Steve out for some Alpine Action and it was even toastier.   It was 92 when we started from the bottom which mean some of the “dead air” zone on the climb were more like 95-97.    We were shocked to see some organ donors on this climb.    No helmet, no water and rocking an old-school Wally World bike.   There was some water donated and some “best to turn around now” advice was given before we continued onward and upward.   
Now that Steve had an audience, a clown bike show was in order.   This was when I whipped and my 4lb DSLR to realize that my battery (that is good for 1,500 pictures) was completely dead.  This is only second time in a handful of years of toting around a big camera that this has happen.   The mental result was still the same, a 4lb camera with a dead battery in your pack feels like a 10lb camera.    Ahhhh, yes the stupid shall be punished!
The rest of the climb went well as far as climbing in the heat goes.  I have certainly suffered much harder out here in the past. None the less, I was feeling worked at the top.   I did not feel particularly comfortable through the first set of features as things were just not clicking.    I think getting worked over on the climb took some “snap” out of my reflexes.
That was not the case with Steve as he had the juices flowing and hit the “Garth Gap” for the first time on the black clown bike affectionately known as “Shoniqua” (named because she is Big, Round, Black and Sticky… just like his…..)
This was Steve’s last shot from his camera before his battery went dead as well.   The rest of the ride went well.   I made really good time on the final run down the hill but there was some scary turns here and there and the summer conditions are pretty much set in now that offer some “exciting” corners traction wise.     The post-ride chatter included tasty beverages at Alpine Beer Company along with a tasty pulled pork sandwich.    (FYI for you Hop Heads, The Pure Hoppiness double IPA is Da Bomb!)   Bottom Line — I have had far worse Wednesdays.
 
 

Shaking down the UZZI

So I got my brand spanking new UZZI out for a shakedown ride recently.   The orginal plan was hit up Iron Mountain and Ellie Lane but with early moring rain, the plan shifted to Anderson Truck Trail in Alpine.

 The boys at BikeBling did a mighty fine job with the mechanicals as it was shifting flawless right of of the gate and even under tension.   (A feat which I often miss the mark on a bit requiring lots of trailside tinkering on the first ride) I was bit leary about going to the 10 speed drivetrain as I like the idea of having only one drive train type to worry about (9 speed).  Between mine and the kid’s bike it good to have some commonality on the logistics side of the house.  Well it did not take long into the climb to notice the marvels of the 36-tooth cog in the back.  I’m sold on it already and I did not even have to try out the 22-36 granny ring setup yet.  

 

My last two longer legged bikes had Fox 36 TALAS (160) airsrung forks up front and I really liked being able to adjust the travel down to make long or steep climbs easier to deal with.    This bike has the Fox 36 Vanilla (180) coil sprung fork without the travel adjustment.  It will take a bit of getting used on some of the climbing bits with this longer slacker frontend as a bit more body positioning is going to be required a steeper bits.    It was so freaking nice to have a VPP suspended bike back under the saddle.  This bike climbed exceptionally well for it weight without any of the dreaded energy sapping “bob”. 

When it was time to turn the bike down the hill that was when this bike really came alive.  The bike is so stinking plush and it only took a few rock rolls and drops to get sold on the coil fork.

 

 I stuck to only the small air bits while getting acquintted with how this bike handles.  This bike is pretty confidence inspiring so I got a feeling I’m going to get myself into trouble with this rig at some point.   It’s gonna be great!

The trail overall was in about as good as shape as it ever gets so it was an absolutely great day to be out testing a new bike.

My the time it was time to head back down the main run, I had a pretty good opening day feel for the bike and I had one heck of fun descent back down the hill.  There was some hooping and hollering on the way down.   A mighty fine shakedown run with the new rig.

Yet More Alpine Wendesday Fun

Another Wednesday and another day to go play in Alpine.

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The winter storm over the weekend through a nice dusting of snow on the mountains.  There was snow all the way down to ATT on Sunday, but I had retreated up the hill by Wednesday.

A little airtime

There was much discussion about how I look way too serious and tense when getting air or in the technical bits.  

So some funny faced air-time was in order!   I did actually feel more relaxed on those moves while trying to make a funny face.  Wither it actually helped or not who knows, but it was cheap comedy either way.

I started thinking about the 911 roll today.  I could not pull the trigger but gave it a few run-ins.  Stay Tuned.

Oh Yeah, there was some Squirrel Hucking added into the mix today as well.   (No dead squirrels were further harmed in the making of this blog post)