Convergence

It can be hard living in the Western Megalopolis. High end housing developments have been sprouting up for years. The highways & malls are crowded, you watch TV, read news, blogs, forums getting the impression that nature is being beaten into submission.

Woa Dude... Stop all that watching, go outside and do something!

It is a paradise of hiking and riding trails here in Southern CA. Lands set aside in the San Gabriel's before and after 'The Great Hiking Era' (around 1900) have been augmented repeatedly in our Modern age. Recently Developers and City Planners have set new precedents for open space. The South Coast Wilderness Area in Laguna Beach is 20,000 acres set aside as wild forever. 40,000 acres of the Irvine Ranch have been designated as the first California Natural Landmark. This does not include the Cleveland National Forest (470,000 acres) with over a dozen trail heads here in the OC ! These are just a few examples.

Now there is a plan to join some of these resources together and one key part was executed last month. The City of Irvine opened the Quail Trail from Shady Canyon at the 5 Freeway into Little Sycamore Canyon, Serrano Ridge and the beautiful Nix Nature Center. It can also be used to access the Laguna Wilderness Area and Crystal Cove State Park.

We are outside riding in different open spaces every weekend, usually within 15-20 minutes drive from the house. When you ride 20 miles of trail and see 5 or 6 people its more like what I've felt hiking around Boulder, CO or New Paltz, NY. The fact that you are close to 20 million other humans ends up being the farthest thing from your mind. I recommend taking advantage of the great gifts given to us by Benjamin Wilson, James Irvine, Grover Cleveland, as well as today's Conservators of Nature.

(3) Photos by Roy Wallack :).

OC Parks Wilderness Parks, California Natural landmark, Irvine,
Cleveland National Forest, Hiking Mt Wilson

Where have all the flowers gone ?

Well here I go not posting for months, whatever things I am not doing, I am riding. Last year and this winter have been the best I can remember on two wheels. We started with Mt Wilson via Chantry, Gabrielino & Rim trail then went back again and again, 3 different ascents measuring about the same 4000' of gain in 6 miles. The decent of Sturtavant twice was a blast but my ill conceived run down the Mt Wilson Trail was a dangerous mess of abandoned sun baked ridge trail and decomposed granite fall lines.

OC Parks opened a sweet single track at Nix on Laguna Canyon rd. We eventually connected it, though overgrown trail, into El Moro down to PCH and back at 16 miles and over 3000' of gain. Whiting reopened in July re born, followed by Santiago and The Luge downhill, revamped and livin large. The ride I had missed the most of the fire closures is also ours again. There is a high meadow above 4000' on Maple Springs, surrounded by pines and laurel that brings me back to the Catskills. We have ridden it 3 times in the sun & snow since Nov. the last time going all the way to Santiago peak 5687'.

The San Juan Trail defines single track with dozens of switchbacks, it commands attention in so many ways. Today the canyon was filled with warm moist air making the lower trail tacky. Turning onto the southern exposure did not bring its normal blast of hot air, the cloud cover persisted so the ride across to the top was literally a cool breeze. 7 miles out, 3500' of gain, then return stopping to soak in the views and some rare Southern California silence.

Almost a year... After the Fire Storm


Whiting Ranch re opened in July and we have been taking full advantage. There is no doubt that the fire swept through the entire park but there are areas that have been spared. The stream bed along Borrego Trail has retained allot of trees and some brush. But the erosion from higher slopes has filled the stream with sand. More work for sure, stay light on the bike, pac some momentum in your Cammelback, give it middle chain ring speed before you sink in. The top end of Mustard Rd. is now in sight because most of the brush and trees are gone. Now you can see just how much more of this punishing climb you have left to enjoy .

The County has done a great job of making improvements & adding trails along with their repairs ! Most importantly, there is life popping up everywhere. New buds growing out of burnt melted cactus'.... Live Oak's, some in this grove are 100s of years old, with black trunks but green leaves.... Fresh Sage & other native vegetation.

In-Bev cracks open Beer Powers Act...

US Beer Super Power Coors-Miller, aspires to North American dominance but has been dealt a blow of international proportion by In-Bev. The Belgian conglomerate has made a preemptive strike, adding Anheuser Busch to its arsenal of strategically placed brewing giants. Already blanketing Europe, the Eastern European states and Asia, In-Bev's South American and Canadian operations are now fused geographically by Budweiser. Reports of possible connections to the US Presidential race are unconfirmed but would result in further erosion of the balance of beer powers.

Perhaps the most troubling finding however, is In-Bev's establishment of its 'Antarctica' brand. Belgium was an original signitor of the Antarctic Treaty in Dec 1959. Article -7 grants free access but does not allow branding or proliferation on the Continent. Al Gore is concerned about the melting ice pac, that may be the result of chilling stockpiled suds. Jamaican brand, Red Stripe made an apt description of the tense situation; "Its Total Gridlock Mon."

Our investigation has uncovered evidence that may lead to dangerous confrontations:
Bud has a history of First Strike ability.
Top Secret Coors-Miller video leaked.
Cycling mobility may be a factor:

Independent Delivery Systems:

Beer rocketry science
Secret Plans & Camouflaged ICBM's (intercontinental BEER missiles)

Original Beer Industry Detente post

Olympic.... not just a Pool Size

The Olympics always spark debate and this year we have hit the Mother Lode. I read an interesting commentary today on Marketplace, the excellent no BS business+ site & radio program. It got me thinking about Sports. In the last 2 weeks I recorded and watched hours of the US Olympic Trials, so I'm primed for Track & Field for sure. Even though I have some strong views on China (see my, 1freetibet.blogspot.com) I'm not really ready for the Pundits telling me how pure, A-Political and non commercial the Games were 2,700 years ago.

The most astute historian has little chance of seeing the Olympics from the perspective of person X, Y or Z living in that time. The fact is, the games do include the realities of the age, in which they occur. The Marketplace Commentary and pointed remarks illustrate this well enough for our age, so what is left ?

The imperfections of our world do not stop during the Olympic Games but they are of no concern to the Athlete that got up at 4 AM to train for years. That person knows its time to Execute and as fans, we see the miracle of their abilities, attempting perfection. The feeling I get watching, sparks a connection to the best in me. The human archetype is uncovered repeatedly during the Olympic Games and it gives us each the stamina to take up the tasks necessary to improve our world.
:).

BC Bike Race.....


Beyond Comprehension


This traffic sign could be from the BC Bike Race that Roy & Ed are riding. I'm not sure if its: A warning, description of the trails, or just a friendly reminder.
These guys are pretty well hardened trail heads so from reading Ed's Post's , I can tell that Pain is right between Agony and Suffering in the race brochure.

The Links..... Hugging your Chain Ring

If you are reading this instead of riding I can only imagine that; You are dead tired from hammering trails all day; Its 2 AM your battery pac failed so you had to ride home in the dark; or you are still traumatized after being saved from a cougar attack by a rattlesnake in the middle of the most recent Socal forest Fire. However it is, that you arrived here I thought you might like to check out some Mountain Bike Links.

There is now something called GeoLadders where you can watch a GPS log of riders completing trails recording times, posting pics and reviews. This site basically lays down the goods on how you may stack up against other MB mutants in your area. The excitement of Pink passing Blue on Black Star was riveting !
Check it out, the pics appear as you would see them on the trail.

Here is a site with links to OC trails and mines with map links http://www.geocities.com/dash_ripprock/Mojeska_Canyon.html
or just enjoy the Silver Crest double wide mobile estate.

Local Hikes.com has 242 hikes in LA, the 909 & OC, not to mention the rest of the USA

Mountainbikebill.com has Socal trails, even goes international, then pushes ur pulse up w/ helmet cam video.
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Low Rider ?

Bacteria Viris, Fungus & Mold.... Oh My

Remember that kid on your block that ate dirt; 'accidentally' falling into the Mud Pond or slogging through swamps as a kid ? Even though you swore you washed your hands before meals it was a crap shoot. Relax, ancient humans did all of that and worse. It was of course, early preparation for Mountain Biking but there were ancillary benefits. It turns out that your body didn't like that nasty stuff any more than your Mom did, so it learned how to measure and react to the onslaught of germs.

20Th century medicine gave us the impression that clean places are the ultimate answer for our health, Hospital clean. Americans believe that we should Sanitize every chance we get. Spray it, wipe it inoculate it, anything to kill the nasties. Unfortunately we know less than we think we do about germs. One dangerous place people go today is the local hospital. Staff infections, VRSA (Vancomycin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) and a host of other organisms have evolved past our ability to wipe them out. Doctors over per scribe medications then bugs mutate faster than we can react. The Center for Disease Control estimated 94,000 drug resistant infections and about 19,000 deaths (ref -1, -1.1, -1.2) from these super bugs in 2005. From what I've read its going to get worse before it gets better.

Humans have dealt with over a half million years of gunk (ref -2), so that's a good track record. "All Things in Moderation" means that you have a quota for swallowing that glop of mud that just whipped off of your front tire into your mouth. Its even OK to eat fruits and vegetables that don't have the perfect complexion shown on TV. Our immune system was born to learn and repair. Go to the doctor when you're sick, stay healthy by riding. Good diet & exercise are responsible for saving more lives than sanitized wipes ever will. It has been clinically proven that the smile you get from descending The Luge from the Santiago Truck Trail, kicks the crap out of all kinds of stuff that is out to get you.

The next time u see some kid in trouble for getting into a mess, just smile and wink, they will know what you mean :).

All Mountain.... really all of it

Yesterday and this morning we tested four new 5" travel All-Mountain Bikes for Roy's LA Times Fitness Column. They are designed to ride like Cross Country Bikes but have the suspension to take some real abuse. They all exhibit excellent manners and are without question more refined than similar models we tested 3-4 years ago. The frames are mostly super strong trapezoidal cross sections, obviously engineered for high strength to weight. The components were pretty standard throughout: SRAM X-O, Shimano XTR, Avid Juicy. Different versions of the Fox Float RP2 in back on all 4. Trek and Giant use Fox Talas forks, the Specialized a Rockshox Pike 351 and Cannondale a carbon lefty. Suspension settings are all very adjustable and easier than ever to understand how to adjust.

The track was Santiago Oaks, below the Northwest end of the Santa Ana's. We climbed the 'Three Sisters' to what was called Robbers Roost in the 1830s, where outlaws literally waited to swoop down and rob the Butterfield Stage in Santa Ana Canyon. That's when things got interesting, we dropped in, over and through several outcroppings into rutted then winding single track. Oh Yea ! Nothing too deadly but just perfect for using up 5" of travel. Down a steep rock section w/ a couple tricky turns, back into the river bed switched bikes for the next lap.


Giant 'Trance'

Light (26 lb)... not just the weight though, the bike is ready to respond. It ate up 2 & 3 foot drop outs and high speed single track descents. Solid performance climbing and on technical downhill sections. This bike defines the class being tested here. Its a Cross Country rig that can take All Mountain punishment.
Score 9 out of 10.

Specialized 'Pitch'

This bike was the heaviest of the bunch and did have some lower spec components but it handled real well. The frame looks bulletproof. I saw a Discovery Channel piece where they did destructive testing at Specialized. A frame that looked allot like this one, buckled at 7,000 pounds force. It has a shorter cockpit and added fork rake, different tricks to fine tune stability and handling. You can read about the geometry but the ride is solid. If you're concerned about climbing w/ a 31 lb bike, go loose 5 pounds. Score 8.5 out of 10.



Cannondale 'Rize'

If manners are to be judged, this bike is the butler. It climbs like an undernourished mountain goat (24lbs). Suspension movement is subtle but once on the decent, the bike sucks up boulders with agility. Ride like a banshee and carry a carbon Lefty.
Score 9.5 out of 10.


Trek 'Fuel EX'

Trek have added a Floating Link & Active Braking Pivot to the rear suspension they say the result is better handling under braking while turning through the bumps. The cockpit is longer yielding a more aggressive rider position. I'm out of superalitives so... it does what the other 3 bikes do, reeeally well. This is a 27lb bike that seems to be aimed at Endurance racing. Bing ! Direct Hit. Score 9 out of 10.


There is plenty of technical detail in print, on the Mfgr's websites and reviews on line. The price range is from $2,500 to $5,000+ depending on model and options. For that price you should have no problem arranging a full day demo ride to get into the knitting yourself. I would ride at least 2 of them and another model in the lower range if you haven't robbed the Butterfield Stage recently.

le Tour

The 3rd Amgen Tour of California is underway here, 7 stages 668 miles. Top US and International teams are yielding high levels of competition. Its ironic that a pharmaceutical company may be instrumental in helping scare Cycling straight, closing the door on rampid drug use. Hopefully this race can join Tour de Georgia as established American cycling Icons. The sport needs to break out of its troubled era, bringing more events to the US could be a great way to do this. It has been tried many times of course but International Road Racing here has always taken a beating for one reason or other.

The good news is that Sports Visionary, David Stern is about to add a 3rd division to the NBA. Look for the NBA European Division, to start battling the East and West for some respect. I see the parallel, there is no reason why Cycling and Basketball can't work both sides of the pond.