New to Mountain Biking?

I always find the first ride for a new mountain biker to be a bit of a conundrum: the trail I choose has to be easy enough for the newb but hard enough to be a challenge mentally and physically. Too easy for the newbie and the rider loses interest. Too hard and the newbie never comes back. WAY too hard and the newbie warns other potential newbs to not even try it. It is always a fine line determining which trail will illicit the right response, that being: I want to mountain bike again!

What I have figured out, through trial and error, is that the Fullerton Loop is not a good trail for the first timer. Over the past year I have taken two friends new to mountain biking to the loop as their first excursion on dirt and well, they have not ridden a mountain bike since then. Aerobically, they are both in good shape. The first enjoys half marathons and the second hits the gym and the basketball courts on a regular basis. They were challenged physically which is always a goal. Mentally though, the descents on the Fullerton Loop, intimidated them to the point of no return.

Personally, I think you should feel like puking on your first mountain bike ride

On my first mountain bike ride I went out on the Fullerton loop solo (no mountain biking friends when I started out) with little more than a print out of directions from the website, thanks Mr. Erdelsky. I remember being tentative on the downhills but I did not find them to be overwhelming. I was never scared for my life but I did find myself gasping for air after just four miles. This assessment of my first ride has influenced my decision to bring new riders to the loop. My thought process is that if the newb is in decent shape they should be fine on the loop. However, I vastly underestimated the lasting mental effects of getting scared out of your mind on the loop’s descents.

OK, so after thinking about these issues for a while, I decided to take my friend Adam, new to mountain biking, on the most tame trail I could conceive of while still barely being a “mountain biking” trail. Telegraph Canyon in Chino Hills State Park is very mellow, so much that I have hiked a good portion of it with my 3 year old son. Adam and I met up with a couple of roadies posing as mountain bikers: Leo and Leo’s friend (yes, I suck with names) and we took the 12 mile out and back at a very newbie friendly pace. Adam even made it all the way to the turn around point and only once felt as if he wanted to hurl. Pretty good, huh?

Whats even better is that Adam is ready to hit the loop now. He said so both verbally right after the ride and in an email sent a few weeks later. He is waiting for his new helmet to arrive via brown Santa and we’ll be tackling the Fullerton loop next. Success!

Redeeming my hour

After an exhausting day on Saturday, I got to bed early on Saturday night with absolutely no thoughts of riding on Sunday morning. Before drifting off to sleep at 10:30 (9:30, if you account for turning the clock back for Daylight Savings time) I woke up abruptly at 6:30am. After lying around in bed for a few minutes, I realized that due to daylight savings time, it was actually just 5:30!

Since I was not about to fall back asleep, that got me thinking: how much time do I have to mountain bike and where should I ride to maximize my time? To be very frank, I briefly considered running a couple of miles but I promptly nixed that idea. To me, running = YUCK.

After a few minutes of thought, I came out with:
– 1.5 hours of time, which would allow me to return home with enough time to get both myself and my 3 boys ready for church
– Chino Hills State Park: I would take the streets from my house to the Rim Crest entrance, back down South Ridge and out Telegraph returning back to my house via the streets. Time wise: about 1:15. Mileage: about 11. Added benefit: some good climbing front loaded from mile 3.5 – 6.5.

Overall, a great ride on the Niner Air9 hardtail. I did a route I haven’t done in a while and I was immensely pleased to be able to ride with so few cars on the road. The only bad part: I broke my multi-tool about 10 minutes into the ride. Thankfully, I did not need it for the rest of the ride.

For those of you not racing (looking forward to those race reports, team!) were you able to get in some riding with the extra hour gained?

Chino Hills State Park: Ride and Dance Report

On Saturday morning, David, Priscilla and I went out for a leisure 14 mile ride through Chino Hills State Park. This place is absolutely fantastic in the winter/spring-ish time since the hills are a pretty color of green. Makes me want to sing…”the hills are alive!!!” Anyhow, this day was somewhat special for us. The Moe made his 2nd appearance on XC trails. Since he was given the clearance by his Doctor, The Moe felt like it was due time to get some cardio mixed in with his MMA Training.

Priscilla is healing nicely from her last crash. Her bruising is gone, but the contusion is still there.

That day our route was to go up Telegraph, 4 Corners and through Bovine Delight. But as we stopped at 4 Corners, another rider rolls up and says…”Hey aren’t you Jose’s (Joe) friend?” I replied, “Why yes I am that handsome devil’s amigo!” The he introduced himself as Al, one of Joe’s childhood friends. Small world eh? Al goes on to tell us all about how Joe was some AMAZING Break Dancer back in his day. He told us Joe was the Closer when it came to Battles.

If you’re not sure what I just said, a Battle would be something like a fight, but instead of guns and knives, you dance against your opponent. A Closer would be the best dancer of the crew. Apparently Joe was the closer of his dance crew. Al went on to say that when Joe’s crew would battle, Joe would be the last one to close the deal. He was the secret weapon and as soon as Joe would do his thang, the battle would be over…the other crew wouldn’t have anything to top Joe’s moves.

So check this out, Al and I did an impromptu battle right there at 4 Corners. We had David drop some beats the best way he knows how, Beatboxin‘ Needless to say Al won cuz he busted out some old skool stuff that I just couldn’t compete against. He gave credit to all his battle skills by learning from Master Joe.

Once we parted ways with Al and his amigos, we continued with our ride. We had a blast rolling through the hills of Chino. The weather was nice and cool, at times kinda chilly. But all in all it was awesome. I was glad to have Moe back on the trail. It’s just not the same with out him.

Bit of a Sufferfest

Suffering on the 45 minute climb… I could see Dan enjoying taking this picture of me… watching me suffer

Went out with AV Dan on Saturday for a bit of a sufferfest at Chino Hills State Park. This one is a pretty common route I’ll ride if I’m short on time, but want to do more than the loop. I can normally get it done in under 2.5 hours which is about the amount of time it took for Dan & me that day.

It starts off with a long-ish 45 minute climb. The climb has very few breaks and is typical of Southern California, all fireroad. The kicker on the climb was that the last section from Sycamore to McDermott was not only steep, as usual, but also extremely sandy. If I had known it was that bad, I would have definitely opted out at Sycamore and rode directly to Four Corners from there.

Giant Trance & Niner Jet 9 at Four Corners

Ah, but ignorance is bliss, at least for a while. Then the sand hit and although I didn’t get off the bike, I was definitely in granny just keeping up a high cadence to climb through the sand pits. The sand looked to be the remnants from last fall’s fire that really did a number on Chino Hills.

Bovinian Delight’s singletrack is a a welcome change to the miles of fireroad we just finished

After our break at Four Corners we hit Bovinian Delight which is a singletrack treat after so much fireroad. The singletrack track was relatively clear and we stopped off to take a quick photo of Dan looking menacing on the trail.

Dan enjoying the cleared out singletrack

The return ride back to the car of about 7 miles is always fun. It’s rolling hills that can go pretty fast. Dan & I ended up trading bikes for a few minutes to discuss the merits of each other’s bikes. Dan rides a Giant Trance & I was on my Niner Jet 9. The Trance is 5” travel AM bike and my Niner is a 3” travel XC bike.

After trading rides and doing that for a very short stretch of trail, we were both certain that our own bike was the bike we preferred to be on.

Ride Report: Chino Hills State Park, Earthquake Epicenter

The sign to Rolling M Ranch was obscured by weeds. A foreshadowing of the actual trail

3 of us woke up early on Saturday morning to ride some trails that I was unfamiliar with at Chino Hills State Park. CHSP stretches east to west from the City of Chino Hills to Brea. I ride in from the Brea side and seldomly ever tackle the Chino Hills side. By the way, if “Chino Hills” sounds familiar, it’s because the earthquake the struck California last week had its epicenter in Chino Hills. Banking on the fact that major earthquakes seldom hit the same location twice, we hit the new to me trail.

The funny thing about riding a new, to me, trail is that I am always more tired than I should be. I don’t know if its the unfamiliarity of the trail but I always seem to do much better the second time on the same trail. For example the first time I rode the Fullerton Loop, I was about ready to puke at about 4 mile. It was so bad that I seriously contemplated making the “call of shame” home to my wife to have her pick me up. The 2nd time, on the same trail though, I did much better. I was able to get through the whole ride without contemplating the call of shame.

This past Saturday’s ride had a little of the “more tired than I should be” in it. After a couple of climbs, I felt like I was really pushing myself and I felt that we had covered a lot more distance than we actually had covered. When my buddy Randall mentioned that we had only covered three miles I just about gasped. Just 3 miles? I thought for sure we had done up near 15 or 17 miles or so, but after Randall rechecked his bike computer he confirmed that yup, it was only three miles. Ugh.

Even though it was only a little past 8, the sun was already blazing.

The rest of the ride was relatively uneventful. We saw a downed tree on the trail that might have been caused by the earthquake. We picked some WAY overgrown singletrack to plow through. At times, I could not see more than 10 feet in front of me. For the pictures below, I I rode ahead about 25 feet stopped to take pictures and couldn’t locate my buddies behind me. They were totally obscured by the overgrowth. Fun times indeed.

There is some singletrack down there somewhere.

Still searching for the singletrack

No worries, though. We all made it out performing multiple tick checks along the way to make sure none of those critters burrowed into our skin. ick. We’ll be back to this side of CHSP but hopefully after some trail work has been down to cut back the overgrowth.

Quick break for a tick check then back to the trail

Towing the Kids

This past weekend’s ride found a small group of us, Ryan, Khoa, Ivan, me and my boys, at Chino Hills State Park for a slow & easy ride. Slow and easy because I was bringing my boys along in a trailer.

Ryan & I cruising on the slow/easy ride

This was the first time I’ve taken my boys on the trail via trailer. Actually its the first time they’ve ever been “mountain” biking with me. During the breaks, the older one especially liked getting out and looking at the mountains (more like hills). He also enjoyed finding sticks and shoving them down animal holes. This was carefully supervised by Ivan lest a pissed off snake emerged ready to strike. My younger son was interested in shoving stuff in his mouth and copying his older brother. Yeah, he’s still at that stage.

Ivan teaching the kids about teamwork

The boys half liked and half didn’t like riding in the trailer. It didn’t help that the trail was a bit sandy and dusty. Also, the return part of the out-and-back trail can get rather fast. And the faster we went, the more bumpy it got. After a few protests, I learned that I wouldn’t be able to rail the trail back. For their sake, I’d have to slow things down and take everything at a more moderate pace. Thankfully the boys made it out in one piece or the wifey would not have liked it one bit.

Did I mention I rode to the trailhead? 4 miles each way… some climbing both ways. Khoa, being lazy, drove his truck.


That was my warning to my fellow riders for Saturday morning’s ride. We decided to hit up Chino Hills State Park (CHSP) for a good workout ride. Lance, Priscilla, Ivan & I, a more XC oriented group of riders (actually Lance is pretty versatile able to ride XC & even throw in some jumping and fast descending), met up for some fireroad climbing and at the end all of us had run out of water. Is that a sign of a good workout or what? Yeah, don’t answer that.

CHSP, as I’ve written about before, is not the best ride to get in great singletrack or wickedly fun descents. The trails I chose ended up being about 16 miles starting from the car. About 1.5 miles from car to trail for a total of 3 miles, 11ish miles of fireroad, 0.5 mile singletrack descent and 1 mile of singletrack climbing. Does that add up to 16?

The great thing about the ride is that it starts off with a brutal climb that took us a little over one hour. Thankfully it’s not all climbing, but I’d say about 85% of this 5 mile portion was climbing. This excellent workout was a great intro to the beauties of CHSP. The really cool part of this was that the four of us only stopped to regroup once! One hour of climbing and we really weren’t more than a few minutes apart from each other.

The next section was a fun 1 mile singletrack climb to the opposite ridge. I’ve always done this section as a climb and never a descent. As a climb it’s great, but I’m thinking one of these days, I’m going to turn the loop around and try this section as a descent.

After getting to South Ridge, we took the fireroad back to the entrance of the park. Although this part is all fireroad it does get some fun points due to the fact that you can ride pretty fast through here. The one nasty hill used to get me and I’d have to walk, but now I can get through it without dismounting.

After 2.5 hours of riding our ride definitely lived up to its warning: “A lot of climbing�.