Getting out to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon to ride the Rainbow Rim trail is not an easy feat. For just about everyone it will be a camping trip. This is from my August MTB vacation were we camped on Locust Point for a handful of days and enjoyed the views and the riding on this trails as well a bit of the Arizona Trail. The video really does not do the experience justice. You need to get there to enjoy it for yourself.
I had to put the videos on hold while I went down the rabbit hole of squaring away data storage and backup system. I came back from the August trip with just about a terabyte of video and photos which put my overall storage at near capacity. I now have a more robust system that should scale a lot better in the future.
Day 18 Bunker Creek. Coming off of Brianhead Peak this was a doozie. Starting just at 11,000 feet, you had long views, Alpine meadows, Aspens, Pines. Much of this area burned in 2017 and the trails have been rebuilt, improved and extended.
Day 19 VRRT – Navajo Peak. I started out with plans to do the Navajo Lake Loop, but half way around I chose to peel off and get my climb on. There was plenty of work to be done but much like the Strawberry Point segment the views were worth the effort.
On Day 20 I finished off the “Big 3” at Brianhead with the Blowhard Mountain Trail. I rode with a group of guys from the Giant Bicycle shop in Las Vegas. A great group of guys. The trail was every bit as technical as it was billed to be. Such good stuff.
My body decreed that today would be a rest day so for Day 21 I tooled around the countryside a bit which included a stop at Paragon Gap to check out the Indian Rock Art.
For Day 22, I ventured off the mountians to check out the Iron Hills trail system in Cedar City. This is an exceptional designed and built trail system which was a hoot. I did 14 miles and change with 1,700 feet of climbing. After spending much of my time over the last two weeks around 9,000 feet the thick oxygen rich air down at 6,000 feet was a real joy!
After camp near Navajo Lake since being in Utah, for Day 23 I felt the need to knock of Navajo Lake Loop proper since I had only done part of it.
Day 24 Time to head home. Ahh hell, time to go do some of that adult stuff. It has been a fabulous trip. I have gotten everything thing I needed and wanted out of this trip. I’m no sure what that need and want is exactly yet, but I found it out here. For now I’m looking forward to seeing both wife and dogs.
I have amassed nearly a terabyte of footage and photos to do stuff with that will take months to get through. I have melon full killer memories of this trip that I’m bringing back as well. I’ll share when I can.
For now, the RV’s shitter tank is not going to dump itself!
Messing Up my knee back in February was a blessing in disguise, maybe even a life-saver. My knee and ears hurt bad enough that I went to see my primary doctor, with whom I had not seen in five or so years. My knee hurt from the bike injury and my ears hurt from hearing my incredible wife wanking everyday about me needing to go have that looked at. Instead of looking at just my knee, my doctor insisted on doing a full workup as if I were a new patient. After reviewing my medical records, she took note of a diagnosis of a faint heart murmur about 20 years ago. She referred me to a Cardiologist.
After my initial visit with the Cardiologist and an EKG (A bunch of wires, pads and holes in my man sweater afterwards), I was called back in a few days later for an ECG (ultrasound of the heart). A few days after that my Cardiologist called me and informed that my faint hear murmur had degraded into moderate to borderline severe Aortic Stenosis with regurgitation. Basically, my Aortic Valve was not opening and closing properly and it was allowing non-oxygenated blood to backflow into the chamber where the oxygenated blood is at. This is causing my heart to work harder than it should. I was not having any of the typically symptoms of fatigue, shortness of breath, chest pain and numbness in the extremities at the time. My Cardiologist was quite the straight shooter with me in that the only way to fix my particular condition was with surgery and it would most likely need to happen within a year or two max. He set me up for a six-month follow-up with a stipulation that I should call him if any of those symptoms develop.
Between then and now I became more self-aware that I was having some of those symptoms. Fatigue, well I’m not a spring chicken and getting old sucks. Shortness of breath, well yeah when I’m climbing a steep hill on my bike and …I’m no spring chicken. Now for chest pain, I cracked my sternum in 2004 in an MTB crash and I was chalking that slowly growing discomfort up to being visited by the ghost of bike injuries past. (Which is a thing…when you are not a spring chicken.)
In late September, I had that follow up round of testing with my Cardiologist and things had continued to degrade. I was not completely surprised when he told me it was time to take care of this. Failing to take action now could result in permeant damage to my heart beyond the valve and put me at escalating risk of an “unscheduled” cardiac event in the next 1-5 years.
On November 11th, I had open heart surgery to replace my aortic valve (with an bovine valve #prostethitic_heart_valves). I had already had a cardiac caterer procedure and no other work was needed such as stints or bypasses. I spent five days in the hospital and I am now recovering at home. Currently I’m in the “sucks to be me” level recovery at home which should glide slope into “does not suck as bad to be me” recovery for a total of two to three months. If all goes well, I’m expected to be able to resume normal life (to include mountain biking) around mid-February.
After the initial diagnosis back in March, I made a serious commitment at eating healthier and getting fit beyond just mountain biking. I feel like I was pretty close to the fittest and healthiest I could possible be going into the surgery. I was working on the premise that the “Stronger In…Stronger Out” mantra would apply for my recovery. Between all of my fitness recording devices (fitness watch, heart-rate monitor, Peloton) I have a good set of baseline metrics of where I was at pre-surgery to geek out on as I work my way back to where I was and beyond. Right now the focus is on letting the heart fully heal. The big stick in this recovery tent is going to be my sternum healing up.
I had to give my primary doctor a huge Thank You. I know myself well enough (now) to realize that if she had not sent me to that cardiologist, I would have continued to press on with my life and chalking up those sneaky symptoms to just having a tough time staying in shape as I age. I think we as mountain bikers are often limit pushers. We push ourselves to be fitter, faster, more skilled, or at any number of aspects of the sport that we love. I think along with that goes a bit of just suck it up mentality and push on through. I recommend that as your vintage starts getting interesting, you should not assume that fatigue, shortness of breath of just generally having a tougher time being able to do what you used to do is related to just the date on your birth certificate. It would be better to be on the safe side with a check up, because it is always better to out on the dirt than be under the dirt!
The knee is all better by the way. #AfterMarketHeartParts
So I spent that a little over two months working in the Kingdom of Bahrain. No quality mountain biking to be had there. You could make do, and I know some folks who have because they lived there, but not worth it for a visitor. Anyway, I got back and have been hitting up some of the local goods.
I can really say I have been in much of an exploring mood, just getting in some local dirt. After being away for that long, I kinda want to spend plenty of time with my wife. There is also a considerable amount of things that have to be taken care of as well.
I did however manage to grow as scraggly looking beard while I was gone. I don’t know how much longer this thing is going to hang around
So I have a few options for a MTB ride from my house. Two of them require riding on a section of road I am just not fond of as it twisty and narrow and idiots driving too fast while being distracted are way too common on this road There are a number of trees that bear the marks of dumb asses playing chicken with trees and losing. I am not too interested in playing that game with a car.
So my preferred trail system actually requires quite a bit more street riding to get to than the other two but they are much less dangerous streets and roads. Getting to the trail system also requires a bit of climbing which is good for the whole exercise thing.
There are has been sometime where I felt kinda meh about the local. Since I was off the bike for quite sometime earlier this year with a knee injury, I have rediscovered some of the joy of the local loop when I was actually able to get back on it again. Earlier on in the recover just getting to the trail from my house was all my knee could handle.
Now that my knee is on the mend enough that I can put some work on the climbs it is really nice to get back and enjoy this place. Even if all I do is make it up to the first climb and chill out on what I call “The Perch”. I am thankful for a knee that works again and my local loop.
I was pretty stoked to finally be able to get a way from the house in the midst of all this COVID-19 BS. The plan was to take the RV up to the Herky Creek Campground and base camp there for the weekend Nichol and got up there on Friday afternoon and a couple of hours later my longtime MTB Bud Bill arrived. We spent the afternoon and evening grubbing out catching up and sampling tasty whiskeys. Bill and I have learned a thing our two about our proclivity to try and solve world hunger around a campfire at night when there is a bike ride the following morning. We set an alarm clock, not to get up in the morning but to go to bed 🙂
The weather was pretty foggy the following morning it looked like we might get some drizzle action as well. We had the right gear so off we went. Today’s ride would be Pine Cove and Hub Trails.
We took advantage of the spousal shuttle service leaving Bill’s truck at the Hub Trailhead while Nichol dropped us off up in Pine Cove
It has been more than a couple moons since the last time I had started from Pine Cove so it took me a couple of minutes orientate myself. I ended up taking the route I new and then later in the ride realized that few new connectors had been added that optimized your elevation loss/gain. Our basic route was a bit of Project X, Toptimater, Dreamwalker, Hard Sun and Tubs.
The cloud cover kept the temperatures at just in the comfortable range. We got ourselves turned around a couple of times snooping on some of the new stuff (since the last time I rode there) but that is all part of the fun of this area.
That evening was more tasty grub and good times. The next morning the sun was out and it was time for some more fun on two wheels to the east of where we were base camped.
The Pretty Cool Temps and cloud cover were gone for this ride and replaced with gorgeous sunshine and warmer temps.
Spring was still holding on in a few spots.
Bill harassing the locals
We had a great time out on a nice bit of trail. This was my second time out on this route and I was really stoked to show off some of the bits of trail that included some of the California Riding and Hiking Trail.
Back at camp we enjoyed the rest of the afternoon, before breaking camp and rolling back to San Deigo. I had reserved the spot for Sunday night as well, but I enjoy not having to be rushed out of the site on the last day. This was a nice weekend getaway and good opportunity for Bill to check out live in the RV for some of less local adventures I have planned with this rig in the future.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
So I recently made a tweak to my Santa Cruz Bronson. It is built up as an XC rig and it rocks! It is a single track carving machine. The minor compromise I feel have had been making with this setup is that is not the most confidence inspiring rig when thingd get downhill and gnarly. I’m not talking downhill bike gnarly but both wheels on the ground kind of normal. It is not bad by any stretch of the imagination, I just feel I can “over ride” the bike. I hate all the micro-genre names but I wanted to shift more towards a trail/enduro feel on the bike.
I ended up trying something simple and relatively inexpensive. I switched from a 90mm 0 degree rise stem out for a 70mm 17 degree rise. I took the bike out to La Costa to see how this felt. As I predicted the climbs felt a bit awkward at firdt as my weight was shifted back slightly. On the climb I had plenty of switchbacks as well as some steeper pitches. By the time I made it up to the top of the climb I was feeling comfortable with the new setup. I descended down the back side and then up to the towers. This improvement was immediately noticed and I was feeling much more comfortable with the downhill chunkish bits.
Oh and the trails, the backside stuff was a bit overgrown with the flowerinf weeds starting to dry out. Meaning I got a free exfoliation treatment. Good Times.