BLT, Redtail Roost and Noble Canyon

October 28th, 2014 by MTBBill

Saturday Nichol and I went up to Big Laguna Meadow to get in some biking and a night of camping.

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It was quite a pretty day with some fall colors up in the trees and exceptionally nice temps. After setting up camp we did a cruise around meadow.

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We were up bright and early the next morning to meet a gang-o-folks down at the lower Noble Canyon Trailhead for some playing around for the better part of the day.  We left some vehicles at the bottom and then drove up to the Redtail Roost trailhead off of Sunrise Highway.    There were at total of 10 of us in the gaggle.   Redtail roost is a fun trail that goes along a wooded ridgeline for a ways before descending down into the Laguna Meadow area.    Encountering a dude all decked out in camouflage early along the trail was good reminder that it is hunting season up here.   I was also glad I passed on wearing my buckskin jersey and Viking helmet on this ride.

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After descending Redtail Roost we climbed up Aqua Dulce to the top of the Los Gatos trail where we then descended down to the meadow.    But not without playing a few features here and there.  Here is Michael playing on a skinny.

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Dave getting in some log action as well.  Once down on the meadow we went up the east side of the meadow a ways and the did a side loop that included a portion of the connector trail that goes between the meadow and the Pacific Crest Trail.   Once back at the meadow we went around and up the west side of the meadow and caught the connector over to Penny Pines and the upper Noble Canyon trailhead.  It was here that David’s frame broke where the downtube meets the bottom bracket.   So he broke off  from the group for a very dodgy ride back to Redtail Roost along Sunrise Highway.

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It was Noble Canyon time now and there was plenty of good stuff as always between the top and the bottom.   Here is Jenny rolling through the woods up near the top.

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James playing on a jump about halfway down or so.

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James rolling into the “Stairway to Hell”

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Kevin meets Stairway to Hell.  I was kind of jealous of his superlight rig earlier in the ride, you know like on the climbs.   I was pretty stoke with my rig through these parts.  After spending most the summer riding a XC hardtail rent-a-wreck my long-legged stretched out full suspension couch felt awesome through this stuff.  Woot Woot!

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James working through some chunk.     By the time we hit the bottom trailhead most folks’ mileage device had us doing between 24 and 25 miles with a little under 2,800 feet of climbing in.   While the rest of the crew headed out, I went back up to he meadow and we broke camp down at a leisurely pace and then headed out for tasty BBQ and Beer at Alpine Beer Company.   Another good weekend on a bike.


View The Redtail Roost to Noble Canyon Route in a larger map or directly download it here

Sasebo Catchup

October 10th, 2014 by MTBBill

I have been back from Sasebo for a couple of weeks now.   The last few weeks that I was in Japan was pretty hectic.   I did have time to ride but little time to do much posting.  Here are some pictures.

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From the north slope of Mt Yumihari.   I come to loath the rental wreak that I had.   Cantilever rim brakes!   I now that the hand shake strength of a pair vise grips.

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Views found in a break in the foliage.

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There was plenty of rain which kept most the trails soggy for way too much of the time I was there.  I often did the road climb up to the top of the Mt Yumihari after work.   It was almost always a chasing the sun kind of ride.  While I typically beat the sun, the rain got me on more than a few occasions.

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Views from a park at near the top of Mt Eboshi east of town.

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Sasebo as seen from Mt Eboshi

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More of Mt Eboshi

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More views from the chasing the sun series

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I lost the race against the sun on this ride

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Intentionally enjoyed losing the race on this evening.

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Views from south of town.

Sunshine Ride in Sasebo

September 7th, 2014 by MTBBill

Over the last month that I have been working over here there has been about four individual days that it has not rained for some portion of the day.   The soil composition in this area is typically clay based which holds up to the rain well but becomes treacherously slick.    The cantilever rim brakes coupled with the 1.75 tires on my rent-a-wreck hard-tail makes riding of this stuff with an moisture on them at all downright sporty.   

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 It rained early Saturday and had been sunny ever since so I decided to test the waters on one of the prominent mountains in the area, Akasaki.   The trail has seen some maintenance earlier in the year so the tread was in good condition and the trail was well brushed. I could tell during the climb that traction could be a problem on the descent as plenty of finesse was required on the climb to keep from breaking the rear wheel loose.   The views from top were exceptional.

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  The descent of this trail was however still pretty slick and made for a squirrely descent, particularly in the turns.   Notice in the photo above there is some four fingered braking going on.  If I would have known my work project was going to be extended by nearly a month, I would have brought my bike over.   On the plus side this rental is completely unforgiving so it forces you to handle the bike precisely.

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After way too much fun on the “easy” descent, I passed on this trail under the guise of discretion is the better part of valor.   I opted to spend the rest of the ride scoping out trailheads and crossings off the back roads of the area for future exploration when the trails are drier.

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This sign unfortunately does not say “Hiro-San’s Texas Style BBQ 100 meters ahead”.   There are lots of wild boar in this area and I believe the signs either says beware of boars or indicates a typical boar crossing.   Ummmm Bacon!

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Shirahama Beach was the apex point of this ride.    A snack and a little bit of chilling was in order before it was time to start a good bit of climbing on the return leg.

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I have come across about half a dozen of these land crabs here in Japan.   I was a good half a mile from the ocean and at least 100 feet plus in elevation.   These are the basically the same kinds of crabs you see around the rocks in most stateside beaches but these guys have adapted to thrive away from the shorelines here.  Mr. Crabs here was pissed.

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A view of Kujyukushima from Tenkaiho Park.   I have ridden on all of these peaks at one time or another with the exception of the volcano looking peak to the left, Mt Atago.   It is still on the list.

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This is literally the lawn mowing crew at this park.   The grounds keepers stake out the goats and once they eat down their circle they move the stakes.  Pretty cool.

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Got Grass Will Mow!  (Will through in fertilizing your lawn for free)

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By the time I made my way “home” I had covered 22 miles and 3,000 feet of climbing.  A yummy Nippon microbrew was definitely earned.

Pre-Typhoon ride in Sasebo

August 7th, 2014 by MTBBill

Earlier this week, work has taken me back to Sasebo in the southern part of Japan.  I’ll be here for about a month and change.  I had debated about shipping/bringing one of my own bikes over here for the duration but between the cost and hassle, I decided to take my chances with getting a rental.    I’m thinking I maybe should have went with shipping one of my own bikes over as the pickings were slim at the rental place.

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The steed for this trip is a total Throw “Way The Hell” Back rig complete with canti-brakes.   Brakes is a bit of an optimistic term in this case, slowers is more appropriate.  On the plus side, I’ll soon have hands that can grip like a bear trap and I should not be accused of skidding up the trails around here.

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The weather guessers were calling for a typhoon to come through the area the following day so getting a ride in before that was a priority.   The outdoor adventure center were I rented the bike is more centered on scuba and deep sea fishing than biking so I had to spend quite a bit of time get the bike setup and tuned before heading off for the late afternoon ride.   I’m fairly certain that the clipless pedal I put on the bike doubles its value.

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When I started out from my hotel room, a nearby thermometer read 90 degrees with the humidity being around 85%.  I was sweating and I was barely moving.   The climb up Mount Yumihari is on narrow paved roads.  The plan was to take the pavement up and a couple of different trails down and then back into town.

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The climb is fairly steep and it was good workout.   I have done this climb numerous times so I knew what to expect which helped with the climb but I was still getting worked. Once I got to the top I realized that all the pre-ride tinkering had eaten up my daylight margin.   I was pretty certain that taking the trails back down would end up being a night ride.   A night ride I was not really prepared for.  So I went with plan B and enjoyed the views from the top for a leisurely bit before taking the roads back down the mountain.  This should help with the jet lag.   This is not my first time MTBing in Sasebo so you can find other Sasebo related blog posts here.

 

Laguna Mountains Camping

July 27th, 2014 by MTBBill

Last Sunday through Wednesday  my youngest son, Jake, and I did a three-night camping trip up in the Laguna Mountains east of San Diego. We got in some mountain biking, hiking and some good just kicking back time.

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Nichol joined us on the first day for a bike ride around the meadow, dinner and some marshmallow destruction before heading back home to play responsible adult while the boys played in the dirt.  Over the last few years there has been some reroutes to the meadow loop as well to some of the spur trails.  I would say they are all for the better.

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Back at camp, the marshmallows did not stand a chance.

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The morning of day 2 was meet with some leisurely breakfast making before hitting up some of the trails.

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Some play time on the Los Gatos trail was had.

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Jake working on a skinny.

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Jake working the camera.

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We spent the early part of the afternoon just chilling out camp watch the squirrels trying to figure out how to get to our camp treats.  This guy was craving some Cheetos.   That afternoon we did a hike nearby that include the PCT connector trail from the meadow.

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Day 3 we were up pretty early to hit some of the other Pretty Cool Trails in the area.   We rode the meadow over the Penny Pines Trailhead and then made our way over the Pioneer Mail Trailhead where we picked up the Pine Mountain Trail.  We took the Pine Mountain trail over to the Indian Creek Trail at Champagne Pass.    Indian Creek is the primary legal trail connector for bikes between Cuyamaca and the Laguna Mountains.

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We dropped off of Champagne pass to the east on the Indian Creek trail heading back to towards the Lagunas.

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Jake loves him some downhill fun but is not a fan of climbing at all. He wonders why every place can’t be like Mammoth or Big Bear. Once we got to meadow pictured above, I took great pleasure in letting him know it was 3 miles to anywhere from here in either direction and it was uphill in both directions.  We continued on the Indian Creek Trail to the east and climbed up to the junction with the Noble Canyon Trail.

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From there we turned north and climbed Noble.   (Colloquially known as the “Elbon” trail.)   There is a recently completely reroute of Noble up near the top.  The reroute eliminates a couple of road crossings.    The new section is much tighter and a twistier that the original section and while a bit loose right now it should bed in nicely once we get some rains.   I’m sure some of the Strava-tards and will wank about the reroute messing with their times.  (My suggesting to those folks is shut up, just ride faster or turn to juicing.)    Noble Canyon has its loyal followings of which some subscribe to the “Never Change My Trail” mentality so I would expect there will be discontent for a few months.  Personally I think the reroute is going to be really nice once bedded in.

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We took the “shortcut” spur trail that connects back to west end of the meadow vice going all the way back to the Penny Pines Trailhead.  Once back at the meadow it was a quite spin back to camp.

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It was pretty hot during the middle of the day so we kicked back in the shade of camp for a while before jumping in the truck for a swing by Laguna General Store for a Mexican Coke (The south of the border variant is made with real cane sugar vice corn syrup…tastier)  and an Ice Cream bar  before we did some recon work for some of the other trails in the area that are on my to-do list. Dinner that night was some tasty rib-eyes, grilled asparagus and zucchini with some brown rice.   That night we shook off the food coma by strapping on the headlamps to do a mini night ride out on the meadow that included some lights off time to check out the stars on that completely dark night.

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The next morning I was up before sunrise to get in a solo ride while the boy slept in.  Presumably there would be no one else out of the trail as well.  Sunrise was a Pretty Cool Time of day to be out and about by yourself in the woods.    On the way back from the 16 mile loop I saw Mr. Wyle Coyote out looking for breakfast.  After the initially moving away from me for a bit the coyote went back to hunting once establishing that I was not there to bother him.   I watched him for a good five minutes or so before moving along.

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Jake was just waking up when I got back to camp. A second round of coffee was in order for me and it was time for breakfast all around.   After breakfast it was time to break down camp and head out of the mountains.  I had a great time on the camping trip with Jake.   With the exception of a few minutes, we did not have data  coverage so having Jake “unplugged” was a bonus.   With no competition with the all powerful 3G/4G  it allowed for things like watching the “Campfire TV”, gazing at the stars, observations of the “little” things and conversations that would rarely occur otherwise.  Good times.   With some new GPS data and observations,  I’m planning on updating some of the maps, files and pages I have for this area on the site, so stay tuned.

Another Cruise in Cuyamaca

July 9th, 2014 by MTBBill

Nichol and I went back up to Cuyamaca State Park this past weekend for another ride.  We started at the staging area by the San Diego River and went up the west-side connector trail to the Visitor Center

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From there we took the Green Valley fire road up through the valley to the bottom of Soapstone Grade.

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Instead of making the left hander and going up Soapstone Grade fire road which is part of the Cuyamaca Grand Loop,  we continued straight onto the Upper Green Valley Trail and climbed up to the La Cima trail that roughly parallels Sunrise Highway. This section of trail was fairly rocky which extracts some additional energy out of you beyond what the grade would tell. As you near the top of the trail you leave Cuyamaca Rancho State Park and enter the Anza Borrego State Park.

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We then took the La Cima trail west and enjoyed some sweet flowing mostly downhill singletrack for a couple of miles.

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When then turned south onto the California Riding and Hiking Trail (CRHT).   This a is really nice section of singletrack that offers some great views of Lake Cuyamaca and the surrounding grasslands.

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For the first half of this section you are doing some mild climbing before the trail transitions into mild descending with good flow.

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Just before the CRHT joins up with Soapstone Grade fire road at top of that fire road’s steep climb you leave the Anza Borrego State Park and reenter Cuyamaca Rancho State Park.  From here we turned east on Soapstone Grade fireroad for about a mile of flat land cruising.

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We then took the Stonewall Creek fireroad south from here which shed off elevation fairly quickly back down into Green Valley.  There are both some rocky and sandy sections on this fire road that if not handled well, can lead to an unplanned dismount at speed which could be hard to stick the landing.   Stonewall Creek fireroad connected back to the Green Valley fireroad where we retraced our route back to the truck.  This was a little over a 17-mile lollipop shaped route that had a little over 1,800 feet of climbing involved.   This was Nichol’s longest and hardest ride to date that offered some new technical challenges for her.  To celebrate a ride well done that did not include any blood letting we sampled some of the offerings from Nickel Beer Company in Julian before chasing down some Mexican food.   It was a good day to be on a mountain bike.

Return of Wednesday Stoke in Alpine

July 6th, 2014 by MTBBill

It had been way too long since I had been out to Alpine for some Wednesday stoke with Steve (AKA Aquaholic).  So some emails were sent and in the very first reply Steve was laying the ground for a lackluster performance.  He saud he has been doing nothing but working on stupid human tricks on his Jet Ski and has not been on the bike in five weeks.

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So I know Steve has been indeed working on said tricks, but not whining about no riding and bad fitness, that’s just classic Steve sandbagging.

 

Not that Steve and I race up Anderson, but I can count on one hand how many times I have gotten up that trail ahead of Steve so I was expecting to call him all sorts of synonyms for sandbagger on the ride.    When we left the trailhead it was 89 degrees and we have gathered enough brain-boil data over the years to safely assume that there a few spots along the climb that are typically about 5 degrees warmer than the trailhead.  After the initial bit of pavement spinning and the opening section of descending the climbing started in earnest.   What the Hell? Steve was already waving me around.   I declined and decided to just ease up and chit chat some.  The kind of idle chit-chat that kills me when I’m struggling as it demonstrates the person behind is not completely winded and its some subliminal pressure to give moving you slug! Steve was talking about the heat.  Now the heat normally kicks my ass, but I had just spent nearly the last month working in the middle-east where the daytime highs got up to as high as 108 and the night-time lows got down to maybe 98 at best.   These low 90’s were just downright refreshing!

After the next wave around, I took Steve up on the offer and he slowly started tailing off.  I was feeling pretty strong and the while I was not trying to push myself up the hill,  I was aware that I gears were ticking over easier than they have in the past.   I’m having and good day and Steve is having a bad time with the climb.

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About a little more than halfway up the climb the trail has been jacked by some four-wheeler folks who got themselves stuck off the trail.  There solution was to bring in a dozer and widen and “clean up ” the trail.

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So I made it up Pistachio Point well ahead of Steve and had time to document the lack of any fresh Steve droppings.

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Shortly after arriving Steve was curled up in fetal position and he even had to use the emergency binky that up until now had only been used to taunt the riders behind him.  Shortly after this picture was taken the thing fell apart from dry rot after it first only usage.

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Once the climbing was done, the tables were turned and life popped back into Steve and he was right back into the airborne routine.  I was a completely different story.   I had not been riding any “wheels off the ground” technical stuff as of late and I had not been out here in a long time.   All the rocks looked bigger and more menacing while the ruts looked deeper.

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I was able to get a little bit of air under the tires but for the most part I did not feel comfortable at all.   I just did not have the feel for it today.    I clearly need to get back out on these kind of technical bits more often.

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The main descent back down was in summer dirt mode and the upper section where the doozer had gone through really removed much of the character of this trail through there.  A few good rains should spruce it back up.   It was good to get back out on the trail with Steve again.   Plans for more Wednesday stoke were plotted over tasty beer and BBQ at Alpine Beer Company afterwards.

 

Cruise in the Cuyamacas

July 2nd, 2014 by MTBBill

After working over the middle east for the better part of June it was nice to be back home and get out onto some trails.  This past weekend my girlfriend and I took a cruise through Cuyamaca Rancho State Park.  Here are a few pictures.

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Nice bit of shade in Green Valley

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Some folks seen along the along the trail

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The smile was about to be gone at this point as we neared the bottom of Soapstone Grade.

There has been quite a few changes to the park since I last updated my site that includes some new options for cyclist so I’ll have to dedicate some more time and get my site updated here in the coming weeks.

Mt Lowe to JPL added

June 21st, 2014 by MTBBill

I rode this route from Mt Lowe to the JPL in San Gabriel Mountains for the second time back in May.  This is a great route that includes lots of single track goodness.   Well worth checking it out if you are in the LA area.

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CRHT Page Added

June 7th, 2014 by MTBBill

I have added a page to the site for the California Riding and Hiking Trail.  At this point its designed to share my on-going information gathering on the trail in the form of an interactive Google map.   I have not physically ridden all of the sections of the trail so if during the course of looking at my information you have some information to share feel free to comment here or email me.

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