Darn Tough Socks- a Testimonial

We’ve recently picked up this line of (excellent) socks in the shop. But not before we them through the ringer.

Back in March, Bryan the sales rep stopped by the shop preaching about “these great socks” that he thought our customers would love. Yeah sure, I told him, I’m sure you’ve got some good socks but we’re already covered on that front with other brands.
He told me his socks were better than what we’d had, and he could guarantee it. Darn Tough socks are guaranteed… for life. 

He went on to tell me they’d guarantee the socks against blown out holes in the toes, or the heel for a lifetime. It piqued my interest for sure, and I took him up on an offer to try a sample pair.
Some time passed. A bunch of it. I liked the socks, so much so that I’d begun rotating them though my wash cycle as fast as possible, just so I’d be able to wear them again sooner. I saved them for the Saturday shop rides, and any other big rides I was going out on… scouting runs, bike pack trips, even a few days on the Stagecoach 400. They’d more than proven themselves in terms of comfort, moisture wicking, and durability.

So we decided to bring them in to the shop. For you, our beloved customers. They’re priced on par or maybe just a teeny bit more than the leading high end sock brands. If you’re like me, you may likely switch your entire wardrobe over to Darn Tough socks. Should the need arise, you can bring them here to the shop for warranty replacement. For socks! (I still can’t quite get my head around it)

Here’s to fall, and comfy feet. See you in the shop.

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Juan Diego Flat / Cahuilla Mountain sub 24

Robin and I headed out on a quick overnighter last Friday.
The MO: punch out from work on Friday and roll from the trail at 5:30. I’d loaded my bike ahead of time and just needed to stop by the market for some grab & go items. Namely, a sandwich and a can of beer. We were rolling in no time.

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The destination was a place called Juan Diego Flat. Neither of us had been there before and I specifically wanted to “onsight” a camping spot. Between the topographic information and the word “flat” we figured it was promising. We wondered who Juan Diego could have been.
I hadn’t packed with Robin before, or seen his gear. Cool stuff with lots of waxed canvas & leather from Swift Industries, rando style.

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The riding up Thomas Mountain was cool and visually stunning. The descent down the backside was fast and thrilling.

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We arrived before dark, found a spot under some cottonwoods and proceeded to chow down, potluck style. Sleep came easily.

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The morning ride led us to a placard denoting Juan Diego’s death, and a ride high above camp with a view of hot air balloons launching from Temecula. We proceeded through the (wild) west of Anza to resupply. “Dusty” road was true to name.

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From Anza we found a trail I’m calling “Jim Junior” that led us to the familiar Jim Truck Trail, on up to a hike a bike on to Thomas Mountain. We parted ways coming in to Garner Valley. I visited some folks at Cow Pie Springs and made the way back to Idyllwild on trail. Back in town by 2 pm with plenty of weekend ahead. Bam! Sub 24.

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Alpine to Anza…Part 2. The Ferrari Show.

photo credit: Rob Roberts

A Ferrari show. As we were trucking through San Diego, along the Bay, Rob Roberts and I were having one of our usual epic discussions of food and coffee. Mostly coffee. There aren’t many things that would cause us to stop pedaling but coffee would be one of them. If you’ve ever been to San Diego Bay, you know what to expect. Cyclists, walkers, families pushing baby strollers, tourists, lazy Sunday afternoon tourists. As we’re navigating the urban sea of people, what do we stumble upon in the grassy park on the waters edge? A car show featuring dozens of Ferraris of all vintages. We’re talking millions of dollars worth of Italian mechanics wet dreams. And what goes best with Italian cars? Certainly not filthy mountains bikes, but in fact espresso. Yes espresso. Somebody hauled a fully legit espresso maker out onto the grass. So there we were, day 2 into a multi-day ride, jersey pockets stuffed to the brim with burritos that I’m pretty sure we bought out in the desert, and we find our very own baristas. As we were passing the on-going’s, I grabbed two handfuls of brakes and came to a halting stop.

“Are you serving Espresso?!?!”

“But of course! You like some?”

Some things I don’t have to be asked twice about.

This was one of them.

There we were, Rob still clipped into his pedals, me on my green Siren, fully loaded with bike-packing gear, helmets, desert dirt still on our faces, sipping freshly pulled espresso shots in front of a background of million dollar Ferraris.

By now, we’re well caffeinated and on our way north out of San Diego. First we climb into Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve for a quick water re-supply and then turn east back into dirt country. As we’re pedaling and checking maps, we realize it’s getting late, dark is only a couple hours away and we’re probably going to have to bivy someplace before the next planned resupply. A quick check of the Googler and we find a Mickey D’s just off route. Dinner, and breakfast to go it is! Nobody really likes pedaling off route for anything. But the prospect of gnawing off one of Rob’s legs the next morning for breakfast, doesn’t really sit well with either of us.

Off we go. Up a hill, down a hill, over another hill, through the parking lot and into our last re-supply for a while. I love the look on the cashiers face when we’re ordering while out on a bike-pack. 1 chicken sandwich, 1 large fry, 2 chicken nuggets, 2 apple pies and a large chocolate milkshake. I’ll be back in a minute for my to go order.  It’s pedal, pedal, pedal, consume, pedal, pedal, pedal, sleep. Repeat as necessary.

Out of the parking lot with full stomachs and fresh smiles we roll. Never underestimate the morale boost of fast food.

We hit some pretty awesome singletrack in Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve, right off the roadway.  We cruised through the backwoods of suburban San Diego County for about an hour of fast easy riding. Good times. Just as sundown was upon us we rolled right into what might be some of the funnest trails anywhere. The Tunnel Trails. So perfectly named. You drop into some more killer singletrack that immediately gets into a full canopy of low lying trees. No more sky. Our sky was now low clearance branches to avoid while trying to navigate the intricately twisting trails. This is Hobbit land. And of course, in perfect fashion, the sun had set and we were running full lights. We exit The Tunnels, cross a few roads and it’s back to dirt. This cycle gets repeated another half a dozen times before midnight, when we finally decide we’ve had it for the day. Rob finds us a good stealth bivy site along the trail behind some bushes, but right at the base of a chain link fence. Perfect, that last Mickey D’s apple pie is going to be delicious!

Up right before sunrise, we pack and realize the chain link fence we slept under was the backside of one of the most lavish golf courses either of us had ever seen….

So off we go down the trail. Next up, Lake Hodges. What a beautiful sight. Our approach from the trail brought us up on the other side of the Dam. The dry side of the Dam.

Call me morbid, but I always envision what happens if when dams let go. That’s a lot of water. Next time I’m pedaling through the desert, rationing my water bottles, that’s going to be my new happy place. And on we pedal. More mountains, more valleys, more trails, more dirt roads.

We climbed Lost Valley Road, crossed the Chihuahua Valley into the sunset, and made our descent into Anza where we popped smoke and waited for our extraction from this adventure. As we sat there knocking back a couple of long ago purchased bottles of chocolate milk I could only think of one thing: There are just so many cool trails in this part of the world. Most of them you would never even know existed. More importantly, you would never realize that it’s possible to actually tie them all together.

Dan’s Flat Bar Fargo

This unique Fargo build is for Dan, who will be going LONG with his new ride.

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Dirt road riding and bikepacking is our forte, we helped Dan put some thought into his custom build kit. First off, the Salsa Fargo frame is a proven chassis for this application, carrying its weight long and low, with plenty of provisions for frame bags, racks, and water bottle mounts to keep weight off the back.

From the start, Dan wanted his bike to be based on a flat bar riding position. We settled on the versatile Jones Loop bar, which offers several hand positions for anything from off road use to pavement cruising. The drivetrain is mostly Shimano XT, pared with a set of Paul’s Thumbies shifters, which work great on these bars. They also have the added benefit of a “friction” mode, so the shifters will keep working even if the derailleur is damaged and won’t index.
Stopping duties went to a set of Avid BB7 mechanicals for ease of maintenance, boosted with Odyssey linear cable housing for extra power and modulation.

 

The wheelset is especially nice. We built it up with Shimano XT hubs and NoTubes Flow rims, 36 spokes laced up with DT Competition spokes for durability and stiffness even when loaded heavy. He’s running a set of WTB Nano Raptor tires, known for low rolling resistance and durability.

We finished the build off with a set of bags from Revelate Designs and a frame pack he already had. Regarding Dan’s first ride on it, he said:
“Yesterday was her maiden voyage. I rode mostly dirt and paved roads throughout the national park. 20 miles or so and it was heaven. So smooth and easy to ride. Better than I imagined. One friend offered to buy her on the spot after taking his turn. She really is amazing and THANK YOU.”

 

Coyote Canyon / Bailey’s Cabin Overnighter

We left the Friday punch clock and literally rode off into the sunset. 

Carter, Dave, Joshua, and I left The Hub around 5pm Friday, just as the evening alpenglow was starting to wash over the mountain. We were “out there” in no time.

The evening’s destination was Bailey’s Cabin, a rock house built some 70 years go by cattlemen. It’s in Coyote Canyon, part of the Anza Borrego Desert State Park. The prospect of a roof over our heads was especially alluring on a cold night.

To get there, we charted a route using a minimal amount of asphalt. We climbed a portion of Thomas Mountain and descended into Anza valley. We passed a property we’ve come to refer to as “the chainsaw house.”

Just before we entered the canyon, a friendly motorcyclist rode up alongside us… chatty, he told us about his own mountain bike adventures. He explained to us where he lives, and offered us water and assistance anytime we should want it in the future. (all this while shouting over the sound of his engine, in the dark, riding alongside us)

We dropped into the canyon, lights on, with a sliver of the moon above. Glancing over the edge, all we could see was darkness. A lot of it. We pedaled on down canyon at a good pace, dodging the occasional mouse.

When we arrived at the cabin we got settled, foraged some wood, and enjoyed a small fire. (aka “Caveman TV”) The stars above put on quite a show.

We’d packed food with us from Idyllwild. For future reference, the Grill & Chill sandwiches pack well, as do burritos. 😉

Three of us decided to sleep outside, but Carter opted to keep the resident cabin rat company. Sleep came quickly, and deep.

Day 2

We woke up with the sun around 6am, enjoyed a light breakfast and lamented the fact we had no coffee.

 

We bid our cabin farewell and started our day of riding. The midsection of the canyon is explicitly closed to motorized traffic, so the riding became more technical in sandy wash and rock gardens. The Middle Willows are a bit of an unexpected paradise in this slice of desert; spring fed year round, and canopied in green.

We emerged back on to roads south of the Middle Willows in Jeep territory. The lower section of the canyon wasn’t too sandy, we made great time.

Coming into Borrego Springs, Joshua’s bike suffered a mishap that would keep him one place for quite some time. (broken frame! true story) Thankfully, he had plans for a pick up to catch a flight that evening anyhow. 😉

We feasted on Mexican food and stocked up on high calorie offerings from the store before hitting pavement up Montezuma’s Grade. Not familiar with this climb? It’s as grand and imposing as the name would imply.
The climb really took its toll, we wrapped up our day at the top of the climb in Ranchita and called Mary for a pick up. Though we’d originally planned to ride all the way back to Idyllwild, we were all happy to shoot the breeze with Ranchita locals and explore their community park before getting picked up. We lounged in the grass and even got some new route beta from a local retired firefighter. The next trip won’t be too far off, I’m sure.

By the end of our adventure, we were only gone from home about 24 hours. But it was so good it felt like many more.