I had planned to add pages to my website about the my killer 24-Day MTB road trip last year. I ended up putting on the backburner as I got busy with putting together the video from that trip. I finally got around to finishing them up.
Well, its complicated but the short answer is I have been busy. I have been doing a lot of utilitarian things with the site to make it mobile friendly and to allow for some other things I want to do in the future. The site is over 20 years old and some of the HTML needs some freshening up. Over the course of those 20 years I have had numerous revisions and code conventions that have changed resulting in genres of pages that need to be standardized before I can really move forward with things. While much can be done with scripts, I basically need to touch every page and I have over 200 hundred trails on the site.
One particularly time consuming bit is fixing thumbnails. Back in “The Day” the drop shadow effect was not an HTML/CSS function. I generated that using a custom Photoshop action script. The shadow and the background on that shadow were part of the the thumbnail image itself. Thus my site’s dirt/sand colored background is baked into the cake of all the thumbnails. Part of the project is to get rid of those baked in shadows and replace them with modern CSS/HTML functions. Once again scripts, actions, find/replace and batch processes help but I have to touch every page.
While all of the pages are now viewable to some degree on mobile, a little over 100 of them have yet to fully converted. It is an ongoing process and not one I do all the time. I still like riding my bike and I really enjoy spending quality time with my lovely wife. So that is the happenings with the site’s pages.
Now this BLOG. You may have noticed I have not done too much with it since my big trip last year. Social media plays a part in this and I have not figured out if they should supplant this or not. I have settlef on I think not. Social media has its place but I think the BLOG is going to stay around. I intend go do some “backfilling” of content from the last year. So I will be publishing some new content with old dates to when they occurred.
But hey, all of this takes time and I think it is time to go for a ride instead of banging on a keyboard.
How time flys! MountainBikeBill.com turns 20 today. When this thing started it were no smartphones, high speed data, GoPros and YouTube. Even a hand-held mapping GPS was a tough thing to come by in those days.
Thank you all for the motivation to share my love for the outdoors and mountain biking over the last 20 years!
The site came about as more of a progression of information vice a thought out plan. While I do consider my time in the 80’s riding my 10 speed on old logging roads and game trails of North Carolina mountain biking (Or should dare to say Gravel Biking), I got into I got into modern MTBing in the late 90s here in San Diego.
I love the exploring aspect of the sport and it was much more exploratory in nature back then. Bringing along a guidebook on a ride was very much a thing. Before long I was checking out places “not in the books” and friends would want me to lead rides or explain to them how they could get there. This lead to hand written directions and maps that got photo copied and passed around. Then came scans and me putting hosting on my cox.net personal account. Somewhere along the line I picked up the nickname Mountain Bike Bill. On Feburary 6th, 2002, MountainBikeBill.com became a thing.
If you want a historical chuckle you can check out these historical nuggest of the site that I’m probably going to leave as is and make a whole next page.
GPS and TOPOS! https://mountainbikebill.com/GPSandTOPOs.htm
Best Viewing Methods HAHAHA https://mountainbikebill.com/BestViewing.htm
The FAQ section is horribly outdated https://mountainbikebill.com/FAQ.htm
The site has gone through four major revisions over the years, and while I should have moved to some type of content management system long ago, I will probably keep the old school html thing going. I latest bit of work involves migrating all the pages to a mobile friendly format and tweaking the GPS files to work better with more simplistic mobile applications. Moving videos to my YouTube channel is also another thing to do when I am not doing life stuff like you know, riding a bike and loving on wife and dogs. Then there is that whole pesky work thing.
So thank you all for the motivation to share over the years.While social media in its various forms calls into question the relevance of websites and blogs these days, I plan on keeping this thing going for the foreseeable future. So if you like bad grammar, misspelled words sprinkled with some MTB blabbage stick around.
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!
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.
I am in the middle of recovering from a webhosting transfer, backup/restore failure. While the static webpages are back online (with the exception of interactive maps), the blog has issues. The appearance has to be rewickered and entries from 2013 up to the middle of 2017 have to basically be rebuilt.
UPDATE – 11SEP18: All of my data and photos have been recovered!! Some of the external links are not going to work due to database index changes but the content is all there. I still need to redo the appearance theme of the blog.
UPDATE – 18SEP18: I now have a new blog theme, tweaked to mesh up with my regular site better. You will find that it works much better with mobile devices than my previous setup.
I finally got around to updating my North and South Lake Hodges pages. I debated about combining the two pages since there a bridge and that connects the two that was completed in 2009. I decided the two pages separate as they can still stand on thier own as separate rides. Of course combining the two together allows for quite a few mileage and route options. If you have not been out there in a while it would be worth it to check out both sides of the lake.
South Side as seen from the top of Bernardo Mountain
I have finally got my first of what I hope to be half a dozen a or so updated and new Japan trail pages up. The Fugato-yama (aka Ghosttown” area is a really cool trail system that I have yet to fully get into each corner of yet. The updated page reflects a bit of work left to be done as far as the trail information goes. I highly recommend a GPS for riding this area unguided for the first time and I have included a bunch of electronic data to help with that effort. The primary file is a Google Earth KMZ file that includes a topographic map overlay that I created using data from the Japan Geospatial Institute. Additionally most waypoints in the file also links to trail junction photos I took while playing around out here. I hope this will be a useful tool for my peeps who visit the area.
I have been working on a face-lift for the site for quite a few months now. Much of the work involved correcting a bunch of poorly written code that was not up to current standards. The new version of the site is standards based and should be much easier to maintain.
Here are are a few of the new features of the site:
Better Setup for larger screens. While 1024 by 768 is the smallest screen resolution that will show the site as designed, the fixed menu areas combined with a fluid content area allows the site to “spreadout” better on the screen. I think you will find that a resolution of 1280 by 1024 looks best.
Printer Friendly Pages. The old version was downright printer hositile. Not what I wanted at all. From disucssions with many of the site users, most people want to print out the pages and maps and take them with them on the trail. The new version is print friendly and fits into that idea. When you print a page, all of the backgrounds, images, and menus will be scrubbed out.
Photo Gallery. I have picked through my site and compiled some of my favorites into gallery. Please wait for the page to fully load as the script that runs the gallery will not function properly if the page has not completed loading.
This Blog – I’m going to use this as my What’s New feature on the site as well as routine riding updates. This will not replace my trail review pages what so ever. For example I ride Daley Ranch quite often, but not updating that trail review every couple of weeks. Instead I might through up a quick not and a picture or two here talking about that particular day’s ride.
A Frequently Asked Questions page.
Getting the backend code up to standards is going to allow for some projects and future growth I thinking about for the site. Most of these ideas involves database integration for GPS and trail information as well as user interactivity, blah blah blah, technobable, technobable, etc…..
What is up with Freaking Advertisements? Yep I have stuck some ads on my site. Call it an experiment if you will. If the advertisments end up helping defray the cost of running the site as well as maybe be keeping a few tasty microbrews in my cooler at the trailhead, then I’ll keep them. Otherwise I might pull them. Please let me know if you think they are trashing your experience on the site.
There are a few little things that I am still working on at this point. Most of them involve working around Internet Explorer’s less than excellent support for web design standards. I recommened you give Firefox a shot as your browser. It follows the “rules” better and it displays this site exactly as I coded it.