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!
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.
60 something miles in the bank for yesterday including some dirt in the AM and a group ride in the evening.
Get out and ride your bike! Fuel some stoke! Take some pictures!
I haven’t been on the bike for almost two weeks. The Thanksgiving weekend turned out to be busier than I thought. So I was really looking to today’s commute in.
The fog was burning off and the morning chill wasn’t stinging as much as I warmed up. I made my planned stop at the post office and started up the 1st hill. Not a big one, just enough to get you fully warmed up.
On the downhill there always seems to be more traffic and less room for bikes. I’ve tried taking a lane on this section many times, but I’ve just decided that this section of road is not worth the risk. So I ride the shoulder. It’s not the best, but it’s much more peaceful than the constant honking and yelling that comes when you use too much of the lane.
Here’s where it goes bad.
The light turns green and we proceed into the intersection. As I’m watching to see if the car in front of me is going to make a right hand turn, a cyclist appears on the left side of the car. The driver was aware that I was there but is startled by this new cyclist. The cyclist is trying to go around her and cuts her off. So she honks, he gives the middle finger and she brakes right in front of me. I grab a handful of brakes and barely miss the cars bumper. Phew. All of this happens in a second or two, seems longer though.
The thing that bugs me is that I was riding in what I feel is the safest place for that section and it was another cyclists actions that almost got me hurt. I shift to the big ring and try my best to catch him. When I do he doesn’t understand why she honked. I tell him about the drama he caused and that he and I are at the same intersection at the same time. He gained no time at all by putting me at risk. He shrugs and pedals off. A little faster this time. Whatevs right?
The rest of the ride in I’m thinking about other cyclists. How this riders actions affected me. How have I affected other riders? What happens if I flip off a driver? Do they get over it right away, or do they simmer and then take it out on an unsuspecting cyclist later?
This is my problem with the Critical Mass. It can be a fun time with other cyclists. Seemingly taking over the city and disobeying the rules. But what happens when a car is surrounded by 100-200 cyclists and has no where to go? All they can do is sit and honk and curse. The cyclists yell and curse back and the mob moves on. The CM riders do whatever they want. Safety in numbers right? Then, when I’m pedaling home from work, the car sees me alone. Do you think they are happy to see any cyclists then? Do they think “there’s one, let’s give him room because we are now aware”? Hell no. They throw something out their window, or they swerve at me. All because of other cyclists actions.
It is hard to do it, but sometimes you have to think about how your actions affect other people. Sometimes it’s better to get to work slowly and more importantly safely. The best part of that deal is you get more time to pedal!