Rolling through the Dog Days of Summer

Man long time no post.  The Dog Days of Summer have seemed to go on forever.  I spent most of the summer either down by the coast or as high up in the mountains as I could get.   La Costa, Lake Calavera, The San Clemente Singletracks and the Laguna Mountains have been the been most of my main riding haunts.

 Pretty Cool Trail

Of course there have been some excursions outside of the local range as well as places not fit for public blabbage.  Here is a Pretty Cool Trail off the beaten path that during the right kind of weather would be within sight of Palm Springs.

Homebase of my employeer is Philadephia and I am part of small contigent of folks who take care of things here on West Side.   Quite a few of my co-workers back in Philly are mountain bikers as well so we when they are out here we try to squeeze in some “Off Site” time with me playing Julie the cruise director.   Here is Jonathan out of the Laguna Mountains lugging around my UZZI.

Some good summer monsoon clouds rolling in.

Rocking a log ride 

I have been up on the Big Laguna Trail more times this summer than I have in quite a few years combined.    Here is Michael Paul riding the big log on the Los Gatos Trail.

From the top of the of Los Gatos trail near Mount Laguna you can get in some awesome views when it is clear out.   In the center of the picture above is downtown San Diego and Point Loma, 49.5 miles away as a crow flys.

Here is a zoomed in shot.  The downtown buildings are in the middle and Point Loma is on the left hand edge of the screen.  For a number of years I worked out at Point Loma and I always marveled at the handful of days in the winter when you could look at downtwon with snow capped mountains as the backdrop.   It was pretty cool to see the view from the opposite direction on this day.

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From another visit, here is my youngest son Jake making a run at the big log on the Los Gatos Trail.

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  This was a successful “One and Done” run for the log ride.  I’m going to have to watch out for this boy.

Guajome Park

So off and on I get asked where are good places to take kids riding.  On my website to-do list for quite sometime has been to create a where to take a kid guide.   Lake Hodges, Big Laguna Trails, Penaqsuitos Canyon are places on the list but I had been thinking about some of the smaller places that would be good for the MTBer with little wheels would be.  Guajome Park is one of those places good for the grommet MTBers to get a taste of dirt.

Guajome Park (Or as my kids like to call it “Yo Hommie Park” is located on the east side of Oceanside right off of Highway 76.   It is a county park that has a campground, a couple of small ponds and a series of trails that are no so overly engineered with split rail fencing and compacted non-native soil dirt sidewalks like are prevalent in many of the county parks near the urban environment.   This place still allows for kids to interact with the environment instead of just look at it.  When my kids where younger we used to hike out here often and go just out the little nooks and crannies of the place.

Last week I was talking to youngest son Jake about the park and that I wanted to get a webpage together so Jake decided to join me on the photo, map recon effort.

With about 4.5 miles of trail out here it can be quite fun for newbie kid.  Even an a newbie adult who is willing to do a lot of hamster wheeling can find the place fun.

There are mainly fireroads here but there are also enough singletrack bits to keep a kid well engaged.   There are two different playgrounds at the park as well as large population of resident ducks that quite fond of stale loaf bread.   This would be a great place to take a little kid out for his first “big” MTB adventure as there are lots of opportunities to do other things besides ride the bike.

When I say “little” kids I’m generally thinking newbies on bikes with less than 26″ wheels as once they get to that big, this place can get rather small and you would have to get creative at this place at that point.   Here is Jake working on riding this telephone pole skinny.   It took him a while to get the technique down but he eventually was able to hop up on the log at the skinny end and ride the whole thing.

This was an after school ride for Jake and we played around here until we ran out of daylight and had to head back for things like dinner and homework.  Good midweek stoke.

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.

The MBB Mobile is Dead!

So this past Tuesday morning on my way to work some dumbass in a 1986 Chevy Astro Van decided the red-arrow was a suggestion and decided to make a left hand turn across three lanes of traffic that had the green light.   Mr Dumbass left me with with no options and I clocked hit at about 30 degrees from head on at about 50 mph.   My truck pivots along the front of the van and slides sideways out the intersection and into a large metal pole that holds up all the signals light and thens proceeds to come to a rest about 30 feet past the intersection in the bike lane.

There might be a few of the W

Hmmm the drive shaft looks a little out of place.

It might buff out 🙂

That rear wheel does not look to be pointing in the right directions.

The good news was that I had barely a scratch on me and got away with just a concussion.  It could have been a lot worse.    Damn that was good truck that I all tweaked out for road trips. I plan on getting another one pretty much just like it.   Doctor’s orders are no mountain biking for two weeks.     I might have enough to catch up on some things with the rest of the website.

Lake Calvera with Jake

With all of the competing interests pulling at my boys’ time such as friends, hockey practice, hockey games, etc…It was really cool that Jake wanted to join me on a ride at Lake Calvera this morning.

I took him on a different group of trails than what I have typically done in the past.  Some of it was due to some of the trails being closed by the City of Carlsbad as they have started actively managing thier slice of the Calvera “Area”.  Another reason for the trail change up is tha Jake has gotten strong and better on the bike so I thought it was time to take him on some of the more technical bits.

Jake did quite well on the technical bits.   I was surprised that the squeeze type rock moves gave him more troubles than having to go up and over rocks.

Which he seemed to find easy to just pop up onto and roll off of.  Makes me wish I had started riding a mountain bike when I was a little grommet. 

This trail feature should have a sign “You can be no taller than this to got on this ride”.  It would have been a face smasher if I would have tried it.  All together we did about 12 miles or so.

On our pedal back to the house we started thinking about tasty brown cold beverages for post ride refreshments.

Ahh, Coke Slurpees!

A Big Bear Loop with Da Boyz

So this weekend the family spent a couple of days in Big Bear at my brother-in-law’s cabin.   I brought along the bikes just in case we could carve some time out for some fun in the dirt. 

Turns out we did grab some time one morning so the boys and I headed for the lazy boy chairs at Snow Summit for lift to the top of the mountain.

This was my first time doing the lift assisted riding on the mountain as well.  I have done stuff in the area and on the back side of the mountain but had never taken any of the stuff into town.  From the top of the lift we took 2N10 west along the ridgeline for a few miles and then took the short singletrack out to the Grand Viewpoint.

While I think the views from here are pretty cool (been here once before), the boys were like, “Yeah Yeah Yeah, is it time to go downhill yet?”

Lucky for them it was time to point the bikes down the hill.  After a quick bit of backtracking to 2N10, we took the Pine Knot Trail (1E01) down the hill.   We had discussed doing the traditional Grandview Point Loop that used the fireroad 2N08 to go down the mountain and the Towne Trail to cut back over to the Snow Summit parking lot.  Taking the Pine Knot trail would have us needing to ride an additional three miles back through town.   In a rare moment of sibling concurrence the boys asked “who would want to go down a fireroad?  Let’s take the singletrack!”   (Ahhhh, I was so proud, some of my parenting has been getting through. 🙂 )   After this point we did not see much of Will except for regroups.  We wanted to blaze ahead and I wanted to keep Jake within earshot.

Jake is gettting quite a bit faster.  On a couple of occasions when I zipped ahead  to get setup for a shot of him coming by I was surprised how quickly he caught up.   I was also surprised at how long it took me to catch back up to him after I put the camera away and got back on the bike.  He is working that hardtail really well.

  

Once down at the bottom at the Glen Aspen Picnic area we worked our way down on the streets to Highway 18 and cruised back through town.   To add a little more trail to the return leg, after going through the village, we hung a right on Knickerbocker Street and after a short bit we hung a left onto 2N08 and back onto the dirt.  There was some steep fireroad climbing to be done for a bit and it wiped the smiles of the boys’ face.   It was good for them.  I don’t want them to get used to the whole chair-lift lizard thing.    All was better once we got up to where the Town Trail comes off of 2N08 and contours it way back to the Snow Summit parking lot.    The boys had a good time and I was glad to get some quality time out on the dirt with them.   We celebrated we some post-ride sodas.

MIA Status

So man, long time no post for me. Truth be told, I have been enjoying other pursuits as of late. After spending plenty of time traveling and riding over the summer I have found life at home in the “slow” lane really freaking fun. I have been on the bike a bit, but first a little catchup.

 

The family (and a couple of friends) played hookie one day and enjoyed some mid-week fun at Knoxberry Farm. No lines was pretty freaking awesome.

 

Over Thanksgiving, we kicked up some dust in my Brother-In-Law’s yard with the go-carts.

 

Then there has been the weekly hockey practices and games. If it is not Jake on the ice at the Escondido Iceoplex,

 

It is Will at Tricity Inline rink. Always good times.

Early this week, a few friends and I did a little riding east of the Laguna Mountains. This is an area that I have not done much riding in so it was cool to check out some new stuff. Kitchen Creek, Fred Canyon, and Thing Valley were all on the menu.

 

It was not too long into our uphill exploration that some of the white stuff made an appearance. While just in the shadows at first, by the time we got up into the Lagunas proper there was more snow that not on the trails.

 

It is always a treat to get snow on your tires here in Southen California. Today’s dosage was just right, while enough to be a bit burdensome in spots it was for the most part  fun to hear the crunch under your wheels.

 

After bit of play up top we worked our way back down to lower elevations and a welcomed bit of warmth.  There looks to be some good scenic loops that can be put together out here. I have to go back a time or two to get everything figured out. One thing is for certain, I had a pretty cool time out there on the bike.

Back to Hitting the Local Stuff

I got back from Japan a couple of weeks ago and have been taking it easy for the most.  Enjoying the “normal” things in my life like the kid’s hockey games, practice, honey-dos, etc…. Oh, and I managed to break my FN left big toe just strolling through the house.    So not much in the way of blogging about mountain biking.  But I been squeaking in some ride here here and there.

Before the toe breakage, I met up with one of the usual suspects at one of the usual suspect spots for some playtime on the rocks.   After not riding here for over six months, the rocks and all the moves looked bigger.   I’m going to have to repolish my game in this area.

Just a couple of days ago, I tested out the toe on ride through Calvera with my youngest son, Jake.  While the toe was mildly a pain, it is okay to ride with.

 

What I was really stoked about was how well Jake was hanging.   I rode at around 90% of my normal pass and he was right there the whole time.  We did not do a whole lot of stopping either, just riding.  

Kids never seem to amaze me at the rate at which they progress.   We had a really good time out there and we got in around 12-14 miles all together.  It was a good day to be a Dad and on a bike.

Mammoth Lakes – Finishing Up

The last half of the family vacation were hella fun.  On Wednesday, the boys and I went up the mountain for some more trail fun.   We got off at the McCoy station about took “Trail Home” back down the Adventure Center.  From there we took the gondola back up to the McCoy station and took “Brake Through”.  The boys were riding quite well and was quite surprised at how quickly they have been progressing over this week.

 Jake on “Brake Trough”

The boys were itching to try some more difficult stuff so we decided to check out the lower portion of “Flow” and then onto “Shotgun”.   They really dug the more difficult terrain and some of the features like the wall ride.  

Will getting some good height on the Shotgun wall ride

Jake getting a little wall action.  Even with just getting barely on the wall he giggled and thought that was the best thing ever.

Will decided to tackle a log ride further down the trail.  I was a little apprehensive about it but was pretty stoked when after several attempts he nailed it.

 

We finished off the day at Lake Mary by renting some pedal boat to fart around on the lake and do a little fishing.     There was a lot more of pedalling around than fishing and Casey and Jake proved that pedal boats are not swamp proof.   It was the best boat rental ever as got way more than our money’s worth of laughs out of them.

On Thursday, while the family slept in, I we got in some runs on a few of the double black diamond trails.   They have some pretty gnarly trails up there that lett me humbled and stokes at the same time.   I did a couple of runs down Techno-Rock before hitting up Chain Smoke to Twilight Zone.   I was shotting some video and did not get any photos.    I can see a bigger bike in my future if I wanted to ride terrain like that on a regular basis.   For the final run, I went back up and did Bullet to Follow Me.    I was back at the room by lunch.

In the afternoon, the boys and I went checked out the old Mammoth Consolidated Mine.   The remenants of the buildings and equipment all over the site that are pretty cool to poke around.   

There is even a mine shaft that you can check out.  It is plugged some 30-40 down the tunnel but is really cool as you can still see the rails for the ore carts.  When I say cool, literally applies because as soon as you step into the the tunnel it feels like the tempurture is in the 60 degrees range. 

After finishing up at the mine we spent the rest of the afternoon feeding the fish at Twin Lake one baited hook at a time.    The following morning it would already be time to pack up and head home.  Man does time fly when you are having fun.  This was a great vacation and one I sure we will remember fondly for many years to come.

Mammoth Day Two

What a fun day in Mammoth we had yesterday.   After leisurely getting up and around, the boys and I went off to do some fishing at some of the local lakes.    Fishing is a good way to help teach the value of patience and we should have been doing this more often.  With my kid’s daily life of video games, hockey, skateboarding, bikes and all the other things that keep them buzzing with activity it was good to put things in the slow lane for a change.  We were all reminded that is called fishing and not catching.   

 

On several occasions we watched trout swim right below the rock were were perched on.   One even came up to the surface and gulped down a bug that just landed on the water. 

I was really stoked when my boys not only got to see a Bald Eagle but also watched it swoop down and pluck a trout right out of the water.  The eagle then landed on an dead tree nearby and proceeded to scarf down the trout.

While all Bald Eagles are big birds this was not a huge eagle like the one I saw in Anacortes, Washington earlier this year.   One thing is for certain I was so stoked that my boys got to have such an awesome nature experience without having to turn to the Discovery channel.

My mid-afternoon we decided to cut the fish some slack and headed back to the condo.   Looking at the clock we realized we had enough time to catch a gondola ride up the mountain.  Jake and Casey had some shopping on thier to-do list so Will and I suited up and headed out for a run down the mountain.  Will has been bucking to do some of the more difficult trails on the mountain.   I was also looking forward to some of the more technical and feature/stunt oriented trails as well but at the same time the Dad in me has been apprehensive about putting Will in over his head.  

After talking with some folks I decided to test Will out on the black diamond upper section of “Skid Marks”  that starts off right off the top of the mountain.    Will did quite well through the rocky bits and switchbacks, but did take a minor “soil sample”.   He did have all of the protective gear on so he did not even get a scratch.   I did find that following my son through the technical and semi-exposed sections made my riding more difficult as my brain kept switching back and forth between mountain-biker and dad mode.      

Once I realized that Will’s bike handling skills have been improving significantly I found that I was able to spend more time riding with him as a fellow mountain biker and and less as a protective father.  After Skid Marks we took the more intermediate trails of Paper Route and Juniper down the mountain and enjoyed some great swooping and flowing singletrack goodness down the mountain.  

The late afternoon light was really nice and colors of the mountains were starting to go off.   We stopped a couple of times just to take in the views.  Will has always enjoyed the thrill of riding but I think something may have clicked this afternoon about intrinsic value of experiencing the scenery and of the overall outdoor experience beyond simply the enjoyment of riding the bike.