This has been a pretty awesome week. Sunday I did my first MTB ride since my heart valve replacement surgery in November. The big litmus test was having enough upper body strength to lift the bike up onto my over the bed truck rack on my truck. I had also been doing some tooling around on the bike on the street and curbs and not being jostled so it was time to give the sternum (along with its titanium wire reinforcements) some mild strength tests.
The climb up onto the ridge was good and it was so nice to be doing some huffing and puffing on a real bike out in the sunshine. I also checked out the Lower San Ysabel truck trail. All of which was in good shape. My sternum felt pretty good but there was mild discomfort over some of the chatterish stuff. None of the discomfort rose to the level of a sneeze! All together about I did 15 miles and change with about 1,400 feet of climbing.
Wednesday, I went out to South Lake Hodges. Well I actually parked on the North Side and took the bridge over. My tenure at riding this place predates the bridge so I still refer to them as two separate places. But I did the typical Southside stuff and then made my way over to the Highland Valley trail. At this point it was pretty obvious that most of my workouts have been no longer than 60 minutes so I took bit of a break. After that I was back at it and the Highland Valley trail was a fun as I remembered it. I decided to do a touch of road connection and made my way over to Raptor Ridge. I was pretty tired after climbing Raptor Ridge and I was going to close out day with a return back via Mule Hill.
I was almost back to the kiosk area of Mule Hill when I was stopped by an SDGE crew who had the trail closed for some pipeline work. There was no detour so I had to backtrack about 2 miles to get back onto Highland Valley road to get then work my way back around. The trail should have been close at the last trail junction where people could divert around. While this was inconvenience for my tired legs. There was a hiker who got turned around that was really bummed. I did make them aware of this and hopefully they apply some common sense on where they close at for the remainder of their workdays.
All together I got in about 25miles and 1,200 feet of climbing. It was more than I had planned and I was well whooped. It is so good to be back on the dirt and certainly better to be on the dirt than in the dirt!
A friend of mine whose mug shots have been sprinkled all around this website took a hiatus from riding in 2017. I am pretty stoked to have nudged him enough to get back to living dirty on two wheels.
We decided to do the south side of Lake Hodges for the return ride. The nice about the south side is you can make things pretty easy, there is some technical spots and there are lots of options to add more mileage.
It has really felt good to be able to ride again and I have been working on getting back into shape while taking a measure approach to the riding as the knee gets stronger. I certainly do not want to have a relapse of the pain issues.
I have been able to get in three rides in this past week. First of was Lake Hodges where I did the north and south sides for about a 20 mile effort.
I did my local ride from the house and felt pretty good on it.
And I meet my buddy Dave for a ride and La Costa which included some of the Back 40 goodness. Maintaining proper social distancing was pretty easy with Dave. I could barely keep him within 100 feet let alone 6 feet.
On the backside trails we came across a Rattler. He was pretty happy where he was at so we had to give him some encouragement to get off the trail. There were no sticks of the appropriate length around so I stood behind my bike, held onto the saddle and rolled the bike up close to the snake. One the front wheel got within a foot of the snake he figured it was best to give up his ground. If you have your arm outstretched to you saddle and lean over while you do this you can keep seven plus feet between you and the snake. I like to get these folks away from the trail when I encounter them as you never know when some Ahole is going to come along think these things need to be killed.
After we got this fellow to move along we finished up the ride. I felt really good about how I finished up the ride. It was a good week of ridin
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.
Lake Hodges is not in bad shape right now. On this particular outing I combined both the south side and the north side trail
All together I did about 24 miles of fairly quick paced riding (for me). I did not add in Bernardo peak. If I had that would have made for some pretty legit “in town” mileage. I think I have caught myself being a trail snob and passing by this place to go ride something better. It was nice to give myself a bit of a mental reset on this area. I don’t care how fit you are you should be able to come out here and find a way to both put a smile on your face and wipe it off all while putting some burn on your legs.
If you think I’m stretching things a bit, try combining Raptor Ridge, the south and north side and Bernardo peak in a single ride.
So I have not been up Bernardo Mountain located on the north side of Lake Hodges in a quite some time. While it is not a terribly long climb, it has always been a solid climb with some pretty technical bits up near the top. For many years it has been one of those benchmark trails to judge where I stand against my former self. I decided to go out and run “the test” again.
Before I really got started I had to take a short pause to yield the right of way to one of the locals. I have only see a few rattlesnakes this year so I was pretty bummed that I was not lugging a round my DSLR rig on this ride. After some interaction time with Mr Nope Rope I was onto the climb proper.
There is a distinctive spot on the trail where the “test” really starts. Its probably a little more than halfway up and the trail switchbacks to the right and gets rocky, ledgy and steeper all at once. It is not like this all the way up but there are plenty of sections like this to negotiate. From this point on I had a series of disappointments. (Just for the record I did not clean the climb to the summit from here) The amount of sanitation that has occurred in this trail has very much changed the character of the trail. For the most part there are no longer any loose rock sections to climb. The loose rocks have for the most part have been kicked off the trail and piled up along the sides. People have even pulled out rocks to make some sections smooth. Smooth sections that are now going to be more prone to erosion now that the soil “armor” is gone. I realize that some people think they are improving the trail, but really? There are also those other types you feel the need to modify the trail in order to say they rode it or to get that personal best. Those folks are some other special flavor of narcissistic asshole.
Maybe I’m just a grumpy old bastard. Maybe I’m the narcissist asshole yelling the equivalent of “back in my day we had to walk to school in the snow, uphill, both ways!”. Either way I did much better on that climb than I should have. It was not because I was in any kind of better shape or more skilled than my last outting here. The climb is just not as hard as it used to be and I’m pretty aggravated about. Its not easy by a long shot, it is just not as hard as it used to be. I realize this happens to most trails as I have seen it happen in numerous places but it does not mean I have to like it! Alright Bitch Sesson complete.
It has been pretty hot as of late so a dawn patrol ride was in order. Lake Hodges was the place.
My sweetie joined me on this ride as well. We pretty must did the north side trails as an out and back.
It is definitely summer with pretty much all the vegetation in dry hot weather mode. There was some surprises. The cacti for example has just recently flowered which I expected that would have happened much earlier in the year.
Sunday I did an MTB ride-along with San Dieguito River Park Senior Ranger Dave Hekel. After my recent Coast-to-Crest Trail trip I had some questions about the park and tagging along on his Sunday patrol was an easy what to chit-chat about the park and get in a ride. I ride Lake Hodges quite often as of late. It is right on the way home so it is in the routine post-work ride rotation. I have seen lots of critters out here on these trails. Deer, snakes, coyotes, rabbits and all kinds of birds. On this ride I ended up with a critter encounter of completely different sort.
While riding the “high road” single track on the north side we came across an obviously distressed little coyote pup stumbling across the trail like a drunken sailor. After a quick look around the hillside to see if mom was anywhere nearby, I scooped this critter up. It was tiny and whopped and did not resist in the slightest to me picking it up. A quick scan showed that this female pup was not injured but had pretty big tick in one ear. Dave went up the canyon to see if there was an unattended den but could not find anything. We guessed that this little gal had been away from momma for a least a full day or two.
Talk about camouflage. Look how the coat is a spot on match to the hillside in the background. While Ranger Dave made phone calls I gave her some water. I took the top off of my water bottle and turned it upside down and used it as a small bowl. She drank quite a bit of water and it seemed to help as after about 5 minutes she would have a spat of being squirmy. I’m thinking instincts were telling her to get away. I found that if you held her close to my chest she would stay calm. (Much better than the one-handed holds for posing her for the camera)
(Whooped but still a cutie)
While Ranger Dave was getting all of the arrangements made quite a few riders came by so the this pup because the star of trailside show and tell session.
(Check out how long those claws are for its size)
Soon the rangers had a plan. I rode/walked the rest of upper singletrack with this pup nuzzled up between one hand and my chest to a meet up spot with another ranger with a truck. While Dave and I waited for the other ranger to arrive the pup feel asleep in my hands. There was a point when we wondered if she had “checked out” but then I could feel her chest going in and out so things were good. Once the other rangers arrived we handed off the pup to them and they were off to a nearby wildlife recovery facility.
After that we went off to finish out the rest of the patrol. We did encounter a rattlesnake on the trail and I did a slight bump stop into the back of Dave. Normally seeing a rattlesnake is kind of a big deal but considering that this was the 14th rattler I have seen this year (I typically only see 2-4 a year) along with the coyote pup just a little while ago, this rattler sighting was kind of ho hum. It was a beautiful day but after the coyote pup and the rattler then return trip back the ranger office was uneventful. This was a most excellent day to be out on a bike and reinforced to me that your next life enriching event could be right around the next bend in the trail.
I added the Mule Hill and San Pasqual Valley trails located near Escondido to the site. You may also hear these trails referred to as Raptor Ridge as that is the top of the climb. While this is for the most part a non-technical trail, the farmland scenery not typically associated with San Diego it offers is worth a look-see.