Archive for the ‘Advocacy/Trailwork’ Category

Sycamore Canyon

December 19th, 2010 by MTBBill

Last Sunday I got in a ride out at Sycamore Canyon out in Santee.   The IMBA Trail Care Crewwas out in San Diego the week leading up to Sunday doing good stuff.   Steve and Morgan are one of two teams of trail experts that travel year-round throughout NorthAmerica and beyond, leading trail work sessions, meeting with land managers and working with IMBA-affiliated clubs and the communities they serve to improve mountain biking opportunities.   This was there last even for the year and I think they said it was their 34th event.  They certainly get around.    Today was just a bit of MTB fun before they hit the road to head back home to Colorado for Christmas.  So some of the usual SDMBA suspects met at Crib-Del-Gardner’s before heading out. 

Minette on the first climb

 Morgan heading down into Sycamore Canyon

Steve on Martha’s Grove

Gardner on Martha’s Grove

Andy zipping some singletrack.

It was really fun ride and the weather was absolutely awesome.    We are so spoiled here in SoCal and I was fully reminded of that fact the following day when I flew to Philadelphia for a week of work in real winter weather.  It was 20 something  with a 10 mph when I stepped off the plane.      Yeah SoCal!

If you would like to learn more about the IMBA Trail Care Crews take a look at their website.  Don’t forget the links on the right-hand side of the page.   Also don’t forget to show some love for the local advocacy folks as well, The San Diego Mountain Biking Association (SDMBA).

Black Mountain Shakedown Ride

November 8th, 2010 by MTBBill

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.

San Marcos – Its not a F$%)ing Trail!

July 30th, 2010 by MTBBill

Tripe (noun)

  1. Lining of the stomach of a ruminant (especially a bovine) used as food.
  2. A slang term synonymous with rubbish, in the sense of something of little value, or nonsense. 
  3.  (see also San Elijo Trails)

Definition #2 particularlythe “something of little value” is the theme of this rant.

So for the last week or so I have been investigating some of trails not to far from my hood.  The San Elijo Hills area.   I was not expecting much and I was quite underwhelmed.  More than just underwhelmed, I was pissed at what the developer was allowed to get away with calling trails.


The Gardens View Tripe – Are you f$%^ing kidding me!  When two trucks can pass one another on it, it is not a trail.   It is a dirt road.


I laughed out loud at this sign.  “Give Life A Chance”.     What the sign from the San Elijo Hills Development Company should say is “YOU need to give life a chance, because WE have already bulldozed all the habitat in this area”


Take a look at the crap they have on their website.  18 miles of trails.   There is less than one mile of trail in this development.   There are over 17 miles of Dirt Sidewalk Pathway Tripe throughout this development.   Try a little truth in advertising.

The Double Peak Tripe.    The “trail” is the dirt sidewalk on the side of the pavement and then starts up the hill.     Where is the natural outdoor experience here?  You have either pavement or a cement gutter on one side and a wooden rail fence to keep from even contacting nature on the other.   Most of this climb is compacted and absolutely smooth decomposed granite.  It is a nearly sterile outdoor experience where you never escape development.   I have been on treadmills that were only slightly less interesting.   If you can drive a Ferrari or a Prius on it, it is not a trail, it is TRIPE!   


Do I even need to say it, “It is not a F$%^ing Trail!    TRIPE, TRIPE, TRIPE!  This is part of the 18 miles that San Elijo is selling as an attraction.


The Lake San Marcos Tripe.     PAVED!   I will not buy any blabage about American Disabilites Act Access with this “trail”.   What this picture does not show is how stupidly steep this thing is.  There is no Rascal, Humaround or any other battery powered mobility chair that is going to get up this thing.   The city has a formula for how many miles of trail the community should have for its size and population.   The mileage of this tripe counts towards meeting that trail requirement.  What does that mean?  It could mean less funding for real trails in the future because the city already has its mileage.


This is  part of the “Make A Wish Trail”.    I sure did make a wish.  I wish there were more trails like this in the area.   This IS a trail.  Part of it looks to be pre-developement but portions of it are obviously newer.

This is  the “Secret Trail”  aka Trail 90.    While it is fairly short this is good stuff that not only offers a high quality outdoor experience it is substainually less impacting on existing habitat.  This is the best legal and sanctioned trail out here.   It is also a legacy trail from before the develeopment started.  

Okay so maybe I’m being rash and a trail snob but this is some of the worst stuff I have seen in an urban area interfacing  to open space in San Diego County yet.   The dirt pathways have their place down between the homes, but running this crap all the way up into the open space is just dumb.   It does not meet the needs of the users who would venture up that far and it needlessly destroyed even more habitat by making the “trails”  three to five times wider than they need to be.   Arrrrrrrgh, What a nearly complete failure on the part of those charged with the oversight of this development.   I’m not sure if this failure is due to incompetence, ignorance, or just a simple lack of caring but it certainly did occur.  

You can download a map of all this Tripe  here and go see for yourself.   While it is a good workout it is not a high quality outdoor experience.   If you disagree, you need to start looking for some new places to ride as you are missing out on the good stuff elsewhere in the county.

Two Peaks and Two Canyons

July 25th, 2010 by MTBBill

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

July 18th, 2010 by MTBBill

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).

Toro Peak Access

September 12th, 2009 by MTBBill

It has been brought to my attention by a lawyer representing the Santa Rosa Band of Cahuilla Indians that the land around the summit of Toro Peak is part of the tribe’s reservation lands. Since my original posting of Santa Rosa Mountain and Toro Peak page in 2003, they have added signs to alert the public to the fact you will be trespassing if you go all the way to the peak. I have requested a meeting to see exactly where all of the boundaries are and get the full story on things. In the interim from what I have gathered from other sources you would cross onto the reservation lands shortly after the fork in the forest road at 12.8 miles. This is roughly halfway between SR-21 and SR-22 way points on my map. You can find numerous printed guidebooks and online resources that make no mention of the land ownership and access issues. Sometime in the last six years keeping the public off of Toro Peak has become a greater concern to the Cahuilla Indians. Hopefully my photos of this truly magnificent peak will satisfy your curiosity because you will be trespassing if you climb the last mile or so to the summit yourself. Also don’t forget to check out one my early additions to the site.

Help Save Calvera!

August 23rd, 2009 by MTBBill

MTB Comments on the City of Carlsbad Lake Calavera Trails Master Plan Needed
Respond before the COB, Monday, August 24th deadline.

EMAIL your opinion to  (This might be a type also include

1. All trails shall be multi-use. No segregation of trails based on trail width or biking vs. hiking.
2. No use of decomposed granite for trail surface improvements. Leave trail surface natural.
3. No widening of existing trails to meet Type A, B or C requirements. Trails are already wide enough.
4. Addition of quality multi-use singletrack into the trails plan. If the opened trails don’t provide a better experience than the closed trails, users will keep using the closed trails.

We have until Monday August 24th to file comments with the City of Carlsbad.

The next order of business will be dealing w/ DFG property and all the poaching/illegal building. The issue right now however, is public comment on the city plan (not DFG issues).



Pre-SDMBA meeting La Costa Playtime and Photo Geekage

August 20th, 2009 by MTBBill

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.

A romp through Anacortes singletrack goodness

April 12th, 2009 by MTBBill

Yesterday, I ventured north of Seattle to the town of Anacortes, where tales of miles single track goodness seemed to abound.   My first order of business upon rolling into the sound-side town of Anacortes was to pickup a set of maps from a local bike shop.  For $10 I got three great maps of the Anacortes Community Forest Lands. That was all I needed to get to the trailhead at Cranberry Lake.  


The weather forecast gave a 50% chance of showers with the temps in the low 50s.   It certainly looked like I was going to get wet today.   A few days ago someone said something interesting that stuck in my head.  “There is no bad weather, only bad gear.”  With that in my head, I packed up my gear and hit the trail.  Right from the trailhead I was on some cool single tracks that were combinations of loamy buff with some rocks and roots here and there.

Riding in an evergreen forest is just awesome.   Believe it or not these are multi-use trails.  Yes these twisty and flowing singletracks are open to hikers, equestrians and bicycles.   These are community trails and most of them are within the city limits of Anacortes.    The land managers and agencies of San Diego County could learn a lot from this place. 

Did I mention these trails rule?   The Anacortes Community Forest Lands has about 50 miles of interconnected trails with over 41 miles of those trails being single tracks. 

Got Beaver?  

Got Bald Eagle?

As the day went on the weather turned for the better and the sun even popped out.  I found myself openly giggling while I cruised and twisted through the forest.   On several occasions I could not help but to stop, grab a spot on a log and just take it all in.   I am one lucky bastard to get to ride stuff like this on a business trip. One thing is for certain, I am going back here at least once more on this trip as I have only scratched the surface of this trail system.

PSA – The Future of Carlsbad Trails

March 23rd, 2009 by MTBBill

Here is a cut-and-paste from some of the online forums that is important to you if you ride a bike in the Carlsbad area.


All who ride La Costa, Calavera and want to open more trails to legal status, this is THE MOST IMPORTANT TIME IN NEXT 25 YEARS in NORTH COUNTY via the CITY OF CARLSBAD “Envision Carlsbad” Growth Plan Update. The staff has hired a great national consulting firm to gather input from citizens on what they want from the City.


March 23 MONDAY 6PM to 830PM Faraday Safety Center 2560 Orion Way (map)

March 25th, WEDNESDAY 6PM to 830PM TriCity Wellness Center 5260 El Camino (map)




If you are an SDMBA member or have participated in any trail volunteer events, remind the forum consultants that SDMBA has consistently been far and away the biggest contributor of hours, for the hardest dirt work, and set the best example and proof statement that:

“MULTI-USE MEANS MORE WIN-WINS” – hikers, joggers, dog-walkers, bike-riders, horsers and conservationists all have the same desire for a healthy nature experience, and have worked well together elsewhere, and have proven references from the most wise bio-science adaptive land managers to prove it works.

In these tough fiscal times, everyone is reminded that the simple things in life are the most valuable, and whats more valuable than neighbors learning to look after the land together, and become better friends and stewards of it for our future generations?


For more info contact Erik Trogden, N County Liaison SDMBA.