Lusardi Truck Trail

So I have been eyeballing up checking out Lusardi Truck Trail for quite some time. I heard that it was “just” a dead end but I wanted to see for myself. I know I could have drove my truck this forest service road, but I wanted to investigate with two wheels.

Some nice views along the way.

It is mostly a climb over six-miles until it does indeed dead-end at a locked gate to some private property. I can’t really say this is much of a trail but if you want to see this back corner of the Cleveland National Forest it is well worth a visit. In the near term I have added this to Trailforks and I will probably add this to my site as well.

Black Mountain (Ramona)

Evil leaf all over the place where I started from.

Since recovering from a heart valve replacement last year I have been noticing that the heat does not crush me like it used to do.   To test this theory, I decided to ride the Upper San Ysabel Truck Trail and ascend Black Mountain in Pamo Valley.

I purposely started a little later in the morning knowing that it was going to be toasty at the end of the ride.  

The temperature was fairly reasonable when I started from the east end of the Santa Ysabel Truck Trail.   It is mostly a climb to the west to Black Mountain Truck Trail. The last time I rode this was on a bikepacking outing and it was much easier on this day than  back then with all the gear.

One of the few shaded sections of the Upper Santa Ysabel Truck Trail.

Once on the Black Mountain Truck Trail I settled into the climb and I was feeling good.  It was nice to have my seat post working for this climb.

The temps were climbing only slightly quicker than I was.   I had a full 3 liters of water in my camelbak.  I only put water in my bladder.   I used to put things like energy or electrolytes mixes in them but I have learned that I’m not dilengent enough to prevent inadvertent science experiments from occurring.  Instead I have a separate water bottle that I mix that stuff in using the water from my bladder.   

Along the Black Mountain Truck Trail.

About 2/3rds of the way up the climb I took a break and made another batch of electrolytes in the water bottle (I use Nuun tablets).  It was good and warm but I was still feeling good. 

The top of Black Mountain

Continuing on I made it though a steeper section that previously would have put a hurting on me, but today it was hard work but not a crusher.  After that section, it felt like a cruise in comparison to the top. 

Plenty of climbing

I was plenty glad to be done with the climbing and felt really good about the effort I put in.

After taking in some sights at the summit, it was downhill time.

Pamo Valley below
Views to the east

The descent was mighty zippy and I could feel the heat cranking up as I dropped in elevation.   It was quite hot when I got back on the Santa Ysabel Truck Truck and had to start using the pedals again.  When I got back to the truck it was 95 degrees out.   I was tired but I did have the kind of heat beat down that I would have previously had. At least it looks positive evidence to the theory from my perspective. One thing for certain, It was a good day to be on a bike.

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.

New Year’s Day in Pamo Valley and Black Mountain

I decided to start the New Year off with a solo ride through the Black Mountain area near Ramona.   There is something about the combination of a ride with lots of climbing, great vistas and solitude to help get things straight in your head.    I done the 30 mile loop I had planned a couple of times before, but I decided to do the loop in the opposite direction today (clockwise).  I parked at the corner Pile St and Black Canyon Rd and took Pile St west over to Pamo Road as a brisk 48 degrees with a slight breeze that a had a bit of bite to it.  

The descent down into Pamo Valley was very zippy which is typically super fun but on this morning the self-induced wind chill factor wiped a nearly frozen smile off my face.  

At the Santa Ysabel Creek brige there was quite a bit water flowing which had me wondering what the crossing I would have to further upstream later in the day was going to be like.

As I proceeded up Pamo Road (now dirt) I was astounded by the amount water that was in and the earlier flood water level of Temescal Creek.  Mother Nature has been done some landscaping in this area as of late.

Pamo Valley was green as I expected at this time of year but the rains had added a little extra pop to the colors.  As I worked my way up the Santa Ysabel Truck Trail (FS 12S07) the views of the valley below kept opening up and trend continued after I switched over to the Black Mountain Truck Trail (FS 12S04) to continue the climb up the mountain. 

This entire area was burned during the 2007 wildfires but it making a fairly swift recovery.  Throughout the climb there were many spots where the recent rains sent some boulders down onto the truck trail.   In the past the truck trails were open to vehicles but both the truck trails are closed due to “soft roadbeds”.  Bummer for the four-wheelers but it is nice to not have to worry about vehicles on the descents.    

I was quite happy to see that most the oak trees along the route had survived the fires  and with the exception of some charred bark they seem not too worse for wear.  The shade of these oaks were quite a welcome treat last time I was here during a summer month.  

While the sun climbed as my ride went on, so was I and the temps gradually got a little cooler and the breeze made things a little more nipplely.  Thanks goodness for quality techncial apparel as I stayed comfortable for the most part with some minor adjustments here and there.   

The views at the Black Mountain summit (4,051 feet) were exceptional.  Oakazanita, Cuyamaca and other peaks to the west were clearly seen and amazingly the Coronado Islands as well as Catalina Island could be seen to the east.   Not a bad spot for contemplation and and reflection at all.

After all the work to get to the summit, I was quite content to think about taking a nap before heading back down.  The breeze ultimately changed my mind for me and after some additionally layering an exceptional fireroad descent was had.  It was one of those descent were you are not completely hammering and forcing the speed.  It was more of a case of flowing smoothly and the speed naturally flowed.  It was quite blissful and I was giggled out loud on no less than half a dozen times.  My stoke meter was in the happy zone by the time I was back down to the Santa Ysabel Truck Truck.

I continued on the Santa Ysabel Truck Truck to the East-Southeast to work around to the south flank of the Black Mountain.  There is an exceptional Oak Grove in this area that I was really happy to see had survived the the 2007 fires.    At this point I had be fiddle farting through most of this route and I decided I had to get a bit more serious about finishing off this ride so the photos came to end.


This was a ride that was good for the body as well as good for the soul.  I’m ready to take on 2011 at full speed.