The Bike Geek: Cyclocross is awesome

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Welcome back to my weekly Friday post! Last week I posted that we were going to try racing cyclocross and we did, and it was fucking awesome even though my lungs crashed and burned… literally.

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RL, Rocky and I headed to Moreno Valley to give Cyclocross a try. Rocky does not own a Cyclocross bike but the race promoters were renting them out for $10.00, yes, ten dollars!!! Rocky rented a nice Raleigh RX 2.0 cyclocross bike.

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They had the perfect “race” for us newbies to try out. One lap of the circuit and we even got a clinic! We were taught the basics of cyclocross such as dismounting, mounting, carrying the bike, going up the stairs, riding through sand and hopping the barriers. The clinic helped a lot because we actually got to pre-ride the entire course giving us a sense of confidence.

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There were 13 of us, some racers chose to ride Mountain bikes and others were riding proper Cyclocross bikes. I started pretty strong, felt good but then my lungs started to burn, my bronchial passages started to close and I could not breath properly. By 3/4 of the race, I was done. RL and Rocky passed me by and so did the rest of the riders except the 10 year old riding the BMX bike. Yeah, I sucked and I was hurting but dammit this shit was fun.

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Unfortunately we chose to race the last race of the season, but now that we have a cyclocross under our belt, I am already planning for next season!

Here is some video of my race, enjoy.

“SERENITY NOW, SERENITY NOW!!” STRESS GOTCHA DOWN

NO MATTER WHERE YOU GO, CLOSE TO HOME OR SOMEWHERE FAR, GOING FOR A RIDE IS THE BEST MEDICINE.
NO MATTER WHERE YOU GO, CLOSE TO HOME OR SOMEWHERE FAR, GOING FOR A RIDE IS THE BEST MEDICINE.

A RIDE TO MAKE THE MIND RIGHT

It’s been that long work week or a long day of work and the pressures of that boss, your bills, family matters, whatever it may be that’s weighing down on your shoulders to the point that you feel like you will never get that monkey off your back.
What do you do to get rid of that stress, drink? Eat? Maybe a little of both, but that may help for a minute (NOT) and it won’t give you clarity of the mind and body. What about getting on the bike you have in the garage or on the other side of your bed? That is if you sleep with her /him (“wink”).
Getting out on your bike and going on a long, heck even a short ride will do wonders for getting your prospective back. It makes you feel good about yourself, plus you know you’re getting some benefit from it too.
I myself like to go on a ride just by myself, no chit chat with others, just you, your bike, and the outdoors. Don’t get me wrong riding with a buddy or two is great too, but when you want to just get out and be in your thoughts of the world around you it’s kind of nice to be out there with just you.

WHEN YOU STOP, TAKE IT ALL IN, DON'T PASS WHAT'S ALL AROUND YOU BY.
WHEN YOU STOP, TAKE IT ALL IN, DON’T PASS WHAT’S ALL AROUND YOU BY.

THERAPY FOR THE MIND AND BODY

I will typically take my XC bike or my Enduro if I want to have a little bit of fun on the descents. Going on your DH bike would be a little much unless you like pushing the big beast for your therapy.
When you’re out there, wherever it may be its worth all the time in the world no matter the length of time you’re riding. I have friends that have their little trailer or their campers and they travel from spot to spot. I see their pics on Facebook and you just know it’s a daily dose of prospective and well being for the mind and body.
For most we may not have that luxury to get out like that, but maybe once in a great vacation. Just going to your local hills is always a great thing to do. My training backyard when I raced heavily in the day was Turnbull Canyon, just 10 minutes away (even closer when I lived down the street) was my go to therapy center to ride my problems away or just think things through.

"I CAN FIND ALL MY ANSWERS ON THE TRAIL, THERE THEY WILL ALL BE, ON THE TRAIL."
“I CAN FIND ALL MY ANSWERS ON THE TRAIL, THERE THEY WILL ALL BE, ON THE TRAIL.”

Now one may think, why ride those same old trails I know it like the back of my hand. Not true at all.
When I’m on my rides I will stop and find a place that might connect to me for some reason, something to look at or even feel at the time of the ride. You have to open yourself up to your surroundings and let it all permeate to your soul. Get off your bike and soak it all in to the core. Take off your gloves, helmet, and sunglasses. Quiet your mind and breath in deeply and feel, hear, and see everything around you.
For myself I will close my eyes because I want to feel things without my eyes, heightening my other senses.
Doing these exercises brings calm to my mind and soul. My body feels alive and awake. This will take time to master as we generally tune into only what we see and when we see more with our eyes it send those feeling to the other senses, clouding them. That’s why I say use all the senses you have first to find the calm, as you progress then close your eyes and only use your hearing touch and smell.
The clam you will feel will let you relax and feel better about yourself. You will feel that those pressures you have will feel less stressful and let you deal with them better.
You know like “SERENITY NOW, SERENITY NOW…”
As your riding, look at all your surroundings you will be surprised at what you miss by just riding a trail and not seeing where you ride. From animals, to the sounds around you, smells that carry from a distance that could give you a lunch or dinner idea for the day. You would be surprised.

THE RIDE BACK

Once you have found that center and you feel relaxed there is the ride back to the car or home, don’t start to dwell on the pressures you had going into the ride, stay focused on what you experienced on your ride and keep it close to your thoughts for as long as you can, why because it was what made you feel good about being there, made you realize that yes there are things to deal with on a daily basis.
You have given yourself the time needed to bring “YOU” time to yourself to see mentally you needed that time to refresh your mind and in doing so your body as well. Breathe in deeply and let it flow through you.
One last thing to do to keep the feeling alive in you during this time is to stop at say your favorite spot for a bite and your favorite libation. It’s that last me time as you tackle the next day with a fresh mind.
I love to do this as my last thing to do when I can.

GO AND HAVE A BIT E OR DRINK AT YOU FAVORITE PLACE. THIS JUST PUTS A NICE CAP ON A GREAT RIDE, ESPECIALLY AFTER ALL THE STRESS IS GONE.
GO AND HAVE A BIT E OR DRINK AT YOU FAVORITE PLACE. THIS JUST PUTS A NICE CAP ON A GREAT RIDE, ESPECIALLY AFTER ALL THE STRESS IS GONE.

YOU!! YOU!! YOU!!

Remember to go out and get that me time for yourself, this is what its all about when things might hit the wall for you. You’re not only exercising your senses, but freeing your minds soul and in the process not only exercising the body, but bringing in all that’s around you to help relax you in a whole.

Well if you try this I hope you feel better the next time you go out and need that prospective and relief from the everyday things that may weigh on our shoulders. Breath, feel, and open up you to the world around and relax.

“Time to ride!”

ITS A GREAT FEELING TO KNOW THAT AT THE END OF A RIDE YOU FEEL LESS STRESSFUL.
ITS A GREAT FEELING TO KNOW THAT AT THE END OF A RIDE YOU FEEL LESS STRESSFUL.

SKILLS, RISK, AND FAITH

Paul Basagoitia - Natural Terrain Double Back Flip

Just this last week we had one of our own go down hard while at the RedBull Rampage, Paul Basagoitia. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Paul when he became sponsored through Dainese and he is a genuine great guy. Though we don’t typically do any pro race coverage of any sort on MtnBikeRiders.com, I felt it important to say a few things about what it is we love to do as riders and racers, no matter if we are beginners or pros, just plain trail riders, racer or stunt riders. Risk is in our sport every time we go for a ride our mountain bikes anywhere. We don all our protection needed prior to our adventures that will keep us safe and off we go.
Now this article is not about what happened, was it the fault of the promoters, or as spectators want carnage, making riders push for the crazy stunts in an impossible place of riding.
“NO!” This is about what we love to do, the skills it takes, the risks we face, and the faith we have in ourselves to push the envelope every time we ride.

SKILLS
When we find a sport or hobby we love to pursue, we will go to great lengths to excel in what it is we love. It’s in our human nature to push beyond what we know for our personal satisfaction or the desire to be recognized at times by our peers. For some of us it comes naturally, while others have to work at it just a little more.
In time we can become razor sharp as we become better at what we do. Your skills will become better the more time you spend with anything, whether you train or just get out there to have fun at your comfort level, you will get better.
Much in the way a pianist plays expertly or a Kung Fu master continues to learn far past achieving their black belt. We set goals for ourselves all the time as we get better at what we do.
The skills of the pros at Rampage show us just that. Doing impossible things on a mountain bike never thought possible by most and it keeps getting better and bigger as we cheer on our favorite riders. These are true skills of the 1% masters in their realm and there are no others like them.

RISKS
There is risk in all things we do. Even the most mundane things can have risk; sure it may not kill you or leave you without movement for the rest of your being, risk is a part of life.
When you enter a sport that guarantees an element of high risk one knows what they are getting into.
If any one individual were to go into any dangerous sports not knowing the consequences, I would have to call them idiots on their part.
I as a racer I know the risks I take whether I’m riding or on a race course. Do I have the skills it take to do what I do, yes I do because I have honed those skills over time to get me to the level of riding I’m at.
Now as an individual you have to know your limitations as to how far one can go. Riding over your head above your skill level will be a formula for disaster on your part. Learning this is a key factor to success as you excel to the next level to have fun.
I get asked often, “Aren’t you afraid of what may happen to you if you hurt yourself real bad”. All I can say is the day I start thinking that way is the day I get out of my sport or sports.
Some could say this is the day you lose your nerve, maybe it is or the time come that the risk is to great. We’ll all face this question in time of “When do I stop”.
Yet the old saying goes, “Shit happens” and when that rug gets yanked out from under you. No level of skills may help you at this moment in time, so we ride it out and wait to see what happens next.
This is where faith steps in.

FAITH
One could say there are different levels that you could apply faith to. Like having faith in your skills, maybe the faith to believe in one’s self, or having the faith to not let doubt creep in at the moment of truth.
You could be assured having it is important to your strength as a person. It makes us strong inside when adversity takes hold. This will be the hardest part one will face. All your family and friends will be with you at your side, you will have time to reflect, faith may waver, but one’s strength in faith to push beyond where you are is what drives us no matter what.

IN THE END
We take risks everyday, but we mustn’t dwell on these risks, for each day is always new. Athletes that compete will always share a greater risk in what they do, you have the skills and faith to do what you love, otherwise you just wouldn’t do it.
I’m reminded of a saying, a matto that the US Navy SEALS have when going through BUDS training and beyond when you become a SEAL, “The only easy day was yesterday.”
This is what pushes me every day because it’s true. No matter how hard things may get in life you got past yesterday and it was easy. Push on Paul for we are all with you in mind and body keeping the faith for your fast recovery.

A Road2Recovery fund has been set up for Paul Basagoitia. For those readers of MtnBikeRiders.com that would like to help out Paul Basagoitia by making any amount of a donation to help his recovery please click on the link below.

http://www.road2recovery.com/cause-view/irideforpaul/

Photo from Pinkbike.com

Un dia divertido en Oso Grande

Eh..you impressed with my Mexican talk? I did take 3 years…or should I say “tres anos” of it in high school. But that’s about the extent of my Spanish.  But I still remember how to say, “La entrada esta alli, no aqui.” When I was 18, I was a security guard at a grocery store and I had to tell people that the exit, where I was stationed at, was not the entrance. Anyhow, let’s get back to what we did this weekend. So we rounded up some of the amigos de MtnBikeRiders.com to join Lady, The Moe and myself at Snow Summit in Big Bear, Ca. We loaded up the Team Limo and hit the road. You’d think with all the KHS Bicycles we have, that we were sponsored by them…

KHS DH200 and KHS Lucky 7. The KHS XCT556 was inside the limo.

LadyP, The Moe and RL.

Safety first! Goggles are a must!

During our first run, we ran into Cuz’n Joe who happen to get a flat. Here we are helping him, that’s what family is for, we help.

It was right after this run I started to have issues with my bike. I noticed that there was some play on the headset. Kinda odd if you ask me. So I tightened things down and went for another run down the mountain. Half way through I notice the play go worse and worse! Now there was major play in it and no matter how much I tightened the top cap down, it would still move. I make down the mountain and I decided to check out my headset. I pulled off the bar/stem removed the upper crown race and bearings I noticed that the FSA Pig Heaseat pretty much blew up. I noticed that the lower bearings wore out so much that the piece that holds them all together was pretty much a goner. During that inspection, I noticed I was missing 3 bearings. Not sure if they fell off while I was up on the trail or they fell out while I was working on the bike at that same spot.

I called a show down the street called Chains Required. I asked them if they had that same model headset available for purchase. They didn’t but invited me to come in and see if they can help me out. I get there and one of the mechanics took me to the workshop and gave me some bearings that closely matched what I needed, at no charge! I hurry back to where I left my bike and tried to reassemble the headset, but there was still some play. I’m only guessing that the bearing cups and race wore out so much that it was the cause of my problems. After 2 runs down Snow Summit, I had to call it a day. Bummer. That’s ok, I knew that LadyP and the rest of the group was having a great time on the trails. Check out this photo of her.
LadyP Gettin' Gnarly

All in all, everyone seemed to have a great time. No one got hurt and we got to see Cuz’n Joe! Not sure why I posed like this…oh wait, now I remember! Look where my left hand is…haha.

Before I go, I wanted to leave you all with this piece of magic. This is Doc Thunda, after a few beers, he can cuss in any language.

A 5 Hour morning Ride

Technically we didn’t ride for 5 hours, it was more like 2.5, but I did drink a bottle of 5 Hour Energy and I was so energized! Love that stuff, way better than Monster, Rockstar and all that jazz. By the way, I have to warn you that this is going to be photo-intensive. If you have dial0up, um you’re probably going to be sitting there waiting for a while until all the images load. But the more important question here is, “why do you have dial up?” Anyhow, let’s get on with our ride report.

These babies were on sale at my local corner store, 2 for $5!
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My favorite people to ride with and please don’t take offense if I didn’t mention your name, but those folks are Lady P and The Moe. With The Moe’s busy schedule, it’s really rare that we get to ride together. Did you know that he and I have been hitting the trails for over 10 years!
I was really pleased to learn that he was going to join us at Aliso Woods. Here we are at the trail head. The Moe and I are riding KHS Bicycles, while Lady P was testing out the Airborne Goblin 29er.
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Here’s the group from the ride, from left to right, The Moe, Khoala Bear, Lady P, Jon, and Stefan (I forgot his name, so I made it up.)
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The Goblin did great that day. Lady P really enjoyed the ride this 29er offered.
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At a certain point The Moe and I broke off from the rest of the group and headed down towards a trail called Rockit. All smiles from The Moe.
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This is where the other group went. You see all that climbing…bleh. They really dig all that XC stuff that includes leg burning climbs and you know what, they high-five each other once they get to the top.
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The Moe padding up before we hit Rockit. Notice how his jersey says “Cancer Sux?” well, it does. We came out with that design back in 09 in support of Breast Cancer awareness. In fact you’ll see later that I too am supporting Breast Cancer awareness by sporting my limited edition Pink Tuxedo Jersey.
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I tried taking a pic of me with The Moe in the background, but I was using my SLR with a nifty-fifty lens and my arms are way to short to create enough distance between my face and the camera. As you can see through my failed attempts, this proved to be futile.
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May I point out The Moe’s socks, those are the famous wool socks by BikeCommuters.com.
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Here’s some shots of us having fun through some fast swooping berms at Rockit.
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As promised, my pink jersey, and my gloves!
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Our ride concluded with The Moe and I patting each others butts and saying, “YOLO, BRO, DUDE, and COOL!” Lady P and I simply love Aliso Woods because there’s so much that place offers. You can take a beginner or a full on Pro and there will be trails they both can enjoy.

Back in the Saddle!

A confession: until this past weekend, I hadn’t ridden a mountain bike since sometime in July (even though I have a new bike!). Ouch!

For the most part, my riding is done on weekends… I work a chained-to-the-desk office job, and I have two young kids at home, so for the sake of household harmony I don’t often get out during the week (also, I don’t have a light good enough to do night rides – so it’s impossible a large part of the year!). I do bike commute to work and back… but that doesn’t really give me my bike fix… it just eases the pain of not being out riding in the woods!

So… the last few weekends I’ve had 2 specifically planned rides rained out (and trails closed several other times), 1 ride cancelled by a ride buddy (though for a good reason), been hacking-up-my-lungs sick, had my wife and kids sick all at once, and just plain fallen victim to life getting in the way.

But! Saturday morning, I met a coworker at the trail closest to my house and rode for a couple hours. It wasn’t epic, I didn’t have any major firsts or any major crashes. It was just solid riding on a reasonably nice day – and at the end of it, life was better than it had been before the ride. And that’s why I ride… and why I keep riding, and why I get back out there again even after not riding for a while and feeling a little extra-clumsy. Because if you start the day out riding singletrack, you can’t help but have a better day.

Vacation Ride Report: Fort Rock Trail System (Exeter NH)

A few weeks ago my family and I all jumped in our van and drove up to New England to visit family in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Since I’d only gotten my Niner EMD9 a couple weeks previously, I had to take it along. I got to ride some of the trails I grew up riding in Massachusetts, then went up to New Hampshire (where my parents now live). Since I haven’t done much riding there, I hit up Google to see what was in the area, and discovered Fort Rock.

Yes, there is a trail here

Fort Rock is actually two different town forests in Exeter, NH connected by a trail tunnel under route 101 – Henderson-Swasey and Oaklands (check the link for some good maps). They’ve been given some good attention by the New England Mountain Biking Association (NEMBA)– there are multiple areas with nicely-laid planks over swampy (and just plain pond-y) areas, which is great because otherwise the trails wouldn’t be rideable (or would just get torn up). There are also some less-noticed touches in certain areas to help with drainage and prevent erosion – but mostly the trails are left pretty natural – which is a very good thing!

Trail tunnel!

Overall the entire system is both a blast and a challenge – and like many New England trails rocks and roots are more common than, well… dirt. Some suspension is pretty much required here unless you’re just begging for a beating. These trails were a little rockier than most though… not many New England trails get a branch named “Kill-Zilla” (according to some forum research, it’s also known as the “Demoralizer”). The name is fitting… I’m sure with some practice I could clean it, but the two times I rode it (once from either direction, once on purpose and once by accident!) I definitely had several foot dabs and a couple walks up hills when I couldn’t get going again on the slope. The rocks aren’t just around the trail – in many places the best way to go is OVER a bunch of rocks (and I’m not talking small ones), and there are lots of ways to kill your momentum – especially going up the steep hills that make up pretty much the entire trail. I spent much more time in my granny gear than I think I ever have before (boy was I glad I wasn’t on my singlespeed!).

This is definitely singletrack!

My one gripe with the trail system is that I’d read it was signed, and that was true – but only barely. It has blazes – but one of the major trail sections runs in a circle, and actually branches a couple times – so even with the blazes it’s not always that easy to figure out where you are. I’m sure after a couple rides it becomes easier (I was starting to figure it out by the time I left), but for a first time rider bringing the maps along would be a good idea. I figured that out after my 1 1/2 hour ride turned into a 3 hour ride… I kept finding myself looping back around to where I didn’t want to be anymore! I was on my bike and having fun though, so it was all good (well, up until the point my water ran out!).

The trails loop through the powerlines several times… as I found out when I kept ending up there!

I didn’t get to ride anything like all the trails in this system despite the time I spent in it, so I’ll definitely be back there next time I’m in the area. I do want to thank the town of Exeter for letting mountain bikers use the trails in this way though – and NEMBA for helping make it into a more sustainable (and fun!) system. My introduction was exhausting and challenging, but incredibly satisfying.

The threat of falling in this water made me pay close attention to staying on the boards!

On going Review – Specialized Carve Pro 29

Carve

I have been putting in some serious miles on the Carve lately. Its hard to belive its the middle Of February, and 80 degrees out. First impressions, this is a lot of bike for the $2000 MSRP. Look for more info to come, and a full review in the next few weeks.

Artie in my pants ride report

This evening Priscilla and I ventured out on this super top secret trail that no one really knows about. I’d tell you but then you’ll ruin it because its such a fun place you’ll want to ride there and invite all your friends, then it wouldn’t be secret anymore…

Tonight’s ride was a bit different. We weren’t training hard or riding super fast, I think I was just too distracted by things that I saw on the trail…I’ve been dieting for quite some time and food is always on my mind.
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I call this photo, the “cock pit” shot. Can you find Artie? That guy seems to show up in the weirdest places. One time I was going #2 and I sent him a text message, then next thing you know I hear a message notification from the stall next to me. Ok…weird, so I sent Art another message talking about how it was a weird coincidence that the guy next to me got a text soon after I sent one…then he responds…”that’s weird, as soon as I sent you a message, the guy in the stall next to me got a text too!”
art in my pants
After our ride we headed over to a fish taco place to replenish the nutrients we expended on riding 36.2 miles that evening. Check out my “salad” and behind it is my favorite veggie, onion rings.
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This is my carbon fiber wallet. People always seem to geek out when they see it. But you know what’s in it? Debt! Not so cool anymore eh?
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To Bear and Back by Bike

I had cycled 80 miles and had 10 hours to think about it and I still couldn’t decide how I wanted to theme this article. A bicycle adventure? Cross training? Accomplishing a goal? How far a bike can take you? Proving that you don’t need the most expensive, high-tec equipment to have fun? A Soma Double Cross review? Here’s a follow up to my adventure from last month and you can catagorize it however you’d like.

Some big hills in the background

One of my goals for the summer was to ride a bicycle from the base of Big Bear to my grandparents house on Big Bear Lake. RL was generous to lend me a Soma Double Cross for the trip since I didn’t have a road bike. Why roadie talk on an MTB site? Road biking is a great way to target your cycling muscles while performing in an aerobic heart rate zone for an extended period of time. The result is strong legs and stronger cardio. Mountain biking still offers good cardio but tends to be a more anaerobic workout meaning you will build more muscle and not push your cardio level as much. I feel I could perform much better in DH racing if my cardio was higher both in terms of stamina and keeping a cool head. Exhaustion leads to dumb mistakes and those small slip-ups are the biggest things people beat themselves up over on a bad race run.

I was having trouble getting a pickup car at the top or bottom of the mountain so I decided that parking at the bottom and riding up and down all in the same day was the way to do it. In my head it made a lot of sense because I only saw it as riding 40 miles up the mountain and coming back I was going to let gravity do all the work. Highway 38 was a bit longer than the 18 but it made the most sense since it was much less traveled and was a wider road in general. I did some research on where to park my truck and found a little picnic area called Thurman Flats at the base of the 38 in Yucaipa. They require an Adventure Pass for your car and they have clean restrooms and trash service. From there it was a straight shot up the 38 right up to Big Bear Lake clocking in at 40 miles one way. I felt prepared enough for the trip so off I went.

I got to Thurman Flats ready to ride at about 7 at a starting elevation of just over 3,000ft. The highest point was 8,500 so I knew there would be a lot of pain involved. Cars were a major concern for me on a twisty mountain road but I was surprised to find a decent size bike lane for almost the entire ride which made things a lot less nerve racking. The other things that put me at ease was that it was a Monday morning and that the 18 had just reopened weeks earlier, alieviating traffic down to a trickle.

Plenty of room for cars and bikes

I’m not going to lie; I seriously considered turning around a couple times because this ride was intense. The road was lonely, my hands and butt were killing me, my legs were sore and, without a bike computer, I never knew how much further I had to go.

I finally reached Onyx summit, the highest point of the ride, by about 11am. From there it was a 12 mile, 2,000ft, decent into Big Bear to my grandparents house where lunch was waiting. Now to figure out how to not feel akward when hugging Grandma and Grandpa while wearing skin-tight lycra.

The destination

A couple hours later I was back on the road now feeling more sore than ever with 2,000ft to climb back up before I really got to enjoy the easy part of my day. I must have taken about 5 breaks going back to the summit because of how much pain I was in. Turning around wasn’t an option at this point because my truck was at the base of the mountain and I wanted to go home. When I got to Onyx summit I ran into the only road bikers I saw all day and we stopped and chatted for a while before descending the mountain together.

It definitely wasn’t all a party from the top as the road bobbed up and down a handfull of times in the middle really testing my stamina. Regardless, I suffered through the uphills and sped through downhills making quick work of the remaining descent. The fast winding road down was incredibly fun and I could take up the middle of the road for most the way down as there were very few cars. I was back at my truck by about 5pm and more than ready to let an engine do the rest of the work from there.

Relief!

The ride was fulfulling. The road was amazing. The drivers were courteous. The mountain view was unbeatable. As for the bike? No $5k, carbon fiber clad steed with helium-filled tires here. The Soma is a 25 pound CrMo street missle. A little heavy for a pure road bike from what I’m told, but hey, obviously it worked just fine here. It’s crazy to think that every time I consider buying a road bike I feel the need to spend at least $2k just to get something I’d deem competent. I don’t know how the line between wants and needs always gets so blurred but some savvy shopping and $500 should be able to get the average joe enough bike to tackle any road.

My mountainous steed