Friday, December 23, 2011

It's Not All Bikes

Well, we got some snow the other day. And I had the day off. So it was either go for a ride, or go for a hike...

Can you tell if we're riding or hiking?

When we set off, around 8 am, the snow level might have been 4,000 feet along the front face of the San Gabriels. Looking up San Antonio Canyon towards Baldy, it looked like the snow reached lower. But driving up Mt Baldy Road, it wasn't till just before the school that we saw serious snow. 4,000 sounds just about right. That's also around where we started our hike.

Reminds me of a donut...

Bear Canyon trail starts just up the street from the Baldy Lodge. Street is an overstatement, as you could easily think it's a driveway. I prefer to think of it as the doorway to a magical land... The photo above shows that it is magical, indeed. The photo below shows 1.8 miles into the trail. 6 miles in would be the summit of Baldy, so you know it's pretty steep.

I'm really trying to make this an interesting post, but there's not much I can say. You had to be there. Or maybe you can go there soon!

Clouds are where the snow comes from...

Get that tree some Head and Shoulders!

Kinda seems like they hand out blogs to just anyone, doesn't it?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Camping Time!

Well, my so-called "training" has entered a new phase. Gone are the days of riding all over town eating at gas-stations and convenience stores. Granted, those are important skills to develop. But now, I am now riding out of town, laying down a bed roll, then riding home the next day. The Periodization crowd would say I have left Around-II and entered Out-I. I still do my cheap-carbohydrate drills. But new exercises--like falling over exhausted and landing on  a thermarest--are finding a place in my highly-regimented training schedule.

It was perfect timing when I met this fellow below. Milton is actually in his Keep-II phase. Each day, when he wakes up, he keeps going in the same direction as yesterday. Despite the fact that Milton is further along in his training than I, he took the time to spot me with my bedroll training. In the picture, you can see him towing a small house, in case my bedroll fails.

This guy had a trailer...

Although Milton had a road ride planned (and a road bike to do it on), it turns out that it is legal to ride a mountainbike on the road. The converse is not always true. Riding a road bike on the trails may result in a citation for "cyclocross."

This guy had several small trailers
attached to various parts of his bike...

So, Milton, Mr Two-Handlebar-Bags-Two-Seat-Bags, and myself, all headed out of town. As you can see in the photo above, it was a beautiful sunny day. So we headed to the coast to get out of all that beautiful sun.

We swung by the beach...

Once we hit the Pacific Ocean, we turned right. I guess that means we were heading north.

There was fine dining al fresco...

Dinner was at 5pm in a parking lot. We had pulled over primarily to switch the trailer. Milton was a stud, to be sure, but we all took a turn pulling. I mean why should he get all the fun. And by "fun" I mean that stretch of PCH north approaching Pepperdine University. 

It got dark, so we had to camp...

After eating at the first sign of food in Oxnard, we packed up some pan dulce for the road and for the morning, and looked for a spot to become supine.

Team "Robbin' Bank"

In the morning, I handed off the team colors to Josh and set off on a southerly heading.
Polaris, but no Cavendish...

I got to see some of the sights we had missed in the dark. For example, there is a Missile Park at Pt Mugu.

I think this one is called "Ficke"

I think the scene below looks nice, but if you've ever ridden there, you probably see nothing but a headwind. I think I preferred Pepperdine Hill. Going south was fun, however. I don't often get to coast uphill!

Much nicer in the light of day!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Superman Dirt

Somehow or other, they just had a cross-country race at Bonelli. Only two days earlier, I went to Bonelli after the rain to check out the Superman Dirt. If you've never been to Bonelli after a rain, I am not talking about that sweet tacky moist dirt that makes you an invincible downhill pro. I'm talking about that clay that bonds to your tires in such a way that even Superman would need to eat his Wheaties before trying to pry it off.

Sure enough, after a few miles, my tires had transformed from 2.2 inchers to 3.0 inch earthenware monstrosities. I took no photos on the ride, but perhaps this photo can give you an idea. My tires looked at least this ridiculous:

In case you aren't familiar with north-eastern Los Angeles County riding, the photo above was taken near Marshall Canyon. Next time it rains, head there rather than Bonelli...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Lunch Time!

What's wrong with making lunch plans at 10am? Nothing, normally. But imagine, if you will, two rogue mountainbikers sitting in Starbucks in San Dimas, fueling up for a ride. (On a day best described as "Damn hot")

"Today would be a good day for a beach ride." 
"Yeah, but I've got the wrong bike for that. I'd need gears." 
"Why don't we get lunch in Wrightwood?" 
"Cool, let's do it."

You can do any ill-advised ride you want... long as you're flying the Jolly Roger!

So, I'm not sure when we left exactly. But I know it was 12:30 when we left the Off-Highway-Vehicle  Staging Area on Highway 39. In case you are unfamiliar with the area, that's about the last shade we'd see for an eternity or two. We were about an hour away from what we call "Spongebath Falls." Can you guess what we always seem to do at those falls?

Excellent. We wouldn't want cool weather when climbing the switchbacks. Or any possibility of finishing before dark...

This will help me get down to my "race weight"...

One of the best things about remote mountain areas is how much they are able to charge for food. And how willing even a broke-ass like myself is to pay. And how good it tastes. You could probably sell me strips of cardboard for $10 after I rode 60 miles. And if they are moist and greasy enough, I'd come back next week for more.

See, be seen, or don't be seen. It's your choice at the Evergreen Cafe...

In fact, I did go back to this place the next week. And not for cardboard, this food was top-notch! Despite the "Racoon Saloon" on the sign, they didn't seem to have any pitchers to fill with water for me. But they were nice about bringing me refill after refill...

I hope this guy isn't dead!
 Another bonus about remote mountain cycling destinations--you'll find plenty of patients to practice your EMT skills on...

This picture is from another ride...
But ain't it purty?
I have no idea how to end this post. Except to say, " Ride it like you stole it" And by "it," of course, I mean the mountain range.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

What's Wrong With This Picture?

Something's wrong?

Well, obviously, if you're going to go all the way up there, you'll want to get some snow in the photo:

That's Better!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Crystal Lake

Now that Hwy 39 is open all the way to Crystal Lake, it's easy to explore the trails up there. While I don't normally like driving to a trailhead, I'm glad we did. With the thin air at 6,000ft, and the fact that I am horribly out of shape, fresh legs were the only thing I had going for me...

First, I must admit that this post has a misleading title. I have no pictures of Crystal Lake. Mostly because I have yet to see the thing. In my defense, would you know where I was talking about if I said South Mt Hawkins? Also, our trip did begin in the parking lot of Crystal Lake Campground.

We headed up, north, and in the direction of Windy Gap, until we saw the start of 3N07.

The trail we took up

It was amazing how much hotter it was when we entered the area ravaged by bark beetles...

Where's the greenery up above?

The road could use a little work. It was pretty easy to get over the half-dozen or so downed trees. But there were also two wash-outs.

We had a little of this...
...because there was a little of this.

The thing I liked most about the trip was the view. I saw a few things I've never seen before. Like most of Glendora Ridge Road right in front of my face to look at. Unfortunately, the air was not clear enough for good pictures. But here's a picture that did come out.

What mountains are these? I can't tell...
Ooops, I didn't recognize Mt Baldy from this angle!

For me, it was extraordinary to look to my left and see Mt Baldy, then turn to my right and see Mt Wilson. Unfortunately, Mt Wilson, being further and lower, did not photograph. You can take my word, or better yet, go look for yourself!

I also saw a flower that you don't often see. According to a Forest Service web-site, "Snow plant is difficult to confuse with other plants, and indeed stands a better chance of being confused with a misplaced piece of meat." That is a sentence I did not expect to read!

If you follow the link above, you can read all about how snow plant is a parasite living off of a fungus that lives symbiotically on the roots of conifers. Kewl!

Is that a steak?
But perhaps the wildest thing we saw was the fire lookout on South Mt Hawkins...

Guess what happened...

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Tour of California

My photographic skills are lacking. A posed shot, I can handle.

But action shots?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Flower Power

Today, I did a quick ride around Bonelli to test out my new bottom bracket. It is definitely Spring, but roses aren't the only flowers with thorns...

Okay, cacti don't have "thorns," but you get the idea.

I tend to think of Mustard as the official flower of Bonelli. But this guy is in abundance as well. Sometimes the Thistles are hidden amongst the mustard. So be careful if you are riding through an area overgrown with mustard (most of the park). This stuff stings like the dickens if you brush up against it.

This is a nice flower,
but the picture is too symmetrical for my taste...

I like this composition better,
but the flowers are less impressive...

While the official flowers of Bonelli were everywhere to be seen, California was represented as well. No spines or thorns, just a distinctive hue of orange...

In case you were wondering, Bonelli is not "where it's at." Tomorrow, the party is up by the ski lifts on Mt Baldy. Come out and buy an overpriced Clif Bar from me to support my 2012 Tour Divide bid...

Monday, May 9, 2011

Super Hot Biker Chicks

Whenever I last rode up West Fork (over a week ago), it was hot. As I was descending from Cogswell Dam to the river below, I happened upon these women who were climbing. I figured, if I was hot going down, they must have been super hot going up in that weather!

A couple of champs

I didn't take too many pix that day. And some didn't look as good as real life. But here are two more from that ride. The first is my turn around point. I wanted to go to Mt Wilson, but poison oak was suggesting otherwise.

Lots of places one can go

The second picture is one you may be able to help me with. What is it?

What The (whichever word you prefer) ???

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Big West Fork Loop

It is such a satisfaction to finally finish a ride! Every time I have gone up West Fork, I have turned around for one reason or another. Not that I was even trying the same ride each time, but wherever I have been headed up there has always eluded me until today.

As usual, I saw real fishermen.
But it was the cartoon variety that I photographed today.

After I got past the 7 mile mark, and the road tilted up, I thought I wouldn't see people anymore. Beautiful tributaries, yes; but people, not so much.

I can't get enough of this stuff...

The next photo is of a place I never got to before. When heading up West Fork Trail (2n25), I hit snow and turned around. When heading up Redbox Rincon Road (2n24), it started to rain. I had a goretex raincoat, a long billed cap, wool socks, knee warmers, and I should have been fine, right? Not without gloves, I wasn't! I'm telling you, white boy be crazy!

We were following the power lines...

Notice how I said "we." That's because I ran into a couple on full squish bikes at the junction of 2n25 and 2n24. So while I thought I was being all hardcore, thinking I'd be all alone up there, all I was doing was catching up to a couple of mountainbikers who have almost two decades on me.

Maria and Jim were fine company.

Except for the part where Jim slashed his tire...

It was a great day up there, and I finally did the whole West Fork Loop (as I call it). Plus I met some compadres. The ride was not such a big deal, at only 4000 feet of elevation, but it felt soooo good.

Here is a picture of a tree:

That's a tree, all right!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

What are you doing on West Fork?

Yesterday morning I headed out to the West Fork of the San Gabriel River. 11am is still technically morning, right? Anyway, I've been wanting to ride up to Angeles Crest Highway from there, so I gave it a shot.

The first six miles of 2n25 are fully paved and seem flat. Lots of folks were out there for a casual ride or to fish.

The graffiti is mostly close to Hwy 39.
Further off the road = nicer.
Some folks were just out for a ride...

There were plenty of people who combined the two activities. And others who thought walking next to the river was good enough sans bike or rod and reel.

If you zoom in, you'll see a pole extending rearward from the saddle.
This kid is taking Mom for a walk.
Even vintage bikes enjoy a little catch and release.

After almost six miles of false flat, there is a campground. Just after the campground the road tilted up and I stopped taking pictures.

These bikes are camping. Did they forget to bring people?

On my way back, I snapped a few. So I'll put them here--all out of order.

After climbing pavement to the top of Cogswell Dam, 2n25 turned to dirt. And climbed some more...

This is really 2n23, but it gives you an idea.
(NOT! That is WAY smoother than most of the dirt portion of my ride.)

Remember how I said it was a climb up to the dam? If you zoom in on the next picture, you can see that way down below is the water in the reservoir. Maybe that explains how I got all out of breath and stuff...

A totally new view for me.

So, after I rode to the very end of 2n25, I took 2n24 just a little ways. When I hit 2n23, I turned north. North is towards Angeles Crest, so that was good. The bad part was, I also turned down...

End of the line.

The reason 2n23 goes down is that Angeles Crest is on the other side of the San Gabriel River. The same river that Cogswell Dam dams. In other words, I lost almost all the elevation I had gained. And then came upon a briskly flowing river that looked a foot and a half deep at least. It did not seem wise to attempt a crossing.

I know these photos don't make it look treacherous...
...but I swear I thought I would be swept away!
This here is the real West Fork.
No pavement, no people...
...and I was positively cross-eyed!

Part of me is bummed that I didn't reach my destination. However, this way I get to go back!
: )