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.

Trailwork at La Costa

 I was long overdue for giving some loving back to the trails so Saturday morning I got managed to carve out some time to help out with some trailwork out at La Costa. I would like to bring my boys along, but they both had hockey games later in the day and I’m sure thier coach would not appreciate them showing up to the game dog tired.  Maybe next time.

 

There was a good showing of folks out at this event, I think I saw 45 at the start and another half dozen showed up a little latter on.

Much of the work was routine treadwork, with some corrective work had to done due to some folks just riding way too soon after our heavy rains earlier this month.

There were folks of all ages out and for some it was an entire family affair.

In addition to working on the trails, there was also a revegitation work being done up on the peak.  Some hard ground was broken up and some seed was laid in hopes having some more green on the summit in the future.

NASCAR also saw some TLC along with a good to-do list getting started for future efforts on this trail.

All in all some good work was done and afterwards it was time to burn and flip a few burgers and dogs before some swag from the SDMBA Sponsors were tossed about.  A Saturday morning well spent.  Wanna get in on the action?  Check out the San Diego Mountain Biking Association’s website, sign up for the Trailnews or better yet, join.

Two Peaks and Two Canyons

For the mid-week ride this week, it ended up being a doozie.   The plan was to met up with some folks for a ride through Spring and Oak Canyon at 5pm.  I was able to finish off the day’s work early and figured I had enough time to get some mileage before the scheduled ride.

I parked at the trailhead for the Spring and Oak Canyon ride (Bushy Hills at MTRP campground) and did some street riding over to the Mesa singletrack for a climb up Cowles Mountain.    It was a beater as usual but love trying to clear the waterbars at their highest points but by the time I got up to the fireroad I was contend to get up the trails.     The fireroad up to the top was as always brutal.

At the top of Cowles I was still looking really good on time so I decided to do the out and back to Pyles Peak.   Plenty of waterbars here as well which made the down section pretty fun.

I was at the turnaround spot on Pyles Peak before I knew it and it was time for return climb back up to Cowles.   I was still feeling pretty good when I got back to the summit and was all smiles on the way down the Big Rock trail.    I got back to the campground just a couple of minutes before the first person showed up for the 5 pm ride.   I could have been happy with a beer and some dinner at this point, but yeah I already said I was going to do the ride.  

Spring and Oak Canyon was a good ride, but I had to dig into the energy reserves pretty deep to stay on pace with the fresh legged crew.    I was good and pooped when we finished up and shortly thereafter we made our way over to the MTRP visitor center for the monthly SDMBA advocacy meeting.   I slept well that night.

A week of SD Weather Weenie Whining

Okay, so we San Diego folk are self-admitted “weather weenies”, particularly us coastal types.   You get us out of our typical weather of 65-75 and sunny for more than a few days we start whining like a jet turbine.   There was a lot of noise happening this week.

Wednesday, I met Steve for an after work MTB stoke at Anderson Truck Trail.   I knew it was going to be warm as this was our first really hot day of the year.    I was ready with extra fluids and electrolytes.    When I pulled into the trailhead the temp gauge in my truck read 100 degrees.    My first thought was that can not be right.   Within seconds of stepping out of the truck, I knew my truck was not lying to me.   Really rough but manageable was my overall assessment for the upcoming ride.    As I’m pulling out all my gear, I realized I had left my cycling short, shirt and socks at home.   I normally keep an emergency stash of  cycling clothes stashed for just such an occasion.   Opening up the under seat compartment revealed that I had not resupplied my stash after the last time I forgot my digs.    Crap, I was in my work clothes which would not do at all and my after ride clothes consisted of a heavy black cotton Tee-shirt and a thick pair of cotton shorts.   I did find a dirty cycling socks that I missed taking out of truck after the last ride so they were called back into service.     The cotton shorts and T-shirt would be the apparel for the day.


This was the only smile Aqua would make on this climb.

It was readily apparent that these clothes were not going to help me out much at all.  These was zero cooling happening with this outfit and it was blistering already.   The heat of this climb makes you suffer pretty good on its own but the my stifling apparel took it to a whole new level.   I thought about just not wearing a shirt at all, but even high SPF sunblock would not be able to help my glowing white-boy torso out whatsoever.  I would have been fried in no time so the shirt stayed on.   I have to take lots of breaks and had to spin in the granny ring for the overwhelming majority of the climb.   Even with lots of breaks, by the time I reached the top I could feel I was close to some heat stress coming on.      Amazing what the right apparel can do for you – More importantly what the wrong apparel can do to you as well.  

After cooling down as much as to be expected  I felt better and we set off on the descent.   Steve was doing just fine, but I soon realized that I was off-game.  My reaction time was off just a little bit and on this terrain that can cause problems.    I made a point to stay well within my normal limits.   

Brian soon joined us,  he started later in the day,  so he did not get as cooked as we did, but it was still freaking hot.      By the time we finished up the ride, it had cooled off to a “balmy” 90 degrees which felt pretty descent after what we had already suffered through.    I was pretty much a wreck and completely drained.

The following day was the San Diego Mountain Biking Associations annual Beer and Burrito ride.   I was still feeling a pretty beat from the heat the day before, but I had volunteered to help with pictures so I could not back out.  This was a work for your supper event where you do a ride and then got to kick back with a tasty burrito from Chipotle and some tasty brews from Lagunitas.  

Over the course of the day leading up to the event the temps start to drop and a monsoon storm started to peculate.  It was  cloudy with ominous rumblings in the sky in the distance.    This event was capped at 70 RSVPs and it looked like everyone of them made it out.   There were lots of new faces and lots of folks I had not seen in a really long time.  It was good times before we even started rolling.


At a regroup spot

In the middle of the ride, we actually got rained for awhile.    It nice to get the trail patted down right in front of us.  The rain did not last long but it was certainly enough to register as “rain” for San Diego.

Before long we had all did enough to qualify for dinner and the with rain gone, it was time for some kicking back and socializing for a couple of hours.   It was a mighty fine event.   A good chunk of the photos from the event are on SDMBA’s facebook page.

Friday and Saturday were back to the summer toastiness, so Mark and I planned on beating the heat with a crack of dawn ride and the San Clemente Singletracks (aka weekpatch).      Sunrise was at 5:52 so we met at 5:45 and were rolling at 6:00AM.   The morning temps were cool and the  marine layer held off the sun long enough that it was just starting to think about punching through as we finished up the ride.

It felt pretty wierd being done with my ride so early in the day.   I’ll finish of the weekend with a little bit of honey-dos and a lot of lounging (in the shade).

Pre-SDMBA meeting La Costa Playtime and Photo Geekage

Last night was the monthly San Diego Mountain Biking Associationmeeting that was held at REI in Encinitas.  Before the meeting a handful of decided to get in a quick spin at the Rancho La Costa Preserve.  I got there quite a bit early so I tinkered with a new camera gadget that I have modified for use with a mountain bike.  It is a RF remote shutter release that has a range of over 100 feet.   The remote is a bit on the bulky side for using while you are riding as it could not be mounted on the handlebar in an easy to reach spot.   After some geekage, soldering and a bit of trial and error I made a remote micro-switch for the remote.  This “remote remote” allows me to put the camera on a tripod and then take pictures by just barely moving my thumb on the handlebar.    

 

Here is one of the first test shots.  I’m snapping the shot using my left thumb.   It was a good test as pressing the button did not detract from the riding.

During the second test shoot, I wanted to test out the range of the system.  The camera is at least 100 feet away when I snapped this first shot of the sequence.    I am going to do another test later at a further distance to see just how far you can push the range.   I also had the autofocus set to servo mode to it refocused as I moved along the trail getting closer to the camera.   Continuous shooting mode also works with this setup.  The main intended use for this setup is when I traveling and riding solo.  While I like taking trail photos, so of them would be so much nicer with a rider in the shot.   Now at least can use myself as photo fodder.    I may have a couple of tweaks left to do with the setup, I’ll put up some additional details on the gadget mods when everything is dialed.

After the photo tinkering, I zipped back down to the trailhead and hooked with the folks for the ride.  It was good ride, but I took next to nothing for pictures as I was doing a lot of chasing.

Here is Gardner Grady, aka SDMBA Vice President and member of the National Mountain Bike Patrol showing how is done on a section know as “Meet Your Maker”.    If you think you might me interesting in becoming a member of the SDMBA chapter of the National Mountain Bike Patrol, touch bases with Gyan Penrose-Kafka who can give you all the 411 on the program.

We finished up the ride with enough time to chill for a bit before heading off to meeting.  There was a really good turn out and there are lots of stuff happening around the county and particularly in North County.  It was well worth a few hours of my time to see what is going on in person without having to sift through all of the talking head chatterbox BS that seems to be so prevalent on the various online forums.    If you can out about upcomign SDMBA events by signing up for thier Trailnews mailing list.

Lake Calavera Trailwork

Yesterday, around 60 people showed up to work on a troubled section of trail that was in need of erosion control. More importantly in was a chance for SDMBA to work the Department of Fish and Game. 


Gardner giving the safety brief prior to heading out to the work site.

Even though it has not rained in a couple of weeks there were still some wet areas due to poor drainage. Several crews built the neccessary drainage.

“Sparticus” in action. This is a really cool tool that is basically a spider web of chain that allows for really large rocks to be moved efficiently. SDMBA has built five of these so far and several were in use on this day.

In addition to some of the usual faces you see at these events there were also plenty of new faces including plenty youngsters and teenagers. These are the future stewards of these lands so it was great to see entire families involved.

This event included one of the largest water diversion projects I have seen at a trailwork event. The amount of rocks and dirt moved for this was truly impressive. I’m pretty sure everyone how had a hand in this section slept very well that night.

A special thanks is owed to Erik Trogden (The SDMBA’s Coastal North County Liason) for leading the effort to put this event together. Thanks to Bicycle Warehouse for supporting the event with the copious amounts of schwag. More importantly, thanks to Warren Wong from the Department of Fish and Game for allowing SDMBA to work with his agency to improve this trail. Hopefully this will be the start of a good working relationship to improve both the habitat and trail resources of Lake Calvera.

Here are some additional pictures.

After the trailwork a few of us went for a bike ride at Calvera.  While out in the “Back 40”, we got to see some “game” on the Fish and Game managed land.

SDMBA Volunteer Appreciation Gala

Saturday the San Diego Mountain Bike Association had it’s annual Volunteer Appreciation Event at the Visitor’s Center of Mission Trails Regional Park.

The event started off with an afternoon ride through the park.   A sizable crowd showed up for the pre-festivities ride that included three different routes for various skills levels.

I ended with the group that I believe should have been called “Should have known better group”.

We decided to climb Jackson to Suycutt Wash and then up to the saddle between North and South Fortuna Mountain.  There is some steep freaking fireroads on this route.  Somewhere near the top of the saddle, I remembered why I don’t ride much here.   Freaking fireroads everywhere trying to be passed off to the public as trails.  Just because you designate something a trail does not make it a trail.  I did chuckle pretty hard later in the day when someone said this place should be called  “Missing Trails Regional Park”.   The rumor/good news is that the management is starting to see the light on sustainable multiuse singletracks.   Okay rant aside,  after making it to the saddle we hung a right and climbed up to the peak of South Fortuna Mountain were we got in some cool views of downtown, Point Loma and the Coronado Islands.  From here we got in some mighty zippy descending that included some hike-a-biking down a portion of “The Steps” trails   Before long we were back to Jackson Drive and dumped a lot of hard earned elevation down the gravely fireroad.

Back at the visitor’s center, I along with a bunch of trails rats and dirt divas enjoyed a good time hanging, grubbing and conversating with each other.  Some of these folks I only see during trailwork events.   It was certainly a good time.  

Some people looked to be planning for world-wide singletrack domination.

It was a pretty lively crowd and there was a rumor that a gang sign or two might have been thrown around. (I think I caught the highly secretive “Sparticus” sign in use)

Later in the evening, there was some absolutely funny awards and killer swag handed out.  Many Shimano shiny bits, cool clothes and various assorted goodies found there way to good homes that evening. Nobody left empty handed.

There was one huge item left to the end for SDMBA’s Volunteer of the Year.    For that Dave Turner was on hand to present Mike MacGregor with a brand spanking shiny new Turner Frame!   Mike logged a grunch of trailwork hours at SDMBA events over the past year, established and headed up the new Trailwork committee and devoted a mountain of time off the trail to help out SDMBA and the MTB community at large.   

Congratulations Mike!    

Special thanks to Andy, Minette, the Social Comittee and rest of the folks that put this thing on.  I think everyone that was there would say it was a really great event.

SDMBA Day at Calavera – FEB 28th

Put this on your calender folks.  If you not being riding/following Calvera lately, there is lots of activity going on, both good and not-so-good,  with this area.  The CA Dept of Fish and Game has not exactly be a “welcoming with open arms” kind of group towards mountain bikers so our community showing up in good numbers will go a long way towards establishing a good relationship with them here.  Come on out, do a little trailwork and then do a little riding.

The below information is from Erik Trogden, the North County Coastal Liaison with the San Diego Mountain Biking Association

February 28th at Calavera  
 
This is an important opportunity for mountain bikers, hikers, and others to come together for the common cause of taking care of our precious open spaces.  Let’s demonstrate that we are responsible stewards of Calavera by pitching in to make it a better place for everyone who enjoys it.
 
SDMBA is collaborating with the CA Dept. of Fish and Game to do habitat restoration and erosion control on a heavily used trail falling southwest away from the quarry; sometimes referred to as The Spine or Mordor.  The 200 yard long stretch of trail has widened significantly over time and needs some work to repair damage from rain and overuse.
9:00 to Noon.  Staging area TBD.  Same format as La Costa with food, schwag and lot’ s of education about how YOU can make a difference.
 
Erik Trogden
North County Coastal Liaison
SDMBA

Good Mountain, Good Beer, Good Meeting

Yesterday I planned on attending the San Diego Mountain Bike Associations advocacy meeting at it’s usual location at the Mission Trails Regional Park’s Visitors Center.  The meeting was not until 7pm.  Just enough time to get in an after work ride, get a bit to eat and get to the meeting.   I had not been up on Cowles Mountain in a long time so I was excited about hitting it.   I started from Mesa Road and caught the Mesa Trail.  The chaparral had been growing nicely since my last visit and in many spots you are in a vegetation tunnel.   This was really nice as it was quite toasty when I started so shade and a bit of a breeze kept the bake factor down a little.

Waterbars, Waterbars, Waterbars…There were just as many as I remembered.   I like them as it is the uphill ledge action is a good skillset to hone.  Since my last visit there has been a lot more go-arounds and widening created.   Plenty of evidence of both shoes and tires as the culprit.   Once up on the fireroad the state of my “slackerness” became apparent of the climb up to the top.   No cleaning this mountain today as twice I had a total cardio redlining followed by a meltdown. 

View from Cowles

While it was not as clear as I have seen it in the past it was still a great viewpoint.  The out-and-back to Pyles Peak was great.  I basically owned that entire section of trail as I was the only one on it.   The “in-town” solitude you can usually find on this trail combined with more waterbar action is one of the reasons I like it so much.  The returns trip back up to Cowles had plenty of technical climbing challenges.  The worst of them come when you are nearly back to the top which means most people (including myself) are nearly spent.  There is one set of waterbar switchbacks that I have still yet to clean.

Cowles from Pyles

 The ride back down the Big Rock trail was a cool as ever.  Condition-wise the trail could use some work, but at the same time I like it as morning challenging with the ruts and such.

Post-ride, I cleanup and head while heading to a nearby store to grab some Gatorade, I spied a treasure that I could not let slip away.   A bomber of the Stone’s 12 Aniversary Ale, A Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout.   To say it was yummy would be a grand understatement.   Did I desire so a beer after just a rather small mid-week ride?  Well no I did not.   I owe the beer and bike gods an epic ride at a later date.  

Yummy Stone Brew

 The SDMBA meeting was a good one, lots of stuff discussed  There were some fresh new faces that are energetic and already taking action to further legal mountain biking access in the county.  There were plenty of words like jumps, downhill and freeride talked about.    Lots of things in the works and you can expect there will be plenty of oppurtunities for people to help.    The meeting went long and I was pretty darn pooped by the time I hit the sack.  Another good day to be a mountain biker.