I know it has been a while since I’ve posted anything. Many things have happened. I’ve done a lot of traveling, some by train, some by car, some by bicycle, and now a new addition. Travel by motorcycle. I never saw myself on a motorcycle. I could easily talk myself out of one. I don’t own a car anymore, not since August 2011. I’ve been riding a motorcycle since November 2012 and I’ve put many miles on it so far. My motorcycle is a 2005 Kawasaki Ninja 500R. Now, before you all think I’m some crazy sportbiker… mine is a bit different. It has a more upright riding position and hooks for a cargo net. It does go fast… its name is “Leonardo”. The bike is a lot of fun and is great to travel with.
Skipping a lot of travel… though I will try to post more photos from my trips as I can… I recently was on Mesa Grande Road near Lake Henshaw in northern San Diego County on my motorcycle. It was there I found this neat WPA bridge with brass letters still in place. Adjacent to it was the original bridge, or what was left of it. I figure it was from the 1910’s or earlier by its construction.
It seems I have to redefine what a short ride is for me lately. I’ve been gradually increasing my distance record over the past three years. Sometimes I increase my record by only a few miles, sometimes by a whole lot more.
On May 7, 2011, I took the train to Los Angeles Union Station, and rode home. Downtown Los Angeles and my home in San Diego seem so far apart. They are about 110 miles apart, along the 5. The route I took, which I felt was the easiest and safest route, was 154 miles in length. San Diego may be southeast of Los Angeles but I started my ride heading west. Seems odd to go the opposite way to my destination, but it was the best way. I’ve found a really nice and fast route west from Downtown LA to Mid-City (Vineyard Junction, or for those non-Pacific Electric knowing folk – San Vicente Blvd and Venice Blvd). Past that, the options open up. On that ride, I followed Venice Blvd to Overland Ave, then to the Ballona Creek Trail. It proved to be a good way to bypass a large swath of city in a fast and efficient way. Once at the coast, I took the South Bay Trail down to Redondo Beach. That trail can be quite fun to ride, with all the distractions of the hot surfer boys in their wetsuits to watch!
After Redondo Beach, I followed Palos Verdes Drive North, then around the harbor, and into Long Beach. From Long Beach, I followed the coast the rest of the way down. The ride got more interesting and more tiring through Laguna Beach, with all those rolling hills. Things did look up though, as I found $80 alongside the roadway not long after taking a break just south of Laguna Beach. Sometimes, it does pay to bicycle! It did add a bit of brightness to my day, as the last few miles had been less than fun. Just too much traffic, and too narrow a roadway. Beyond that, there were a few more rolling hills, and San Clemente. At least that town could be avoided, quite nicely too. The signed bike route has sharrows and bike lanes. It can be tougher to follow at the north end, but overall, a good route. Just past San Clemente was San Diego County. So, goodbye Orange County, hello San Diego County!
I kept a good pace most of the route south, stopping in Oceanside for some food. It got dark around Torrey Pines, but most of the ride was over by then. I finally got home right about 8:30pm, tired, a bit sore, but quite happy. It was a long ride, but my next would be even further. I had a 200 mile ride in the works for the end of May.
It was time for another Mt Laguna ride. I always enjoy them. The first real singletrack trails I took on my cyclocross bike were there. Today, I wouldn’t get the chance to take the trails… too much snow! Alas, more roads for me, but those are still fun. After getting to the parking area behind Majors Café in Pine Valley, I headed out on my ride. The weather was warmer than I expected, but not too bad. The winds were still light, which was also good. I started out taking Old Highway 80, then over to Pine Creek Road – my road to fun. I had originally found this road through a San Diego birding website, when I was researching other roadways in the area. I had no idea what would be in store for me that first time, but I have enjoyed it ever since.
The Cleveland National Forest website stated the roadway would be closed. A closed road means no cars to contend with, not that there were ever many anyway. I got to the first gate, which I hadn’t seen closed before. Cool! Now I had the place mostly to myself. I did become a little concerned though… if the first gate was closed, did that mean the creek crossing would be flooded? Well, I found out quick, it was not! So, onward and upward! After the second gate, there is a short climb, and then a drop into a small canyon, lined with trees. Normally, this is a nice thing. Today, it was a little more problematic. The recent snow storm had caused some of the trees to fall, or at least large branches of them. I had to go around two trees; one was quite large and blocked most of the roadway. Still, I made it around and continued on.
After this pleasant little canyon, the roadway takes an upward bend. It is really the only way to describe it. The roadway goes from an average grade of maybe 4-6% to 15-20% in a very short time. This is the steepest grade around here… at least by paved roadway. The worst section is near the top, where the gradient keeps at about 17% for about ¼ mile. There is so far only one stretch of roadway in San Diego County that gets my heart and breathing going as fast… and that is the section. As I was climbing this stretch, I passed three others that were walking their mountain bikes up. One had said, “Are you just showing off?” to which I replied “No, it is just easier than walking for me.” I prefer to ride up instead of stopping along the way, when I can. Starting again on such a steep slope can be rather difficult sometimes. Once past the steep part, a small saddle is reached, where there is road junction, a tree, and some shade to rest under. I stopped there to rest a bit. I was breathing hard and had more climbing to go. After drinking a bit of water, talking with the other riders that caught up, and walking around a little, I was ready to move on.
Getting past this third gate, I’d see the first roadside snow. Mind you, it was small patches, but still. It would be telling of what was to come. As I climbed higher, the winds did increase some, which I had rather expected, the temperature dropped some, and more snow was at the roadside. After the first “summit”, the road rolls a bit more. The first big drop was clear of snow… the second was not. Snow was mostly blocking the road, but it was still manageable. It wouldn’t be until after the first Noble Canyon Trail crossing, getting up into the pines, that the snow would be covering most of the ground beyond the roadway. At the upper Noble Canyon Trail crossings, I came upon the first snow entirely blocking the roadway. It wasn’t too deep, and there were tracks to the left side… so, I tried to ride through. I went through with one foot unclipped, so that I could catch myself if I started to fall. Well, good thing I did. The snow was a bit icy on top, and just about all ice at the bottom. Rather crunchy and tough to ride through. But then… this is cyclocross… gotta carry the bike at some point! The drift here was shallow by comparison to the next, about a half mile away. That drift, was about two feet deep at the most, and was much slower to cross. I began to wonder if it would get worse, but I knew the road did not get much higher and was more exposed now. Only large puddles of water were blocking the road up to the final gate, at Sunrise Highway.
I didn’t linger long at the gate, just enough to cross and get riding. Traffic was light and so were the winds! When I got near the upper Noble and Big Laguna trailhead, I saw it was full of cars, some of which had empty bike racks! Well… Being the explorer I am sometimes, I decided to check out the trail. At first, it was a bit muddy, and then snow covered, but still mostly passable. Well, most of the bike tracks that I saw led onto the Noble Canyon Trail, just a couple of them led to the Big Laguna connector. I proceeded further, got just past the first gate, and stopped. There were no more bike tracks and the trail was now completely covered in snow. Well, I tried. I know my limits. It was back to Sunrise Highway for me.
After I had returned to Sunrise Highway, I decided I’d still try another alternate route. I’ve done a similar loop in the past, with this much snow, so I knew what to expect. About a mile up the road, I turned off at the Laguna Campground. This is also the lower end of Los Huecos Road, which ends next to the Visitor’s Center. The campground was mostly closed, as it usually is in winter, but it also made for a pleasant ride. I followed the route through the campground to a gate where the road was not plowed, at all. I had no intention of riding this part, I didn’t the last time. So, the bike ride was now a hike, with a bike. Fun! I do enjoy going to the snow, and this time was never really that cold. The hike lasted about ¼ mile, not bad. Well, after this snowbound portion, it was back to road, at first paved, then dirt. Riding over the dirt was felt a bit slower at times but overall wasn’t bad. I passed many people out playing in the snow. This little canyon is one of the better areas for snow play in the Mt Laguna area.
I reached the top of the road, and was ready to get some snacks. I stopped at the Mt Laguna Store, a general store located near the top of the mountain. They have a wide selection of stuff. I usually top off my drinks here, and get something else to snack on. So, I got a can of Pepsi, some beef jerky, and sat out on the porch and relaxed for a while. Once I felt refreshed and was done eating, I was ready to head down the mountain. With all the snow, all my alternate routes down would be snowbound, so it would just be a quick ride down Sunrise Highway for me. The ride down was fairly uneventful until I got down to just below the 5000’ level. The high winds, which were predicted, were tossing me around at times, making travel a bit hazardous. I did manage to keep a decent pace at least. The winds weren’t so much a headwind as a crosswind. Once I got back to the car, I noticed there were still lots of other cars still in the parking area, a few with bike racks. Perhaps they made the longer loop, and rode to Julian or something. Another day, I’ll do that, when I can take more dirt trail to do it!
I haven’t gone on a long bike ride in a while. I felt I needed to, and really wanted to. A nice ride up the coast would be fun, and allow for a train return. So, I decided to set San Juan Capistrano as my goal. It seemed “easy” enough. The ride would be 70 miles in length and without many large hills. Originally, I was going to do a more narrative description of the ride. However, as I wore one of my skinsuits, which have no pockets, so I didn’t bring a camera… I’ll just do a shorter summary.
The ride started off fairly nice. The weather was decent, a bit warmer than I had thought it would be. When I passed through UCSD, there was some sort of a protest or rally going on. People with signs… couldn’t really tell. I was busy with my ride. In the Torrey Pines area, there was a golf tournament going on which made for heavier than normal traffic, until Torrey Pines Grade. After that, the ride was much more relaxed. Del Mar and Solana Beach were fairly light, but traffic got heavier again near Cardiff.
Overall, I seemed to be seeing more cyclists on the road than I usually do. Most of them were going southbound. Some were alone, others were in groups. I left all those groups behind though, once I got into Encinitas. I decided to take a different way through town, going to the west instead of staying on 101. It was a good choice. I stayed off of US 101 from Swami’s to within a couple of blocks of La Costa Ave. No traffic, few stops, nice road. It was so much better than the 101. The trouble, Neptune Ave is one-way northbound. So… southbound I still have to take 101. I made it through Carlsbad fairly quickly, which was nice. It tends to get busy on nice days such as this. After the turn towards Pacific St, I stopped for a short break. While there, quite a few more cyclists past me. It was a really busy day. Who could blame them, the weather was great! It was also getting closer to decision time for me – go through the military base or take I-5. I got to the point I had to decide… still wasn’t sure. After a minute, I decided to take I-5. Why not? It had a nice wide shoulder, good paving, and had less steep grades. It worked out nicely. Because of the traffic, I had a fairly steady tailwind pushing me north. I took another short break at the rest stop, had some soda and a candy bar.
Finally heading north again, the tailwind continued to push me along, well, at least help me along. Reaching the Las Pulgas exit was good. I was glad to leave the freeway behind, and now ride the old US 101 expressway. In keeping with my old highway theme, I stayed on the old northbound lanes, instead of the “bike path” which follows the old southbound lanes. Some of the northbound side has a few weeds, and isn’t really the place you’d take a road bike. All the more roadway for me! Getting through the parking lot for San Onofre State Beach was nice and quiet too. Near the San Onofre Overhead, I noticed that the roadway had new markings. Sharrows had now been painted northbound; a bike lane had been painted southbound. It seems the State had restriped the roadway, allowing more room for bicycles, specifically southbound. It was a great sight to see.
There were less surfers in wetsuits than I had hoped for near Trestles, but there will be more next time I’m sure. After doing a bit of searching beforehand, and riding through last time, I had found a rather nice western bypass of San Clemente. It is well signed and marked on the south end. Once you get to the north end, things change. Signage becomes poor, as do road markings. I still found my way through, always a different route each time. I’ll figure it out eventually! After getting through all that, it was time for some fun along the cliffs. From San Clemente to Dana Point, the roadway has a nice shoulder, with bike lanes. The roadway is usually in good shape, and the winds this time were to my favor. I managed to pass through relatively quickly, keeping a pace somewhere around 20mph most of the way.
At Dana Point, US 101 turns inland. The scenic portion was done, and it was more a city street here. There was, however, one short section of original concrete that I got to ride, right near I-5. Further north, the roadway varies from wide to narrow, bike lane to none. Overall, it still wasn’t bad. I enjoyed the ride into San Juan Capistrano. I reached the train station about 1:45, far earlier than I had anticipated. I finished with an average speed of 18.5 mph, quite fast for me. It was very enjoyable. I would highly recommend the route I took, but would need a better one through the north end of San Clemente.
I had wanted to go for a nice bike ride up in the mountains. It had been a while since the last time up there. About a week before, I had posted on sdbikecommuter.com about the ride, asking if anyone wanted to go along. One did reply, Sigurd, from San Diego. He came over at about 8:30 am and picked me up. The drive out was fairly nice, though seeing ice alongside the freeway was a bit disconcerting. Still, I wore plenty of warm clothes and was planning for it to be cold.
Arriving in Pine Valley, we parked the car behind Major’s Diner, got our stuff together, and headed out. We started by heading east on Old Highway 80, cold at first, but warmed up after the climb up to Laguna Summit. On the way down the summit, we passed the border checkpoint, which had two nasty speed bumps sitting across the roadway. I managed to bypass them in the dirt, Sigurd rolled right around them. It was otherwise a nice descent into the valley by Buckman Springs. We only encountered light winds, so the ride across the valley was pretty good. As Sigurd hadn’t been through here before, I pointed out various things, including Kitchen Creek. Hwy 80 crosses Kitchen Creek a couple of miles west of Kitchen Creek Road. Another short hill later, we finally made the turn onto Kitchen Creek Road. The weather was still good, even with the ice in the shadowed areas. We saw only one car as we made our way up the road, which is about average. After the first hill, we finally descended into the canyon of Kitchen Creek. It had a fair amount of water in it, enough to make the ride up the canyon quite pleasant.
As we gained elevation, we started to see more snow in the shadows. We also found some ice across the roadway just before the gate. We avoided it, but it gave us more to be cautious about for the rest of the ride. After the gate, the fun part of the road begins. For the next few miles, there would be no cars, just the road and us. The views up the canyon were quite nice, with some small cascades visible along the canyon floor. We also had noticed that we had a slight tailwind, helpful for climbing hills such as this one. The higher we climbed, the more snow we found. At a few points, snow had completely covered the roadway. It was fun to ride through, with my new fenders I didn’t worry about getting splashed or wet. Temperatures also were dropping, but that was to be expected. They were forecast to be in the 30’s at the top of the mountain. After passing the upper gate, we finally reached the pine forest. Most of the climbing was behind us now, with only a couple of short climbs ahead to the top. Before reaching Sunrise Highway, we saw many others that had come up to play in the snow. One group had asked us if we were cold, we said no, and were almost too warm! We had climbed up the mountain on our bikes after all.
Finally reaching Sunrise Highway, the nice empty roadway we had been riding was replaced with a road with snow piles as a shoulder. It wasn’t too much an issue, traffic was still light. It just made things a bit more interesting at times. The snow looked to be about three to four inches deep around this area. We briefly crested at 6000’ near the Wooded Hill turnoff and then descended into the Mt Laguna community. It was about the coldest I’d felt so far on the ride. Brrr! We made it to the Mt Laguna Store, got some snacks, and took a short break on the porch. Before we had arrived, someone had apparently had some trouble with the snow or ice, as their car was lodged against the stop sign at Los Huecos Road. Their attempts to free the car gave us at least some “entertainment” while we snacked. Eventually, a few others came along and helped push them along. The stop sign was at least still standing after they left. After we were done, we went over to the visitor’s center next door, which was having some problems. The water in the restrooms had frozen, but the water in the drinking fountain had not. Yes, even in San Diego County, the pipes can freeze. Well, after we took care of what we needed there, it was time to get on the road. A few hundred feet down the road, we turned off to a nice vista point above the Imperial Valley. It looked so warm, and we were so cold. After we got back onto Sunrise Highway, it would be a couple of miles of downhill riding. Now, we had been mostly climbing so far, keeping us warm. Heading downhill was a different story. It felt a whole lot colder now. My feet and hands were feeling quite numb by the end. I stopped at the Noble Canyon trailhead to try to warm up a bit, it helped. As we dropped in elevation, the temperatures were at least rising. The amount of snow had diminished as well. With all the snow and ice we’d seen so far, I was getting a bit nervous about our next road, Pine Creek Road.
Just about a half mile past the Noble Canyon trailhead, we turned onto Pine Creek Road. So far, the road looked alright. As we went further down, we encountered more mud and more snow. The worst section for both, especially mud, was around the Noble Canyon trail crossings. Still, it wasn’t that bad and we made it through without much trouble. We encountered only a few vehicles on the way down. We made one final stop at the tree above the steepest descent. Sigurd was having some trouble with his brakes, and it was a good place to regroup. While we were stopped, a truck with a bunch of downhill mountain bikes past us. We’d seen a lot of bike tracks on the Noble Canyon trail, so we assumed they had been riding it. It wasn’t a good idea, as the trail was really muddy, and riding it like that can cause damage to the trail.
After descending the steep part, the road heads into a narrow canyon, which is lined with oak trees. It was very nice and didn’t have the ice problem I thought it would. The ride the rest of the way down was quite pleasant, with no additional roadway problems. After we left the Forest, we turned off of Pine Creek Road, into a residential area on the east side of Pine Valley. Taking this road instead of going to Hwy 80 would save us a bit of riding, and had lighter traffic. After a few miles, we got back to the car. Overall, it was a good ride. We had lots of fun. The ride finished with just shy of 40 miles, about 4500′ of climb, and a 10.5 mph average. Sigurd got to see some new roads and I got another ride around Mt Laguna. There will be more rides up there as it is a fun place to go.
It finally happened. On Saturday, my bicycle officially rolled past 10,000 miles. I wanted to make the ride a fun ride, so I went for a ride up the coast to Oceanside. It was a simple 40 mile ride with decent weather. Overall, it was a fun ride. I hit the 10k mark on Gilman Dr, just north of I-5. Rather nice, an old alignment of US 101, complete with old curbing. Could have been a more scenic spot, but at least it wasn’t AT I-5 as it was looking like it was going to be. All told, about 5,000 miles were just biking around, 4000 were commuting, and 1000 were touring. Not bad for a two year run. I wonder what the next 10,000 will hold?
My day was going along fairly smoothly until after breakfast. I had bicycled over to Babbo Grande, to meet a couple of friends for breakfast. We stayed a while, talked, and eventually left around noon. I was going to head back home, but decided to extend the ride. I continued north on Park Blvd, into University Heights. It was fun, basically going slower and checking out the businesses. I found a few restaurants I’d heard about, and want to try sometime. When I got to Adams, I turned right. Now, this sort of ride, doesn’t have a real direction. I just start to wander and go wherever my next decision takes me, instead of going to a specific place. It was after I turned onto Adams that thing took a whole new direction.
Parked in the middle of the roadway, at Florida St, was an old truck and trailer, what was on the trailer was something quite extraordinary. It was a 1915 San Diego Electric Class 1 car, a streetcar. This street, Adams Avenue, hasn’t seen such a sight since 1949, though this car hasn’t been on the rails since 1939. I decided to follow it, see where they were taking it. Turns out, it was on a “publicity tour” of sorts. They drove west on Adams then south on Park. I figured, I was ready for to follow them anywhere, until a freeway. The truck was going quite slow, blowing their horn a few times to attract attention. It did. Lots of people were taking photos, traffic slowed both directions on all the roadways they took. I followed them on their little tour through Hillcrest, then back up to University Heights. After they finally stopped on Florida St at Adams Ave, I asked if they were going to be there a while. They said yes, good! I could go home and get my camera! So, I went home, got the camera, got back, and it was still there. I also got to speak with some of the people there, got a nice brochure on the project. Their project, San Diego Historic Streetcars, has a goal of running their cars, the last three of this type remaining, back on San Diego streets. I’d sure like to see that. Seeing it go down University Ave, sort of recreating the #11 car line, was pretty cool as it was. Having it run on its own doing the same thing would be much better.
There is a lesson to be learned here, sometimes take it slow, and don’t just go home. Extend the bike ride, even if just a little. You never know what fun might be out there.