With San Diego being in the proverbial oven last weekend I had only planned on early morning beat the heat rides. On Saturday I did a local ride in the early morning and done by 10am I had the rest of the day to waste. I spent it doing some stuff around the house and working on the bike. I finally got around to trying on some new bikepacking gear including a GPS mount which had just arrived on Friday. Not having any plan for Sunday am I made a snap decision to do a quick overnighter in Cuyamaca State Park to test out the new gear and hopefully not fry my brain by starting late afternoon.
That didn't quite work as the temp was still 100F as I pulled up at the bottom of Indian Creek Trail. I packed lots of water (150oz) for what would be <12mi total ride so the temps didn't worry me, but it still wasn't pleasant. The climb itself wasn't bad loaded. I had to walk a couple short sections lower down but after that it was all rideable up Deer Park Tr.
Deer Park Trail - nice mix of pine trees and grass lands
I did not realize it before I went to a park management plan update meeting, but this trail is entirely in California State Wilderness. Unlike the feds however, CA State Parks was nice enough to grandfather in MTB use for this trail. Sierra Club take note, a MTB in Wilderness and the world has not imploded!
The gear I was trying out was a Relevate Designs sweet roll (handlebar bag) and a Ram mount GPS mount for my Garmin Oregon.
I stopped in and dropped my gear at Granite Springs trail camp
And then headed off for my destination for the evening Oakzanita Peak
Its a pretty ride through this part of the park - grassland, mixed forest/chapparal and granite outcrops
Getting up to the very summit I stepped up on a rock and was about to push my bike up above me when I looked down and saw a tail. When I looked around trying to see where the rest of him was I was shocked to see my toe was a few inches from this guy's nose. Camouflage doing its job! Lucky for me he was asleep
I climbed up another way and got my summit pics in
10 mins later the snake hadn't moved. From above. Keep an eye out on the trail, you never know where you can run across one of these!
I tossed a bit of sand down to wake him up and get him off the trail. He gave me a bit of a rattle then hid under the rocks. I'm sure he'll be out again when the sun comes up. Hopefully the next visitor sees him rather than step on him!
Back at camp the sun was down but it was still ungodly hot. I lit up the stove to boil some water for my dinner. My little pepsi can alcohol stove kicks a$$
Being my first bikepack since last fall I wasn't organized and forgot a few things, like a windscreen for the stove. Not a big deal but a reminder of things to put on my gear list.
By dark it was still warm, but the flies and the mozzies were still out so I had to stay layered up. I lay out on the bivy for a while and watched the stars appear. I camped a lot when I was a kid and used to always see tons of satellites, but have barely seen any the last 10-15 yrs I think because they orbit higher up now. But I saw 5 this night. By 10pm it cooled down enough to be comfortable, and I got ready to sleep. Turns out I could have left the sleeping bag at home. When I got up around 530 it was already warming up and the flies were back in unbearable full force. A quick breakfast and pack up, and I was back on the trail. By 7am I was in my truck heading out, and home by 8am ready for a nap! Despite the heat it was pretty cool being able to get out for a quick bikepack in around 12-14 hrs and still have full days available to get other stuff done. I may have to do more of this this summer...
Since the purpose was to test out some new gear, here is a short review:
Revelate Designs Sweet Roll handlebar bag:
Previously I have just strapped to my handlebars a stuff sack containing my sleeping bag and sleeping pad. It has worked ok but its not waterproof and the stuff sack is thin material susceptible to rips from brush. The sweet roll is basically a cordura nylon tube that straps to your bars and rolls up on either end, with closure by plastic buckle. With tough material it shouldn't rip, and it is waterproof. It worked great as designed and has spacers to help keep the bag away from your cables. It didn't play nice with my current cable configuration even with the spacers but that can be fixed by shortening my lines. Pretty happy with it over all as I like the ability to access gear from either end of the bag.
Ram Mounts GPS mount:
Cradle: RAM Cradle Holder for the Garmin Approach G5, Oregon 200, 300, 400, 450, 550, 600 & 650
Mount: RAM EZ-Strap? Mount with Short Arm and Diamond Adapter Base
GPS is a Garmin Oregon 400T
This came in two products, a cradle in which the GPS is held and a mount, to which the cradle attaches. The particular combo I bought includes a double ball socket piece which connects into the mount attached to your handlebar, and a second ball joint in the cradle base. This means it articulates in two spots, and with the extra height due to this design the GPS tended to flop over to one side or the other on fast or bumpy sections of trail. It was stable at bikepack and climbing speed but not anything faster than that. It may be possible to glue the lower joint so it doesn't move. Otherwise a friend recommended a different mount which does not articulate and should work with the cradle I bought: RAM EZ-ON/OFF? Bicycle Mount with Dual Strap Base and Swivel Diamond Base Adapter
If you're interested but have a different GPS Ram has a bike fit wizard on its site if you need help choosing.
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