Tuesday, August 20, 2013


I had the chance to do a longer solo ride this morning that I've been wanting to do for a while.  Over the past year or so I've ridden a decent size loop counterclockwise from my house with Doug and some others that takes me to South Hodges, North Hodges, past the dam, up through Crosby, then through Lusardi Canyon and up to Black Mountain Community Park and back home.  It runs about 28 miles and is a good workout, though nothing to get too excited about.

Today I wanted to do a similar route, but with a little different spin.  It would more closely resemble a shorter version of my original Archipelago route that I last rode in 2009.

I secured my hall pass and headed out at 7:00 AM with an 11:30 lunch date with friends setting a hard deadline for my return.  I climbed up Miners Ridge Loop to the cutover and up to the summit of Black Mountain.  It was neat climbing through and then up above the clouds, something I haven't done in a really long time.

From the summit I dropped down part of the west face and then rode down the Gliderport trail and across Carmel Valley Road. From there I rode through Black Mountain Community Park, up to the fun singletrack most are calling Knoll, and then down through the artichokes and along the Lusardi Loop.

I survived the two nasty fire road climbs on the west side of the Lusardi Loop and stopped for a second at the top of the second one to snap a pic.

From there I crossed San Dieguito Rd. and dropped into the section at the bottom of Artesian Rd.  I climbed the relatively new singletrack that parallels Artesian and just before heading down the Crosby switchbacks met an interesting guy who had started his day out at the Santa Ysabel Preserve near Ramona. He was apparently a radonneuring expert whose final destination for the day was downtown San Diego.

Until talking to this guy I had been pretty proud of the big loop I had planned for myself, but his route put things in perspective for me in a hurry.  After just a couple minutes of chatting we parted ways and I was off.

From there things were pretty familiar.  San Dieguito River Park trails up to the Lake Hodges Dam, then past Hernandez Hideaway and along the singletrack on the northwest side of the lake.  After the boat dock I took the low road to check out some of the recent fire damage at North Hodges in person for the first time. It was amazing how close it had come to some of the houses on the top of the ridge.

I had originally hoped to add about seven or eight miles to my route via the Mule Hill trail and Highland Valley trails on the east side of the lake, but my pace had been less than stellar and I bagged that section due to time constraints.  I simply finished North Hodges, crossed the bike/pedestrian bridge to the South side, did some of the fun singletrack over there and then exited at the Poblado trailhead and rode the pavement the short rest of the way home.

It was a pretty fun day, and the longest ride I've done in a while at 31.4 miles.  Before the ride I filled my hydration bladder with 100oz of Vitalyte and sucked down the last drop during the final pavement climb. For nutrition I had a cinnamon raisin bagel with peanut butter just before starting, then a pack of Powerbar Cola energy blasts and a Trio bar on the trail.  My only real stop was for about 5 minutes talking to Mr. Radonneur at the top of Crosby, though leg cramps did force me to take a couple of short stops along North Hodges.

I was babying my legs from South Hodges all the way home, and really wished I had been able to finish stronger.  I did take three Hammer Endurolyte pills at North Hodges when I first started cramping, but by then I think the damage was done.  Leg cramps have been my longtime nemesis and once again posed a problem today.  I actually finished the ride feeling pretty good physically overall, not too wiped out or tired. From a pure endurance standpoint I could have ridden substantially farther, but the cramping issues would have prevented that even if I hadn't been on a deadline.

So I'm hoping to do this route and include the east Hodges stuff sometime soon.  I'll keep experimenting with hydration, nutrition, and electrolyte tabs as I go, and hopefully will unlock the secret to conquering the cramping issue once and for all.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Gear Review: 2013 Osprey Raptor 14

Even during my long hiatus from blogging I noted that the old posts that were still getting some comments and views were the gear reviews that I had done over time.  And since I personally rely heavily on user reviews on sites like Amazon and message boards like the MTBR forums when considering what gear to buy, I thought I'd post up a couple of thoughts on some of the equipment that I use.

Today I'll cover my 2013 Osprey Raptor 14 hydration pack.

My journey to find the perfect hydration pack has been a long and difficult one, and I had hoped that the newest iteration of Osprey's Raptor pack would be 'the one."  I like it a lot and have mostly good things to say about it, but several noticeable shortcomings keep me from recommending it.

My previous pack was also an Osprey 14.  I loved it and had used it for a little over a year when I tore the fabric on top during an OTB onto a bunch of jagged rocks in Idyllwild last fall.  Thanks to Osprey's lifetime warranty I was able to return it to REI, and subsequently learned that the new 2013 version was scheduled to be released in the coming weeks.  Several updated features of the 2013 model were appealing to me, including the zippered waist-belt pockets and a removable tool pouch, so I returned the torn pack and waited patiently for the release of the shiny new version.

I ordered and purchased the new version sight unseen in January, confident that I would like it in light of how much I loved the previous version.  That was a mistake.

On the good side, this version had many of the things I loved about the old Osprey 14.  I liked the lightweight material from which it was made.  I loved the magnetic bite valve holder and had never had a problem with that design leaking, which was a problem that had plagued me with packs from other manufacturers.  I really liked the newly designed Airscape back panel, which actually did keep my back cooler by allowing more airflow between me and the pack.  And the separate back pocket for the hydration bladder and the bladder itself's semi-rigid back were both carry-overs from the old version that were very important to me to maintain.

On the other hand, I was disappointed by the removable tool pouch.  There was nothing wrong with it, it was just unnecessary and pointless.  I already keep my tools and tiny bits in a mesh bag, so having a fabric-dense tool roll just added weight and bulk.  I tossed it into a parts bin and never used it in the pack.  (I did like that the new design added the zippered tool pocket to the bottom area of the pack, making it easier to quickly find and remove tools on the trail.)

Other changes to the design in the 2013 version proved to be significant drawbacks, however.  First, a change was made to the hydration bladder pouch, adding a longer zipper that traveled well down the length of the water hose.

Instead of keeping the old style which utilized a simple zipper pocket with a flap at the opening for the hose to emerge, the new version is far more cumbersome to open and only allows the water hose to drape over my right shoulder rather than either one.  (I always draped it over the right side anyway, but the new design lacks versatility and makes removing the bladder tougher overall which I don't appreciate.)  I don't understand the rationale behind the change as the old version worked great and the new style adds nothing in terms of function.  In fact its far worse.

Also, the main storage compartments were re-configured for 2013, and not for the better.  Instead of two large zippered storage areas, the 2013 Raptor has only one large compartment.  (It also maintains a smaller zippered valuables pocket for storing phones and keys and whatnot but is no longer fleece-lined so I wont store sunglasses in there anymore.)

The old second large zipper pocket was replaced by the worst feature of the new version: a small, vertical-zip "stash" style pocket along the front of the pack.  The new stash pocket is virtually worthless and dramatically decreases the storage capability of the pack.  The zippered opening is too small to allow clear access to the contents of the pocket, which itself is actually a decent size.  Its not really usable storage space, however, because access is so dramatically limited.  I find myself jamming snacks and energy bars into it because that's all that will fit.  But during a ride if I want to retrieve a particular food item I have to remove each item in the pocket to see what is.  Usually I just find myself playing "trail food roulette," reaching in to grab whatever I can through the slit and resigning myself to choking down whatever I end up with.

The remaining main storage compartment also feels smaller than either of the main compartments on the old version (which is counter-intuitive because now there is just one instead of two competing for space in the pack, but whatever.) I can still fit a fair amount of stuff in the single main compartment, including a pump, Adventure Medical Fast and Light first aid kit, spare tube, and another snack or two.  A jacket does not fit, even a small lightweight packable one, though I can and have stuffed a thin cycling windbreaker into the outside buckle pouch.

Finally, the new zipper pockets on the hip belt are an improvement over the useless neoprene pouches used in pre-2013 models.  The new hip pockets are still a little small, however, and only fit a bar and a gel.  I really wish they were large enough to accommodate my DROID Razr Maxx smartphone in its case, but alas it won't allow the zipper to close all the way when I tried.

So those are my thoughts.  In a side by side comparison, I actually really prefer the 2012 model Osprey Raptor 14 to the new 2013 version.  If I could find a 2012 on clearance somewhere I might pick it up, but so far haven't been able to do so.  So I'm sticking with the one I have for now.  Even with the flaws identified above I greatly prefer even the 2013 version over the Dakine, Camelback, and High Sierra packs I've used over the years.  And so I think that an analogy can be made here to Churchill's famous statement on democracy; the 2013 Raptor is the worst hydration pack available--except for all the others I've tried.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Best of Both Worlds or Complete Hype? My 650b Experience So Far...

Back in September of last year I bought my first new bike since the I built up the Spider in 2008. Our second child was due a couple months later, and with him would come a lifestyle switch to a single-income family with two kids.  So I knew this was probably my last chance to make a major bike-related purchase and pulled the trigger on an Ibis Mojo SL from Competitive Cyclist.

The Special Blend build was within my already diminishing budget, and I planned to swap out some of the shadier components (brakes, wheelset, seatpost, saddle) with high end parts from my Spider.  At the end of the day, I was thrilled with my choice.  Here it is before it ever touched dirt:

And here it is on its first trail ride on my local loop at Black Mountain:

It was love at first ride.  It climbed just as well as the 4" travel Spider, but the extra 1.5" of travel made the rocky downhills of Black Mountain a ton more fun.

In addition to the price and the timing, another motivating factor for buying this particular bike was that I had read online that I could retrofit it at some point to accommodate 650b wheels.  That versatility intrigued me, but for eight months I simply enjoyed riding it with the 26" hoops and had no complaints.

Then early this year 650b-mania began sweeping the nation.  Virtually every major bike manufacturer announced plans to release a 650b bike, and the internet hype began to really build.  Since I already had an interest in the issue, I was far from immune to the growing demand for this purported "best of both worlds" wheel size.

My curiosity was tempered significantly by my extremely tight budget, but that didn't stop me from dreaming (or scheming).  Then in late May a Craigslist alert I had set notified me of a guy selling a brand new 650b wheelset not far from my house.  It was an OEM wheelset from Focus bikes, and included brad new Schwalbe Racing Ralph tires and a 10 speed cassette that just happened to match the drivetrain I was currently running.  The price was very reasonable and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to see what all the excitement was about.

After doing a ton of internet research I confirmed that with the right size tires and a small shim to the rear shock, running the bigger wheels wouldn't be a problem.  I enlisted the help of my buddy Billy ( great guy and wrench extraordinaire) with the shock shim.  He installed a small rubber plumbing washer in the X-Fusion shock, reducing travel about 5 mm to ensure that the larger rear wheel wouldn't rub against the seatstay when the shock was fully compressed.

He also asked permission to spray a thin coating of plastic-like protectant over the back of the lower rear triangle and bottom of the frame to protect the carbon from damage if any rubbing should occur.  I signed off, and I think it was a good idea in the long run.  The protectant itself is underneath and virtually invisible, but provides a great additional layer of protection against scratches and rubbing on the carbon.

Front tire clearance with the X-Fusion Velvet fork was a non-issue.  There was plenty of room.  Rear tire clearance was another story, with only 2-3mm of clearance between the 2.25 Racing Ralph tire and the rear triangle.

As tight as it was, I decided to give it a shot and set about getting some rides in.  My first ride with the new wheelset came after a six-week period of time where I had been completely off the bike because of a spate of family illnesses.  So I wasn't expecting much in terms of improvement in my actual riding times, but was very curious to see if I noticed a significant difference in feel as I rode my local Black Mountain loop.

Here it is before that first ride.  Not noticeably different visually save the larger wheels...

Whether it was psycho-somatic, the result of giving my body some rest, or actually new hoops, my first ride with the 650b's was a PR fiesta. Climbs, descents, flats I set personal bests on virtually all of the important segments of the trails that I had been riding regularly for years.  And I had a blast.

There were a couple of times where I did notice a tangible difference with the larger wheels, both positively and (perceived) negatively.  On the rocky technical climbs and flats of the Knoll loop in Santa Luz it felt like the 650b wheels rolled significantly better through the chunk.  Same thing on the rocky descents of Miner's Loop at Black Mountain.

At the same time, I felt a bit of a penalty as I grinded up the fire road toward the summit of Black Mountain on that first ride, since the gearing of the bike hadn't been changed to accommodate the larger wheels.  With that being said, I posted my third best time on that climb during that first ride, despite having been off the bike for six weeks and having diminished fitness.  (Also, I subsequently set a PR on that climb with the bigger wheels less than a week later, so despite having to work harder I think the 650b's actually helped overall rather than hurt.  I just needed my fitness to fill the gap created by the more difficult gearing caused by the bigger wheels.)

Over the next few weeks I began to really enjoy riding with the 650b's.  Rear tire clearance was never a problem, and I really enjoyed the improved roll-ability in technical situations.  At the same time I couldn't really discern any negatives to the larger hoops.  I'm not a huge jumper, so the oft-mentioned "flickability" concern was a non factor for me.  I still enjoyed getting air off the little drops on Miner's Ridge at Black Mountain and actually felt more confident in my handling overall.  Cornering and accelerating felt the same or better than with 26" tires, in fact I actually felt the 650b's gripped somewhat better than my old wheels.  (That could partly be due to the tires as well, as the Schwalbe Racing Ralphs were a huge improvement over the Kenda Nevegals I was running on the 26" wheels.)

As I examine my Strava times over the last two months of riding with the bigger wheels, they've consistently been better than those with the 26" ones. So the proof is somewhat in the results.  I'm a fan, and don't see myself going back to the smaller wheels anytime soon.

My only real problem with the new wheelset had nothing to do with its size.  The 650b rims I purchased were not tubeless, and I had been accustomed to running tubeless tires for the last five years.  Over those five years I had gotten exactly zero flats.  All hail Stans sealant I guess.  I also ran those tubeless tires at about 22-25 psi most of the time, which I believe gave me a better feel for the trail beneath me and improved traction.

On my first 7 rides with the tube-utilizing 650b wheelset I got five flats.  Two were from goat heads or artichoke spines over near Black Mountain and three were pinch flats from running them at too low a pressure.  It was brutal. So I started running them at 38-40 psi because I was so afraid of more flats and my budget for tubes was shot.  But that made them feel squirrely and resulted in poorer traction which I didn't appreciate.

So about a week or so ago I finally converted the 650b rims to ghetto tubeless with the help and counsel of a new friend, Geoffrey.  Amusingly, I converted the front tire first and then ran out of time and Stans, so I waited a couple days to do the rear.  Before getting around to converting the rear tire I went for a ride, and surprise surprise, pinch flatted. After a dumpster fire of three destroyed tubes, I actually ended up walking about two miles home pushing the stupid bike the whole way.  I converted the rear tire to tubeless the next day.

That little episode also illuminated another potential shortcoming of the 650b wheels, at least in my specific situation.  I don't know whether it was the hard bump that caused the pinch flat or walking the flat tire home over two miles over asphalt and concrete, but when I fixed the tire and put it back on the bike I realized that the wheel was slightly out of true.  Under normal circumstances it wouldn't have been anything to worry about, but since I have such a small amount of rear tire clearance on my converted Mojo, that little bit of wheel wobble was enough to cause the tire to rub slightly against the rear triangle on every rotation.

I had the wheel trued by Chris over at Black Mountain Bicycles, who did it quickly and well, so now there's no more wobble and no more frame contact.  But if that had occurred in the middle of a long ride and the damage had made the wheel even more out of true, I can envision a situation where I could be in a little trouble.  As I mentioned above I have that spray-on protectant on the area of the bike where the contact occurred, so no damage was done to the carbon frame itself.  But it gave me something to think about in any event.

So that's the saga of my 650b conversion.  The bottom line is that I'm a fan and plan to continue running the bigger wheels indefinitely.  The only drawbacks in my case are derived from the fact that I'm riding a converted Mojo SL rather than a bike specifically designed around the 650b wheels, but so far I think I've mitigated those issues as well as I can and am enjoying the advantages enough to keep using them.

Feel free to post any questions or thoughts in the comments.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Giving it another go...

There was a time when this blog was updated regularly. A small but loyal readership seemed to like it. My motivation for starting it in the first place was that as a beginner mountainbiker I benefited greatly from internet resources like www.mountainbikebill.com and helpful posters on local message boards, and wanted to provide some additional info and commentary to others like myself.

Then, on New Years Eve 2010, this happened:


Our first son Caleb has been an amazing blessing to our family, and two and a half years later he brings me incredible joy each day. And as it should be, after Caleb was born my priorities shifted and my riding time (and overall free time in general) took a major hit as we adjusted to parenthood.

Over time I began riding a little more consistently, and several times in the last two years considered resurrecting the blog to chronicle my riding and provide some insight on how I've sought to balance parenting and staying active on the bike. Then a little over six months ago, this happened:


And then we were a family of four. But this time, I knew better what to expect. I set a goal to ride at least three times a week in 2013 in an effort to create some structure and maintain fitness even with the demands of a growing family. And with the support of my wife I met that goal for the first four months of the year or so. 

At that point I was seeing gains in my endurance and having fun on the bike again. Then in May the entire family got sick and spent the better part of two months fighting various illnesses. My riding frequency suffered as just getting through a day required all the endurance and energy I had. But since June we've been healthy and now that Drew is sleeping a little better and a routine has emerged, I'm back on the bike more regularly again.

So that's the short version of why I've been away from the blog for so long. For those that still check here occasionally, thanks and keep checking back, I promise some new and interesting content is on the way.

I have several posts that I'm working on at the moment, including how Strava has changed my riding (for better and worse) and unexpectedly led me to some new friendships.  I'll also be posting a chronicle of the conversion of my Ibis Mojo SL to a 650b wheelset, as well as some gear reviews.  Finally, I'll be talking about an exciting new cycling-specific endeavor that I'm taking on that I want to share.

So add me back to your bookmarks and keep checking in, and I hope you enjoy reading this blog again as much as I enjoy writing it.


Sunday, August 1, 2010

Daley Ranch

Much to my surprise, I was able to mix in a last minute spin around Daley this evening with Mark and Doug. After a day of errands and whatnot I made it home in time to pack up the Tahoe and get over to Daley right around 5:30. I haven't really taken advantage of the longer days much this year, but at least today I was making the most of the daylight I had.

We started from the main lot and did the traditional Creek Crossing to East Ridge to Sage climb. Near the top of the first part of Sage I convinced the guys to do the bonus trail that Ben and I had done a few months ago. We took the Quail something singletrack down to Caballo, then climbed Caballo back to Sage and repeated a bit of the climb we had just done. The Quail singletrack was fun but a little blown out from the lack of rain. It was worth the detour to me, and I was surprisingly not bothered too much from the bonus climbing at that point.

We then continued up Sage to Diamondback and Coyote Run, then took East Ridge over to Jack Creek Meadow. We then took the east side of the meadow over to Hidden Spring (Cardiac). People complain about Cardiac, and with good reason. Its a monster. But what I really hate is the stupid meadow. Its 1.75 miles and has a small uphill grade the whole way. Its not difficult, per se, just unpleasant. And then when you're done with the meadow, you are faced with Cardiac.

I hiked the hard part of Cardiac as usual, and had an amusing exchange with a couple of other riders as they were coming down. One guy mentioned as he flew by us that "we had a long way to go." I simply thanked him for his insight and continued with the story I was in the middle of telling to Mark and Doug. You probably had to be there.

From the top of Cardiac we took Engleman Oak to Cougar Ridge, and Cougar Ridge to Crest. I love the Crest singletrack, and didn't even stop for the tarantula that was in the trail as I flew by. It was the first tarantula I'd seen in the wild, but all I really got was a glimpse. I think Doug and Mark stopped behind me and examined it further.

From Crest we took the road back to the cars and hung out for a bit catching up. I always really enjoy riding with Doug and Mark, and this time was no exception. Mark was on his SS as usual, and Doug has gone pretty much full time 1X9 which is also impressive. I like my gears, and have no intention of giving them up.

I didn't bring the camera, so no pics this time. Great ride though, with great company.

Here are the stats:

Total Distance: 12.85 miles
Total Time: 1:45:09
Elevation gain: 2,000 feet
Elevation loss: 2,005 feet
Average Speed: 7.3 mph
Top Speed: 29.2 mph
Avg HR: 168
Max HR: 194
Bike: Intense Spider XVP

Friday, June 11, 2010


After more than two years of wanting to ride this trail, I finally had the opportunity to ride SART today. A couple of weeks ago Doug mentioned that he, Jeremy, and Mark were heading up there on a weekday, so I bailed on my Friday contract work and elected to tag along.

I left my house at 4:45 am in order to pick up Mark at his place at 5:30, and we made it to Doug's by 6. A few minutes later we were on our way up to Angelus Oaks. The drive wasn't too bad, though we did hit some rain near Redlands that initially had us concerned. After driving up a little higher in elevation to the trailhead, however, the sky was clear and the weather was crisp and beautiful.

We were wheels rolling at around 8:20 AM, and the ride began with an awesome extended downhill singletrack section. Swoopy, buff, and fast, the trail wound its way through the forest, switching back every now and then and adding in just enough exposure to keep us on our toes.

Mark liked this section.

As we shed elevation, the fog returned.

Finally we reached the end of the sustained downhill section, and regrouped.

Then we were back on our way.

Pausing now and again to take in the beauty around us.

And to scale fallen trees...

There was even a spot where a stream had been re-routed onto the trail, requiring a short bit of hiking...

Before getting back to the task at hand.

We were forced to make a few stream crossings...

Some of which, despite their beauty...

Proved treacherous:

On this particular crossing, Mark had ridden slightly ahead of me, and as I rounded a corner on approach, he yelled to me that it looked crossable on the bike. I pedaled faster and carried enough speed and momentum to make it across, despite the large, mostly hidden hole in the center of the stream. I yelled back to Mark to warn him of the low spot in the middle, and then readied my camera to document his attempt. I'm glad I did.

Mark's endo landed him squarely in the middle of the stream, and fortunately the only damage was a slightly bruised ankle (and incrementally more bruised ego.) After a few minutes of drying off and some ibuprofin, we were back on our way.

We crossed Glass road, and began the section of sustained climbing that took us toward South Fork Campground. The trail wasn't that steep or technical, but I was not feeling on my game. I managed to clean all but one short, steep, rocky climb, but felt less than great for most of it. After about an hour, we made it to the campground, where we broke for lunch and re-filled our bottles and camelbaks.

We eventually left the campground and headed back the way we came. Once again we were briefly climbing, and my legs began to protest in earnest. After less than a mile though, the trail turned mostly downhill, and we were rewarded with an awesome sweeping single track descent. We covered the distance back to Glass Road in a fraction of the time it had taken going the other way, and Mark and I finished within seconds of each other, both wearing ear-to-ear grins. That last two miles of singletrack before the road were probably the best of the day, and they alone probably made the whole ride worth it.

After regrouping, we made our way back across the streams we had crossed earlier (including the now christened "Landis Landing" crossing, and enjoyed more singletrack goodness for several miles. The rolling terrain trended downhill as we headed this direction, and proved to be even more fun than the "out" portion of the ride had been.

We finally finished gorging on singletrack, and the time came to pay back the debt we had incurred with all of our decent. Our finishing section involved more than three miles of fireroad climbing up Middle Control road, which was not the ideal way to finish a ride. Mark, who singlespeeded the entire ride, took off early, and was not heard from or seen again until the car.

Doug, Jeremy, and I rode together most of the way, until Doug began to pull away from us near the finish. Doug and Jeremy had elected to ride their 1X9 bikes, so as a gesture of solidarity, I middle ringed the whole climb with them. It sucked. I like my granny gear. But props to the other three guys for doing the ride with fewer gears than most sane people would, they had an impressive showing.

After packing up, we headed down into Mentone to hit up Cuca's Mexican Restaurant for post ride recovery food. From there we headed back home, mostly avoiding Friday traffic through Riverside and Temecula.

It was an awesome day, and I am thrilled to have finally been able to ride this trail. Its been on my to-do list for more than two years, and I likely won't wait that long to go back. Great company, awesome trails, and beautiful weather; it was a tremendous day enjoying God's creation, and I am grateful to have had the opportunity.


Total Distance: 32.26 miles
Total Time: 7:24:59
Elevation gain: 4,468 feet
Elevation loss: 4,461 feet
Average Speed: 4.3 mph
Top Speed: 20.8 mph
Avg HR: 141
Max HR: 174
Bike: Intense Spider XVP
Garmin Training Center Log

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Sycamore Canyon/Farmer's Market Trail

This morning brought a fun, invite-only DT ride that started differently than expected, but certainly delivered at the end.

I met up with Sean, Brent, Mark, Ben, and about a dozen other DT folks at the Costco in Poway and we headed out en masse.

We quickly encountered a short steep climb, which I was pleased to clean despite the lack of warm-up.

From there we rode some lunch-ride type singletrack that soon took us to Sycamore Canyon Road.
We climbed the road up to the Martha's Grove trailhead.

Where we shed some layers and started up. I cleaned both the entire climb and descent, which felt good and is never a given.

After the fun section out of Martha's we regrouped briefly and headed out into Sycamore Canyon. We rode south through the canyon all the way to the powerline towers, and then climbed up the switchbacks headed back north.

Fun singletrack in the canyon:
Getting ready to head up the switchbacks:

Heading up:

Still climbing in formation:

At least you can see where the trail is headed:

And then the payoff begins:

I actually felt pretty strong all the way up the switchbacks, and even passed a few riders on the way up. Descending felt good as well, as I cleaned all of the downhill switches without dabbing and concentrated on carrying a little more speed than usual.

At the bottom of switchbacks we headed back the way we came through the canyon toward Gooden Ranch House. Once there, we regrouped, rested, and observed the shenanigans:

We then headed back out for more action. I was surprised we hadn't ridden any of Sean's secret Farmer's Market Trail yet, since that was billed as the point of the ride. But I was riding well and having fun, so I was happy to blindly follow along and just try to enjoy the ride and the company.

Leaving the ranch house, we briefly hit a little more singletrack as we headed north:

And then it was time for Cardiac. I had heard about Cardiac, but never ridden it before. It was almost as bad as advertised, and despite riding strong for the first part of the ride, quickly got shot out the back as the goaters flew up the steep grade.

I wasn't last, and didn't have to HAB any of the climb, so I'll take that as a victory. I also enjoyed chatting with Sean during the second half of the climb up, which made it more bearable.

At the top of cardiac, we headed north along the fire road towards the upper Sycamore singletrack. After a few laps around the fun singletrack up top...

...we finally headed over to Farmer's Market. Before heading down Sean and Brent's masterpiece, Sean said a few words:

The trail was obviously a labor of love for him and Brent, and they did an excellent job creating something awesome out of nothing.

I was a little worked by that point, and had some trouble with the early technical sections, going off trail a few times and feeling like a moron. Ironically, once I got control of myself I was able to clean a really fun and challenging rocky section toward the bottom of the trail that several people weren't able to do. Evan was also able to make it, and Sean made this neat sequence shot:

At the end of Farmer's Market, we rode some more fun singletrack that took us under Scripps Poway Parkway and along some bonus trail on the north side of SPP.

We regrouped under the overpass for Sycamore Canyon Road, and several of us decided to take the road back due to time constraints.

It was an awesome ride, and I'm really glad I was able to see Sean and Brent's creation. I met some new DT folks, caught up with several old friends, and rode pretty well overall. Definitely a good day. It was also my first ride with Garmin Edge 705, so now I can include heart rate and accurate elevation figures in my stats postscripts here.


Total Distance: 24.38 miles
Total Time: 4:31:19
Elevation gain: 3700 feet
Elevation loss: 3723 feet
Average Speed: 5.4 mph
Top Speed: 26.1 mph
Avg HR: 157
Max HR: 191
Bike: Intense Spider XVP