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.

Fugato-yama exploration

Well I’m back on the right side of the International Date Line and I must say I had a really cool time in Japan but I’m glad to be back at home where I have more “normal” things to fill up my day like leaky facets, broken sprinklers, kid’s hockey games and other family goodness.

The last two weeks in Japan were pretty busy so not much time to play online, but I did get in some riding.  Specifically I went out to the largest chunk of forest on the pennisula.  Most of my friends refer to this area as Fugatoyama, but it is actually a sizable chunk of the Kanagawa Wildlife Protection Area that has several names.  Topology-wise there are a series of ridges lines that form a reverse C shaped bowl with a river that forms and flows from east to west  of out the outlet of “the bowl” and onward to Segami Bay.  Most of the riding occurs and the northern leg of the “C” and down the northeastern flanks of the ridgelines down to the Tokyo Bay side of the pennisula.  

In 2004, I had done quite a bit of exploring on the southern leg of the reverse C. There are nice sections of trail in that area interspresed with hike-a-bike and aggressive sections.   If you have ever ridden Bell Ridge or Los Pinos in Orange County it is sorta like that but forested and the trail is often criss-crossed with roots.  I had snooped around for connections between the North and South legs but had mostly found brutal steep hikes that were “Advanced/Expert Hike-A-Bikes”. 


I really wanted to find a connector that only included some “Upper Intermediate Hike-A-Bikeage”  After a good bit of research I had some proposed routes that inlcluded going into “The Bowl”.   There is an awesome chunk of trail going into the bowl.  It is wonderful sweeping flowing singletrack that gracefully looses its elevation into the bowl.  I was hoping to find such another trail leading out of the bowl to the south.   Hope…..Hope on it’s own is for idiots who are too stupid to come up with a plan.  The plan was to be mentally prepared for a brutal hike-a-bike up to the south or bailout on a proposed trail along the river to the west.

“The Bowl” is an amazing wooded area that rivals some of the best forested scenery I have ever been in. I found myself not making much headway and I was enjoying every minute of it.  

I learned a really interesting bit of information from some of the locals about the snakes of Japan.  All of the venonmous snakes have slited eyes while all of the non-venonmous ones have round eyes.   The drawback to practically applying the information is that you have to get close enough to them to figure it out.

After exploring most of the options in the west end of the bowl I was soon started picking trails that would take me towards the southern ridges.  The bowl is not as much of a bowl as I had expected as there were some smaller ridges inside of the bowl that proved to be beaters.   This was by far not the first I had failed to fully appreciate the thin topo lines spaced closely together.   My payment to the mountain gods would come in the form of burning calves and triceps as I carried, lunged, and pushed my bike up the trails less traveled.

Once I had gotten up onto these intermediate ridges, I was presented with some trail options that left me scratching my head.  It was one of those things were I was pretty sure were the splits would take me but knowing and confirming are two different things.  I took a couple of these options as out and back to confirm were they were coing before continuing along my intended route.  

The next series of trail options shed off yet some more elevation and took me further down into the bowl.  When I reached a point where there was supposed to be a four-way intersection, I only found a T-intersection with my intended direction being the missing leg.    From pouring over my Japanese maps I figured out that I would have to take a long uphill climb that would most likely be hike-a-bike way to the west to catch the southern leg of the “C”.  I already knew the southern leg would also have a bit of hike-a-bike between the riding sections.   I was feeling fatigue creeping in but more importantly I was mentally growing tired of the hike-a-bike exploring.   I opted to take the trail option that followed the stream/creek downstream.

Boy was I glad I went that way.  After a good bit of technical riding, the trail started mellowing out and the riding got real flowing and just awesome.  I now started encountering some hikers here and there.  The further west and downstream I went the more mellow things got.  This was one hell of a great “bailout”. Eventually the “trail” ended at and old road that has been turned back over to mother nature when the wildlife protection area was established.   Mother Nature is doing a mighty fine job with this road.

Over the next few miles the trail/road turned to a dirt road, then a paved road and before long I was back in rural civilization.   I ended up taking a series of streets and trails back to the apartment.  While cruising back I got to thinking that if this was back in the states, it would surely be designated wilderness area or some kind of sensitive area that would be off-limits to bike.  Hats off to the Japan and thier outdoor culture.  Trails are trails over there.  You can ride your bike anywhere you dare too including national parks and thier wilderness equivalent.  From what I understand there are only a few trails in the entire country that are off-limits to bikes. One of them is Mount Fuji and that is closed only during the busy hiking season.  After dinner that night I broke down and packed up the bike and got all packed up to finish that last bits of work and fly home the following evening.

San Dieguito River Park Trailwork

Saturday I spent a good chunk of the day helping out with the construction of a new section of trail that will be part of the Coast-to-Crest trail.   This was a a short notice trailwork to get some things accomplished prior to March 15th when restrictions on access to the area take effect in an effort to give the threatened gnatcatcher bird a better breeding season.  

Before we could get started in earnest we had to relocate a couple of the “locals”.

I was pretty stoked with this shot above as I got this snake’s eye in focus and the light was good enough that you could see the flash of the camera.  While nobody but me can pick it out, there is a bit of my reflection in the it’s eyes.   I can’t help but wonder if I had one of those $5K 22MP cameras and some L-series glass would I have been able to pick that up better.

This was some exceptionally tough work done that involved almost exclusively rock work. This section of the trail is within the 20 year flood plan of the San Dieguito River so it will be a raised section of trail with periodic culverts. Our main jobe today was to frame in were the trail is going to go and start on the foundation of rocks that will eventually be filled with dirt.  

We used some sizable rock to make the frame of the trail. There was one rock large enough to be dubbed “The Asteroid”. When completed it will be cool to ride by that spot and say “Yeah, I help put that rock there”

This was the first time that SDMBA has worked with the SDRP folks and I think we left a good impression about the quality of work SDMBA can produce. One this was for certain, I was good and pooped.

Here are some additional photos.

iTards on the Trail

I’m generally okay if folks want to rock out on the trail with an iPod.  It is when they do both ears and have the tunes up high enough that they can not hear the world around them.    There is a whole list of mini-rants that I could go into about missing turns on group rides and not being able to interact with other trail users and coming across as jerks.    Blah Blah Blah….

 Here is a case from a ride a couple of days ago that involved a hiking “iTard”.   I’m riding along and spot a rattlesnake on the side of the trail.  I stop and check him out.   He is a good sized snake but has not reacted to me yet.   I like to get this critters away from the trail as some boneheads will kill them if they encounter them.  After getting a couple of shots I’m about to get the snake’s attention so it will go away when I hear a couple of hikers coming.    The snake and I are near a curve, with the snake being between me and the approaching hiker.    From the sound, I could tell they were trail runners.   I yell for them to hold up.   Nothing.    The first runner in all of his iTardness rounds the corner in all of his white-corded bud wearing glory.   I yeah “snake” really loud now and his girlfriend (just rounding the corner) stops and joins in the yelling fest.   The dude is on a collision course with this snake.  I wave my arms frantically and yell one more time and iDumbAss finally stops and looks at me with a bewildered look like “What”?   I simply pointed at the snake that was about two strides away from being in striking distance.    iTard freaks out at bit in full reverse.   After that I snake gets a little concerned and makes some noise and goes away.   


Shortly after the hikers pass me, I hear iTard’s girlfriend running him through the ringer about not being able to hear what is going on.  I snickered as I got rolling again to complete some North County trail goodness. 

Trail Goodies