Is there a better way to start the New Year? a ride report-
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  1. #1
    "Ride Lots" - Eddie Mercx
    Reputation: Yeti_Rider's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003

    Is there a better way to start the New Year? a ride report

    We decided to venture beyond the normal territory and head out of San Diego to the mountains bordering Palm Springs for this one.

    Wake up before anybody should ever be awake at the very dark and still cold hour of 5:00. I finish gathering all my junk and head out to meet Billy to carpool up to the 76 eye-15 intersection to get there by 6:30. Stan, Bill, Erik, Rob Opie, Billy, and myself then figure out the carpooling situation and then head North to the 79 turnoff.

    We get to the mountains and see the start point for the ride. Unfortunately, we had to travel down into Palm Springs where the ride ends to organize the point to point vehicle drop and to meet up with the O.C. and L.A. contingent. So, we wind our way down the hill. We finally find the meeting point about 8:15 and wait for the remaining stragglers to come in from L.A.

    By 8:30 we’re all ready to go so back up the hill we head. At the bottom of the trail it was actually reasonably warm and I was regretting that I did not pack a short sleeve jersey. At 9:15 when we got to the top trailhead the temperature was maybe in the high 30’s with wind and I was wishing I had packed even more clothing!

    We were on the trail by 9:30 and were soon treated to what would seem to be stellar trail conditions. The ground was nice and sticky and the first bit of trail was rolling up and down with mostly downhill sections. Cornering was superb and I sensed that the day was going to be a fun one. The first 4 miles of the trail were all pretty tight ST with some good smooth corners. There was a touch of exposure at times though so you did have to stay honest with your speed. There were also a few little rocky stair steps but by and large the trail was pretty smooth.

    The trail flattened out a bit and started to follow what would normally be a dry wash. There was a bit of water in it but it wasn’t a problem for us. One of the L.A. riders crashed and bent his derailleur hanger a bit. We didn’t think it was too serious but then about ¼ mile later the derailleur hanger snapped in two. We tried to convert the bike to SS but couldn’t find an appropriate combination providing enough chain tension. The chain was either way too loose or way too tight. So, Kevin unfortunately had to turn back around and hike up to the vehicle rather than try to finish the remaining 20 miles of the ride on a bike unable to be pedaled.

    No sooner did he depart than Rob Opie suffered a flat. Simultaneously Stanley rolled his tubeless tire and got some debris in the bead. We FINALLY (took about 20-30 minutes for all of this) were able to start again. The trail was mostly rolling up and down at this point with a few sandy wash crossings to contend with. Some of the climbs were kind of steep and kind of technical but there was almost nothing that was not able to be ridden if given a clean opportunity and no riders stacked in front of you (there was plenty of stacking but that’s to be expected with 10 riders on one trail).

    We were riding along and then Erik fell over with assistance and ended up snapping his seat tube. The fact that at least 3 feet of seat tube sticks out of his Palomino frame probably had nothing to do with it but unfortunately he had to lower the seat by at least 4 inches to continue riding.

    Somewhere on this section Rob Opie realized that he had no more rear brake. His piston was all wet so somehow a leak had formed and his fluid went bye-bye. Fortunately, he still had his front brake and at this point on the ride there wasn’t anything that was so technical that a rear brake was actually required. While it would have been nice to have both, with only the front he was still able to ride and he just had to adapt his riding style.

    About 20 minutes later, Martin snapped his chain. After repairing the chain, Martin snapped his chain…….again! We’re on our way again. Up some short climbs to the top of an old Jeep trail. Although double track, this section of trail was really fun and fast! Billy was leading out and Bill was following. I was behind both of them thinking to myself how nice it is to be right up there with them on my HT while they have 5 and 4 inches of squishiness beneath them. I was holding my lines really well when my front end just started getting all squirrelly. Not a good feeling at 20-25 mph! I stop and observe a quickly deflating front tire. My turn I guess!

    Erik stops to keep me company while I fix the flat and we get on our way again. We meet up with everybody else and have a quick bite to eat. Just as we’re ready to get rolling, John skewers his tire on a stick! So, we wait a bit longer while he fixes it (why do so many flats occur AFTER a break?).

    I will point out that most of the trail at this point has been bordered by Chollo, Agave, and other evil desert plants with many prickly things. There were plenty of Cholla on the inside edge of most turns and I took one off my foot in one corner. I don’t think anybody escaped the ride without some amount of blood on the arms or legs but the use of arm and leg warmers definitely helped.

    Anyway, we are now in a sandy wash but it’s going downhill so at least momentum helps. We ride down the wash for about 1 mile or so and come to an intersection with another sandy wash. Unfortunately, this wash is uphill and that’s where we need to go. So, we start riding/pushing/willing our bikes through the sand. Some parts were harder than others and riding was easier. Other parts were ridiculously soft and pushing was the only option. Eventually, the terrain firmed up and after 3 miles and I don’t know how long we made it to the top of the climb. I could only think that we had the best possible conditions and the sand was actually reasonably firm. I can only imagine how difficult that piece of trail would be without seeing rain the previous day. After another short break we finish a bit more climbing and pick up the ST of the Hahn Trail.

    This ST climb is pretty short but the previous sandy climb had taken its toll. Many of us were simply in survival mode to get up to the top. I had the fatigue wobbles pretty bad and apparently ran over a Cholla for I was almost to the top and my bike was tracking crazily again. Sure enough, another front flat! I fix it and we’re off for a fantastic ST descent down the Hahn Trail.

    The Hahn trail had exposure and quite a few loose rocks. So, in other words, it was an absolute blast! Everybody had a good time bombing down this ST. There are a few switchbacks but none so hard that they couldn’t be ridden. We make it to the bottom and we all have wide grins on our faces. That descent made the sandy wash climb worth it! From here the trail was mostly rolling up and down until we hook up with a fire road.

    The day was getting late so we opted to take the FR down to town rather than some other trails that are an option. Most of us were definitely beat and we knew we’d run out of daylight soon. The fire road was quite steep and fun to go down. I actually went down the entire thing with my fork locked out but the blow-off threshold on the Fox seemed to work because I only noticed I was locked out at the bottom (first ride on teh New Christmas Present so I was still dialing it in)! After descending the fire road though, I can honestly say that I can die a happy man if I NEVER have to ride UP that fire road! That bastid was really steep and would flat out suck as a climb. It could be done I suppose, but then I’d just have to ask Why?

    Anyway, at the bottom of the fire road we go into another sandy wash to take dirt back to the road rather than just taking pavement. This wash is down hill so gravity helps. We’re about 1 mile to the road when Jake gets himself a flat front tire. We stop while the last mechanical of the day is repaired and then get to the street. After about 2 miles of pavement riding, we’re back to the cars.

    Ride statistics:

    Length: 26 miles (Billy or Erik, correct me on this one if I’m off)
    Total time on trail: 6 ½ hours
    Total time on the saddle: 3 ½ hours.
    11 riders start the ride. 10 finish
    1 snapped derailleur hanger
    1 broken seat post
    1 broken chain (twice by same rider)
    1 hydraulic leak on rear brake
    6 flat tires.

    We had to retrieve the vehicles at the top so that added an hour and a bit to the day. We had some dinner and I finally got home around 8:30.

    As the saying goes……….Good times…………Good times………….

    The ride had serious death march potential yet I can't think of a better way to start the year. The mileage wasn't long, but the combination of the number of riders and the difficulty of the terrain made this ride a challenge.

    Hope everybody else had a good New Year’s.

    Porter recorded the ride. I did as well. Unfortunately, my camera turned itself off about 8 seconds from the truck so the entire first 5 miles of the ride was lost. Although the rest of the ride was fun, the first 5 miles of trail would have made some good video too. So, we’ll just have to see Bill’s for this section!

    Last edited by Yeti_Rider; 01-02-2005 at 04:30 PM. Reason: typo

  2. #2
    Its only 1" on the map!
    Reputation: mtbbill's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003

    Some Pictures From The Ride

    I ended with just a few pictures from the ride because (a) My digital camera did some funky condensation thing about half way through ride. (b) I was having moore fun than someone should be able to have without chemical assistance so I did not feel like stopping (c) I was doing the helmet camera thing (video in a couple of weeks). But here is what I got for now

    Birth of a Single Speeder - Busted hanger 5 miles in!

    Some screen captures from the video footage.

    A pan shot - Click for the 1MB large version


  3. #3

    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Wow, I went literally 6 years without a flat on my rockhopper. I can't imagine that many mechanical problems in 26 miles of riding, even spread out over 10 people. Nice pics, looks like a beautiful ride.

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