24 August 2008

23-24/August/2008 Mt. Laguna Rides

On Friday (22/August/2008) I started off the day thinking that I might not be able to go on my camping and mountain biking trip to Mt. Laguna with the Great Outdoors group. I woke up with a fever and a really bad feeling in my stomach. I worked from home and then fortunately, by about 3pm, I was feeling better. I loaded up the car, determined to ride even if I wasn't feeling 100%.

On the drive to the mountains, I called Bill R. who was supposed to be meeting me on the trip. But, as I almost expected, Bill was still in Monterey and wasn't going to be making it on the camping trip/rides. I assumed, although I was hoping to be pleasantly surprised, that none of the other guys on the trip would be bringing a bike or if one or two did, the likelihood that there was a similar fitness and skill level was pretty slim. So, when Bill said he wasn't coming, I assumed I'd be riding alone. I called Ron, who had mentioned that he might be interested in coming up for the day to ride, but as always, I got his voicemail, and didn't expect to hear from him because I had no cell reception once I got away from the freeway.

By the time I got to the camp site at the Mt. Laguna/El Prado Group Campground, my stomach was feeling much better and I was excited to meet all of the guys who were on the trip. Just as I arrived the group was going out on a hike. Not being a hiker, and needing to get my tent set up, I declined the invitation to join them and went about setting up my tent. One other man who was still in the camp offered to help me get the tent up, which greatly simplified the task of getting the tent in place. I then inflated my air mattress, and went about setting up my stuff. Michael, the guy who helped me set up my tent, was a really friendly and kind man and we hit it off instantly.

As I expected, I was the only one there with a bike. I still held out hope that Ron would show up on Saturday. When I got his voice mail, I left him a message telling him to meet me at the campground at noon. While I say I held out hope, it was a very slim hope, and in reality, I completely expected that I'd be riding by myself.

On Saturday, I waited for Ron until about 1:30 in the afternoon, and then I got myself ready and took off on the ride. My plan was to do a quick loop around the lake and then down Nobel which is exactly what I did.

The ride down Nobel was a blast. I shot video through the whole thing although it would have been so much more interesting had there been someone in the video. When I got to the trailhead I saw a couple of riders stretching and thought maybe they were going to be riding up. But, they were just finishing their ride and they seemed a bit surprised when they found out that I was parked on the top of the hill and had to ride back up. I was nearly out of water in my camelbak although I had another liter of water in a bottle stashed inside. I figured it would be best if I rode over to the store in Pine Valley and bought a bottle of water and some energy bars which I had forgotten to bring on the ride. (I remembered them about 20 minutes into the ride, but figured I could do the ride without them.)

The ride to the store was significantly further than I remembered it from the first time I rode Nobel Canyon and we drove the car from the trailhead to the store. After I got there, I chatted with a fellow who was waiting for his girlfriend to pick him up after his ride from Chula Vista. Then, after organizing my camelbak and all the cables and wires from my camera and ipod, I brought my bike into the store, leaned it against a freezer and grabbed a gallon of water and a couple of protein bars.

I sat outside and chatted with the fellow from Chula Vista for a while during which time I ate the bars, refilled my Camelbak and drank the water remaining in the bottle. When I got to the point where I felt like I was sloshing, I popped some electrolyte caps and decided to take off for the climb ahead.

At first the road was relatively easy, almost downhill from the store to Pine Creek Road. But Pine Creek Road and Deer Park Road have some very steep sections, and the climb up Laguna Meadow Road was no easier. By the time I got to the top I was pretty tired, but I got energized by the ability to get back on singletrack.

The ride back along Big Laguna Trail was fun and swoopy and by the time I rolled back into camp, I was feeling really jazzed.

The Great Outoors guys were just finishing up eating when I rode into camp. I had dinner, or rather the remnants of what remained that was vegetarian. I'm glad I brought my own food since the only thing that was available was some spaghetti with a tiny bit of sauce. I added some baked tofu and wished I had some vegetables, but enjoyed what I ate.

After eating, I decided that I couldn't wait any longer for a shower, so I grabbed some clean clothes, my shower kit and a towel and walked over to the shower. When I got there I discovered that the showers operated with quarters and I didn't have any with me. So, I had to walk back to camp (about a half mile), rustle up some quarters and then walk back. (I suppose I could have driven, but that's not like me...) I got clean and shaven and was feeling good. When I walked back to the camp, it was dark and everyone was sitting around the fire chatting about this and that. I listened for a while before Michael offered me a return to a big flat rock in the meadow from which we could look at the stars. We hiked out there and enjoyed the view of the Milky Way and a clear sky. Unfortunately, my legs started to cramp, and after several very painful bouts of cramping, we started to walk back. My legs instantly started to feel better as we got moving.

Once back at camp, Michael was so sweet and gave my legs a very thourough and sensitive massage. I felt wonderful after that and we curled up next to each other and I fell asleep.

I awoke on Sunday morning determined to ride earlier rather than later. Of course, for me that means getting my ass organized and in gear earlier than when I did. So, when I finally rolled out of camp it was almost 10am. I was originally thinking that I would ride out Highway 79 to the trailhead that I rode from with Dana and Claus a month or so earlier. But when I actually got on the bike, I headed toward the meadow. Once in the meadow I saw two guys riding and took off after them. It wasn't long before I was on their tails and then passing.

I got on the Nobel Canyon trail and rode past several other bikers who were looking like they might have been a bit out of their league, even with the relatively easy singletrack there at the top. I continued powering it out, practicing skills and reminding myself to stay fluid on the bike. I wasn't wearing my guards, so I was a bit more hesitant than if I had been wearing them, but I was still jamming down the trail. When I got to the Indian Creek trailhead, I decided I'd ride it up to the Pine Mountain trail and then turn around. Once I got to the bottom where the creek is located (actually not much more than some greener plants at this time of year).I stopped to make sure the video was recording and that the track function was enabled on my GPS. I had my earphones on, so I didn't hear it when the two guys I passed back in the meadow jump the creek. I made some poor excuse about being an itard, but then since I was riding alone, and off to the side of the trail, I figure I was OK.

These two guys took off up the hill without being friendly, but they were on big heavy downhill bikes and I was on my Mojo SL, so I easily passed them. When I got to the top of the hill at the point where Pine Mountain Trail comes in, I waited for them to finish coming up so I could head back down. One of the guys showed up and we started chatting while waiting for his buddy. He mentioned that they were going to go down the other side of Indian Creek Trail, then up some part of East Mesa to a "secret" trail that would take them down into Pine Valley. I mentioned that it sounded like a great ride. The guy offered that I could go along, and even said they'd offer a shuttle up from Pine Valley when I said that I didn't think I wanted to do two climbs in as many days. So, once his buddy got to the top we headed down the hill.

The trail was gnarly. There were rocks all over the place that looked like razor blades sticking out of the trail. The left hand side of the trail was a steep slope and the trail itself was narrow. I really wished I had my guards, and so I took it a bit easier than I would have. As a result, the two guys, with their 7" travel bikes, zipped down the hill much faster than I could or would. When I got to the bottom of the hill, where the trail meets up with East Mesa Fire Road and Deer Park Road, they were no where to be found.

I encountered two other guys, David (a really cute guy from Carlsbad who was riding an Ibis Mojo) and Peter, his friend from Germany. We chatted a bit and then I decided that probably the best thing was for me to just head back the way I came. So, I let the two of them head up the trail and then I followed. Peter was the slower of the two, and I quickly passed him. David on the other hand was really fast, even with a caliper problem on his front disc brake. I guess if I didn't carry such a big Camelbak and all the shit I have in it, as well as if I didn't have the pack around my belly, I'd be much faster. But such is as it is, and I still do better than most.

At one point, I was right on David's tail when he had one of those uphill momentum losses and I almost crashed into him. Unfortunately, in trying to not crash, I went over the side of the trail and ended up going down the embankment doing a cart wheel on some rocks before landing in the dirt. I was fine, and handed my bike up to David who said something about how I probably wouldn't continue to follow so close.

We continued the ride to the intersection of the Nobel and Indian Creek Trails at which point I decided I'd head down the Nobel Canyon trail until I got to the paved Laguna Meadow Road and then I'd take that up to Big Laguna. David and Peter went up the Nobel Canyon trail. I zipped down the trail, faster I think than I did on Saturday's ride. It seemed over too quickly and even though I wanted to continue down the Nobel Canyon trail, I opted to head up the paved road.

Except for a couple of nice fast descents, the road is mostly uphill from the lower intersection of the road and the Nobel Canyon Trail. There were some pretty steep sections that got me a bit winded, and how my legs kept spinning I'm not certain. Just as I got to the spot where the Nobel Canyon trail crosses the road at the S curves near the top of the climb, I encountered David and Peter again. Peter let me pass, and I followed David, seemingly pushing him to go faster as we made our way to the Penny Pines watering hole.

I refilled my Camelbak and headed out toward Big Laguna. At one point I found a trail that said "El Prado Campground" and I decided to take it. I don't know if it was much of a shortcut, as it had a lot more of a hill than if I had gone the longer way, but it got me back to the campground and just in time for a late lunch.