Saturday, October 27, 2012

Deer Creek Death Ride - the Personal Gran Fondo

photo from Deer Creek Death Ride website
On one of my first rides in the Thousand Oaks area a couple weeks ago, I was lucky to bump into local racer/coach Mr Bill (William Ralph). Bill informed me about the Deer Creek Death ride.

I had planned to make the long drive north to home already, though this ride was very luring.

A local rider and a few friends did a 100 mile ride annually at the end of the season. The ride now includes anyone that wants to take on all or part of the century ride. This guy kindly supplies water/food support driven by his friends in a convertible.

Entry fee - FREE! Though, donations willingly accepted for the feed with excess going to charity.

Not just any 100 miles... this one included alot of the cream of crop canyon climbs in the Santa Monica Mountains! Elevation gain would be 12,000 feet.

Cyclists gathering at a brisk 7 a.m. at Wins Wheel's Bike Shop in Agoura Hills
Despite the long ride ahead of us, the pace still went out hard up the first climb up Decker Road. Soon enough, we had the wicked long descent to the ocean on Encinal.

First catch up stop at the bottom of Encinal Canyon on Hwy 101 by the ocean
Actual Deer Creek Canyon climb is at a wicked 15% grade for many km - views outstanding!
The feed-zone convertible with a Halloween black spider on back
After a couple stops to regroup, a few of us decided to stick together and ride continuously. I ended up with Bill and his buddy Dusty Armstrong (ex-BMX pro). It was a blast to ride with them especially descending as I had confidence in their lines around the twisty canyon roads.

Dusty & Marg following Bill's lines down the famous Rock Store road. A photographer takes pics of the motorcyclists and squeeze a few in of the cyclists 
I've purchased a photograph from Rock Store Pics in the past when I was in the leathers.

Dusty, Bill and I heading up Mulholland with 40 miles left
Losing Dusty to a broken chain with 20 miles to go, Bill & I continue on passing by another roadside photographer.

Les started the ride as well. Missing out the last short loop, he made it to the finish just ahead of me. Perfect timing for our carpooling.

162 km, 6 hr 40 min, 12100 feet elevation gain
Wicked last ride of the season!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Gibralter Climb in Santa Barbara

My second attempt at the Gibralter Climb, an epic road ride out of Santa Barbara. First attempt in 2009 crushed on-route with a mechanical.

bike path along the coast

Took a look at the map and decided to ride coastal east for some mileage, then head inland to make my way up E Mountain Dr to get to the epic climb up Gibralter Rd.

Heading inland towards E Mountain Dr, I was wowed by the height of the Eucalyptus trees... at least twice as high as the power lines

E Mountain Dr is an epic ride itself

Statue in front of a house on-route
The climb up Gibralter goes on and on
Upon reaching the peak of the mountain, the road followed a ridge-line and could see to the south down to Santa Barbara, and to the north the Los Padres mountains.

Los Padres mountains to the north
Santa Barbara & ocean views to the south. Cool bird!
Took the Euro type road called Painted Caves down to the coast. Pretty epic road and on the must-do list to climb back up
It was calm while I was up on the mountain.
Once I was close to shore, I was surprised to see huge whitecaps on the water and palm trees blowing.
Yay, it was a strong tailwind back to the start
My footprints to the water with the view
of the mountain ridge I was just on

Friday, October 19, 2012

Cali Hikes & Runs

Spent alot of my California time in the Thousand Oaks area, west of L.A. and with the Santa Monica mountains within reach.

Les & I squeezing in a run before nightfall up trailhead for Mt Boney
Barely made it back to the car before complete darkness. Fall-time darkness sneaks up quick and it's pitch black in these canyons. 
Always carry a headlamp! 

Views of the Santa Monica mountains from the peak of a run I went on with Les from his workplace in Newbury Park. 
An escape from suburbia just like that!
At the same peak, the views to the southwest shows the flatlands to the ocean waters


First time hike up Bernardo Summit in San Diego County when I was staying in Escondido. Easy access to park to get to the trailhead, then a quick couple km and 500' elevation gain.

I discovered the Bernardo Summit Trail on my MTB ride around Lake Hodges. Saw the sign and had to find out where it lead to... an awesome ride-able rocky technical trail to the peak!

Enjoying the sunset views from the peak of Bernardo Summit, after an earlier road ride through those same hills

The views to the west where the ocean lingers only 30 km away

Looking to bump into my hiking partner on my way down. 
I thought it was Paul hoo-ing at me!

Cali MTB ventures

Malibu Canyon with great tour guides... Shaun from the Wed Calabasas group ride, transplanted Calgarian Allan St. Pierre, and Pat Dodge who was visiting from Calgary
The most exciting part of the trail was reaching Castrol Peak where there was a short steep climb with sticky rock Moab-like, with an equal rocky descent on the other side... fun though short
Met up with local Mario Correa from my Transalp racing days... He took me on some great elevation single track climbing in Trabuco Canyon in Orange County
Hoping to catch Mario blazing fast out of the Holy Jim Trail and caught him with a second flat. I lent him my 26" tube which fit well for the rest of the ride in his 29" wheel!
Didn't know you could.
Tough to capture the amazing views when I was chasing Mario at his high speeds
The valley in Trabuco Canyon 5000' below where we started from
One of my favourite MTB rides in Elfin Forest is the technical Way-Up climb up Mt Israel. At the top is a fun super rocky loop that takes about 20 minutes. I ride it both directions then come bombing down the Way-Up trail.

I finally found a way to link this ride to the trails around Lake Hodges on the new paved road Via Ambiente!
down 15% past the lower reservoir
Darn water reservoir always had me trapped from getting to the trail head. Now Via Ambiente goes past a new ritzy Mexican style villa and connects Del Dios Hwy to the Elfin Forest road

the lovely 15% screaming fast grade to Del Dios

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

California Food Findings

I love checking out the local Farmer's Markets. Bonus is seeing produce growing that I don't get to see at home, especially on my rides. A few of my findings on my Cali trip...

My Food Bounty!!! Left to right... 
Hachiya Persimmons (from ConnieSue's where I couchsurfed in Escondido)
Fuyu Persimmons (from Farmer's Market)
Pomegranate (from mountain bike friend Mario's tree)
locally grown red coffee bean (barely seen in lower pic )
grapes (from central CA)
green apple guavas (had some at Barbara's agility dog haven)
avocado (just plucked ripe off the tree)
FIGS! (ate so many of these fresh),
unique green leaves (forgot name) 
caviar limes (super cool, super expensive)
Surinam Cherry (look like baby tomatoes, taste tart and fruity)
local Dragon Fruit (usually grown in Thailand)
Avocado Blossom Honey (bold though unique taste)
Orange Blossom Honey (tastes so amazingly like orange candy)
fresh Pistachio nuts (still in their plant pod just picked!)
15-lb organic black-seeded watermelon for $4 (wicked deal)
huge yellow lemon (from high school friend Patty's backyard -missing in pic)
Passion Fruit! (missing as I ate them)

On-route Hwy 76 to Ramona, pomegranate trees!

On my mountain ride, passing through Santa Ysabel and the famous Julian Pie Company

Fresh apple cider and apple pie sweetened only with apple cider. Not raw though willing to partake after a long hot ride. Not saying that's my hand with the fork!

Ojai Farmer's Market - just happened to be on a road ride that passed through town. A few novel items like Pine Needle Juice and the freshest dates I'd ever tasted, though I was dismayed at the escalated prices as it is an artsy tourist town
Annual hike up to Belly Ache Spring for spring water, 
15 miles north of Ojai

Thrilled that Mario pointed out figs growing on trees on our mountain bike ride in Trabuco Canyon in Orange County. Bummer that the figs were green and unripe. 

Coolest produce and variety I'd ever seen at Good Land Organics at the Santa Barbara Farmer's Market

Les' daughter Naomi helped make a California Raw Snowman with his son Ken making the cool cucumber hat

Monday, October 15, 2012

Palomar Spring Water

Since 1998, I have cycled up the 5000' ascent to the top of Palomar Mountain (South Grade Rd) almost every year whenever I was in SoCal (Southern California).

On the last corner 600m from the top, there was an Artesian spring that we would occasionally go down to fill up our water bottles from the faucets.

Old rock fence possibly from the late 1930's with user faucet access
photo from SmorgZone. Includes his info on a San Diego Gran Fondo training ride.

A few years later, the faucets were closed off so we just grabbed water from the store at the top.

At a raw food talk in 2009, I heard David Wolfe mention that he still got his spring water from Palomar Mountain. A person from the audience said the faucets were closed off. David said to just walk around the fence and go straight to the source of the spring - duh, funny I never thought of that.

teeny trickle from the small pipe. Hmmm... where does that large pipe go???
What is sad is that this use to be a huge spring source. Now, a spring water company pipes it away to sell it. Fortunately, they left a trickle for people like me. Takes awhile to fill up with the slow flow though well worth it.

video of a guy and gal gathering spring water at Palomar

When a trip to Palomar was too far, I checked out the more accessible local water source at Carlsbad Alkaline water taps for 50 cents a gallon. 

Apparently, "the water comes from an aquifer that drains naturally from the Cleveland National Forest at 500-1700 feet below the surface".

The water was ok, did not have that great "feel" as when tasting water from a spring coming direct from their spring source. 

I was surprised to find the water out of these taps at a warm temperature as most springs I've been at have been quite cool in temperature. 

I'd preferably make the trip to Palomar whenever I'm on-route there.