Black Mountain – Coast to Crest

Fresh back from working in the Puget Sound area it was time to hit up some of the local stuff.  I got up at O-Damn Early to hit up a new bit of trail and the Black Mountain Truck Trail near Ramona.

O-Damn Early

Ramona this time of year can get really toasty and Pamo Valley can really turn into a pizza oven.   The plan today was to get some elevation on me before things got to really cooking.

The new trailhead staging area off of Pamo Valley. The pine trees on the top of the mountain is my destination.

I made it out to Pamo Valley good and early.   The new staging area is quite large and can accommodate plenty of cars and horse trailers.   I made quick work of getting ready to roll as it was only going to get warmer.    The trail starts out in the northeast corner of the lot and parallels the road for a short bit before crossing over.   A word of caution, the first section of trail near the road was ate up with goat heads.    If you are not running some type of sealant system you may find yourself having a frustrating day right from the get-go.

This new section of the Coast to Crest Trail eliminates the need to ride along the Pamo Road to connect the Lower Santa Ysabel Truck Trail to the Black Mountain Truck Trail.   It is 3.2 miles long and overall I think it is a nice addition to the trail system.   It undulates on the hillsides following the general route of the road but is not just paralleling the road.   It does cross the Pamo Road several times but I really don’t consider that much of a detractor.

McGuyver Time!

Shortly after I got onto Black Mountain Truck Trail, my dropper seat post started acting up.    It started sagging about 1/2″.   I was able to just raise my post up some in the seat tube to compensate, but it was not long before it dropped about 2-2.5″ down.    I did not have enough seat-post to compensate for this.  The first thing I tried was wrapping some duct tape around the upper part of the post.  It worked for just a short amount of time before the whole tape mass just slide up the post.   Next I tried reposition the table and give some extra clamping power with some zip ties.   This worked better but not for long.    Trying to do a long climb without full leg extension can be rough.    I was about to throw in the towel an head back down the mountain when I saw a sizable stick.   I was able break and trim the stick to just the right length to wedge between the seatpost clamp and the bottom of the seat.    Once I got it jammed in place I zip-tied the stick to the post.    This fix held up and I was back in business.

The remaining five miles or so of climbing I had ahead me after fixing the post when well enough and while the temps were climbing they were not bad at all.   I was joined at the summit by a couple of jeepers and their dog and I had an enjoyable time shooting the breeze with them for a while before heading back down the mountain.

 

The top of Black Mountain lookin to the south west. The new trailhead can be seen at the south end of the valley.

As I descended you could feel the temps climbing and it was really hot down at the valley floor.   I opted to not take the new connector trail back at this point and just zipped back on the road.    I did a total of just at 20 miles and 3,300 feet of climbing.

Black Mountain & SYTT

Last weekend I managed to get back out to the Santa Ysabel Truck and the Black Mountain near Ramona.

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(Along the Santa Ysabel Truck Trail)

The weather guessers were call in for a storm to hit the area in the afternoon, so I packed up the rain gear before heading out.   Typically I do about a 29 mile loop that includes Santa Ysabel Truck Trail, Black Mountain,  Pamo Valley and a bit dirt road and pavement interconnects.   Today I was going to be doing an out-and-back variant of the ride.

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(A section of the area spared from the 2007 wildfires)

I parked at the east end of the Santa Ysabel Truck Trail near the bridge on Black Canyon Road and headed out west.   The climbing is very mild but considering how much of a slacker I had been as of late I could tell there was some rust in the legs.  The last time I had here was when I did this as a section of the Coast-to-Crest trail.

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(Pamo Valley from the lower parts of the Black Mountain Truck Trail)

Once I hooked up with the Black Mountain Truck Truck, I turned uphill and started the sizable climb.

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(Climbing Climbing Climbing, Pamo Valley getting smaller)

I was not sure if I was going to go all the way to the top or not.   I planned on turning around if the legs cried uncle or if I got caught in a sustained pummeling of rain.

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The weather was starting to deteriorate around me as I continued climbing.   I could see it raining in the distance on either side of me but my little patch of the world was dry.  About 3/4ths of the way up my legs were getting to wank but I was able to keep going.    It was also getting colder and the wind was kicking up.  I was too hot with the wind breaker on and my chest was a bit cold without it and just the short sleeve jersey.   I always keep a bandana in my pack and it came in pretty handy in this case.  I unfolded it about halfway  and stuff inside my jersey as an additional layer in the front.

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Now most of Black Mountain has been covered in scrub in the past put the top of the mountain has some pine trees.  These pines were originally planted as part of the ongoing Penny Pines program that started in California in 1941.   Some of those pines were burned in the 2007 wildfire but a patch of the them at the very top were spared.

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(View from the summit with Lake Sutherland in the background)

It was a bit chilly up on the summit and the wind was whipping pretty good.  I typically enjoying hanging out up here and enjoying lunch but the wind made it pretty uncomfortable so after snapping some shots I made my way over to spot back along the trail that offered some shelter from the wind to have my lunch.   While taking those pictures, it came pretty clear to me that my luck with the rain was going to run out soon.    I hurried up with the snacks and then headed back down the mountain.    It was quick work back down to the Santa Ysabel Truck Trail.    There is some climbing to be done on the way back along that truck trail and my legs were pretty shot at this point.     With about 15 minutes left in the ride a steady light rain started.   My windbreaker/raincoat was doing its job quite nicely and I spun my way back to truck.   About 30 seconds after I was all packed up and sitting in my truck the “bottom fell out” and a pounding rain last for most of my drive back into Ramona.    I felt pretty lucky to have snuck in a ride before the storm and was happy to get back out this little corner of the county.   A great day to be out on a bike!

Hodges, Black Mountain Sycamore

I have hit up several different places over the last week.

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I started the week off with meeting some new and old friends for a spin through Sycamore Canyon and then some.  There will be some updates on my site in the coming weeks for this area.  Biggest takeaway for now is to stay east of the watershed running down the middle of the canyon as the Marines are patrolling their land that is on the west side of the seasonal creek.  Instead of parking at the dirt lot near Mast and Medina, park at “Hole in the Fence”.   Google Map   9100-9140 Birchcrest Blvd, Santee, CA 92071 and park near there.  This is a neighborhood so remember to be a good visitor in their hood.  Be quiet and don’t thump your system.   Trail starts through the hole in the fence at the end of Birchcrest.    Exploration is good for the soul!

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I have been refreshing my knowledge of the Black Mountain area in preparation for a webpage update and there were a couple of back corner trails that I had not been on in a long time.  So an after work ride was in order here.  I kinda had lost an appreciation for how much climbing you can get in out here.  Often times when I’m researching an area I put together a route that allows me to cover the most trails and trails I have not been on it a while.   This latest research route I did was 14 miles and included 2,900 feet of climbing. No wonder muscles and joints were wanking the next day!

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I came across the fellow while out on the trail.  Literally! I came across him.  When I realized that this big fellow was a snake I was way to close to stop and not prepared to bunny hop over him.   Boy was he pissed!

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Nichol had been out of town for a while so Saturday we took a welcome back cruise on familiar ground out at Lake Hodges.   It was unseasonably warm but as far as I’m concerned there is no time like the present to start getting acclimated to the hot weather.  Ahhh, the kind of problems we have to deal with in San Diego.

New trail goodness at Black Mountain

I spent a couple of afternoons this past week getting reacquainted with Black Mountain in near Rancho Bernardo.  The Lilac Canyon trail has recently been rerouted and it is way much for the better.

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The trail still starts from the Miner’s Ridge Loop trailhead but now instead of steeply descending down to Carmel Valley Road it down contours along the north slope of Black Mountain around to the glider port.

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Shortly before the trail reaches the glider port a single track forks off to the north and pass under Carmel Valley Road.  This is another nice section of singletrack that works its way around to the north side of the Black Mountain Ranch Park (baseball fields).   This provides a direct connection to the Santa Luz/Larsardi Creek Loop.   This is a really nice trail connection that I’m stoked about.     I’ll be updating my site soon with new data on the trail.

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I had kinda lost my appreciation for just how much climbing there is at Black Mountain.    The first ride out here I did about 17 miles and 2,500 miles and on the second ride I did 16.75 miles and 3,000 feet of climbing.

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It seems mighty early for the rattlers to be out and about already but this fellow above was the third rattler I have seen this year.   I came around a turn and I was at that distance where I had to decide wither to bunny hop the snake or throw out the anchor.   I chose to throw out the anchor and ended up pulling off a totally awesome nose wheelie stop that I’m positive I could not pull off again if I tried.

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The Miner’s Ridge Loop is in fantastic shape right now with the rain we had the previous week.   If you have not been out here in a while you should go check it out while the greenery of spring is in full effect.

The Local Stuff — Week in Review

This past week was such that I could get out a little more often but for not as long.  They were the kind of windows that you don’t want to burn up too much of your time driving far to get to, you know, maximize your time on the trail and minimize your time on the road.

 Monday was a spin through the Black Mountain Open Space Preserve.   I started off on the east side of the preserve and did some tough climbing and a bit of hike-a-biking to get up onto the East Ridge.  From there I did a sizeable loop that had me pretty pooped by the end of the ride

 The loop included the  Miner’s Ridge and Liliac Canyon trails as well as the service road up to the peak and some more trails back over and down the East Ridge.

 Wednesday evening was the monthly San Diego Mountain Biking Association (SDBMA) advocacy meeting so a group of us met up and did the La Costa trails prior to the meeting.

 I was able to get out a couple of hours before the rest of the usual suspects so I did a couple of loops out there before the group ride.  I was feeling pretty worked by the time I finished up the last loop.

Friday afternoon after work I squeaked in spin out in Santee near Mission Trails and Sycamore Canyon.    Normally I am a stop and smell the flowers kind of guy but I have to admit that I somewhat enjoyed the pressure of having to be somewhere later and the “push” it forced me to do on the trail.   Charge a hill here, push a harder gear there and general keep the engine rev’d higher than I normall would.  It was a short ride that ended up feeling longer on fatique and quad burn at the end.

The weekend was pretty awesome as well, but it did include any biking.   Hockey and quality time with boys were the story of the weekend.  I took them to thier first concert Saturday night which was simply epic.  Rush on thier Time Machine Tour.   I have had a lifetime of missing Rush shows and this was my first time seeing them as well.  They blew the place down and both the boys and I were completely stoked.  It was a good way to finish off the week.

Black Mountain Shakedown Ride

So I finished building up my  carbon hardtail project and it was time to give it a shake down ride.

I decided to build it up as a geared bike vice a singlespeed.  The frame came from a China company that makes frames for other bike companies including some of the US bike brands.  I have not dug around to figure out what branded frame this is.  I got the frame shipped directly from China for just a little over $300.   I did not go particularly weight weenie on the components and a sizable portion of these came off my Intense Spider, which I stripped down to do some maintenance on it.    

Unbranded Carbon Hardtail frame from Hongfu-Bikes in China
Spinergy Xyclone Disk wheelset 
Intense System 2 .25 tire in rear and WTB 2.4 Muntano on the front  (both with 2.2-2.5 sized tubes)
Fox 100RLC (Pushed) Fork
XT Crankset, Front Derailuer, Shifters and Cassette
XTR Rear Derailuer (Old School) and disc brakes
Thompson Seatpost and Stem
Salsa Seatpost Clamp
Easton Monkeylite XC carbon handlebars
Sette Saddle 
Shimano MD620 SPD Pedals
Ohhh, had to through on the totally unncessary bling bling carbon fiber bottlecage.

So not exactly a full on weight-weenied rig, this bike is 24 lbs dead even.   Time to hit the trail.

One of my kids wanted me to take him and some his buds to the PQ skate park so I opted to hit up Black Mountain while they skated.   Black Mountain has a pretty good mix of enough stuff that would let me get a good feel for this setup.  I started with a climb up the service/fire road and as a expected a 24lb hardtail climbs well.   What I really like was how stiff the bike felt when I got out of the saddle and stomped on the pedals.    At the same time the bike seemed to take the edge off some of the rocky trail chatter.  I have not figured out yet wither there is some vertical compliance going on or wither it is carbon’s vibration damping properties at work I have been hearing about.   Either way the rig is a killer climbing machine that is also pretty comfortable.

On the fireroad climb, I came across this little rattler.   It is mighty late in the year for rattlers to be out, but I’m guessing the record heat earlier in the week had this little guy (about 18″) all confused.   After posing for his closeup, I steered him off the fireroad for his own benefit as you never know what level of dumbassness the next person to come by is going to have.

Back on the climb, things went well, and after a few minor adjustments things the bike was good and dialed.

Once up on top it was a very clear day with downtown San Diego and the Coronado Islands easily seen to the south.

It has been quite a long time since I had ridden over on the East Ridge area so from the peak I headed over that way.   There is a rather steep and rocky descent to get over there and I was quite pleased with how the bike handled through that area.  It is not full-suspension bike but it was precise in its steering and and felt solid when I pressed to play “chess” through some chunk.  There has been some trailwork going out here as well as some new signage.   I was really looking forward to checking out the Nighthawk trail which provides a link between the Miners Ridge Loop and the rest of the trails on the mountain.   After messing around on the east ridge, I grabbed a trail that took me down to Carmel Mountain Road.    After I that I got a chance to test the technical climbing aspects of the bike and the reduced weight certainly helped here.  The weight distribution also seemed to help keep the front end down.   The trails here can get pretty freaking steep so there was some hike-a-bike bits as well.

Once back up onto the East Ridge, I made my way over the Nighthawk trail.  This is a nicely built trail with plenty of rocky character to it.  Once over to Miner’s Ridge Loop, I decided to go clockwise since I could not remember the last time I went that way.    I finished off the dirt action wtih the Lilac Canyon trail and then did a pavement connect up the ball park were I started the ride.   Another good outting on a bike, made even better by playing on a new bike.   Incase you are wondering, this is not a replacement for my stolen 6.6, there is a big squishy bike in the works.

The 2009 Archipelago Ride

This is the second year a group of advocates and friends got together to do a ride that has become known as the Archipelago Ride.  Open Space in coastal San Diego County has become very fragmented over the years into a patchwork of “islands of open space”.  The Archipelago Ride concept is one to demonstrate how these islands can be linked together into a rides of epic length.

This years ride started at the La Costa Preserve and went to Probuilt Wheels on the western end of Penasquitos Canyon.  Getting there was by way of Elfin Forest, Lake Hodges, San Deiguito River Park, Lusardi Creek, Santa Luz, and Black Mountain.

The day started off early in the moaning with most folks grabbing a shuttle from Pro-Built up to La Costa.

Once we got up to the La Costa the gaggle of riders was even larger.  I think the total rider count was 37.  I thought for sure with this many people that the regroup logistics would make for slow going. 

Slow going would not be a bad thing for me today.  Jake had an ice hockey game going on that morning so the plan was to help get the ride started and then catch the game and grab onto the ride around Lake Hodges.   I decided to grab some shots of the group from Harmony Grove Road as they went of the Escondido Sewer Easement and I was quite surprised at the pace the group was making as they got there quite earlier than I had expected. 

Roughly about this same timeframe, I got a call for Jake’s coach that the game was later than what was orginally published, so there was little chance that I was going to catch all of Jake’s game.

I did however manage to get the ice rink for a bit before I got the call from the ride sweep letting me know the group was rolling into Hodges.  I booked it from the rink and got setup below the Hodge Dam.  To lead the group for a bit on a different route from last year.

The general consenus was that everything was going along smoothly…and then I took over 🙂  So this “new” route had a little “technical hike-a-biking” in it. 

The climb-a-biking was a neccessary evil to get to a creekside trail that was pretty sweet with a bit of technical flow to it.  This was a recent find for me so I was stoked to show it off.

After the creek side riding we followed Lasardi Creek for a short ways and then we took a different route from last year up to the Santa Luz Loop.

I like the congo line of helmets through the flowers above.

Once up to the Santa Luz  Loop things went pretty quickly to Black Mountain Park and the waiting sag wagon.  In addition to snacks there was mighty tasty fluids suitable for rehydration.

 

After Black Mountain Park we continued on the Santa Luz Loop and then took the connector over to McGonigle and Deer Canyons.

 Our last major regroup was just before entering Deer Canyon.  SDMBA had tried to get the permission to use one of the tunnels for this ride, but with all of the controversy with the area we were relegated to “Tunnel Zero” aka the God forsaken powerline climb up onto the mesa.

Once up on the mesa, everyone knew the way “home” so the proverbal hounds were released and everyone seem to move quicker. 

There were tasty grub and brews awaiting back a Probuilt Wheels.  It was a great way to end this 42 mile ride that had 5,000 plus feet of climbing.   I was amazed at how close this group was in relative strength and endurance.  The group was never really strung out and the group make good time over the course of the day.

Here is a photo album with all of the pictures I took during the ride.

A Chance to Give Back!

Mark this on your Calender Folks.     

From the San Diego Mountain Bike Association 

Black Mountain Open Space Park

Volunteer Trail Work
SATURDAY, MARCH 29th, at 8:30am
Having organized more than a dozen volunteer events held at Black Mountain Park since 2002, The San Diego Mountain Bike Association has helped to define and shape the park’s trail system. One new trail recently opened, and more trails are being planned. Our volunteer efforts and close working relationship with the park’s ranger staff will continue to ensure that all current and future trails are open to mountain biking.Join SDMBAus on SATURDAY, March 29th, at 8:30am to help maintain the trails we’ve for which we’ve worked so hard to gain access. We’ll be doing tread work on the CANYON RIM TRAIL, which badly needs repair to make it usable for mountain bikers. Bring water and gloves; we’ll provide everything else!

 Here is thier flyer for the trailwork event with directions on how to get there

Here is my information on the Black Mountain area (It could use a little updating).

Also right next to Black Mountain is a portion of the Santa Luz Loop with is worth checking out as well.

Santa Luz with Black Mountain in the Background

 -Bill