Local Running Amuckness

It has really felt good to be able to ride again and I have been working on getting back into shape while taking a measure approach to the riding as the knee gets stronger.   I certainly do not want to have a relapse of the pain issues.

North side of Lake Hodges

I have been able to get in three rides in this past week.    First of was Lake Hodges where I did the north and south sides for about a 20 mile effort.

Local Sauce

I did my local ride from the house and felt pretty good on it.

At the top of La Costa

And I meet my buddy Dave for a ride and La Costa which included some of the Back 40 goodness.    Maintaining proper social distancing was pretty easy with Dave.   I could barely keep him within 100 feet let alone 6 feet.

Came across this healthy looking bloke out on the trail.

On the backside trails we came across a Rattler.   He was pretty happy where he was at so we had to give him some encouragement to get off the trail.    There were no sticks of the appropriate length around so I stood behind my bike, held onto the saddle and rolled the bike up close to the snake.  One the front wheel got within a foot of the snake he figured it was best to give up his ground.    If you have your arm outstretched to you saddle and lean over while you do this you can keep seven plus feet between you and the snake.  I like to get these folks away from the trail when I encounter them as you never know when some Ahole is going to come along think these things need to be killed.

After we got this fellow to move along we finished up the ride.   I felt really good about how I finished up the ride.    It was a good week of ridin

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.

F#$king @$$holes!

First I must RANT!  I am came across this dead rattler while climbing up one of my local trails.  This is such bullshit! I’m pretty sure there was no real reason to kill this rattler. If they show up at your house they are asking for a whacking. If you go over to their house you should leave them be. The only crime this snake did was probably blocking somebody’s way along the trail.

So Senseless! No reason to kill this snake!

Okay RANT over.

The “Perch”

Last week my doc shot up my right knee with a huge syringe full of  steroids, cortisone and other joint goodness.  My knee hurt from the injection for a couple of days and then felt much better.   I went back to out to my local trail twice over the last couple of days and while I have overall fitness I need to get back, I had no knee pain at all on the climb today. I was not pushing the knee but I was able to put in the required effort in the granny gear without pain.    Finally after three months I am seeing some significant progress with the knee.  Now if I can just keep the rest of my shit from falling apart.

Local Knee OPTEST

The next couple of days after my last ride my knee was really bothering me so I took some more time off of the bike.   I have another appointment with my doctor next week.   I decided I would take another assessment of how the knee is going.

I went out to a local riding spot that requires about four miles or so of a patchwork of streets and trail to get there.    Springtime is definitely going on!

The knee felt okay on all of the work getting up to the main trail area but it was also not much of a grade.   Once in the main riding area the trail requires some work and it has more grade than my previous efforts.    The knee went from some simple complaining to painful wanking.   I had to turn around before getting more than a third of the way up the climb.

 

San Pasqual Valley – Raptor Ridge

Well after almost seven weeks off of the bike due to injuring my right knee I got back on the dirt.   For this first ride back I decided to head out to San Pasqual Valley and do the section of the Coast-to-Crest Trail from Bandy Canyon Road up to Raptor Ridge and back.

Heading up to Raptor Ridge from the east. I started at the far side of the valley

I decided on this route at it starts out flat then has a very gradual bit of climbing before you have a more significant climb at you approach Raptor Ridge.   I figured this would be a good opening test of the knee in making the pedals go around.   If I had any knee issues I could simply turn around and have a mostly flat or downhill spin back to the trail head.

Spring colors were out on the trail

This whole COVID-19 virus mess has made it tough to get into see doctors and physical therapy places are pretty much shutdown.     The doctor currently thinks I have inflamed tendons  but I’m not so sure I buy that diagnosis.   I have to do some physical therapy first before they will go done the MRI route but getting physical therapy is tough as they are only seeing “critical” cases right now.

The turnaround spot on Raptor Ridge.

It was so nice to be back on two wheels.   I was purposely going to take it easy on this ride and not mash on the pedals.   Spinning was the name of the game here.    The knee felt descent for just spinning along but I was aware I had a knee.   It was not in pain but it was not quite right either.   The final climbing section up to Raptor Ridge was all done in the granny gear.    I was not straining the knee but the knee was definitely feeling worked.  While this was an improvement, it is still not right as I was also not really putting much force down on the pedals at all and when I did the knee would complain.

It was still a good day to be on bike.

Lake Hodges and Knee Injury

The last couple of weeks January was a busy time with lots of non-biking goodness. I had been getting in some rides but they have been pretty utilitarian in nature. Such was the case on February 4th when I got in spin at Lake Hodges. I started out on the north side near at the storage facility staging area and took on the north side of the lake.

I took the north side all the way out to the dam and back. I was feeling really strong and keeping up a good pace (by my standards anyway).


When I got back to the bridge I cut over to he south side of the lake and started the working my way through the trails there. I was still feeling great.     While doing a bit of out of the saddle work to press up a short rise I felt a sharp twinge in my right knee followed by a sharp pain as I neared the top of the pedal stroke.    Even in my granny gear just getting through the range of motion at the top of the pedal stroke was quite painful.    I had to cut the out rest of my intended route and go home.

Just walking around was a only slight uncomfortable but stairs and getting the knee bent beyond 45 degrees was painful.

Out on the Lower Santa Ysabel Truck Trail

So I have resigned to just walking and hiking to keep active.  The dogs are pretty happy about this they are getting some longer adventures in beyond just the usual walking circuits.

Out at Lake Calavera

It has been three weeks since I hurt the knee and it has only slightly gotten better.   I have a doctors appointment in a couple of weeks when I get back from a work trip to have it assessed.

Back in the Saddle at Lake Calvera

After a couple of weeks being off the bike due to my face injury at Goat Camp, I finally got back on the trail.   I had tried doing a bit of stuff in the outdoors late last week but the “brand new” skin on my lips was quite sensitive and the slightest of breeze and direct sunlight was unpleasant to say the least.   Today I gave it another shot and decided hit up one of my local trails, Lake Calvera, which I ride to right from my front door.   Will has a two hour hockey practice tonight so I decided to take Jake out for some one-on-one Dad time on the trails.

Jake on Bridge

We had a great time out on the trails today.  I am always amazed at how easy kids put up new skills.   Most of the time I show them something once, they do it once and then it is locked in.   Man I wish I could still learn at that rate.    I have made a point of gradually progressing the length and difficulty of the rides I take them on each outing and today was no different.   I took him on a lot more twisty and rocky singletrack that he has done in the past.   I also made a point to get him to the “Back 40” of Lake Calvera which meant he had to do a good deal more climbing than usual out there.  

Jake Singletrack Cruising

For me I can tell it will take a few rides to get my MoJo back.   I still have some numb spots on my face which makes for a really weird sensation (or lack thereof) to feel the sun and breeze only on a portion of your face.    The good news is that the spots are getting smaller everyday.    In what little technical bits I did encounter today, I caught myself glancing at where I don’t want to go.  Not good.   I’m sure after a few rides I’ll get “it” back but it was an odd mental riding state today.    What I lacked today in riding prowess was more than offset by the high quality time I got with my youngest son who put in a solid 14.4 miles today. 

-Bill

Goat Camp Goodness Goes Bad

Sunday was a climb up into the White Tank Mountains west of Phoenix.  This area was incredibly awesome with the vibrant colors of spring going off.  The trails of the White Tanks are extremely diverse.  We did a loop that included some burly climbing on the Mesquite Canyon trail before things mellowed out to mostly smooth benchcut singletrack interspresed with technical bits.  There were some impressive views along this trail.  From the Mesquite Trail we connected to the Willow Trail and enjoyed some more springtime desert goodness.   From the Willow Trail we connected to the Ford Canyon Trail which had us busting out a switchbacking climb up to the junction of the Goat Camp Trail.

Greg on Buttery Smooth Singletrack

The Goat Camp Trail had been on my to-do list for a long while as people who are much better riders than me have all said it is one of the gnarliest trails they have ever been on.    The trail did not disappoint.  It starts off really scenic and pretty as you work your way over a couple of ridges before coming to the final descent.

This is where things get incredibly technical.  The opening descent is a steep loose monster that is quite shaly with big chunk a plenty.   Our guide and all-around awesome guy for the day, Greg, described it best when he said “If you touch your front brake just a little too much, the earth opens up and swallows your front wheel”.    The middle section gets more firm undertneath you but the trail is just impressively rugged.   It is hard to put a pucker factor on this section.  It is more like a continual state of colon lockdown.

Kevin at the top of the Staircase

There is a really tricky feature known as the Spiral Staircase.   There is a bit of a chunk gate to get into the feature followed by steep left handed roll down into a really tight righthander that exits into either a spine roll or a chunky set of stairsteps.  JD impressively flashed the entire thing after a quite look see of the line options.  I kept having problems at the bottom as I could not get through the bottom right hander smooth enough to get onto the spine roll.

Below the Spiral Staircase is another just mean section known as “Jack Hammer”.    It was somewhere along this section that I blew a move and went off the bike and unfortnately smacked into a sharp-edged rock with my face.   OUCH!!!!! I knew it was bad as soon as it happened as I could feel the left side of my face move in the “wrong” direction and then go numb.   Behind me was Kevin and when he gave the question we all get asked sooner or later “Are You Okay”, I had to respond with “No, I’m hurt bad”.

Here a Carnage Shot (WARNING: It is quite icky …)

Like myself, Kevin has been offically trained on Wilderness First Aid and he did a great job sizing up the situation and getting all the supplies out and starting the work of patching my lower and upper lips back together with some steri-strip wound closures.   I know the poker face and measured repsonses  medics are trained to give in situations like this and I knew Kevin was concerned.  I’m sure some of you are already thinking “Did he film that?”  Yes, I was filming when it happened.  It is mighty hard to see you own face so I used the camcorder with the screen flipped so I could see the damage myself.  It was not pretty at all.   After getting patched up, Kevin and I walked down the rest of the trail.  It was not too far before we JD and Greg where waiting for us.   I could see the concern in thier eyes as well.

Kevin Patching me Up

We had some gear spread amongs a couple of cars, so JD and Greg went on ahead to get everything setup for my exit.   I walked some more until the trail got pretty tame in comparision to the rest the trail.   I made a point of going very gingerly as I did not want to elevate my heart anymore than needed.    On the way back we came across a few hikers who gave some quite truthful responses like “Holy S#$T” and Oh My F#$king God!

Once off the trail, I got my chamois off as I knew I would otherwise have it on for a long and end up with a bad case of monkeybutt.    JD got me to the ER straight away.   This was the first time I had the term “Though and Through” used outside of a CSI show on TV.   Both the upper and lower lips where lacerated in that manner with the lower getting the worst of it.    I walked out of the ER four hours after arriving with 19 stitches (some inside and some out) and a hankering for a smoothie!

Jerry thankfully had taken a catnap while waiting for me and he drove back to Orange County so I would only have to deal with about an hour of driving from the OC down to North County San Diego.  It was way freaking late when I got home.  Even though the Novacaine of long since worn off, a good portion of my face was disturbingly still numb.

After some stitchwork

It has been a few days since the crash.  I had thought about posting earlier about this but was just not feeling up to it.  The good news is that I can tell the nerves are starting to heal and the feeling is starting to come back into most of the area.  The bad news is ……The feeling is coming back into the area!   The inside of the left side of my mouth feels like a have a cold sore the size of a quarter and few of the bits of spare change.

I’m already shopping for a full-face helmet for my technical trail excursions. :-)

-Bill

Flying Lessons in Alpine

So I went out to what is becoming a near-weekly ride out in Alpine to one of the local favorites for aggressive trail/freeriding. The weakest part of my MTB skills (other than fitness) is airing the bike out. My cohort in grime for most of these rides is Steve. Steve has the skills and watching him is like getting free “flight lessons”. Today we had someone else join us who I had not seen in ages, Denny. Denny is pretty well known for his screen name of “Dirty D“. Well the Double D family just got bigger as his wife just recently gave birth to a 9 pounder and change boy. He was pretty stoked about it and Steve and I think we may have to rename him “Daddy D”. The 7 mile climb on my portly long-legged big bike gave me it’s normal beat down. It is a fairly respectable climber considering it’s in the mid-to-upper 30lb weight class. When climbing with this bike you come to “an agreement” with it more so than trying to muscle or hammer your way up the hill.

The climbing was soon over and playtime began. There is plenty of stuff out there that I either do not have the skills or balls to try yet. Every time I go out there I chip away at it and I have been steadily adding a notch here and there to the stunt belt. What I don’t ride I usually take pictures of others riding. I have a lot of pictures from this place 🙂

Here are some of the pictures from yesterdays excursion.

Steve on the newest move out there called “Collarboner.” Named because the first person to give it a try broke his collarbone. Steve on Collarboner

Steve on “Corn Dog

Corn Dog

Another Angle on “Corn Dog

CornDog

Dirty D trusts Steve

DD Jump

Dirty D grabbing some air on “Huck You!”

Huck You

Another Angle of Dirty D coming off “Huck You!”

Huck You

Just a little further down the trail there is a rock jump that I have been working on for the last 3 visits here. I have not been able to get it until today. Today, I made the lead in rock lunge and roll move with no sweat gave a couple of pedal strokes, hit the lip and boom, it done.  Nailed It!  It was really cool to finally hit that thing. This picture was taken when I went back and did it again for the camera. (Photo by Steve)

Bill Jumps

Now I’m feeling awesome. We roll on down the trail and the next significant section that routinely do is the “Waterfall”. It is a steep rocky section that has enough drops to be really challenging. There is a sizable drop at the bottom that is always really tricky, but I have “owned” it now for a couple of months. The trail conditions were great in this section and I was going down it right on mark with a touch more speed than normal.

Yep, I was feeling cocky.

The drop at the bottom had gotten just a touch deeper since the rains and I choose a slightly tougher line to the right. Next thing I know I’m going over the bars to a real thumper of a landing. My right knee was the first point of contact and contact hard it did. This was followed by a short slide which did an excellent job of shifting my pads enough to get in some scrapes just under the edges. At least the bike had a nice soft place to land, MY BACK!

leaking

I’m really glad I had the protective gear on as there is not a doubt in my mind a trip to the ER for some stitches would have happened last night otherwise. Even with the pads, my right knee hurts quite a bit and is swollen a little. It was not a comfortable commute on the bike from the train station to work this morning. Either way it was a good day on the bike and I’m thankful things turn out okay.

“Pads – Cheaper Than Stitches” 

-Bill