Tag: Adventure

Strawberry Peak Loop

I got an invite from Erik to ride on Sunday around Strawberry Peak in Angeles National Forest. The area has been closed for a few years since the Station Fire in 2009 but has recently re-opened, which is exciting news. The loop was going to be mostly singletrack with only the first part of the climb on a fireroad. We parked the truck at the parking lot for Switzers and rode up the highway to the start of the dirt. Right at the start I had an issue with my bike. My derailluer hangar was bent and I kept throwing the chain. Erik helped to get it back aligned and while it was finicky, it managed to make it the rest of the day without any issues.

After the fireroad we started up the singletrack. I was admittedly out of my element, but that’s why I was out there. I wanted to push myself and spend time learning to ride tight singletrack better. I was pretty nervous for a chunk of it and had to walk a few sections. Either because I lost momentum and it was steep, or because I looked down. Don’t look down! Look where you want to go and not where you don’t want to end up!

We made our way around the peak and on the backside we dropped down to a sandy flat. The descent was pretty sketchy with all the loose sand and exposed dropoffs so we walked parts of it.

After the meadow we climbed pack up to the saddle. It was slow going at the start. Lots of pushing and hiking and the Stoke Meter was dropping into negative numbers on that section. It’s funny how a ride can so quickly change when there is not much riding happening. It wasn’t long before we made the saddle and the Stoke Meter started to climb back up again. The descent down the 2 near Red Box was super fun and fast. I felt like I was figuring things out and was feeling more confident. What a blast!

Look closely and you can see Erik.

We made it to Red Box where I enjoyed a refreshing beverage as Serbrina calls them. From there it was about 4 miles or so more back to the truck. This final section of single track had it all. Rock gardens, sand, drops, rock steps and fast sections. It was the most fun and also the most challenging section. It was also the section where I started cleaning more obstacles. Confidence inspiring was how I would describe that section. Only problem was that I was having so much fun I didn’t take any pics! Guess that means I’ll have to go back. Thanks for a great day out on the bike Erik!

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Tuesday Pedalin’

It all starts out with a good breakfast. Coffee and eggs has been my go to for fuel in the am. Coffee in the Aeropress and eggs in the cast iron.

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60 something miles in the bank for yesterday including some dirt in the AM and a group ride in the evening.

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Get out and ride your bike! Fuel some stoke! Take some pictures!

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Get Lost Adventure Club

I can’t say enough good things about my Swift Industries Ozette Rando bag. Wow, that was a lot of words. Any ways, they are rad, they do rad things and they make rad things. If’n you don’t know about them now you do. This post of theirs about starting your own “Get Lost Adventure Club” makes me think of what Mike Watt says at the end of his shows. “Start your own band! Paint your own Pictures! Write your own book!”

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Tuesday Pedalin’

Yesterday was a solid day of pedalin’. To work, to Griffith Park, to home and then with the Foochow Ride. All of that added up to 91 miles of pedalin’. Between all of that I squeezed in a 8 hour work day. Not sure which one tired me out more. I know which one I enjoyed more, that’s for sure.

Foochow took us out east over a bunch of new roads to me. The best one was Turnbull Canyon. We ended up out in Rowland Heights pedalin’ past Schabarum Park, which was called Otterbein when I was a kid. Otterbein was a much better name. We used to go there to ride bikes, slide down the dirt hill on cardboard and listen to Weird Al Yankovic. You know, the good old days. The memories that flooded my head offset the feelings that my legs were sending. If it’s gonna be tough, it’s always better to fill your head with good thoughts. It’s harder than it sounds.

Check out the Foochow ride on Strava.

And here’s a little Weird Al Yankovic. Consider it a gift.

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Boyz On The Hoods DNFleche! With Video!

The crew from Boyz On The Hoods laid out a super rad route for their Fleche up in SF. They included Indians Rd headed north from Fort Hunter-Ligget which is an amazing ride. Do it if’n ya haven’t yet. It also looks like it was Box Dog Bikes Pelican rally! As you might have gathered from the title things didn’t go as planned. Take the time to read all of the reports, which are done from different riders perspectives, because they are all really good. Then watch the video. Or just watch the video. Whatevs.

Indians Road [DNF]l├Ęche 2014 – San Francisco Randonneurs from Boyz on the Hoods on Vimeo.

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Bikes and Friends

A few weeks ago I got word that Ben was gonna be out in California for a few days for work. Work for Ben is demoing the current line of Salsa bikes. Not a bad gig right? He brought out three different rides for people to try out. Mostly for the mountain bike crowd. They had the Salsa Spearfish, Horsethief and the Carbon Beargrease! The lightest of fatbikes was gonna be here in So Cal! I’m in! Oh, and I get to hang out with Ben too. Bonus!

Salsa Van!

Ben and I met back in 2012 when we fatbiked the Northern Shore of Lake Superior in March. Yeah, March. Cold and, well, cold. Then we pedaled again together in 2013 touring part of the Stagecoach 400 route. He’s a super fun dude and I was lookin’ forward to just hangin’ out all day. It’s not often that he’s out here.

New Salsa Van!

I loaded up my Spearfish on the back of my moto. Yep, that’s what I said. On the back of my moto. It’s a crazy idea that I’ve been wanting to try out for some time. What a great idea right? Moto ride to a bike ride? Best of both worlds? Well, I’m not convinced personally. As you can imagine it really affects the handling of the bike. I’m sure some motos are better suited to this than others. Also, lighter bikes make for better handling on the moto. Hangin’ my fatbike off the back is really tough in my opinion.

BMW GS800 Adventure with Salsa Spearfish on the back.

It’s quite the head turner. I think I counted at least five people taking pictures on the way south and back north again. And those are just the ones I saw!

Carbon Beargrease

I rode the Carbon Beargrease for the first time. I thought for sure that I’d love it, but I have to say it didn’t do anything for me. Yeah, it was light. I guess it rolled fast, but I wasn’t that impressed. I suppose having a Mukluk Ti makes it tougher to impress me. Go figure.

Salsa Spearfish

The bikes I had the most fun on were the Spearfish and the Horsethief. I was surprised that I liked them as much as I did to be honest. Neither one is for the type of riding that I normally do. Maybe that’s the point though. Something different to liven things up? Something new? I rode a short loop that included a fun water crossing, a rocky climb and a technical (to me anyways) climb. Then all of that in reverse!

Salsa Spearfish

I’m not skilled or comfortable in singletrack and technical riding but I tried pushing myself a bit. I pointed the bikes both up and down the rockiest, steepiest and rutted out sections of the trails. Both bikes just rolled over everything with total ease and made me feel like I knew what I was doing. I even got a compliment from another mountain biker when I “cleaned” a section that made my clinch my cheeks! Maybe there’s something to this mountain biking stuff after all!

Horsethief

As I type this up I realize that I didn’t take any pics of Ben! Nothing of us sitting around and laughing. Eating salami. Talking about past trips or making plans for new ones. I guess that’s something that I need to work on for the blog side of things. Making sure I have what I want to tell a story. Too often though it’s best just to be in the moment and enjoy your time with your friends. That’s exactly what I did. Spend time with an old friend and make some new ones. I can’t really say I messed up if I look at it like that right? See you soon Ben!

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Orange County 300k

(Click the pics to see them in a lightbox)

Somethings you just gotta face head on. This 300k was one of those things for me.

The day started out pretty good. I felt strong and made my way to the first checkpoint pretty quickly. I chatted with Ryan briefly at the start and we rolled together for about 5 mins. Basically to the first hill and then he was gone. I believe 2 other riders followed him and then there was me. Fourth on the road. I was riding comfortable, not really pushing, but most likely there was some adrenaline kicking in. I’m usually not that close to the front of the group. At the first control Ryan was already gone, but the other 2 riders where still there. I got a receipt and went back outside, just as a large group of riders where pulling in. This group was huge, about 8-10 riders I guess. It looked like they stuck together most of the day.

One of the riders got through the control very quick so I took off after him. I ended up catching him before the bike path and then Pete and I, together with Chuck (I think that was his name) headed towards Control #2. We were making really good time. Weather was good, bike path traffic was good. At Control #2 we again see the 2 riders behind Ryan and with a couple minutes the large group is behind us again. They were only about 2-4 minutes behind us I would guess. Pete and I get on the bikes quickly and make our way north on PCH. It’s really easy to loose a bunch of time at the controls. It’s much easier the larger the group is. I always try to keep my stops really short so I filled out my card, drank some water and started pedaling. I unwrapped a bar at the control and started eating as I rode.

From PCH we turned up the SART towards Corona. Pete and I were still making great time working together. At some point past Anaheim Stadium Pete’s tire started to go down. He added some air so we could get rolling again. At this time the riders that were chasing down Ryan pulled in behind us! What? We had passed them at some point on the river trail and they were catching up to us. So now the group of 4 were headed towards Corona. I hung on for as long as I could, but eventually had to pop off the back. I knew this was the section that I had struggled with before and I still had a long ways to go. Better not to push it.

I stopped for lunch at Control #3 and it wasn’t long before the large group rolled up again. I ate half of my order and shoved the other half in my jersey for later. I didn’t want all of that food in my stomach for the climbing that was about to come. I met a couple of the riders with the group. One was on a beautiful Soulcraft with fenders. I should’ve taken a picture. The other was Devin on a Long Haul Trucker. Seeing his LHT made me think of my first brevet on my LHT. I think my legs still hurt from that bike. I asked if they wouldn’t mind an extra rider with their group and we headed across the street to gather up everyone else. In hindsight I did two things wrong here. One, it was warming up and I should’ve shed my arm warmers and knee warmers. Two, I should’ve just kept pedaling. They would’ve caught me eventually. As it worked out I climbed with the group for a while until I got too hot. So I stopped to shed the layers and tried to rejoin the group. I wasted too much energy doing that. I would see them at a distance, get close, but still not catch them. I was working way harder than I needed to and way harder than I should have.

I caught up to them at the next Control and we overlapped by only a couple minutes. I wasn’t ready to roll again as they were rolling out. Then, they must’ve stopped somewhere along the way because as we started the first real climb of the day they caught and passed me. I tried to hold their wheel again, but decided to just climb at my pace. I was sure I’d see them again.

Somewhere around here I remembered that I had my camera. Looking around as I was pedalin’ takes some of the stress out of the ride. Instead of the just looking to see how much farther until the next turn, I was just riding to the enjoy the ride and the scenery. I wish I had remembered to take pics earlier. Although, where I remembered was the most scenic section of this ride.

The climbing from Lake Elsinore to Fallbrook was tough. Some really steep climbs, then steep descents and more steep climbs. Climbs that made you use every single gear on your bike. One of them I even got off and walked for a while. I didn’t stop, just had to walk for a couple minutes before finishing it off. As much as it was tough though it was just as scenic. Riding through avocado and orange orchards. Along side a creek and the Pacific Ocean way off in the distance. You could see the mountain range that we rode all the way around. The scenery more than made up for the climbing. It was well worth it.

Pacific Ocean way off in the distance. That was the next destination.

I pulled into Fallbrook for the next Control and saw that the group was still there. So I knew I wasn’t that far behind them. I think they rolled out only about 5 minutes before I did. As I was sitting with my lunch Pete and his group ride up. I was sure they were 2 hours ahead at least by this point. Turned out Pete had multiple flats and lost a lot of time to that. It was good to see them again, but it was short lived. We rolled out together but once the climbing started again they were long gone. I made my way down to the bike path that would eventually get me to Oceanside. At the bike path my lunch and I duked it out.

The sun was setting and it was time for the reflective gear. From here on out it was going to be a dark ride. I brought along and extra light that I mounted up to my helmet. That was a good idea. I used it to read the cue sheet, GPS and bike computer. It also gave me a good directional light for looking around at the spooky things on dark bike paths. Human or animal.

From Oceanside we had to ride the 5 Freeway North. At first, this sounds pretty sketchy, but it’s really not. The shoulder is pretty wide and it tends to be fairly clean. You have to watch out for tire tread and other hazards, but it wasn’t so bad. The only issue I had was that a bus was broken down in the shoulder. I wasn’t going to risk riding out into traffic and I was concerned about glass in the dirt. So I just picked up my bike and carried it around the bus before carrying on. Is that was they call cyclocross?

The final push from San Onofre to the finish was pretty straight forward. The only bummer being that there’s an eight mile section of rollers that you need to get through. That wore out the already tired legs even more, but I knew I was on the home stretch. I ended up pulling in to the finish at 10:30pm or so. Sixteen and a half hours on the bike, 190 miles and about 9,000 feet of climbing. It sure felt good to finish this ride. I needed to make good on the last attempt. It was a challenge that I had to face and I had to conquer, and I did.

Thanks for all the kind words/support as I was out there. It was fun to know that people were following along. Next month is the 400k. Guess I better get back to ridin’!

Forever “That Guy”
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Angeles Front Country S24O

Saturday we set out on an S24O that was years in the making. Bruce and I had planned to try doing this 2009, right when the Station Fire claimed a huge section of the Angeles Nation Forest. Closing down huge portions of it for years. In fact, parts of the forest are still closed to the public for rehab. Rob set up this trip, so for the most part we were just following along. You wouldn’t know it from the pics, but there were 6 of us. However, there was only one Mukluk Ti so it was my main subject. Sorry, I hope you like looking at fatbikes. Click the pics to open the Lightbox.

This trip was my first solid ride on the Mukluk Ti. I was using some new bags and trying out a new tire. The bike handled everything I threw at it. I will say though that riding it loaded up the steep Cheney Trail Drive was harder than I expected. I was having a really tough time and had to stop more than I care to admit. I even laid down on the road at one point!

Once in the dirt the bike felt amazing. Rolling over everything. I could still feel the weight, but dirt is just so much more fun. Rob and I flew down the paved Mt. Wilson Road and the guys were surprised at how fast I could descend with the Mukluk Ti. A couple corners were a little sketchy since I was only running about 12psi. It’s kinda weird when the bike feels like it’s in a different spot than the contact patch of the tires. That made me check my speed a couple times. Back on dirt we rode the fireroad down into camp as the sun was setting and I didn’t have a proper light. The huge tires were very forgiving as I felt it rolling over obstacles that I couldn’t see. One log almost took me out, but we quickly made it to camp.

This trip took me to parts of the ANF that I’d never been to before. Places that I’d seen on the map, but didn’t realize how close they were. You really feel like you’re far away from home though. It’s a pretty magical place back there. One I’m looking forward to getting back to.

For the locals out there, we rode from Alhambra to Altadena. Then up Cheney Trail Drive and Mt. Lowe Fire Road all the way to Mt. Wilson Road. From there we descended to Red Box for water. Then took the Red Box-Rincon road to West Fork Campground. In the morning we continued on Red Box-Rincon road to Newcomb Pass. Then singletrack took us all the way down to Chantry Flats and the final annoying climb of the day. Pretty fun loop, although more challenging than I was expecting. It did give me plenty of practice though, and I’m stoked to say that I cleaned some of the tight switchbacks. I guess I’m getting a little bit better.

Enough of the chimpin’, get to the pics!

Bruce on his Salsa Fargo
We came from the notch way over there.

Tree blocking the trail.

If you like what you’re readin’ here, please consider donating to my MS ride. I’m riding for my mom, and for my friend Aaron. I’d appreciate any donations and please help me spread the word. Thanks!

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Yonder Journal Ridge Route Brovet

Last month the Yonder Journal was launched. A soon to be collection of “American Field Studies”. The Ridge Route, a local historical road, was selected for their first “guide”. I only became aware of the Ridge Route in 2005. I believe it was from an episode of California’s Gold with Huell Howser. Around that time a storm had washed away sections of the road. It was closed and I don’t think it’s been open since then. What bad timing. I wanted to go up there and explore it, but I could not.

Years later, I’m a cyclist. I like riding to far away places in remote areas. Then the Yonder Journal drops the Ridge Route Brovet in my lap. I’m in. When to do it though? The route is not the straightest to the Ridge Route. Instead of going around mountains, it goes over every one on the way out there. Damn, this is gonna be tough. I need some time to prepare.

Enter Joshua Bryant from Portland, Oregon. A fellow randonneur, Joshua set a date to do it. Bought tickets, booked a room. This was going to happen. Sooner than I’d like, but what the hell. I was able to arrange a hall pass for the day and jumped in. Nervous as hell, but I jumped in.

We met up in Chinatown at 6:30am. Then pedaled over to Golden Saddle Cyclery where Ty was waiting for us. A quick cup of coffee and it’s time to roll. An earlier start would’ve been better, but Serbrina and I went to see Morrissey the night before. I was running on only 4 hours of sleep and Joshua was kind enough to adjust to my draggin’ ass. Ty joined us for the ride to La Canada. A nice warm up for the climbing to come. We parted ways at start of the ‘Crest and headed up and up and up.

It was a warm day and many cyclists were out enjoying the road. A film crew had part of the ‘Crest shut down so we were rewarded with very little traffic. It would just come through in groups of 8-10 cars at a time, then nothing. It was the best I’ve ever seen it up there. Very few cars and very few motos. We were pretty lucky. Our fendered bikes and rando bags stood out though. We got quite a few questions as were riding up. “How heavy is that?”. “How far you guys going?”, to which I proudly replied “GORMAN!”. That usually got a headshake or an “oh shit” reply. We weren’t there to mess around. We came to play.

I’ve never ridden past Red Box on the ‘Crest. I’ve moto’d it. I’ve driven it, but never pedaled it. The world is so different on a bike. People don’t feel the undulations of the road in a car. The 45 mph downhills are slow in a car. On a bike it’s kinda scary. A drivers foot doesn’t have to adjust much to a 4% grade in a car. Miles of that on a bike though, it’ll get your heart pumpin’. Do that, then add miles of a 7% grade to it and you’ll eventually get to the saddle near Mt. Gleason. We crested at about 13:00. It was warm. I was tired, but excited about being somewhere new. This ride was three parts in my head. The San Gabriels, across the valleys to Castaic and then the Ridge Route proper. Felt good to be a third of the way through.

Miles of the downhill pointed road felt well earned. Hardly any traffic and mild rollers made for few quick miles. I think we managed 10 miles in like 20 minutes. That and losing about 1300 feet of elevation. No worries we’ll get it back. It’s out here somewhere. Around a corner we see the Shambala Preserve below us. It doesn’t look like much, and then we hear a growl and see some action. Are they pissed that we are here? Let’s take a pic and roll! The wind started up and made for some slow pushing for a while through Acton and Agua Dulce. We spotted a general store and pulled over for a snack. Paying for my ice cream sandwich the proprietor spotted my last name. Vasquez. We were in the land of Tiburcio Vasquez. He wondered if I was related and if I knew where the treasure was hidden. I told him I didn’t know, but I think I should follow up with my family. Have they been holding out on me?

Before long we made it to In-N-Out on Bouquet Canyon. I had been dreaming about a Vanilla shake for hours. It was exactly what I thought it would be. The Double-Double and fries rounded out the meal and then Joshua blew my mind. He said he was going to take another one with him. To eat up on the Ridge Route! What a great idea! I ordered a second burger, asked for it to be double wrapped and we rode off with a secret stash. We made quick work of the miles between lunch and the final climb. Before long we were in Castaic. Looking at the mountains in front of us. They were intimidating. I knew we weren’t going all the way over, but we were going MOST of the way over. We were going to climb as much as we had earlier in the day in less miles.

Nothin’ to it but to do it. We headed up as the sun was setting. We would be doing this in the dark. Our legs slowly crank the pedals that slowly turn the wheels that slowly run our generator hubs. Our lights illuminate just the road ahead of us. Who knows what’s lurking in the shadows of the road. The only time the shadows light up is when the road is so steep that I weave up the grade instead of powering up it. Miles and miles of climbing have made my legs like rubber. Every little downhill only makes it worse. The downhills are short and when the road kicks up again I don’t have much power. We have miles to go and it feels like it’s going to take all night. We’ve got plenty of food though, plenty of water. Maybe spending the night up here won’t be so bad. It’s probably pretty scenic during the day. That’s for another day though. Tonight we pedal!

Arriving at the site of the Tumble Inn came just in time. I was starving. I needed to eat and I needed to feel like we were getting somewhere. I needed some motivation. It was all there in those crumbling walls. I knew we were gonna make it. We took some pics and pulled out our burgers. Cold and messy. In other words, the best burger you could get at the Tumble Inn. They were perfect.

Before getting too cold we get rolling again, thinking we are heading downhill now. I mean, we must right? Nope, up again, but it isn’t long before we start to feel a downhill trend. Yep, that’s better pavement. It’s going steeper downhill! Holy shit! This is happening! We ride side by side down the hill to the 138. Our lights letting us go pretty quick down the hill. A short connector on the 138 and then the 5 mile climb up to Gorman. The lights are up there and with every pedal stroke they get closer. It seems to take forever, but they are getting closer. About 22:00 we roll into Gorman, a little later than we’d hoped, but we are in Gorman. 134 miles later and over 13,000 feet of climbing done! We have just completed the Ridge Route Brovet!

We are greeted by my Pops who has patiently been waiting for us. (Thanks Pops!) The Ranch House is closed, so we head next door to the Carl’s Jr. We must’ve looked like a couple of zombies as we walked in there. I know I felt like one. Time to eat. And eat. And eat.

The final step was to fill out the paperwork and send it in. This part was just as rewarding as doing the ride itself. Reliving the entire day as I filled out the route slip. My reward for this effort will be a patch. Not just any patch, but a patch you have to earn. And earn it we did. Get out there and do fun things. Explore your own area. Go Yonder!

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