Riding San Juan Trail 3/30 - new thread due to issues with San Diego thread
Hi all. Not sure what's up with the "Need advice for San Diego" thread, but for some reason posts aren't showing up, etc. So here's a new one.
My friend and I will be out there on Satuday, not yet sure what time. Probably in the 10am timeframe, but could be more like 11. Still in flux... Anyway, really looking forward to it.
I suggest you start earlier (i.e. 8am). By the time you are planning to start a lot of early riders start coming down, and San Juan trail has many blind spots and is quite narrow. Great ride anyway. Have fun.
We're wimping out and shuttling down from Blue Jay, so maybe the timing is decent.
Yeah, that was a weird thread issue. Dirtvert gave the info I was alluding to. I didn't want to 'blurt it out' if you're the type that likes the mystery of route finding. Have fun, it's a great ride!
Thanks! Oddly, I'm not a mystery route kind of guy. Maybe since I'm a former racer (cars), so I like knowing where the circuit is. I hope I have enough discipline to stop and get some nice pictures along the way, but I suspect I'll be having too much fun hauling along.
Here's a couple of maps I did up in Google Earth with some GPS tracks from my last ride at SJT.
Overview of the whole SJT from Blue Jay to the lower trailhead:
The upper section in more detail. At point "A", the trail forks and you'll probably want to turn right. You can go left if you want a shorter ride, but I think most prefer going to the right. Then at point "B" (the 4-way intersection) go straight if you went right at "A", or turn left if you went left at "A". Either way, at point "C" is the turn-off to Chiquito, so keep going straight (Chiquito is a left turn, and there's a sign so it's hard to go wrong). Then at "D", keep going straight (or slightly right) because a left would put you on Viejas Tie.
Hope this helps!
Chuckanado, thanks! Those are great maps. I'm definitely saving these to my phone so that we can have them along with us. You guys have all been very helpful. If you ever find yourself in Detroit during our 2-week summer and need riding advice, drop me line for sure.
Last edited by CTB; 03-29-2013 at 05:59 AM.
So how was the ride?
I get out to Detroit a few times a year (my company has an office in Troy), but never brought a bike. I'll shoot you a line next time I need to go there. Is there any place there that rents MTBs?
Anyone know the address of the bottom trailhead? Are directions from MTBBill accurate?
2011 Felt Z5
2013 Felt Edict Nine
Yes, Bill's directions are pretty right on.
Here's the directions using Google Maps: CA-74 E to Hot Spring Canyon Rd - Google Maps
and make sure you have a National Forest Adventure Pass!
Well, I'm back home now after my OC adventure. First off, I want to thank all of you for your help on this. All the pictures, maps, tips, etc., that you guys posted honestly saved our butts. I thought we were following the advice correctly, but then this happened:
It's hard to see, but that's a big "NO" written on the path, with arrows pointing the way down. Or so we thought...this was an evil twist that fooled us into heading down Chiquito. Eventually (read: 2 miles later), I kept thinking that it didn't feel right, and by this time I had enough of a GPS trace on my phone to show that we were indeed on our way to Highway 74, far from our car, just as you warned. We turned around, and this whole bit cost us at least 1.5 hours. Heck, I'm still unsure of what was actually Cocktail Rock. Apparently there was some kind of hiking/running race that was using Chiquito, and these marks were for that. Dangit.
I also VASTLY underestimated the time needed, as well as learned that we apparently don't mountain bike here in Michigan. We merely ride our bikes in the woods. My hat is emphatically off to you CA guys that can do this trail up and down in just over two hours. I figured it would take us 2.5 hours to do just the down. Yeah, right. Total time for our 16-mile journey was 5 hours, 40 minutes, on-bike time. That's a full 2.5 hours longer than I expected the worst cast to be. Compounding our progress was that my buddy endoed on his bike and broke his front brake lever off about 1/3 of the way through, but he kept his spirits up and toughed it out with just rear brakes.
So the super short version is that I got some epic views, did some sweet riding, crashed tested my armor twice (thank you Fox and POC for your engineering of your safety gear, as I'm largely unhurt because of it), learned how heavy a 27-lb bike can be when it becomes a hiking companion, and have some good stories to tell friends.
I also want to mention The Path bike shop in Tustin, which is where I rented an excellent bike for the trip - an Intense Carbine 275 with 3x10 drivetrain. I ride a Tracer VP, so I figured the Carbine would make me feel at home. It did, proving to be a great choice for the day. Also, due to my screwing up on planning, we never made it back in time on Saturday to return the bike. The Path was closed for Easter, so we couldn't return the bike until this morning. But The Path didn't even charge me for the extra day when my buddy returned the bike today at opening time. (I was already back in Detroit by that time.) I've only been in that shop twice, but I would have to give them top marks from what I've seen. They were extremely pleasant to deal with, and I wouldn't hesitate to rent from them again or buy some gear there.
So I definitely bit off more than I could chew on this one, but in the end I'm glad I did it.
Yes, there are places to rent bikes here in Detroit. Trail's Edge in Plymouth and Milford rent bikes, and that's where I'd start. We also have Tree Fort Bikes here, though I'm not sure if they rent. They're an excellent shop, with a great online site, and I get most of my stuff locally from them.
As for trails, well, after seeing San Juan, I can't think of how you won't be bored here. First, we have no scenery here. That's all up north, 10 hours away. But if you want some fast, flowing singletrack that isn't nearly as technical as what I just saw and that you can do in an hour or less, we have some places for you. Our riding here is more like a race - it's not about the journey (see my comment about the scenery to know why), but more about zipping along and enjoying fast riding. We have an excellent trail guide at Trail Guide « Michigan Mountain Biking Association, with maps, directions, and trail conditions forums. If you have a day in Detroit, I'd recommend Pontiac Lake or Potawatomi for you, two favorites of mine. Mountain Bike Action came here last summer and wrote an article on Pontiac Lake. One lap of that does me in - they did three and said they just stopped. Good lord, I suck... If you want slow and technical, you could do Highland, though I don't find that one fun. (Climb, descend a bit, BRAKE! hairpin, climb, descend a bit, BRAKE! hairpin...etc.) If you do find yourself coming to the D, feel free to drop me a PM. I'd be more than happy to help you out.
I'm sure I've bored you all enough for now. Anyway, thanks again to all of you for helping me out. We'd still be walking along 74 right now if it weren't for all the tips.
Aahh man, that's a bummer. Sounds like you had fun despite the wrong turn!
Originally Posted by CTB
I don't know if it's true or not, but that's the funniest thing I've read all day!
Originally Posted by CTB
Sorry about your misadventure, but glad you listened to your "gut feeling" and only strayed 2 miles off-track. Sounds like a memorable trip for sure.
I've heard nothing but praise for the Path, although I've never been there myself. It's always nice to hear that the art of good customer service is still alive and kicking.
Next time I'm headed for the motor city and think I can swing the time, I'll give you a holler!
Don't feel bad about leaving DNA on San Juan Trail it has a habit of doing that to people.
CTB, you made me laugh. That was awesome. I too practice Mountain Bike Pushing from time to time. The reason I laughed is I can relate. As a fairly newer rider, I went on the San Juan top to bottom only like you. I was riding with a couple guys from this site, and they were more advanced than I. I found out rather quickly that the other trails I had been riding were easy compared to this one. I was riding my S-Works FSR Stumpy with no dropper, and ultra light setup. This was the first ride where I really felt like I needed a bike more substantial under me. At 220 lbs, 6'2 and 50 years old, I was feeling the wheels flexing more than I am used to, and this trail felt extra chunky to me. The guys I rode with could pull away from me at will, and yet I was still fairly impressed with myself, and I was out of my comfort zone, and pushing harder than usual. The bike did not let me down, and we got down the trail in 1:39 moving time, averaging 7 miles per hr.
I know, this is pitiful compared to most of you, but for me, it was great. After this ride, I purchased a dropper, shorter stem, and am running pretty beefy tires. Even at my age, I find I enjoy being challenged and even though my bike is a "trail" bike, it does good in most all terrain I ride in. Still, someday I will probably build up a bike with a stronger frame-set, and wheels. I have yet to ride a more AM type ride, but suspect I will see a pretty big difference in feel. Good on you for pushing yourselves and riding this trail, as I see it as one of the tougher rides on the West Coast. Now you guys need to come back out, and we can ride SART or the Cannell Trail. You would love that 8,200 foot drop!
Actually, you got to experience some great singletrack that allot of riders never bother to hit (top part of Chiquito, and from the pic maybe you went down Viejo Tie). When we used to shuttle SJT allot we often went down Chiquito to the waterfall then climbed back up, hit Viejo Tie then finished SJT. Starting the ride with the long flowy downhill from Blue Jay to the Chiquito waterfall is an awesome way to do it.
Ha, thanks all for the chuckles. I did actually really like the portion of Chiquito that we did on the way down. It was some fun riding, pushing me a bit which for me is fun. It was the hike-a-bike back up that killed me. I'm not sure why the GPS traces aren't working very well, but here's a map of what we did, sorta. You have to click through the pages to see the route. Dunno what the story is, but there you go.
I'm still amazed by anyone who can do that climb and make it back down.
So what do you guys do for an after-work ride? We have several trails here where we can get out of work by 4, hit the trails, get a nice 12-15 miles in, and get home before dark. Granted, we have daylight until 10pm out here in the summer, but still, that's not more than an hour of riding out here. Got anything like that that's fun in the SD or OC area?
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