Exploring in the Southern Sierras

I did some camping and riding a little while ago in the Southern Sierras.

We spent a couple days out off the beaten path checking out some potential MTB goodness.

It was a little late in the year to be where we were and the temps were down in the 20’s at night

We even got a little snow on us the first night.

The trip and riding were certainly this….

Playing Dental Floss on a rock outcropping that looked like a row of molars.

A little air time.

We got at high as 8,000 feet and some points.    

Oh the names of the trails?   They were KTS #1 and ICTU #4  (Kinda Top Secret and ICan’t Tell U)

The world is bike place, go bike it!

Black Mountain Shakedown Ride

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.

The Return of Alpine Action

So after a summer hiatus from the Wednesday stoke rides in Alpine, it time to play in the rocks again.    It still is amazing how after spending sometime away from this place,  the rocks and moves look much bigger and intimidating than the I last time I rode them.    It was good and hot but I have certainly ridden in must nastier heat so overall it was not bad.

On the climb up we took a break and help Steve figure out some of the features on his new camera, a pretty trick little Canon S95 (I think).

 Steve, was out on his latest Clown Bike.    Steve thought it would be cool to climb a good portion of the trail we normally only come down on.  While it was interesting it was large Cup of Pain.

 This Jones rig has a massive 3.8 tire up front mounted to a  mega-wide 26″ rim.   Paired in the rear is a 29er wheel with what looks like a “punnie” 2.6 tire.   The normal tired 29er with the clown tire 26er makes for pretty much equal ground to axle heights front and rear.

We swapped bikes a couple time during the ride and you can’t help but laugh out loud within 10 seconds pedaling this thing.   Surprisingly this is a good riding bike, and  you feel like you are steering a monster truck around when you look down at the massive front end.    Steve was airing the thing which he made look easy and giving me a good chance to find some new perspective to some of the features with my still pretty new ultra wide angle lens.

Jeff Jones has recommended to land nose first with this bike and Steve proved that to be sound.    I never got a landing shot but that tire has something like 10psi in the front and you can see and hear the tire squishing on the landing. 

More Steve Air Time.   After the ride it was time for some Mananas grub and a Cervaza


Rare shot of of Aqua sans helmet.  On the way back from Alpine an old high school buddy that I had not seen in over 20 years was in town for the night so we hooked up for a couple brews and some long overdue catching up.  It was good day both on and off the bike.

Goodies in the Mail

“Dad, why did you ship an empty box back to the states?”   That was the question my kid asked me shortly after I got home.  I was stoked already.

So look what was in my garage when I got back from Japan.   A carbon fiber hardtail frame.   Stupidly light and downright sexy.

I have not decided if this is going built this up to replace my single speed or if it may become my geared XC rig.   If it come in as light as I think it is going to it could see some travel action as it and the bike box’s combined weight may be under the threshold for the airlines overweight charge.   

More to follow.