Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Donnybrook: A CSBG Story

The Mrs. followed up her ride the other day by attending a meeting in the late afternoon. It was the monthly congregation of the Claremont Senior Bicycle Group (CSBG) - since the senior part is not a requirement at any of the groups' functions, they de-barred the doors and let her in. Let her in as far as the antechamber, that is. Once there, the secret handshake almost slipped her up, but she aced the password and, with proper ID in hand, gained access to the meeting hall. They take their motto "not your average seniors" seriously.


Because of the groups' back-up motto - "eat to ride, ride to eat" I expected the Mrs. would comment on the buffet tables piled with sweet and savory dishes, their scents filling the room, a fragrant bouquet, but no, not even a bowl of crackers was espied. Neither were any pleasant scents wafting through the kitchen doorway though, admittedly, any emerging from the overworked bank of ovens would have quickly been overwhelmed by the powerful odor of Ben-gay.

As the Mrs. circulated the room, she took note of the pre-meeting jibber-jabber - talk of sore joints and aching muscles, of the most recent daredevil to crack the fifteen mile per hour barrier, and reminiscing of the time Jacob fell asleep while riding. Eventually though, order was called and everyone settled into their cushioned seats. Larry presented a review of upcoming events - if you want to know what is coming up in the southland, just ask Larry; if I could afford his asking price I would hire him to run the CLR Effect calendar and events page - with an iron fist, he keeps on top of that stuff.

Halfway through the ride list someone forgot why he was there and made a general inquiry, standing to ask the question. When someone yelled out "sit down, you old fool," the Mrs. gasped, not realizing that this was just the beginning.

Three quarters through the ride list yet another man stood and interrupted, this time outlining his plans to circumnavigate the globe on two wheels. Again, "not your average seniors." No one seemed to mind the interruption this time, yet as the Mrs. looked around she was not sure if the many staring eyes were due to being enraptured with the idea that one of their own was contemplating a ride around the world, or if the lateness of the day was beginning to take its toll. Everything was going well for this latest speaker until he let slip out that the bike he would be riding was in fact an electric-assist bike. It took a moment for the listeners to register (or emerge from their drowse) what had just been said, but eventually from the back of the room came a very loud "CHEATER." Accusations flew every which direction through the pungent air, some siding with the accused "cheater", other adamantly against. The meeting might very well have devolved then and there if not for several forceful cracks of the gavel. Two sergeants at arms rushed in from the anteroom and, with stern warnings and glares, slowly began to restore order. 

Traumatized and cowering from this, unexpected, turn of events, the Mrs. was not sure what happened in the next few minutes, what the next couple speakers had to say. It didn't really matter anyway, for within a matter of minutes all heck was to break loose.

It is doubtful that an auditorium full of Trump Chumps howling at the latest Cruz insult could generate as much agitation and excitement. The cause - one of those venerable oldie but goodies had decided that now was the time to divest of his collection of ancient jerseys. When the tub lid was pried off, the contents burst forth and showered down upon those sitting nearby, upon tables, empty chairs and, of course, the floor. And that, my friends, is when sheer madness took over; those closest to the stained and spotted treasure dove in head first, while those further back piled on. Shrieks rent the air, along with curses and howls. Legs kicked and hands clawed for whatever piece of cloth could be reached. Some of the codgers, sporting bandages for injuries incurred from their latest crash, slunk around the perimeter of the melee, opportunists waiting to strike. Others squirmed their way along the floor right to the middle of the scrum. After about twenty minutes of this, that red, white and blue jersey pictured above reached the outstretched arms of the Mrs after being ejected by a pair of mortal combatants.

Thinking immediately that the Mr. would appreciate the gift, and that it looked like it came from that Breaking Away movie, or something, the Mrs. made her escape. Busting through the doors in full flight, pursued by a single observant witness to her get away, she ran full on into the cause of all the tumult. Yes, the jersey giver-awayer was outside sitting on the steps, his entire body shaking in dismay, muttering in disbelief, at the chaos he had unleashed. I have owned a few Descente jerseys over the years, but not a one could match the acquisition story of this one. Not your average seniors. Indeed.

Like most stories I hear relating to the CSBG, there is a modicum of truth here. All you have to do is find it.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Hidden Bonelli: Waterworks of unknown [Cedar] Gulch

A nice thing about Spring (certainly better than a plethora of dog poop) is that it reveals things. You might think all that new growth would actually cover things up but, sometimes, all that green provides a contrast, showing things that you might not otherwise notice. If you were to ride into this little canyon during the summer dry months everything would be a dusty dun color and you, probably, wouldn't notice those low "walls" in the lower left of the photo below. I have no idea what purpose they served - could they have formed little ponds holding water during wetter years? Possibly.

Keep in mind, this is the upper end of Cedar Gulch (so-named by me for that little cluster of them), and it is, essentially, a basin or bowl. My original thought, when I pulled up to this overlook, was that the parallel lines of stone walls (to the immediate right of the rectangular forms) might have been a very low hand-built dam holding water within the bowl. But then, I noticed that those walls diverged, split apart as they moved up slope. When I rode down and walked around it became clear that they, just as easily, might have formed a kind of funnel directing any storm water flowing down a little side canyon from the upper left. I think it is a safe assumption that these walls, formed of both dirt and stone, served as a form of water control for a ranch, or maybe a small agricultural development. Well, that is my guess anyway.

The walls in question are all visible in the lower left of the photo above, some forming rectangular "structures", and the two divergent rows. You may also notice some rows to the middle right; the slopes of the bowl appear to have been a series of terraces.


Looking down the canyon, which curves around to the left in the distance. If you were to follow the streambed it would lead you to the remains of that old bridge you may know of if you have ever ridden the perimeter loop.


Looking up the main canyon. Any rain water would flow off these hillsides and into the basin along the dry steambed.


Those parallel lines which, I though might have been a small dam, but could have also been a ditch to control and direct the flow of water from a smaller side canyon.

There is interesting (well, to me anyway) stuff all around us, if we just leave the cages and look.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Monday Blues: A Pox on You


Ah Spring (I know, it's not really that season yet, but it sure feels like it), when people leave their comfy couches for the great outside, to take walks and hikes in the sunshine, warm air, and clear skies. Anyone else notice an increase in foot traffic on the trails lately, of people accompanied by their four-legged friends? Anyone notice an increase in the little piles, or scatterings, of dogs**t littering those very same trails and wonder if there could be a connection? 

Lazy bastards, if you can't respect the fact that there are many other trail users out there, if you can't pick up after your pets, as is your responsibility, why don't you just go back to your couches and leave the outdoors to those who can respect it.

Come to think of it, I believe I voiced the same lament about this time last year, only then the piles were in bags left in the dirt. This year people don't seem to bother with even that small amount of courtesy.

Well, and just so as to not leave you with that image, here is one a little more pleasant:

Saturday, February 6, 2016

2016 KMC Chain Winter Series #3: Endgame


For the most part roads don't have rocks in the middle of them. When they do, the pavement is wide, and when you are on two wheels you can simple skim around them. I can sum up the reason I never raced mountain bikes with a single photo:


Rocky switchbacks. That would do it. Endgame. The race would be over.


Of course, not everyone has that same problem.




So, lets see. What else happened out there. Alfred Pacheco came out to race, and when ever that happens I expect to see him up at the front. Sure enough, the first rider to come into view was Mr. Pacheco, sporting Bear Valley Bikes kit this year (and did you notice he is running those Lauf forks I took a liking to after last years Interbike. I'd like to know how they performed). That is going to add some firepower to an already strong outfit; almost juggernaut-like as far as the local race scene goes. Not today though. The guys of Trek Test Team had something to say about the outcome, and made a definitive statement on the day's results, with Nic Beechan taking the win from the Expert Men.

It was terrific to see a lot of high school athletes testing themselves ahead of the fast-approaching SoCal HS League season. Southridge is one challenging course, and if they can rise to the occasion here, the experience will serve them well at the League's various venues. In particular the group of young men and women from Temecula Valley High School were riding pretty tough and race-ready.

And, how could I (almost) forget that famous Fontana wind which blew over the pass for a visit just as many of the competitors were reaching the top of the hill. It is possible that the elites, the first group to hit the trail in the morning, reached the summit before the first gusts hit hard, but I don't think any of the other groups had that luck with them. Certainly by the second lap everyone was being pounded equally - my hat went for a sail a couple times, and I had to give chase through the brush and over the rocks. It was a Southridge kind of day.

Since I made a, mostly, quick exit following the race I had to wait until today (Monday) to post some results - the day's champions:

Nic Beechan (Trek Test Team) Pro Men
Nikki Peterson (Bear Valley Bikes) Pro Women
Stuart Gonzalez (Bear Valley Bikes) Veteran Pro
Jake Legge (Newberry Park Bike Shop/Cannondale) Expert Men U18
Nick Kneisly (Troy Lee Designs) Expert Men 19-29
Jeremy Kneisly (Troy Lee / Baghouse) Expert Men 30-39
Ken Smith, Expert Men 40-49
Johnny O'Mara (Team Baghouse) Expert Men 50-59
Jonathan Livesay (Montrose Bike Shop) Expert Men 60+
Meade Plum, Open Women
Cody Conde, Sport Men U18
Bryar Perry, Sport Men 19-29
Ryan Rebick, Sport Men 30-39
Gary Garman (Triple Threat Cycling) Sport Men 40-49
Eric Zook, Sport Men 50-59
Rich Fersch (La Habra Cyclery) Sport Men 60+
Geneviede Plum, Sport Women U34
Isabelle Thompson (Montrose Bike Shop) Sport Women 35+
Mason Kroepel, Beginner Men 9-10
Grant Mitchell (Squeaky Wheel Bike Shop) Beginner Men 11-12
Brandon Thede, Beginner Men 13-15
Kevin Trygstad, Beginner Men 16-18
Eder Estrada (Squeaky Wheel Bike Shop) Beginner Men 30-39
James Conaway (Biking Viking/Nurtisource) Beginner Men 40-49
Chris Woodruff, Beginner Men 50-59
Shelby Kawell (Pedals Bike Shop/ Hammer) Beginner Women U18
Dixie Owens (Do's Bicycle/Troy Lee Designs) Beginner Women U34
Paul Shank (Squeaky Wheel Bike Shop) Over 200 Club
Al Garza (StoneHaus/ Trek) Single Speed Men
John Clemmitt (Bike Cyclery Shop) Expert Men 65+

A selection of one hundred eight photos, from the mornings' XC race, are in the Flickr album.

Friday, February 5, 2016

When We Were Free

The guys of Los Lobos sing a song called When We Were Free:

"I can feel that moment
That so tender moment
When we would run and laugh and play
We'd sing about it
Even shout about it
Didn't care about what they would say
It was all we wanted
All we needed
And never had to feel afraid
I can almost touch it
Can almost hold it
Now slipped so ever far away
We forgot that moment
That so precious moment
And let this world steal it from you and me
I remember you playing
Remember you laughing
So long ago when we were free."

To that I have a two word rebuttal:

Mountain Biking

saddle high, and more, already

calm…

hectic

Herbert and the flower

If you are at Southridge USA tomorrow, I will see you there, but wherever you are have a great weekend. It is going to be an amazing one.

Friday Blues: Cast Aside

Yes, I know, you don't need to say it. I just figured that this one was time sensitive, and therefore could not wait until Monday. Anyone missing a Mongoose, which itself is missing a front wheel? I would be curious to know what the story is - stolen? cast aside in frustration? the name of the stuffed creature strapped to the handlebar?

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Map to the Silver Fish


Map to the Silver Fish; sounds like it could be some sort of treasure map and, I guess, in some ways that is exactly true. If you took the time to read the post that this map goes with, you probably gathered that I consider the area pretty special.

The tri-colored zig-zaggy line shows the Silver Fish Trail from between White Saddle on the west, and the Morris Reservoir in San Gabriel Canyon to the east. The green portion is traversable (with some effort) between White Saddle and Stone Cabin Flat. This section was, at one time, roadway, albeit in dirt form - it is now, for the most part, single track, wide in places but certainly not road. The orange section is also, or was, dirt road. Though easily accessible from Highway 39, I have never ridden this section, so don't know what its condition is, or whether it is passable for its entire length. The long middle section, shown in black, is the great unknown. It was never anything more than a trail and has probably grown more challenging over the passage of time and lack of visitors.

So there you have it. If you were to start at Monrovia Canyon Park, ride up to White Saddle and then, if you could, ride the entire length of this trail it would make for quite an outing, a real day in the saddle.

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