Big Laguna Camping

I have had a big project on my to-do list for quite some time since I bought the trail-trailer. That being a highly capable solar upgrade. I had previously installed 500 watts of solar panels on the roof along with a solar charge controller in a earlier effort. The next phase was to add a bank of LiFePo batteries, a 3,000 watter inverter, an automatic bus-transfer and a battery monitoring system. That stuff took sometime to complete and now it was time to head out for a weekend of fun and testing things out.

Campsite on Laguna Meadow

The Cleveland National Forest was shutdown due to the CA wildfires drawing away all of their resources so we had to wait until the closures were lifted. The morning that it did I was already headed into the mountain to try and grab a first-come first-served site. I was rewarded with a nice spot on the meadow.

Oops on Los Gatos

After setting up camp it was time for quick spin around the place. It was still early in the day on the first day the forest had opened back up so the place was pretty much empty. From camp I went along the meadow and then up Aqua Dulce to Los Gatos. There was a tree down on Los Gatos that was a bit too big for me to try and muscle out of the way. Another thing that was pretty cool was the the number of pine cones all over the trail. With the forest being closed to the public for two weeks no one has been kicking them off the trail so there we all these little land mines along the trail. It was an added layer of fun for the day.

Traeger Smoker (Ranger Model)

To go along with the solar/power upgrade I bought a small Traeger wood pellet smoker for the RV. These nice thing about these is you pretty much set, forget and go for a ride. While they use wood pellets to cook/smoke they do need a little bit of 115VAC power to run the controls. The power upgrade took care of this without even thinking about. Considering that this thing uses less than 250Watts max and less than 50Ws most of the time, I basically have a solar powered smoker ūüôā

Pulled Pork – Yummy! (Yeah we are not really camping)

The In-the-field operational test of the smoker was a hit! Pulled Pork awesomeness.

The next day was a pretty mellow cruise around the meadow with Nichol. At the top of the meadow there is a pine tree that the Acorn Woodpeckers have taken over a pine tree to be used as a granary or “Acorn Tree”. The whole woodpecker family/community will use these trees and they will take turns guarding it.

One thing I think is really cool about this behavior is that initially they will get a acorn jammed into the hole so tightly that it cannot be easily removed. As the acorn dries out it will shrink. The woodpeckers maintain the tree and will rotate acorns as they shrink to smaller holes were they will more snuggly fit.

Top of Los Gatos

Sunday a friend of mine came up and we did a sizable loop that included a climb up to Redtail Roost followed by a run down the singletrack to Aqua Dulce. When then went up and over Wooded Hills and then a loop around the meadow. Definitely good stuff. We finished off the ride with Pulled Pork Tacos!

There was plenty of chilling done over the weekend as well.

We chilled out with the dogs leisurely broke camp the following morning to head back home. So nice to get out of town for a few days.

Home Dirt

So I spent that a little over two months working in the Kingdom of Bahrain. No quality mountain biking to be had there. You could make do, and I know some folks who have because they lived there, but not worth it for a visitor. Anyway, I got back and have been hitting up some of the local goods.

Daley Ranch
Daley Ranch
Santee
Candygram out in Santee

I can really say I have been in much of an exploring mood, just getting in some local dirt. After being away for that long, I kinda want to spend plenty of time with my wife. There is also a considerable amount of things that have to be taken care of as well.

What the hell is that?

I did however manage to grow as scraggly looking beard while I was gone. I don’t know how much longer this thing is going to hang around

Noble Canyon Fun (Kinda)

I finished off my riding during our camping trip up in the Laguna Mountains with a run down Redtail Roost, Los Gatos, the Meadow and then onto Noble Canyon.

Upper portion of Noble Canyon

What an awesome day it was with the exception of a total of 345 milliseconds. I clocked myself pretty good on Stairway to Hell and banged up wrist and arm pretty good. (It my defense I was on the original line and not the new lower easier line). I was pretty thumped but shook it off and kept going. I managed to do another endo on the Extra Credit and that was pretty much me for the day.

I banged up my other wrist, gave a little extra smack down to the rest of my upper body and broken my derailleur hanger. The cause of the second endo was pretty easy to understand, I was riding a bit timid which is not a good idea in that section of trail. If I would have been smart I would have skipped that last climb (aka Whore) and extra credit and bailed off for a road finisher. I only had a couple hundred yards of trail left of Noble at this point, but not only was my bike broken, my will to ride was broken. I can’t think of the last time that has happened.

Recovery Mode

So for the rest of the day, I enjoyed the hammock and settled in for some Motrin and bourbon therapy. The following day I was already feeling more beat up than the day before.

The Prefect Cycling Trail

That next morning we did a hike from Camp. I must say that it felt exceptionally odd to be hiking on the Perfect Cycling Trail.

Big Laguna Playtime

I meet Steve and Jim out at Big Laguna Meadow for a bit fun in the sun.  Road work had the normal staging area closed so we went further up road and started from Red Tail Roost.   Starting from there is a lot of fun as you kinda get to have desert before the main course.   After  the descent we climbed up Aqua Dulce but instead of doing the expected Los Gatos run we continued climbing up to Wooded Hills and took the trails up over that peak.

Playing around at the top of Wooded Hills

The knee continues to improve to the point of almost feeling good but I am making a concerted effort to spin more and mash less.¬† ¬†By feeling good I mean I don’t feel it at all.¬† ¬†It is back to just being part of the whole system and not making a fuss about itself.¬† ¬† I have lost a good bit of fitness but that is on the mend as well.

Jim getting some up and over action on the Wooded Hills descent

After descending the Wooded Hills trail down to the old county road we turned and climbed up that road to Chico Ravine and took it down to the meadow.    I can not recall the last time I have gone down Chico so it fun if for no other reason than it was a switch up from usual route.   We futzed around on the meadow and some of the side trails in the area before working our way back up to Redtail Roost

That last single track to get back up top is tough.  I was pretty happy with my effort on that section.  I was certainly slower with the whole spinning effort to this recovering knee but I had enough energy in the tank at the bottom of the super steep section that I was able to clean it.    It feels good to be able to put in a solid ride again.

Cuyamaca – BLT Video Remastered

I have been working on remastering some of my older videos to bring them up to new standards.¬† ¬†My videos range from ancient lip-stick camera and 8mm camcorders to GoPros.¬† ¬† ¬†All of various eras of equipment will have their own challenges to remastering and some of them I’m just not going to make the time for the effort required.¬† ¬†But I am going to make an effort.

The video above is from 2007 where some of the usual suspects of the time rode from the Cuyamaca mountains over to the Lagunas by way of the Deer Springs and Indian Creek trails.   It was about a 40 mile day of great fun!

Neck muscles of steel!

This video was shot with a 1080i Canon HDV camcorder.¬† It shot good video with the exception of the image stabilization.¬† It used optical image stabilization which was consider really good for the time.¬† ¬†However it was optimized for handheld work and not for the rapid bouncing around that occurs during use as a helmet camera work.¬† ¬† I’m pretty sure that the optical image stabilization often made things worse not better.¬† ¬†It certainly did not work as well as the electronic image stabilization that was on my previous standard definition camcorder setup.

I had previously remastered my Galbraith Mountain video from 2009 but did not try to do any software stabilization of the video.  Many moons ago I tried software stabilization and did not like all the artifacts it created in the video.

For the Cuyamaca – Laguna video I gave the software stabilization another shot.¬† ¬†I’m using Adobe Premiere¬† CC 2018 and it has warp stabilizer effect/filter built in.¬† ¬†After a bit of trail and error I found some setting that work well enough.¬† ¬†There is a balancing act that has to be done with with the 1080i footage between smoothness and clarity.¬† ¬† The filter will do a good job of stabilization but at the cost of cropping the footage.¬† ¬†When the footage is cropped the clarity of the footage is decreased.¬† ¬† I found that trying to keep the crop below 125% typical kept thing looking good.¬† ¬†Some scenes I did not stabilize at¬† all.¬† ¬† Overall I’m satisfied enough with it as it is better than the windows media format stuff I was previously using.¬† ¬† ¬†There will be some more of this coming in the future.

Laguna Mountains Trailfest

I had a really nice time up in the Laguna Mountains this past weekend.    The San Diego Mountain Biking Association was putting on the 2nd Annual Laguana Trailfest.    It was a Friday-Sunday event that included lots of organized rides, demo, food, music clinics and much more.   You know, A Festival!   The event was being held and the El Prado group tent camping sites and I wanted to have the comforts of our traveler trail.   So I went up on Wednesday and got spot in the adjacent Meadow Loop campsites.

Casa Del Bill and Nichol for the weekend

With the campsite acquired and setup it was time for a late afternoon spin through the area.  I had a good time and I used up all of the day.

Big Laguna Meadow. Hmmmmm I’m thinking Arbys

I might have gone a hike as well

Trail Goodness!

I caught this guy eyeballing up the compressor line!

I ended up spending the night up in the trailer and headed off to work the next morning and was back on Friday for a weekend of festival.

Bacon cooked in a cast iron skillet over a campfire. Yummo!

Trailfest was an¬†exceptionally well put on event and I had a great time.¬† I’m already looking forward to it again next year.¬† One thing I did not manage to do was take any pictures.¬† Instead take a look at the SDMBA Photo Album of Trail fest.

On the way to Red Tail Roost

I ran into Bengt with whom I worked with for a period of time in Bahrain.  We did the bulk of the Poker Ride together.  Here is his video that as well as some bonus footage of the upper section of Noble Canyon.

On the way to Redtail Roost

I got the campsite through Sunday night so we I would not feel rushed to get out of there on Sunday, so as the festival wound down I went out for another loop that included a climb up to Red Tail Roost down to and then up Aqua Dulce, a run down Gatos and a loop around the meadow with a diversion up to the kiosk.

After a post-ride refreshment it was time to pack up and move on out.   It was a nice weekend to be out on a bike!

BLT, Daley & Gears

MTB Life has mostly been about getting out on the local goods as of late.     Recently I back out in the Laguna Mountains.    We spent sometime playing on a few few rocks around the meadow.   Later in the ride, while trying a tight little squeeze I managed to crunch up my derailleur a bit.   I was able to get the thing aligned back enough to get the shifting back in order.    Later on on the same trail, I have a rock kick up in a pretty freakish manner and get caught between my spokes, frame, cassette and derailleur.    While I was able to get the bike back rolling again, I was pretty much stuck with a few gears in the middle of the cassettes range.    Basically it was really easy to spin out on the flats and painful work on the climbs.    The climb up Wooded Hills was brutal.

We have named this roller “Compressor”

After that ride it was shopping time.¬† ¬† I was running a¬† ¬†one by 11 speed setup with a 11-46 tooth cassette in the rear and a 32 tooth cog in the front.¬† ¬†With that setup there were two compromises I dealt with.¬† ¬†The first was that the easiest gear was not as easy as the 2×10 setup I have on another bike.¬† ¬†The other was the jump between the two largest cogs in the rear.¬† ¬†The old cassette went from 46 to 37 and I often found myself in the one is to easy and the other is too hard situation.

New Parts!

The new setup is still an 11 speed setup with an 11-50 cassette and a 30 tooth chain ring in the front.  It was a bit finicky to get setup on the bench but things came together.

One of my favorite spots out at Daley Ranch

To flesh things out on the trail, I decided Daley Ranch would be the proving grounds.    There is plenty of varying degrees of climbing to see how the new gearing feels.    I had to do some very slight tweaking on the trail to get things fully dialed when under load.  I certainly enjoy the easier gearing and the better stepping of the gears through the larger cogs.

Surprised to see so much water in the ponds out at Daley.

Surprised to see so much water in the ponds out at Daley.

Springtime in the Lagunas

Life has been busy. In a good way. Busy enough that I have been living life and not carving out time to share it in this format. I go throgh these spells. I have come to realize that this blog is just as much a sanitized log of my life on two wheels for myself as much as it is for sharing with others. So I’m going to fill in the historical gap from my last ride until present with a handful of ride stories and pics to tell the story. It is currently the later half of August but this post is going to be date back to middle of May. I will close the gap until the posts about the amazing times on the bike I am currently having in Washington state.

—— Now onto the catchup ——

So I bought a new toy. A 19-foot travel trailer. Its has a queen size murphy bed for my sweetie and I. Along with that he has two bunks so it could also support MTB roadtrip with the broz. After a very close to home shake down outing we took it up to Laguna Meadow for our first real outing.

I did not have a reservation but the campgroup has a number of sites that are not part of the reservation system. So I went up midweek grabbed a spot for the remainder of the week and the weekend. After setting up the trailer I went for a spin around the meadow, up Chico ravine and down Los Gatos.

There was plenty of springtime going off on the meadow. I have to say it was very cool to have a baby house waiting for me at the end of the ride. I ended up spending the night there and going straight into work in the morning.

Back in the Lagunas

I spent most of January working in Jacksonville, Florida. Below is a picture from the commute out to the jobsite that seemed out in the sticks.

Sailboat Sunrise
Favorite Picture of the trip

Once back in town it was time up one my old reliable trails, the Lguna Mountains.

Views from up near the top.

The skys were super clear and we could see Point Loma and the downtown skyline some 40 miles away as a crow files.

Point Loma and Downtown
Point Loma and Downtown

We did not do a particularly good job of chasing the sun and pretty much finish the last minutes of the day. There are worse things to be bad at.

Steve showing off.
Steve showing off both of his girlfriends!