Ride Report: Hummingbird Trail, DH in the Valley

Saturday group rides have been a staple to my schedule for quite sometime. My group of friends typically frequent the various Orange County trails… however from time to time, we’ll explore other Counties.

This past Saturday we ventured to Simi Valley (just past the Los Angeles area) to a trail called Hummingbird. From Orange County, it’s a good 1.5 hour drive… a bit far but definitely worth the downhill that was in store for us. For sometime I’ve heard how fun Hummingbird is… it didn’t disappoint!

Early start, 6:00am truck and bikes read to roll

Our group met at the end of Hummingbird trail. There were about five other cars that met us there. From here we left one car, then doubled back to Rocky Peak (previous freeway exit) where we can catch the trailhead for Hummingbird. Getting there was a challenge on big bikes… needless to say, there were a lot of hike-a-bikes. A few of the guys that were on lighter bikes were able to pedal up.

At the top of Hummingbird Trail

Below is a video of our first run. From the start until the end it was pure descent. There was maybe one short pedaling section but if you carried enough speed, it’ll carry you to the top. Hummingbird reminded me of Sedona, AZ but without the red dirt. There were tons of unique rock formations, several of which were on the trail and you had to maneuver through.

A truck load of bikes!

Our second run was down another trail just before Hummingbird. It’ll remain nameless as it seemed to be a “secret” trail. I wouldn’t want to ruin it for the locals. Just to give you an idea – it’s filled with jumps, step-ups, drop-offs, plus more… If you like all of these and have excellent handling skills, this trail is for you. Unfortunately none of the guys were familiar with this trail and our ride did not flow as we were trying to get around the tougher parts. But for sure this trail rocks!

Myles looking down the trail… pretty steep

Exiting out of the tunnel

Hummingbird was a blast! Looking forward to the next trip to the Valley!

Whose Afraid of the Big Bad New Trail?

Afraid of the new trail?

I noticed it the first time I did a shuttle ride. Normally I’m all about the XC trails: flowy, some tech, uphills, downhills, singletrack for miles. But the shuttle ride was decidedly not XC. It was definitely more AM-ish so much so that when the shuttle driver picked us up he commented on my bravery for going out there with a hardtail (80mm). Out of the 15 or other bikes on the trailer only two bikes were not full suspension. Mine and my friend W. But W is crazy and a freak of nature. He told me afterward that he he’d like to do it again on his rigid SS.

On the shuttle ride up the mountain I had to allay my fears of riding this trail. I couldn’t believe that I was nervous about what I had gotten myself into. In the end it turned out to be fine. I ate it a couple of times but it wasn’t because the trail was too much. I was ether being too lazy and not getting back or not attacking stuff with vigor. It turns out that I really liked the trail and can’t wait to get back out there.

Not knowing whats around the next corner adds to the fun of the new trail

Most people like to ride familiar trails. They know where the difficult parts of the trail are: the lung busting climbs or the technical descents, the rock gardens, the sudden blind corners that lead to a steep staircase… The familiarity of the trail makes the rider feel a sort of security blanket attachment to the trail. I would also venture to guess that most people also like to ride new trails as well. You don’t get into mountain biking without a sense of adventure, right.

But there are riders who are afraid of the big bad new trail. These riders are terrified of how long and/or steep the climbs could be. They get nightmares when they realize they have to go down that descent. They get so worked up mentally that they end up defeating themselves before they even begin the ride often to the point where they just don’t enjoy themselves out there.

Since you’re already out there, take in the unfamiliar scenery

Just to clarify: there is nothing inherently wrong with being afraid of new trails. But I know you didn’t get into mountain biking because you wanted to tell everyone that you’re the numero uno rider of the city bike path did you?

Time for a bit of self diagnoses: Are you afraid of the big bad new trail? When was the last time you hit up a new trail? Did you make it through the whole thing or did you have to ditch partway through because it was too much (insert: climbing, descending, steepness, exposure, dirt, flowers, pretty landscape) __________?

If your answers are not satisfactory to you read the solutions.

Solution: Man up, buddy. If you’re a newb and you’re reading this you get a pass but not for long. If you’ve been riding for a while and it’s always the same old, same old… I’m calling you out: it’s time to wean yourself from your blanky and hit some new trails.

Another suggestion is to get some friends who are at your level or slightly better than you and ride with them. When you’re riding with better riders you almost always get better. You also have the added benefit of someone to help you out with tricky terrain.

Don’t be afraid to walk. Walking sucks, falling sucks more, breaking something while falling sucks the most

Don’t be afraid to walk. Just because I’m suggesting you ride new trails doesn’t mean you have to go balls out on stuff that’s way over your ability level. Use common sense and walk stuff that is just too hairy. Yes, walking the bike sucks but getting injured sucks even more.

Embrace the walk. You’re not going to conquer everything out there like you do with your familiar trails

Tagging along with “don’t be afraid to walk”, Embrace the walk. There are going to be places out there where you have to walk. It might not be on every new trail but as you ride new stuff, you’ll realize you’re going to have to walk it at some point in time. I say “Embrace the walk”. Hating the walk only dampens the mood. Enjoy the walk, take pictures, take in the new scenery, remind yourself that at least you’re not seeing the same things you saw on the same trail you rode last week and the month before that and the years preceding that.

By the way, we’re riding a trail that is new to almost all of us. We’ll be there this Saturday morning, Feb. 28. Click here if you’re in the area and would like to join us.

Ride Report: Best Trail I’ve Ever Ridden?

The moon was still out. After the shuttle, we rode a short fireroad climb to the drop in for the singletrack

While most of the mtnbikeriders.com crew was doing some pre-riding of the Fontana race course, a few of us decided to head out to the San Gabriel mountains for some wicked good riding. Even though I don’t know the name of the trail I rode I’m still going to put this trail up there as maybe the best trail I’ve ever ridden.

As seen by the bike trailer, the shuttle van was PACKED.

The morning started ridiculously early at 4am. After a long drive, we finally arrived at our destination and proceeded to shuttle to the top of the mountain. The shuttle to the top was a quick half hour affair handled quite ably by our experienced driver. We probably pushed off at around 7am. After a short fireroad climb we dropped into a ton of singletrack that went on and on.

Tim “Scissors” and his Trek at the ruins. Although not the midway point, the ruins did break up the ride into a top “half” and bottom “half”

The singletrack was an absolute blast. The trails we rode were broken into two sections in my mind: a top half and a bottom half. The top half was a bit more sketchy, loose with more rocks than the bottom half. I was beginning to understand why everybody else on the shuttle had full suspension bikes with at least 5+ inches of travel. I was on my Redline 29er hardtail and was getting a little beat up, as expected. It also didn’t help that I ate it twice… the bike is ok as am I, thank you for asking. 🙂

Posing at the ruins. Wayland, Jeremy & Tim Scissors

Although the top half was a bit more hairy it is definitely something I want to get better and faster at. I got a flat at the beginning of the ride and as I was swapping out the tube, I got to see some of the downhill bike guys speed by. They were carrying a LOT more speed than I was down the trail which was very cool to watch and aspire to. Wayland, being the nut that he is, kept saying that he wanted to do this on his rigid SS. Love the guy, but he is definitely certifiable.

Tim, coming to a halt as we regrouped during the sweet singletrack. Lots of tree coverage here which is something I don’t see a lot of on some of the trails I ride in Orange County.

The bottom section which included Millard & El Prieto (among others), were also fun, but in a different way. The bottom half was less technical but much more flowing with lots of switchbacks and even a stream or two to cross. There were some stretches where we were doing some fireroad climbs exposed to the sun, but even these were balanced by the amazing views the climbs gave us… provided you weren’t too tired sucking wind to look at anything beyond your front tire.

Wayland waiting for us. Our original ride leader, Calvin, wasn’t able to make it to the ride due to some fires so Wayland led the way. He did a great job since we never back tracked once. Thanks W.

The trail did claim some victims, namely me: 2 flats, two falls (one OTB and another slow roll through some sharp rocks) and a pivot screw falling out from my front brake lever should have dampened my enthusiasm for this trail but it didn’t. This is definitely one of the best trails I have ever ridden. Now if only I knew it’s name… Paging Calvin.