Old Hwy 67 near Foster

Out on a ride recently, I came upon a short stretch of original concrete from old Hwy 67. This roadway leads to San Vicente Dam and the townsite of Foster. I believe this concrete dates to the 1920’s, but I am uncertain. More research will reveal its age.

DSCN6908

 

 

Short motorcycle ride out east

I went for a motorcycle ride today (2/7/2013) out in the eastern end of San Diego County. I bought a new leather suit and wanted to try it out on a ride. On my way out of town, I spotted a Historic Route 94 sign on current Hwy 94 near Campo Junction. I seem to remember some legislation a while back that designated Hwy 94 as a historic route. I guess this was the result of that effort. Further down the road I spotted an old alignment with concrete, one of the three sections still visible from Campo Junction to Jamul. I’ll try and get photos next time. My suit was too tight to fit a camera and I didn’t take any with my phone.

Historic Route 94 signage on Current Hwy 94
Historic Route 94 signage on Current Hwy 94

A ride in the San Gabriel Mountains

On my way home from a friends in Los Angeles on January 8, 2013, I decided to take the long way home. It was a beautiful day and I had plenty of daylight left. So, I took a turn into the mountains. It was the first time in a long time I had taken Hwy 39 – San Gabriel Canyon Road – and it was time to ride it on my motorcycle. I wanted to see where it was gated, it seems to change often how far up you can go. This time it was open through to Crystal Lake, which was good to see. I had a great time, even chatted with another motorcyclist at the gate for a while.

Gate just above Crystal Lake
Gate just above Crystal Lake
Toward Crystal Lake and Mt Hawkins
Toward Crystal Lake and Mt Hawkins
Down the mountain and into the canyon.
Down the mountain and into the canyon.

Once I headed back down the mountain, I headed over to the Glendora Ridge Road to meet the valley in Upland instead of Azusa. I wanted to see something different. Glendora Ridge Road is quite a lot of fun on a motorcycle, at some point I do want to bicycle it though. I saw quite a few cyclists (motor and pedal) that day, more people on two wheels than four. The snow on Mt San Antonio was a grand sight to see riding along the ridge. Winter in the San Gabriels is always a favorite of mine.

On Glendora Ridge Road with Mt San Antonio in the distance
On Glendora Ridge Road with Mt San Antonio in the distance
Fun section with lots of curves
Fun section with lots of curves

Mesa Grande – WPA Bridge

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.

Original bridge. It looks like it was just wooden beams laid across.
Original bridge. It looks like it was just wooden beams laid across.
Real nice WPA brass lettering still intact. A rare sight indeed.
Real nice WPA brass lettering still intact. A rare sight indeed.
Stonework along the side of the WPA bridge/culvert.
Stonework along the side of the WPA bridge/culvert.
My motorcycle... a 2005 Kawasaki Ninja 500R.
My motorcycle… a 2005 Kawasaki Ninja 500R.

Coast Starlight to Seattle, WA

I know it has been a long time since I’ve updated. Well, been a while since I’ve gone on something really worthy of writing about. The past few days, have been worthy.

On Thursday, November 3, 2011, I set out on a new great adventure. My goal for the first segment of the trip was Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. My method of travel was Amtrak. Starting at 6:10am out of San Diego’s Santa Fe Depot, I took the Pacific Surfliner to Los Angeles Union Station. There, I waited in the TRAXX Lounge, which is just for sleeping car passengers of train #14. Train 14, the Coast Starlight. The Starlight is the premier Amtrak train in the West. Every time I’ve taken the train, the service has been splendid. This time, it was even better. Using Amtrak Guest Rewards (something I highly recommend joining), I obtained a deluxe bedroom on the train, which is quite decent for one person.

Views from the train were, as always, quite spectacular. The California coast just can’t be beat. Near Gaviota, I saw two of pods of dolphins. While on the train, I met people from all over. Wisconsin, Vancouver, Minnesota, even San Diego numbered among the places. We had our first wine tasting of the trip just north of San Luis Obipso, consisting of California wines, some from the local area. These are always a lot of fun, as I get to interact with more of the people on the train. I tend to talk about some of the geology and history along the way, like a tour guide.

After the wine tasting, we made our way through the Salinas Valley, where I spent some of my time in the Parlour Car. Slowly getting more tired, I went back to my room for a while. I chatted a bit online with some of my friends, listened to music, and then went off to dinner in the Dining Car. I had the BBQ ribs, which were quite good. A few people came by and said that it looked good as well. I saw others having lasagna, which was my other choice.

After dinner, I went back to my room to listen to some music before the movie began. In the Parlour Car, there is a movie theater downstairs. I watched “Limitless” which I hadn’t heard of before. It was pretty good, and took up the time from near San Juan Bautista all the way to near Hayward.

Once the movie was over, it was time to get some sleep. I went back to my room, after the bed had been set up. It was quite a nice bed too. Not that thick a mattress, but comfy enough. I laid down for a while, finally getting to sleep just past Martinez. The next thing I knew, we were north of Dunsmuir! Again, I slept through the Sacramento River Canyon. Oh well, perhaps I’ll see it on the way south. I finally got up near Mt Hebron Summit, where there was quite a bit of fresh snow on the ground. By the time we got to Klamath Falls, the snow was gone. While there was no snow, it was still really cold. I think it was in the 30’s outside. I still stepped out of the train. I had finally reached Oregon. Only one more state to go.

After Klamath Falls, we made our way over the Willammette Pass. The higher we climbed, the more snow we saw. It wasn’t quite enough snow to hide the fairly deep pumice layer capping most of the cuts along the railroad. It looked to be about three feet deep toward the summit. I suspect the pumice was from the Mt Mazama – Crater Lake eruption, about 6.6 kya. The section of the tracks over the pass was fun as always. Other passengers told their train stories as I pointed out various features along the way. My favorite stretches of track is located a few miles below the summit, where the train passes through a tunnel, then a curved trestle, and then back into another tunnel. The snow and the fog made the crossing of the Cascades a whole lot more entertaining. As we got lower in elevation, the fall colors came back. It was a bit past peak color, but still quite spectacular.

Our next wine tasting was just north of Eugene, where I had quite an interesting conversation with another passenger. I talked a bit about the history of US 99 and the railroad line through the Willamette Valley, where he talked about the Civil War and how the railroads played into the various battles. It was quite entertaining. I learned a fair bit, and he did too.

By Portland, I had wanted to get out and stroll about the station grounds. Portland Union Station is quite a large station and very nice. As we had a longer layover, I decided to get up to the Broadway Bridge and take some photos. I saw quite a few cyclists on my short walk, most with fenders on their bikes. Some of them were in full gear (tights and long sleeve), others just in street clothes. Most of them looked like they were commuters. After my walk, I made my way back to the train, and it was time to depart. Almost to Seattle!

For dinner, I decided to go with the Parlour Car. The menu is smaller, but usually good food. It was pretty good. After dinner, I went back to my room, enjoying it for the last time. As we approached Seattle, it got darker, and sightseeing was getting tougher. I still managed to see the Tacoma Narrows Bridge and the skyline of Seattle as we approached.

Finally, Seattle! After gathering my gear, I got off the train and headed out to my hostel. It was only two blocks from the station, which made things easier. I had just two bags, but they were quite heavy. After getting quickly settled at the hostel, I headed out. I had wanted to go to the Space Needle, and knew the way to get there. After making my way over, I found out… it was closed! Bummer! Well, I decided, what the heck, gotta do something else then. So I looked up various gay bars in town, decided to head over to the Seattle Eagle. It was a bit of a walk from the Monorail station, but not too bad. I felt a bit bad, normally I go out in full gear, but this time, only had my leather combat boots on. It would have been too much to go back to the room and change into either a military uniform, or my leather outfit. But hey, I still wanted to go. So, I found the place, got a drink, and hung out for a while. It was still fun. I found out it was leather night there… DOH! Hey, there is always another time. Once I was done with my drink, and had talked with some people there, I headed back to my room. I had to get up early the next morning to catch the train to Vancouver, and didn’t want to stay up too late. I walked the whole way back, and ended up stopping by Columbia and 1st to visit the last remaining original US 99 shield in Washington. Another day of adventure was ahead. This time, to Canada!

San Luis Obispo to Santa Clarita Double Century – May 29, 2011

My first double century ride would go from San Luis Obispo to Santa Clarita. It would be the longest ride I had ever set out to do, breaking my distance record by at least 46 miles. The plan was simple. I would follow the same route as I took in May last year from San Luis Obispo to Ventura, but adding the segment to Santa Clarita.  For those wanting more details of my route, I went the following way:
From San Luis Obispo:
Hwy 227, Price Canyon, Hwy 1, Hwy 135, Hwy 101, “Coast Route” signed bike route from Goleta to Carpinteria, Hwy 101, Hwy 1, Telegraph Rd, Hwy 126, Santa Clara River Trail, Sierra Highway
So, on May 29, I set out from San Luis Obispo at 5:30am, and began the longest ride of my life. The weather was cool at first, and a bit cloudy. Once past Guadalupe, the wet and muddy roadway shoulders I had been dealing with north of town had finally dried up. The winds I had been hoping for also finally materialized south of town. Not only were they consistent in speed, but they were nearly directly behind me – a perfect tailwind. It helped pass the miles and keep me going. I was getting hungry! So, in Los Alamos, I stopped for breakfast at the Twin Oaks Restaurant. I stopped there on my last ride through here, and had a decent and quick breakfast. As I was in full cycling gear (skinsuit, leg and arm warmers, shoe covers), I always seem to get questions about the ride like “Where are you riding from?” – “San Luis Obispo”, “Where are you riding to?” – “Santa Clarita”… yes, a long ways down the road. Still, 150 miles to go! My pace was pretty fast so far, keeping a 20 mph average for the first 50 miles.
After getting back out on the road, I got onto US 101, the first real busy roadway of the trip. Ahh… US 101 in the Central Coast area. It is my favorite section. A very pastoral scene, rolling hills, oaks, cows, and yes… lots of vehicles on the expressway. After topping the summit, I glided down to Buellton. One more hill down, just one major climb ahead. Being a holiday weekend, heavier traffic wasn’t surprising. One thing I did see that caught my eye though was the high number of antique cars heading southbound. I never did see where they were going, but I lost count after at least 20 passed me.
I stopped in Buellton to refill my drinks, and headed on south. Onwards and upwards to the last major climb of the ride, though with many more miles still to go. The last hill, Nojoqui Canyon and Summit, isn’t that much a climb. The summit itself is lower than the one north of Buellton, but not by much. The last part of the climb is steep, but still not bad. After topping this last summit, it would be downhill to Gaviota. Downhill and downwind… not always a good thing. Winds slowly increased in speed as I got closer to the bottom of the grade. This became a problem when I got up to about 35 mph and was getting battered by sudden crosswinds. I slowed down real fast and kept it slower until I got through the area. Crashing at high speed isn’t pleasant at any location or time and I didn’t want to start now. The next 25 or so miles would be very beautiful and fun. It would be my last rural section until after Ventura. I was able to keep a pretty decent pace, tailwinds and my own energy helping greatly.
At Goleta, I finally reached the halfway point. 100 miles! I hit that mark at 11:20am, with a 20.3 mph average, with a 4:51 rolling time. Not bad… my best century ride yet. It didn’t really hit me until after I was eating my lunch in Goleta that I had gone 100 miles and wasn’t really thinking so much about it. Most rides END around that distance, and here I was only in the middle. So, after having a short lunch, it was again onward. I took an easy course through the Goleta, Santa Barbara, and Carpinteria area. I highly recommend following the signed “Coast Route” through town. Most major streets are avoided making the route quite pleasant.
My next big stop was in Ventura, where I met up with a friend of mine. He brought me snacks and drinks to refuel and refill with. It was good talking with him and his partner. He was going on a big ride the next day, and invited me to go. I declined, figuring I’d be a bit tired after today. I wanted to talk for a while longer, but he prodded me to continue. It was true. I still had 50 more miles to go. So, we parted ways and I worked my way out of town. After Ventura, I was greeted with many miles of orange and avocado groves. They smelled wonderful and gave me a bit of a lift when I began to encounter some headwinds. The distance between the towns in the Santa Clara River Valley isn’t big, which made it feel like I was going faster than I was.
 By the time I reached Fillmore, I needed a break. I stopped at a gas station at Hwy 23. I picked a good one, they had Mexican Coke there… just what I was looking for. So, I stepped out, sat in a chair out front, and had my Coke. While I was relaxing, another cyclist showed up, and went into the store. After he came back out with his drink, he walked over my way, and we started talking. “Where are you riding today?”, “Is that a cyclocross bike?” The fun part was when I said where I had been riding today. When I told him I started in San Luis Obispo, his first response was “Where is that?” “Well, it is about 100 miles past Santa Barbara”, I replied. His response was amusing. “So… wait… it is 100 miles PAST Santa Barbara and you rode here, WOW! That is a long ride”. It is the best response I’ve received on a ride yet.
The last miles of the ride were the worst. I encountered steadily stronger headwinds, and was getting much more tired. I wondered at times if I was going to be able to make it. The winds had gone from a nice northwest direction to more a northeast direction. This would not be good, especially the last 10 miles. After fighting these winds for about 15 miles I reached Castaic Junction. One look to the north gave me hope. I saw clouds in the Tejon Pass area. Clouds in the pass mean northwest winds, a tailwind again at last! Crossing the Santa Clarita Valley, the last 10 or so miles of my ride, felt quite different to me. My first long distance ride was doing the same thing, crossing Santa Clarita. As I made my way across town I began to have doubts of the mileage. It was looking like I’d come up short. I hadn’t gone this far to not get 200 miles on the odometer. So, I made a couple of small loops in Canyon Country, and still had to go past my destination just to get the mileage. Still, 200 miles was achieved. I accomplished my goal, and did something that only a couple of years ago I thought was impossible. I also found my upper limit for a one-day ride. That limit looks to be 225 to 250 miles, depending on many variables.
And for my next big ride? So many possibilities, so many places to go. I look forward to the next great adventure. Who knows where it will take me?

Long Rides Getting Longer…

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.

Big Plans… and changes.

It has been a while since I posted to my blog. I just haven’t had any real big adventures lately. I’ve just been busy with other things. That is changing soon though.

My big August Oregon Coast trip had to be cancelled. Too many problems kept coming up, one of them being cost. So, it will be postponed. I will, however, be going on some “shorter” rides this month. This Saturday, May 7th, I will be embarking on a day ride from downtown Los Angeles to San Diego. The short goal for the ride is Solana Beach. My idea is simple. I go as far south as I can, and see how things are at that point. If I don’t think I can make it up Torrey Pines Grade at mile 140 on a ride, or it is too late by then, I will stop there and take the train home.

This is only a precursor to the longest single day ride yet planned by me. I will be riding from San Luis Obispo to Santa Clarita, a distance of about 200 miles, on May 29th. I already have the route picked out and have ridden the whole thing, just not all at once before. It is the upper limit of what I am willing to ride in a day.

I’ll post more details on the ride as it gets closer.

Redlands and old US 99 – Sunday, March 20, 2011

On Sunday, I went to the Redlands area to drop off a friend. I figured, why not see some old highway in the area and make the trip back more fun? So, after dropping him off, I headed over to Redlands Blvd. This is a section of old US 99 that still retains its concrete paving from the late 1940’s. I never really got any photos of it before, so it was good to see it still there. From Citrus Ave east, the roadway is more of an expressway, with a wide median and limited access.

After Redlands, the next section of old highway would prove a bit more interesting to get to. It was a short section of concrete paving, from the 1920’s most likely, and was located adjacent to the 10 freeway.  I had to actually pull off the freeway shoulder to drive the short section. It was pretty neat, seeing as how this had been realigned so many times since that concrete was poured. I was hoping to return to the freeway by simply driving through. That idea was quickly thwarted when I found a tall curb at the shoulder. I had to back up and get on where I pulled off. So much for trying to be inconspicuous!

Redlands Blvd, "in town"
Redlands Blvd, “in town”
Divided section of Redlands Blvd, like an expressway.
Divided section of Redlands Blvd, like an expressway.
Some of the concrete visible... seen just to the right of the shoulder.
Some of the concrete visible… seen just to the right of the shoulder.
More paving, both lanes now visible.
More paving, both lanes now visible.

My next stop would be Robert Rd, near Cherry Valley Blvd. This section is threatened with removal or repaving as it is adjacent to a new large housing tract. So far, it is still intact. This nice concrete section dates to about 1928 and is one of the last sections of intact concrete around here. I took many photos here, hoping they wouldn’t be my last. The economic slowdown seems to have helped here, as the housing tract construction has slowed dramatically. At this point, I figured, I’ve gone this far… might as well go to the 60 junction and look around. So, I got back on the freeway, and took the San Timoteo Canyon Road exit. A frontage road heads east here, on the south side of the freeway. A portion of it is old US 99, complete with a 1939 bridge over San Timoteo Creek. Upon closer inspection of the bridge, I found that the eastbound I-10 bridge was also a part of old US 99. It was the original westbound bridge for the expressway, built in 1951. Now traffic is going the wrong way over it, from a historical context. One final stop was to be made, the old US 99 / US 60 / US 70 junction at the edge of Beaumont.

Short section of Roberts Rd that is now a driveway.
Short section of Roberts Rd that is now a driveway.
Roberts Rd, fairly pristine 1920's concrete.
Roberts Rd, fairly pristine 1920’s concrete.
San Timoteo Creek Bridge from 1939
San Timoteo Creek Bridge from 1939
Old westbound bridge from 1950, now eastbound I-10.
Old westbound bridge from 1950, now eastbound I-10.

I’d seen what appeared to be bridge piers and concrete approaches to an old bridge just north of the current SR-60. It turns out, that is exactly what they were. In 1936, the current westbound bridge for SR-60 (old US 60), was built. It replaced an earlier bridge, the one that I had been seeing pieces of. Today was finally my chance to walk around and see the old pieces. I was rather amazed at how much was left, considering how long ago it was all torn out. A fair amount of the eastern approach to the bridge remained, most of it buried under a thin layer of dirt. There wasn’t anything left of the western approach. I also got some photos of the exit sign for the 60 West from the 10 East. The sign was from 1960, and was overlaid with a SR-60 sign. Yes, there is a US 60 shield under there… just hope the overlay panel falls off at some point! After hiking around, it was time to head back. The approaching storm was getting worse, and the winds were picking up. I had a long drive ahead, and didn’t really want to do it in heavy rain. Thankfully, all I had to deal with was heavy winds and dust at times. I finally got to see some sections of old US 99 that I either hadn’t seen before, or weren’t sure were still around. More trips will be made up this way, just not during summer.

1936 Beaumont Overhead, now westbound SR-60
1936 Beaumont Overhead, now westbound SR-60
Remains of the earlier Beaumont Overhead
Remains of the earlier Beaumont Overhead
Some of the old approach still exists, with concrete.
Some of the old approach still exists, with concrete.
The SR-60 shield is on top of a US 60 shield.
The SR-60 shield is on top of a US 60 shield.

Pine Creek Ride – March 6, 2011

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.

First closure gate on Pine Creek Road.
First closure gate on Pine Creek Road.

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.

Descending into the tree lined canyon... before the steep grade.
Descending into the tree lined canyon… before the steep grade.
View back down, a very nice day for a ride.
View back down, a very nice day for a ride.
Large oak tree branch blocking the road, I went around to the left.
Large oak tree branch blocking the road, I went around to the left.

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.

Up and Up! The road goes up to the right, then left following the ridge.
Up and Up! The road goes up to the right, then left following the ridge.

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.

Getting into the pines and the snow.
Getting into the pines and the snow.
Snow cover is getting thicker.
Snow cover is getting thicker.
The road is under this snow... I know it is!
The road is under this snow… I know it is!
I followed the tracks to the left in the dirt. Not too bad, but icy.
I followed the tracks to the left in the dirt. Not too bad, but icy.

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.

Nope. Not going down this trail today.
Nope. Not going down this trail today.

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.

The road is about a foot under the bike.
The road is about a foot under the bike.
Gotta get a shot of the bike in the snow!
Gotta get a shot of the bike in the snow!

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!

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