Night Riding

Over the last couple of weeks I have incorporated some night riding back into my schedule.   Will has hockey practice at the Escondido Sports Complex on Wednesday nights from 7-9PM.    The facility is only about half a mile from the north side of Lake Hodges so I have been hitting up Hodges while he is practicing.  The first go around was a run up to the top of Bernardo Peak and back and the second time was a speed run to Hernandez Hideaway and back.   After the first ride, one thing is for certain, my night time skills needed some brushing off.   It did not help that I had not been on Bernardo Peak since the October 2007 fires.  Sunset was approaching while I was climbing so I got a good look at the damage.   The vegetation tunnel towards the bottom of the climb has been completely rerouted.   This was a good call by the rangers.  That section was just one big rut with the cool feature being the tunnel.   Since the vegetation tunnel is gone, it was a good time to reroute the trail in a more sustainable manner.     I enjoyed the watching it get dark from the top before coming back down.  That is when I realized there were a bunch more loose rocks on the trail that I had remembered from the climb.   The shadows from the lights can make things seem a bit more interesting and I’m sure my hiatus from night riding had something to do with it.   The lack of vegetation on the hillside could have caused more rocks to erode into the trail as well.  One other slight annoyance was that I my current handlebar mounts don’t work well the oversize bars so the best I could was to have the flood been slightly angled to the left.   Either way, I had a downright gingerly descent off the peak.   I’m leaning more toward the “I’ve become a night riding weenie” explanation that those other technical things.  

Sunset from Bernado Peak in August 2005

The second ride the following week went better but I did keep it near the lake.   I had not been on a speed run ride in a while so it was fun just to try and hammer around the lake and back.    With both rides I was back about 30 minutes before Will was done, so I will have to add some more trail the routine.  My goal is to get back with only about 10 minutes before Will is done.      Gotta get in the miles when I can.

Arizona South Mountain Video

So I finally got around to getting the video together from our couple of days on South Mountain.   This video by far has more climbing scenes in it than any othe video I have done.  While Greg, Jerry and I all had our moments in the sun, Keven seemed to always be putting on a technical skills clinic.  I am always amazed at how well he can finesse stuff, particularly climbs.    This video was also the first time I had some inputs from Will on how to put it together which was a fun bit of Dad, Son time.

December 2020 Update:   Please check out this post for the remastered video up to more modern standards:

Anywho  RIGHT CLICK HERE to download the 9 minute video that will set your hardrive back 123MB.


PSA – Poison Oak

Last week I was on scouting trip checking out a way old trail that could possibly be reclaimed for mountain biking.   Don’t ask, it is currently on the Double Top Secret – Specialized Compartmentalized Information List.  There are Navy Seals posted on the roof of the building across the street right now with laser-pointer sights shining through the windows as I type.   Somewhere along the hike I came in contact with the evil leaf and now I am all jacked up with the stuff. I used to stroll the stuff as a kid, but over the last five years I have progressively gotten more sensitive to the stuff.   While I have a full complement of goodies to try and keep the stuff off of me and scrub the stuff off afterwards.  Ever year I seem to get a patch of the stuff.   This time is especially a bummer due to some of the locations.  Lets just say I taint interested in getting my saddle time right now.

Anyway, thought I share some of the pages I have browsed off and on on the subject.

Poison Oak FAQ

Here is stuff on natural remedies

This is a good site will lots of info was well as a review of specific products.

Sorry no ooze shots here 🙂


Spring in AZ08 Pages Up

I finally got around to getting all my pictures and stuff from my fun little jaunt out to Phoenix. We had some might fun playtime on South Mountain and in the White Tank Mountains. Some of this is not totally new, but it is the first time I have gotten it all together.

Day One on South Mountain – Telegraph Pass and Upper National

Day Two on South Mountain – Mormon Loop, National, Geronimo and Mormon.

Day Three – White Tanks Mountain Regional Park – Mesquite, Willow Canyon, Ford, Goat Camp and Glendale ER.

I would like to give a big thanks out to the tons of folks who gave me well-wishes and sent good vibes and thoughts my way after the crash on the Goat Camp trail. It really helped to keep my spirits up through a rather painful healing process. I have tried to get back to everyone but I am certain I have missed a plenty.


Gutting It Out

Quote of the Day: “This would be so easy without the cramping”

 I was going to be climbing Nate Harrison Grade up to the top of Palomar Mountain for my weekend ride as I was to met with a lady who owns to chunk of property up on the mountain.  This is no small ride as it is an 11.1 mile climb with 4,700 feet of climbing.  Will heard me talking about it on Saturday afternoon and said he wanted to go.  He remembered this from a drive we had done in the truck a few times.   I stressed to him that this was a serious ride with an 11 mile climb.   In true young mind fashion that never ceases to amaze me he replies with “That means we get to go down the mountain for 11 miles…COOL!”.    I warned multiple of times about the size and effort required for this ride.  I also reminded him that I was not going to let him weasel out of hockey practice that night.   He was undaunted, so I woke him up bright and early Sunday morning and we headed out.  

Will at start

On the drive out, I talked to him about pacing yourself and how Nate Harrison Grade is a great teacher of pace and rythm climbing.   We were climbing by 7:30AM with a nice temp of only 60 degrees.  I knew it was going to be a roaster today, so the plan was to get up in elevation before the valley turned into a large scale brick oven.

Will early on

Will started out all charged up zipping ahead and talking some smack.   I snickered as I knew that would not last long.  Fifteen minutes later, the tables had turned and my boy was suddenly more interested in the “wisdom” I had to offer vice the “babble” I was spouting a little further back down the road.   So while acutely listening this time, I noticed he had grown enough as of late to warrant a few tweaks to the seatpost and saddle.   While I did not take a picture of it, his seatpost looks a lot like our dated height marks on the closet door back home.  Geez they grow quick. 

Stopping to smell the lupins

There were plenty of wildflowers in bloom along the climb and we took plenty of breaks along the way.  He was really finding “his” pace and a good rhythm.   The temps were climbing faster than we were and just about when I was going to declare it hot, we reached an elevation where things started cooling off.

I think I can, I think I can

At around the seven mile mark, Will started getting the first twinges of cramps in his quads.   We was not interested in turning around.  We did take breaks more often, and he was more open to the mocha flavored Clif shots, banannas, and electrolytes that he was turning down earlier.

Around the nine-mile mark the boy was suffering and the “This would be so easy without the cramping” statement came out, which I could only reply with (with a bit of laughter in my voice) “Yep, been there done that”.   At this point the thought of turning around did come up.   I told him we could turn around if he wanted to, but we were really close and getting to the top would be quite an accomplishment.   After a long break, he decided to keep climbing.   I was impressed. 

Near Top

Most of Nate Harrison Grade is a fairly smooth dirt road,  with the last mile or so at the top being pavement.   Just before reaching the pavement is the rockiest section of the whole road.  While normally it would be no big deal, when your fighting off cramps it can be a real pain.   He soldiered through it and once on the pavement he spun along nicely with the cramps mostly subsided.

We enjoyed ourselves at the top,  grubbing down on the remainder of our trail food.   I could tell that he was stoked to have pulled off the climb.  Will spent little time actually looking around and when I called him over to check out some particular sights he reminded me of our “mission” for the day, “Dad, I did not pedal up this mountain to see the view.  I came up here to ride down.  Lets Go!”   


So down we went.   Gleeful giggles were heard many times.   The Dad in me was scared a few times at his speed, but at the same time the mountain biker in me was going “HELL YEAH!

Down the hill

What took hours to climb took somewhere around 20 minutes or so to descend.  It was a stupidly hot 99 degrees at the bottom.   No big deal, when you have a 30+ mph breeze in your face.  After some Mexican food on the way home and a dip in the pool, he was ready to head out for hockey practice.   He did look a little flat on the rink, but I was pretty freaking impressed with how he gutted things out over the course of the day.   Oh yeah, he had no issues going to be bed early that night. 🙂


Quick Spin at La Costa

This past weekend’s Archipelago Ride really beat the snot out of me.  While it was probably not the smartest way to get back into the saddle, it sure was fun.   I was stupidly sore on Monday and Tuesday.  I normally ride on Wednesdays during the week, but skipped and instead let the midweek ride slide until today.    I decided to catchup with my buddy Michael (aka Yeti_Rider) for a spin through the La Costa Preserve on his lunch break.   I got there a little earlier and as I pulled up I was treated to a bit of a hottie-fest.    Four great looking, fit, spandex clad ladies with knee and elbow pads on.   I tried my best not to look like a perverted leecher.  I’m not sure if I pulled it off our not.  Needless to say, creative domain names for a spinoff of this site started going through my head.    The show was quickly over and within minutes one of the other crazies from the Archipelago Ride showed up.  He was showing his buddy the connector to Elfin.   Good to see the word is spreading.   Finally Michael showed up and we did a loop.  Nothing fancy, nothing long, just some catchup chit-chat along the trail before he had to head back to work.   Just a great day to squeak in a ride on the bike.    

 Greenage at La Costa

Archipelago Ride

Rich Julian and I have been tossing around the idea for this ride for quite sometime as part of the our “Islands Project” concept of pushing to have all of the our small islands of open space connected throughout the county.  Each little island of open space on its own has a network of trails but nothing that gets into the “epic” range.

The ride we did yesterday was both a research and proof of concept ride.   While nearly the entire route is part of the county general trail plan, there are significant chunks that are not a reality yet.   The rider list included 15 supporters and friends who have all put tools to earth to help create and maintain our trails around the county.

Climing Vista Del Mar

We started out bright and early from the La Costa Preserve and climbed the Vista Del Mar trail up to the top and then dropped down the backside and headed to the hill just to the east with the two water towers on top.  From there we followed a series of easements down into the Escondido Creek watershed.   While riding along these easements was not too interesting in was a good venue to point out exactly where we want to put in singletrack as part of the La Costa to Elfin Forest connector.

In La Costa

Getting over to Elfin Forest was not all easement travel.  There are some nice sections that were created courtesy of the equestrain communities of Harmony Grove and Elfin Forest.  

 Almost in Elfin

Here we are crossing Escondido Creek just inside of the Elfin Forest Park.

Crossing Escondido Creek

Once into Elfin Forest, it was up the WAAAAAY Up trail.    Did I mention that this was my first significant ride in about three weeks?  I was feeling it.   Elfin Forest gets busy on the weekend so it was a good thing most of us where not setting any speed records up the climb.

Elfin Climb

Can you say Multiuse Trail?


The view of The Way Up trail from the Del Dios Highlands Trail

Once up into Elfin Forest we went down the other side into Lake Hodges on the Del Dios Highlands Trail.  

Way Up From Del Dios Highlands 

 This “Trail” is a good example of why we need to educate land managers and planners on what a trail is and is not.  This was a steep graded fireroad with a generous amount of blue slate gravel.   One redeeming quality of this descent was that it has some  monster waterbars that you could catch some bits of air on if you desired to do so.

Del Dios Highlands Trail

Rich was unable to do the ride due to a recent unplanned surgery so he setup up the super sag wagon and cheerleader support.

A Two Beer Ride

Who says you have to wait until the end of the ride for a beer?

From Lake Hodges we rode the Del Dios Trail along the lake until we had to hop on the road for e a bit due to the pump station construction that is going on towards the dam.  Once around that we got back on the lake trail and made our way down to the dam.

Hodges Dam


Freaking Roadie ruined a prefectully good MTB shot.

We had to do a bit of hoping onto Del Dios Highway for a couple of short bits to get to the San Dieguito River Trail.   This section of trail was just about to open when the October 2007 Firestorm came through and burnt about 62% of the entire corrider.    We were given special permission to use the closed Sante Fe Valley Trail.  We could soon see why the trail is still closed as seven bridges are completely burnt out.

Santa Fe Valley Trail

Even with the burn damage this was still a pretty area.  There is a bunch of work to be done, so when you here about volunteer work oppurtunities here, it would really help if you can lend a couple hands and a little sweat.

Flower Cruising

We did not exactly follow my intended route through this area, but we all knew this was going to be a bit of a Lewis and Clark area.   We ended up doing a sizable switchbacking climb that could have been avoided, the good news for me was there were no open chants of mutiny so all was good.   

We soon tied into the Santa Luz Loop and fully known trails for me.   We made pretty good time through Lusardi Canyon towards Black Mountain, but man was I starting to drag.  There are a couple of hills that I referred to as “good workouts” in my individual trail reviews but combined with our previous mileage it freaking hurt the quads. 

Heading towards Black Mountain

Rich once again met us with Sag Wagon support and encouragement.  We topped off waters and scarfed a few snacks before heading off around the rest of the Santa Luz Loop to the Los Penaquitos Canyon Connector.   This section of the Santa Luz Loop has grown in really nicely and the singletrack has gotten really good.

Santa Luz Singletrack


The connector took us under a few bridges and another mean climb and into area known as “The Tunnels” that brought up onto Del Mar Mesa where we then dropped into Penasquitos Canyon.

In Da Tunnels

At this point in the ride we could all hear tiny bubbles escaping from a tap in the distance.   Considering most of our states of fatigue, we made quick work to the west end of the canyon and the Pro-Built Wheels Bike Shop where good food and beers were awaitng us. 

In Shop Keg

An In-Shop Keg, You gotta love it.  On this evening it was Sierra Nevada on tap. 

Da Shop

The guys at the shop did it up really great for us and it was most welcome.   Big thanks to Squadra for hooking up the return shuttle back up north after the eveing festivities.    We could have easily done 60-70+ miles but we settled for just 43 miles with about 5,500 feet of climbing.    I’m freaking beat and loving it!


Back in the Saddle at Lake Calvera

After a couple of weeks being off the bike due to my face injury at Goat Camp, I finally got back on the trail.   I had tried doing a bit of stuff in the outdoors late last week but the “brand new” skin on my lips was quite sensitive and the slightest of breeze and direct sunlight was unpleasant to say the least.   Today I gave it another shot and decided hit up one of my local trails, Lake Calvera, which I ride to right from my front door.   Will has a two hour hockey practice tonight so I decided to take Jake out for some one-on-one Dad time on the trails.

Jake on Bridge

We had a great time out on the trails today.  I am always amazed at how easy kids put up new skills.   Most of the time I show them something once, they do it once and then it is locked in.   Man I wish I could still learn at that rate.    I have made a point of gradually progressing the length and difficulty of the rides I take them on each outing and today was no different.   I took him on a lot more twisty and rocky singletrack that he has done in the past.   I also made a point to get him to the “Back 40” of Lake Calvera which meant he had to do a good deal more climbing than usual out there.  

Jake Singletrack Cruising

For me I can tell it will take a few rides to get my MoJo back.   I still have some numb spots on my face which makes for a really weird sensation (or lack thereof) to feel the sun and breeze only on a portion of your face.    The good news is that the spots are getting smaller everyday.    In what little technical bits I did encounter today, I caught myself glancing at where I don’t want to go.  Not good.   I’m sure after a few rides I’ll get “it” back but it was an odd mental riding state today.    What I lacked today in riding prowess was more than offset by the high quality time I got with my youngest son who put in a solid 14.4 miles today. 


A Chance to Give Back!

Mark this on your Calender Folks.     

From the San Diego Mountain Bike Association 

Black Mountain Open Space Park

Volunteer Trail Work
SATURDAY, MARCH 29th, at 8:30am
Having organized more than a dozen volunteer events held at Black Mountain Park since 2002, The San Diego Mountain Bike Association has helped to define and shape the park’s trail system. One new trail recently opened, and more trails are being planned. Our volunteer efforts and close working relationship with the park’s ranger staff will continue to ensure that all current and future trails are open to mountain biking.Join SDMBAus on SATURDAY, March 29th, at 8:30am to help maintain the trails we’ve for which we’ve worked so hard to gain access. We’ll be doing tread work on the CANYON RIM TRAIL, which badly needs repair to make it usable for mountain bikers. Bring water and gloves; we’ll provide everything else!

 Here is thier flyer for the trailwork event with directions on how to get there

Here is my information on the Black Mountain area (It could use a little updating).

Also right next to Black Mountain is a portion of the Santa Luz Loop with is worth checking out as well.

Santa Luz with Black Mountain in the Background