Mission Trails San Diego questions and discussion
Hey folks, is it just me or are the loose gravel roads through mission trails the worst roads to try to climb? I'm just getting into mountain biking and I have some general questions that would be better answered by someone who has ridden the same trails I have. When I say I'm new, I mean I have had my 08 stumpjumer elite for a week now, my sit bones are sore and i cant decide if i should just take the leap and go clipless. Anyway, most of those are questions that I'm sure i can search out, so here's what I'm wondering.
First question: Am I really out of shape or is it impossible for anyone to climb the fire road up to the twin water towers?
2. Climbing on the gravel roads seems impossible to me, I end up spinning my tire and loosing any momentum I may have had... am I doing something wrong or are these roads just impossible to us.
3. Can you guys recommend some good routes through the park? I've checked out all the maps and already have about 6 hours of ride time in the park. But lack of know how and know where have me wondering if I'm running a trail the "wrong" way; as in the ride would be more enjoyable if i came in from the north vs. south.
4. Anyone want to bring a noob under your wing for a few rides? I'm looking to learn as much as possible and it would be nice to ride with a group that can help me get better.
If you guys spot a football player sized guy on the trials on a blue Stumpjumper feel free to wave me down and say hey.
Ah, the beginning days.......
It takes a good 10 rides, with no more than 3 days between rides to get used to the saddle. There is some finesse in using the saddle as a seat and "steering partner".
Originally Posted by DaveMW
You will either learn to love your saddle.......or find another brand that works for you.
Oh yeah, clipless is not even an option if you want to become efficient & stronger. Gotta have 'em. Lots of choices, I use an SPD pedal (959). Besides, nothing worse than a big flat platform pedal when it comes around backwards when the other foot slips and WHACKS YOUR ANKLE.....
Last edited by CEB; 06-01-2008 at 10:25 AM.
Thanks CEB, it looks like I have a goal set: Ride from the bottom of the river crossing to the watertowers without stopping. I made it about 1/3 of the way up today, and thats twice as far as i made it the first time up.
Thanks for all the info, I'm heading out again tomorrow but i think it will be a few days before I attack that hill gain.
As far as my rear end... I think I will be in good shape after I make a couple adjustments to my saddle and get used to my padded shorts.
Just rode Mission Trails yesterday and there are a couple of hills that I struggle with purely out of lack of conditioning. We start in Tierrasanta at the Rim Trail and go over towards Fortuna. After a nice little climb, the single track down is a lot of fun until you have to climb your way out.
I am no expert, but also a big guy (6', 212 lb) and have made a lot of progress in my climbing skills. On the fire roads, a slow steady pace and staying in the saddle will serve you best. For me, it is also a matter of finding the right gear and body position to keep rolling without spinning or lifting the front wheel. When it gets steep, you should be sitting on the front point of the saddle. I like to ride the middle chain ring up front unless it gets really steep and then drop into the granny gear which burns me out quick unless I relax and take it slow. The conditioning really helps on two fronts because it lets me push harder in my middle gear and spin longer at higher speed when in the granny. If you are also overweight, knocking off 5-10 pounds is pretty noticeable on the bike.
A couple other notes from someone who went through a couple years of learning:
-clipless pedals took a bit of getting used to but really help you to pedal more efficiently and help you to be more steady on the uphill.
-a little bit of protective clothing goes a long way and can improve your riding. I wear a helmet, gloves, Fox Launch shorts under sargeant shorts and a pair of 661 elbow pads. A comfortable helmet is well worth the extra bucks and if you look around you can get a deal. My Gyro Xen is excellent. For me the gloves and elbow pads are a must because they save me from a lot of cuts and scrapes event when I don't fall. The elbow pads really smoothed the transition to clipless because I always seemed to land on my elbows when I lost it. The launch shorts just feel like a compression short to me, but have some nice padding in them. I replace the liner in the sargent short with the launch short and it feels a lot better for me.
Good luck with your riding. I mostly ride Penasquitos and Sycamore but will send you an email if I head to Mission Trails.
Dave you are on the right track
Dave... I ride mission trails... a lot and will keep an eye out for a football sized guy out there.
Originally Posted by DaveMW
Mission Trails is a place that you need to explore and find a lot of the gems. Thing is, you are going to have to climb to get to them and climb to get out (that is a good thing if you ask me, a lot of people avoid it due to "all those hills"). There are a lot of people who grumble about all the fire roads in mission trails (see above) this is true, lots of fire roads but there are plenty of fun bike trails too, you just have to find them all. (and there are a lot but not nearly as many as could be there). There is good an bad for any trails/fire roads/open space in San Diego. One thing Mission trails is not, is flat and I can guarantee that the time you put in climbing at the trails will make you a much better climber at the other places in the county, you will get to be a strong climber riding at mission trails regularly.
2 -2.5 years ago I used to think it would be impossible to climb the jackson hill top to bottom. Now it is merely a warm up to get back into the fun part of the trails.( There are actually 2 sets of water towers ) Blood hill/the elevator/whatever people want to call that hill back there is another story, face that one later.
As for climbing... A lot of that new gravel sucks, especially on the Jackson hill but it is there now and not going away. Stick to the packed gravel, it is easy to pick the line and you can see where the trucks have packed things down. All of the "grey" gravel on the Jackson side is new from the construction. It will pack down/wash away in time. Everyone has their ways of climbing. Personally here is what I do on the open fire road climbs:
Stay seated, if you get out of the saddle the weight comes off the rear.
Granny gear, there is nothing wrong with this. You will be slow and pedaling with a ton of RPM's but it isn't a race.
Some people say an upright position keeps the lungs and Diaphragm open. While this seems to be true, when spinning like you are in a granny gear you need to keep the weight distributed evenly. Keep your arse in the saddle and basically drop your chest to the stem/handlebars. You may look funny but it works for me.
clipless pedals are a must have for xc type of riding/climbing, you need the full pedal rotation when climbing.
My schedule varies greatly and many of my rides there are spontaneous so I cannot offer to take you out but I can offer as much advice as possible here.
Most of all, don't give up. There is plenty of climbing in Mission Trails but all that climbing makes a lot of the other "popular" areas in the county look like a joke. There are people who are trying to work on improving the Mountain Biking at Mission trails. (both the SDMBA and others on their own). A lot of ears are opening and overall, there is a ton of potential. Remember it is technically "in the city"
I ride an older Stumpy. Coming from a road bike background, gettting out of the saddle on a hill to "attack" was second nature. But as others have pointed out, on a mtn bike in loose terrain, that can cause your back tire to break loose. The owner of the shop I bought my Stumpy from pointed out to me that a full sus. bike rewards a smooth, seated spin. It's a technique that you practice, and will build both strength and finesse.
"Ride Lots" - Eddie Mercx
the "trails" at Mission Trails are fun, but definately require fitness and technique to climb them.
Despite the overall size of the park, there's really two halves that you'll rarely connect into one continuous ride. the Tierrasant side has some fun trails but what goes down must then go up. Soycutt wash is a blast but you'll earn your thrill by climbing first partway up North Fortuna and then back out of the valley at the end.
The Santee Side can be fun but to make it a good ride you allegedly enter MCAS property and they've been cracking down lately.
Don't get discouraged but you may want to head out to Sycamore Canyon on occasion as the climbs out there are a tad easier than MT. the worst thing you can do is ride a more difficult and challenging (fitness and technique) ride at the start and feel like it's nothing but pain and misery forever!
dave get brian lopes and lee mcCormics bike riding skills book. it will help you set up your bike plus tons of good info on bike riding skills. oh yea and ride ride ride. your going to fall have fun while your at it.
There is a group ride from Zumwalts that meets there every Tuesday evening. It's normally the easy ride of the week for the group. They take off at 6:30 pm sharp so get there around 6:00. It's normally a mixed group and there's always someone running sweep so you'll have company. Just getting back on the bike myself so I'll keep you company in the back too!
possibly taken the wrong way
Now, you did make the comment but I haven't heard it from you only, I have heard it numerous times from many people along with the "MT is too hilly".
Originally Posted by ocd
I meant not to insult you or anyone else.
Much of the ill effort of improving mission trails is (I believe) due to the topography. You cannot park and be on a "great trail" in two minutes. You have to climb. So why ride or improve there when you can just "go to sycamore". That is human nature.
Consider Martha's and Big Rock.
One is clearly superior to the other when it comes to "mountain biking" and the trails would be roughly the same width. However one is a "park and ride" the other is a "you are getting your arse kicked to get up then the fun begins".
Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at things) people will opt for the "park and ride" 80% of the time so this is where the focus goes.
I will say this. Mission Trails will play a key role in Mountain Biking for San Diego in the future. No developer is going to buy the land. No homeowner is going to post no trespassing signs and well no improvements are going to be made on their own. It will take work and lots of it (as well as a lot of *politicing* ).
For what it is worth, I believe they are still working off of the "master plan" from 1985. Things need to change slowly and will.
Climbing on gravel sucks but it trains you to use proper climbing technique. It forces you to keep your weight back. If you can climb those fire roads you can get up just about anything in San Diego. If you want a real hard climb go to Elfin Forest and take the way up trail. In my 15 years of riding I made it up without stopping or putting a foot down only once.
You should try Sycamore canyon. It is alot of fun and that Stumpy you ride was made for carving up singletrack.
If your butt still hurts after another 2 weeks try another saddle. If you are a big guy like me the WTB PureV is a little wider and very comfy. Also, padded shorts are a must. I have Fox sargent shorts. They are expensive but durable. I also had Fox epic shorts but the inner liner started coming apart after a week.
+1 on Sycamore Canyon, get some more miles on your bike to get to know it and then move on to MT.
Mission Trails is where I first started mtn biking and it does have a great variety of trails. The best trails do require some pedaling to find, but you can find a few technical trails in the park as you progress in your riding ability. I agree that it's unfortunate that you have to climb fireroads to get to some of these trails as I would prefer to climb and descend singletrack. I would imagine there is a ton of red tape in order to create a new trail in the existing park and that is why there is little to no new trail development in MTRP??
See you out there.
Thanks for all the info and tips guys!
I rode MT both Saturday and Sunday of this weekend, I'd figure 10 miles each day, and my rear end is paying for it even with the padded shorts i picked up. I made some seat adjustments that helped a lot and I think with a couple days of not riding I should see a difference in comfort. On Sunday we rode Soycutt wash after that climb that Yeti mentioned. I joke with my friend that my bike enjoys long walks up steep hills with me haha.
I will be sure to check out Sycamore Canyon this week. The reason I ride MT so much is because its close for me. I live in El Cajon so its a short ride to the park.
Again, thanks for the help and support guys!
San Diego County
mealsonwheeels is once again typing what I think too.
Originally Posted by mealsonwheels
Last year I lived in Clairemont and would hit MTRP 2-3 times a week after work. Great trails out there. But a bunch of fire roads you gotta blitz in a hurry after work to get to the good stuff.
As I would look across the valley I could envision some potencially awesome single track that could be built at the bases of the Fortunas. Unfortunately my current obligations are such that I barely get to ride much less volunteer for such a political nightmare undertaking.
Now I'm still in exactly the same position only in Sweetwater. If I could just retire now I could be a great trail advocate and lose a few ugly pounds too
Originally Posted by turnerbikes
I totally agree about the Fortunas. I hate climbing those boring and steep fireroads just to get to the top of North Fortuna, but the singletrack on North Fortuna which drops into Suycott is soo fun. Probably the most technical bike legal trail in MTRP aside from maybe Cowles. There is so much space on the Fortunas for new trails!
Originally Posted by Duzitall
The climb up to the towers is definitely doable, you'll be there in no time if you keep at it regularly. You may find it more enjoyable to start at the Clairemont Mesa parking lot.
Definitely go clipless. I use Time pedals and love them but many love SPD and Crank Bros., too...
Last edited by ttcherrick; 07-07-2008 at 04:26 PM.
Reason: Posted to wrong thread