Desert Riding Season- a Flyby

I fell in love with riding the Anza Borrego Desert last year. 
Yesterday, I had an opportunity to gain some new perspective on it from the air.


Dave extended an opportunity to me to help scrub his dirty bird and take her up for at least a run around the pattern. We loaded up the car with soap, buckets, rags, and all the other accouterments required for the job. Some time later (she was a dirty bird indeed) we found ourselves looking for cooler climes in the sky above. We’d talked about the dirt airstrip at Octotillo Wells… and I told Dave it had been on my Bucket List for about a year, ever since I saw it while scouting the Stagecoach 400 route.

We departed to the south and headed out over Anza Valley. I’d never been over this area before and found myself rubbernecking as fast as I cold absorb it. Flying over Coyote Canyon, I was able to identify familiar areas we’ve explored by bike, and had lights going off in my head.
There’s where that canyon goes!” and “NOW I understand why that trail doesn’t go any further!” came to mind. I also gained a renewed appreciation for the rapid change of climate we have here near Idyllwild, where we can ride from pines and cedars all the way down the sandy desert (some 7,000 ft below) in a matter of a half day.

We flew over Borrego Springs, a near-mandatory restocking point on the SC400 route, and headed out into the open desert. The dirt strip at Ocotillo Wells came into view. I was surprised to see it extended further than it’d appeared to be from the vantage point of a bike. We flew in close to make sure the area was clear of any errant ATVs or debris on the field. Dave commented it was in better shape than he’d ever seen.

We noted the Outside Air Temp and landed uneventfully. I noticed the Iron Door was just up the road… I came to love this place last year as a rider’s first (or last) chance for beer before (or after) riding the 30 miles of Fish Creek Wash.

We deplaned, crossed the street for what I figured would be the obligatory Coke at the store, but only found locked doors. Upon returning, we were visited by a large-and-in-charge RAF Merlin. They flew by closely, circled around behind a hill, and ultimately came back to land in the same field we were departing.


I thought that was a pretty cool and rare experience. 🙂

Heading home, I saw a wash that needs to be ridden, probably on a Fat Bike. What’s up there? A Palm Oasis, a promontory with a likely great view, and the promise of new discoveries just over the horizon. I think we’ve got a great Fall and Winter season ahead. We’ll just have to ride and find out.
Any takers?






The Hub Welcomes Lynskey Titanium Bikes

We’ve partnered with Lynskey to bring you the finest titanium bikes around.
And we couldn’t be more excited!


We’ve wanted a titanium offering at the shop to compliment other frame materials. Titanium frames have an enjoyable, lively & refined feel… combined with lighter weight and great durability. All good traits for anyone putting in big miles, be it on a bikepacking trip or a century ride.

Haven’t heard of Lynskey Performace? If you ride a bunch, I’d bet you’ve seen their bikes. They’ve been jigging & welding titanium bikes for a long time, going back to the heyday of Litespeed Bikes. They are real pioneers of titanium bicycle fabrication and have a fascinating history.

But heritage alone wasn’t the only reason we asked them to dance. With other fish in the sea, we were fortunate enough to be choosy. Firstly, we appreciate Lynskey’s investment in US production: they employ 50 people at their Chattanooga, TN facility! Moreover, we appreciate their innovative approach to bike fabrication, with tube shaping and high performance CNC machined parts.
The Lynskey mountain bike line is very well thought out, with production and custom models that can help our customers bring their riding to the next level.

Standard models: First, the high value & versatile Ridgeline 29, and all out performance with proprietary tube shaping, added stiffness, and great tire clearance from the Pro 29 series. Remarkably, either of these models can be had with various finishes as well as different dropout, head tube, and bottom bracket platforms.

Custom fit & geometry: Now this is really exciting. As of now, we can work with you to design a new titanium steed, factoring in your body dimensions, riding terrain, goals, and riding strengths. As you may already know, I (Brendan, aka Hubster in chief) have designed hundreds of one-off custom fit mountain bikes. I’ve become pretty comfortable with the design & fit process, and pretty good at it if I say so myself. 😉


We’ve got a flashy Pro29 model to check out at The Hub, and more soon to come. This first one belongs to bikepacking expert, X chromosome Hubster, and Ride The Divide star Mary Collier. She digs it. Come in, drop us a line, or give us a call to talk about it. If a titanium bike is in your future, we’d like to help you find it.


May ValleyCat was a hit!

The May ValleyCat fundraiser went off this past weekend, it was a huge success.


Didn’t hear about it? We were raising funds for the newly reformed Idyllwild Cycling Club, which is taking on a new focus as an advocacy group under president Wayne Sleme and partnering with IMBA to assure access to local trails and get the May Valley Trail system formerly dedicated by the USFS.


How’d we do it? Turns out it was pretty simple; we just asked people who’ve been enjoying the trails to get involved. We asked people to donate to the cause, and threw together a new ride idea, which loosely followed the urban alley cat ride concept. We called it the May ValleyCat. We were each issued a passport and a trail map marked with semi random checkpoints throughout the May Valley trail system. When we rode to those spots there was a stamp pad waiting for us. Voila! Credentials.

Our goals for the day were to raise funds for the new group and to actively engage trail users in advocacy efforts. And to have a good time doing it.
We managed to raise about $1100 from a single morning fundraiser. Not bad scratch to get the coffers filled and the process underway. (we prepared this maybe 3 weeks ago)
The ride, which followed no set route and saw us meandering all over the valley, was joined by more than 40 people. We broke into small groups and gave informal tours of the local goods.
After the ride, we met on the deck for food and good times. We celebrated as we more than doubled our fundraising goal, and laid the groundwork for an organized trail advocacy effort in Idyllwild.


Fundraising for May Valley Trails project

The Idyllwild Cycling Club is aligning with IMBA and getting serious about ongoing advocacy efforts in the May Valley Trail system. And there’s a party to celebrate it.

Joining IMBA brings love to our trails; firstly in the form of regular visits from our IMBA rep, Patrick, who ain’t afraid to roll up his sleeves and dig into the bureaucratic slop. And it gives us access to other IMBA resources too, ranging from the technical to the political.

But the love ain’t free. The newly reformed Idyllwild Cycling Club needs cash, and your involvement. Idy Cycling is raising bucks both to join IMBA and also to fill the coffers for the greater May Valley trails project. This could go to the purchase of trail tools, assuming the day may come when us locals can put on trail days with the USFS blessing, or hiring personal escorts for USFS officials. (I’m kidding)

The May Valley trails belong to all of us, not just locals. We at The Hub know this as well as anyone; we greet you at the shop when you arrive from LA, OC, Hemet, Riverside, Murrietta, and San Diego… and beyond. I believe the time has come that we all take a little ownership in the project.

To get this started in a fun way, we’re helping to put on the May ValleyCat. The May ValleyCat is a fun ride coming July 28th, organized in the spirit of urban Alley Cat rides, but on singletrack. Riders will meander through the trail network we seek to preserve, stopping by predetermined locations of interest… in no particular order and with no particular route. Riders who know the trails (or riders who know those riders) will have an easier time. Riders who don’t know the trails so well will be rewarded with new discovery. Win-win, methinks.

The Hub Cyclery is helping out too. We’re throwing a BBQ cookout for all the May ValleyCat riders that day. So get out, ride lots, and come back hungry. It’s the least we can do folks.

If you can join the ride, great, we can’t wait to see you.
If you can’t ride, but you’re feeling compelled to stand with Idyllwild Cycling & IMBA, please follow through to the Idyllwild Cycling Club’s fundraising PayPal link and drop some coin in the slot. You’ll get a big thank you from the folks at Idyllwild Cycling, hugs & high-fives from us at The Hub. Not to mention a more assured singletrack future in Idyllwild.


How Beth Got Her Mojo

Beth & her Mojo: long legged, confident, and attractive.
That’s what she was looking for in a new bike. Enter the Ibis Mojo.


She was ready to step up from her 4″ travel bike to something that could simultaneously increase her comfort on the trail and boost her confidence in the steeps. She’s a designer by trade, so the aesthetics of the bike were also quite important. When she inquired about the Ibis Mojo SL we had to admit it would be a great match. At 120mm suspension travel with a carbon fiber frame & DW Link suspension, it fit the bill. We wanted a great offering like the Mojo, So we became a dealer.


We bundled a custom build kit for her and made the magic happen. Starting with Ibis’s own Fox Talas 120/150mm fork, we added a dashing mix of Shimano XT and XTR components. Then we topped it off with a pair of hand built Chris King/ NoTubes Crest wheels, a Thomson cockpit, and Avid BB7 brakes for easy management.

Since we built it up, Beth has ridden all over Palm Desert, Idyllwild, and Tahoe. The word?
Sounds like we made a love connection.


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.


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.



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



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



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.



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.



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.

2012 Season Opener

We’re officially calling the start of the 2012 Idyllwild riding season.

As the snow melts off, the creeks have started flowing a little higher and flowers around town are budding. The trails are opening up and running great with sticky dirt. With the aroma of Pine, Ribbonwood, and Sage, it even smells like spring.

This last weekend, we got our first shop ride in with Chris from San Diego, a guy who we didn’t know before. Like so many in-season shop rides past, by the end it was all hugs & high-fives.










Ralph’s Spearfish Build

This Spearfish goes to local renaissance man Ralph H. 

Ralph: Skilled woodworker, cyclist, and incessant entrepreneur. He has long ties to cycling in Idyllwild, and was responsible for bringing the original 24 Hour race to town… which in turn was at least partly responsible for bringing the Hubsters to town. We’re bringing that loop back together with a pair of big ol’ 29″ hoops. Image

The Salsa Spearfish frame has really caught my attention as our go-to 29″ FS bike. Some of the more thoughtful design details include the flattened Scandium seatstays which eliminate the need for a secondary suspension pivot (thereby reducing weight and the likelihood of creaking), curved seat tube for tight geometry, and smart cable routing along the down tube. The simple suspension design flat out pedals fast with a platform-damped shock. The design’s simplicity is its greatest asset.


Ralph is coming off a carbon fiber FS 29er bike… his new Spearfish not only weighs less, but cost less and handles better. The build kit is a semicustom offering from The HUB, featuring a bang-for-the-buck 3×10 SRAM drivetrain, a Fox Float 29 FIT fork, NoTubes wheelset, Magura brakeset and a take-off Siren titanium handlebar.


We gave Ralph a full fit akin to what we do with custom frame builds, and optimized the bike to best suit his needs & goals with the bike. Bottom line: this bike hauls the mail. 


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.