Ride Report: GMR Downhill

This past weekend my friends and I headed up to Glendora Mountain Road aka GMR. We would be descending down a trail called Monroe Truck Trail or GMR East. There are several names for this trail but it’s commonly referred to just as “GMR”. I myself have been riding this trail several times the last two weeks, since my friend Perfecto showed it to me. It doesn’t seem to get old… It’s pretty hard to pass up a super fun descent that is SIX miles long.

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Big group gettig ready to hit the trail!

The way this works is we shuttle the riders to the top. We typically leave several cars at the bottom parking lot then drive up to the upper parking lot, next to the trailhead. The drive up is the only downside for this ride. If you easily get car sick / motion sickness, best to prep yourself as you will go up a winding road. GMR is also popular to many other users such as road cyclists, motorcyclists (fast guys who drag their knees on corners) and longboards (skateboards). The road can be busy so be careful. It’s about an 8 mile drive to the top.

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View from the trailhead. Pic by Nel Manimbo

Description of the trail – from the trailhead you will start on a descent. You will encounter a short climb, then the rest is all downhill. There is nothing technical with the trail, just a few exposures on the side of the mountain as you pick up speed. There will be short s-turns, switchbacks, loose rocks in some places, … but most of all FAST sections. If you are familiar with the Luge in Orange County, it’s similar but much longer. Talk about smiles for miles… (*There is an option off this trail for a more challenging downhill which has a real steep section).
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Area where we regroup

This group ride consisted of 21 guys. The plan was to do two runs. The first will be down the trail I described above and the second will be down GMR West, a two mile DH run. I myself haven’t been down GMR West and was looking forward to it. Heading down the mountain, the group split into two – 12 went with me down the route mentioned above and the other 9, Perfecto’s group, turned off at the *steep section. We stopped at the breakpoint to regroup. From here we would typically go down the switchbacks but decided to try a different route. It was supposed to be longer… little did we know what the bottom had in store for us. Water crossing after water crossing!!!
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One of the many water crossings. pic by Nel Manimbo

Just when we thought we were out of it, there would be more… not only that, some sections were impossible to ride through as the shrubs were overgrown. Needless to say we had to hike-a-bike through some of it. When we finally made it out, we regrouped at the exit.
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more water… pic by Nel Manimbo

While waiting for the others to exit we noticed a FD helicopter flying overhead and fairly low. Uh oh… we had a feeling something happened. From here was a short ride to our cars that were left behind at the lower parking lot. When we got there, there were more FD and paramedics. We asked what was going on and all they can tell us is someone got hurt. Not knowing the details, we suspected it was someone from the other group that split off. There were no other mountain bikers on the trail except for us that morning.
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Landing somewhere up in the mountain. pic by Flex Jamboy

We waited at the bottom for awhile waiting for the other group to come down. When they didn’t, six of us went up for another run down the mountain. Reaching the breakpoint we see Perfecto’s group – one less rider, Jay. Apparently there was a mishap and Jay crashed down the mountain. I don’t have the details of his crash but it required him to be airlifted out of the mountain. Perf’s group, now one-less rider, were taking turns bring Jay’s bike down the mountain.
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Securing Jay before the airlift. Pic by Flex Jamboy

My six guys finished the ride by heading down the switchbacks avoiding the previous water adventure. Almost at the bottom, our friend Dexter comes very close to rear ending Alan and had to veer off the trail. Fortunately there was a tree that kept him from going much further to the bottom of the mountain. We pulled him up and he walked away unscathed. Wow what an eventful ride!!!
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Dexter peeping out like an elf…LOL

Jay went home from the hospital the same day. From the pictures and posts on FB, he appears to be ok. Below is a video from our last run… Rescue Dexter is at the end of the clip 🙂

Which side do you crash on the most?

During my practice runs before my DH race, I crashed 2 times in which I landed on my right side. In previous races and practice sessions, I’ve also crashed on my right side. If you look at my impact suit and knee/shin pads, my left side is pretty clean, no gouges or obvious signs of contact with the ground. But if you look at my right side, then you’ll notice scrapes and ugliness from the times I’ve crashed.

I had asked the rest of the DH crew to see if they’ve crashed more on one side than the other.
Here I am crashing on my right side.

Another crash.

One thing we all found in common was that we have crashed more on the side that is opposite of our dominant hand. So for me being a lefty, crashing on my right occurred more. Makes me wonder if our dominant hand plays a role in it? Maybe it has something to do with a person being more coordinated with their dominant side than the other…

How about you, which side you crash on the most?

Mountain Bike Dictionary

Came across this and thought I’d share. The Mountain Bike Dictionary.

After a quick perusal, one of my favorites:

Auger v.: to involuntarily take drill samples of the local geology (usually with your face) during a crash. See face plant. Also see “The Moe” below.

By the way, I vote we never let Moe live this one down… like “Hmmm… I think we need a sample of this back at headquarters… Hey Moe, time to auger!”

Where do you chicken out?

Each rider has their limits on what they can do. When you come across a certain portion of the trail do you dismount because its too scary, technical or perhaps you dropped your cajones further back on the trail to execute the task?

Do you steer away from rock gardens?

Log crossings?

Jumps…

What ever it may be…what do you hesitate on or avoid completely? Personally I’m not much of a jumper, I can handle them but I don’t go out and look for some dirt jumps to practice on.

Review: Ay Up Lights MTB Kit

Who:
Ay Up Lighting was born over two years ago and has developed into a world beater. We supply the lightest and coolest looking lights on the planet. No corner has been cut to provide a safe, reliable lighting system to suit the average Joe and the Elite racer. With weight, functionality, long burn, light output and low cost at the top of the design spec it took many months to evolve into what we have today. It will not stop there. We will continue to evolve the system for ever more. With a lifetime of engineering design, manufacture and systems experience behind us Ay Up Lighting can only get better. Our light has been designed to be a multi purpose unit.

Product Tested:
Ay Up MTB Kit


Ay Up lights: Pink has intermediate beam, Yellow has narrow beam

Website’s MSRP:
$ 465

Specs:
Twin light and helmet mount
Light neoprene storage belt pouch
Twin light and handlebar mount
Light neoprene storage belt pouch
One spare handlebar mount
Four spare light mounting bands
One 6hr on / off switched battery complete with neoprene mount anywhere pouch
One neoprene 6hr battery attachment strap, prevents movement
Two 3hr on / off switched batteries complete with neoprene mount anywhere pouches
One 110V – 240V Adaptor in neoprene pouch, to suit dual channel charger
One 12 Volt Dual Channel Lithium Polymer Charger – charge two batteries at once
One 12 Volt Adaptor (Cigarette Lighter Plug)
One extension cable 1200mm long, enables battery to be placed in backpack or pocket
One roll up pouch, all items fit snugly inside
One handlebar rubber packer kit to suit Diameters 25mm & 32mm bars
Handful of Ubeaut cable ties
Optional extra’s are –
Both sized batteries
Additional charger & accessories
Additional mounts


The whole MTB Kit

About Me:
6’1” 210lbs, 28 year old male. I’m a mountain biking enthusiast who enjoys XC riding.

Testing Grounds:
Local trails & streets of Southern California

First Impressions:
Small and a bit overwhelming. My first thoughts was: Would these lights be powerful enough to light up the trail? The lights themselves were small and they wouldn’t be putting out a lot of light power, 300 lumens to be exact. To give you some perspective of really how small these lights are, below is a picture of one of the lights next to my Motorola Razr, a universally recognized phone if there is one. The Ay Up light’s length about the width of my Razr!


Length of light about the same width as my Razr

I was a bit overwhelmed with the number of pieces involved in this MTB Kit. There are easily 30+ pieces including zip ties, spare mounts, chargers and various other pieces. Sorting them all out took some patience comparing pictures from the internet to what was being provided. But once I figured it all out, the assembly was a snap.

Strengths:
The first thing I have to start with is size & weight. The Ay Up lights are small. As I mentioned before, the length of the Cree light set is about the same width of my Razr. The width of the lights is slightly wider than my stem’s width. This is a small light system. The 3-hour battery is not much bigger. The battery fits comfortably on my stem with room to spare. Having a short wire between the battery and the light is also nice because it means that there is less chance of entanglement (from stem to handlebar) or getting ripped off by a tree branch (when mounted on the helmet).


Out on a group ride with the Ay Up lights

I mostly rode with the 2 x 3-hour batteries. One went on my helmet connected to the narrow beamed lights and the other 3-hour battery went on my stem connected to the wide beamed lights which went on my handlebar. Ay Up claims that the battery plus the lightest come in at about 130 grams (light – 60grams & battery – 70grams). And although this is a significant weight, it doesn’t feel like much once you get used to it. In fact, I normally just mount the light & battery to my helmet at the trailhead even if I know I might not have to use it until an hour or so into the ride. I found that the weight seems to disappear after a few minutes and never bothered me. You also have the option of running the extension cable from the light on your helmet to a back pocket if you don’t like the battery on your helmet.

I found the lights to be very tough and the finish to be excellent. I’ve done everybody a favor here and crashed hard with the Ay Up lights. When I got up from my crash I was expecting to see some damage to the lights. Afterall, the bike got a few nicks, even on the handlebar. To my surprise, the lights were shining as brightly as ever. There was not one scratch on the shell or the lens of the light. I was pleasantly surprised.


Not turned on, but already mounted to my helmet, the Ay Up lights are that lightweight

I’ve also been pretty harsh with these lights. I toss them in my bike stuff bucket after I’m done riding, taking only the batteries out for recharging. I keep a variety of bike stuff in my bike stuff bucket including a shock pump and an aluminum hand pump. My bike stuff has been rattling around with the Ay Up lights for the last three months and the Ay Up lights still look brand new, or in ebay terminology: mint condition.


Mounted via zip ties. Very simple design, and easy to fix if anything ever happened

The Ay Up lights are powerful. I never desired more light output from these lights. I’ve cruised up to 25+ mph on the trail and well over 30+ on the street with these lights and I never wished for more reach. The light is plentiful, clean and clear. In fact on just about every ride I went on someone complimented the Ay Up lights. Even when I was on a solo ride, I passed two riders who went gaga over them commenting on how the light output of the Ay Up lights was drowning out their own set of lights as I overtook them on the trail.

I’m impressed with the neoprene sleeves for the different batteries. The battery always stayed in the battery sleeve as this made them quick and easy to mount. They battery sleeves are soft, durable and the velcro is easy to use. The battery sleeve also has a loop on the back for a velcro strap to mount to your bike’s stem. I see the battery neoprene case lasting a long time.


Neoprene sleeve holds the battery and the wide velcro strap keeps it in place on the stem

The lights can be adjusted separately. Each light is able to rotate 270 degrees for more beam coverage of the trail or pointed along the same angle for more power. I personally went with the latter as I found the beam coverage to be more than adequate. But if you prefer more beam coverage, the benefit of the two lights is that you can point one just in front of your front tire and the second light can be pointed further down the trail spreading your beam out.

Weakness:
I am a bit underwhelmed by the neoprene packaging for the whole light system. The neoprene sleeves for the batteries are great, as I mentioned above, but my thoughts on the neoprene packaging for the whole light kit differ vastly. The neoprene packaging that you “store” the whole light kit is difficult to use. It is especially difficult if you do not remember where everything goes. I could not, for the life of me, repackage everything back together so that it looked as nice and clean as it did the first time I received the lights. After a while I ended up just storing everything in an empty shoe box.

I also didn’t particularly like the handlebar rubber packer. This is the protective sticky rubber strap that sticks to your handlebar so you can mount the handlebar mount. The handlebar rubber packer left a bit of residue and began moving around underneath the handlebar mount. After a while, I removed the handlebar rubber packer and took cut a piece of tire tube and zip-tied the tube to my handlebars. I then mounted the handlebar mount and this worked perfectly for the rest of the testing period.


Handlebar Rubber Packer replaced with a tire tube zip-tied to the handlebar

Summary:
The Ay Up lights are an exceptional piece of equipment. They are light enough for the pro racer while also simple enough for the novice mountain biker to use. If you’re looking for an excellent blend of weight, simplicity, durability, beam output and price, then look no further than the Ay Up lights. They’ll be the ones for you.

For more info on the Ay Up MTB Kit, click here.

Crashing – All part of mountain biking

As you recall on Father’s Day weekend, I took my friend Val Macatangay for a ride at our local trail – Coal Canyon.

Since then, he’s been frequenting this trail.  Almost on a daily basis, Val hits the trail at 6 am – rides from his house and climbs a little further than the last.  Little by little, he is getting better.  He recently told me that he is getting acclimated to what the trail has to offer.  He enjoys the workout of the climb and looks forward to the reward of the descent…

Several days ago, Val headed up Coal Canyon.  On his way back down, he was going pretty fast.  On a fireroad descent, you can easily let things fly.  As he neared the bottom, he overshot a left-hand turn.  Panicked, unable to unclip and the fear of going over the side – he laid his bike down.  He stopped his momentum with the left side of his body, including his face…OUCH!  Unable to ride his bike all the way back to his house, Val had his wife pick him up at the trail head.

The Damage:

  • Road rash – left cheek (face not the backside J)
  • Road rash – left leg
  • Tweaked rear wheel

                                                         Crashes are common for both beginners and experience riders in our sport.  For Val, he did not let this crash deter him.  He was back at Coal Canyon two days after grinding up the mountain and bombing back down.  Way to go Val!