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.


Of Races and Rattlesnakes….

Life is what happens while you’re making other plans. That’s a truism I’ve believed at times in my life, but after the past 4 days, I’m not really sure what those other plans might have been. What I assumed would be the center point of the weekend was a 12hour race in the desert. 12hr of Temecula to be precise. It’s a fantastic endurance series race here in Southern California that happens three times a year. I’ve raced it before, but this would be my first time racing it under the banner and watchful care of Siren Bikes.

Personally, I may be a bit of an endurance junkie. I love the long miles and the long hours in the saddle. Siren being run by Brendan and Mary Collier, it’s a perfect match. Those two define endurance racing. The short of it was that we came, we represented hard and went home with some medals. In between all of that, Brendan grilled up some kickass carne asada and I seem to recall both of the Brian’s that were in attendance had the foresight to keep enough beer cold and flowing. Races are in fact, cool. If you’re racing on a team, and you’ve got good teammates (as was the case with our Siren 4 person team) you’ll get to put in fast hours and have time to hang out in the pits and soak in the race scene vibe. Hundreds of like-minded people on bicycles. Awesomeness. If you’re a solo rider, like myself, you live for seeing the photographs from after the race. It’s sort of hard to experience anything beyond the suffering and mental anguish of riding your bike in hot, dusty circles for HOURS. The first hour is avoiding the adrenaline surge either by getting out ahead of the pack or hanging back, letting them all burn out fast and then picking them off one by one. By hour two or three, you’ve settled into a groove that will most likely determine your placing at the end of the race. Assuming that you can hang on. Hours four and five you’re able to pick up the pace a little bit, but still in a groove. You know your lines, you know where you like to throw in, where you get to have some speed fun. You also know where to throttle so that you don’t blow up early on the climbs. Because by hour 12, those climbs won’t have gotten any smaller. By hour six to seven, you start wondering why in the world you’re spending your entire Saturday going in circles in a hot, dusty, desert environment? Did I mention hot and dusty? At some point in the heat, food starts to become completely unappealing, which as you can probably figure out, when racing…is bad. I’m pretty sure that I struggled to stay fueled all day on very little besides oranges, bananas and avocados. Yup, whole avocados. And that’s about it. As your brain boils on each and every climb, you keep reminding yourself how thankful you are for avocados and their fatty deliciousness. Hours eight and nine roll around bringing some much appreciated relief from the heat. There is even a sense of relief that it’s almost over, maybe now is a good time to start turning the gas back on. Remember, it’s a bike race? Somewhere between hours ten and twelve that back pain rears it’s head again reminding you that you aren’t quite home free.


Photo Credit: Krista Adamek

But who cares? You’ve been pedaling solidly and turning laps since breakfast. What’s a little body pain at this point? You’re handling the bike and probably kicking a lot of ass. Hour twelve is the best. You know it’s the end, somewhere you found a reserve to sprint to the finish. And if you’re lucky enough to have a pit like the one I was racing with….There is someone there to hand you a beer.

Sunday was slow recovery and a drive back home to Idyllwild. I’m pretty sure I spent the day eating ice cream. Monday was also slatted to be a day of recovery, so I took a short spin into town to see Brendan and spin my legs out. While I was hanging in the bike shop, I met a couple of riders who had come up from San Diego. Rebecca Tomaszewski and her friend Bill Fehr. Bill, as it turns out, is from North Carolina. And Rebecca has spent time in the beautiful mountains of NC as well…Oh I’m liking this already…there was going to be much talk about Chicken Biscuits and Fried Okra….As I was in “recovery mode”, but not liking to miss out on a ride with new friends, I grabbed a couple of water bottles and took them out to the Hub Trails. In a word, the Hub Trails are AWESOME. Miles and miles and miles of flowy singletrack, which goes in and out of a light canopy. We hadn’t been on the trail for a single one of those miles yet, when we came flying around the corner into what would be my closest encounter ever with a rattlesnake, and this is where real life started happening. As I was rounding the corner, I saw what must have been at least 5 feet long and 6 inches around crossing the trail less than three feet in front of me. The snake must have noticed me just as I noticed him. It stopped it’s forward progression, pulled back, turned it’s head toward me and let loose the loudest rattle I have ever heard. In that micro-second, I put everything I had into both brakes, thinking I would just lay the bike down so that the bike was between me and the snake and I would make a hasty retreat in the direction I just came. As all good plans go, that wasn’t exactly how it went down. I had two handfuls of brake which somehow sent me into a full on endo TOWARDS the snake. I was closing the gap between me and the snake at what seemed like a much faster rate than if I was still pedaling the bike. The bike was going vertical, with the front wheel down and the rear wheel going skyward, and as it was heading skyward, the rear wheel passed it’s apex and as it was becoming horizontal again, I realized the gap between me and the snake was halved again. So now the bike is tumbling over itself, handlebars spun around backwards, rear wheel getting closer to the snake sooner than the front wheel, and I am somehow still holding onto the bike. In the next micro second, I got my right foot unclipped, over the top tube and started running BACKWARDS towards Rebecca and Bill. The bike was still hurling forwards towards the snake and I was somehow propelling myself in the other direction, all the while, neither of my feet had actually touched the ground yet.

Boy, that snake was pissed. I could almost feel the rattle inside my head. And it was getting louder.
The bike was now on the ground, completely twisted into a position that was unridable, and I was well on my way away from it. Rebecca and Bill were grinning that goofy grin you get the first time you ride new single track. And unbeknownst to them just 10 minutes earlier, they were going to be treated to a floor show by the crazy local.

Photo Credit: Bill Fehr

“Man that was an awesome nose wheelie you just pulled! You ride BMX?” – Bill

“………………”, That was the most I could get out of my mouth.

Tuesday Alleycat and Film Screening

Next Tuesday we have the pleasure of screening 23 Feet, a documentary, in Idyllwild. We took this opportunity as an excuse for another bike ride, with so many outdoors enthusiasts in town.

We will start at the shop at 6:30. The ride is an alleycat style ride (yeah, spoke card and all!) which will take you to some Idyllwild highlights and eventually meander over to the film screening. We’re going to roll out at 6:30 so we can get to the film on time with enough room for sight seeing.

Here’s a preview from the film – time for some summer fun in Idyllwild!