40 miles

With three children under 5 years old it has become exponentially more difficult to get out of the house for rides. Over the three day Valentine’s Day/Chinese New Year’s three day weekend, I was able to get out for about 40 miles which is quite a bit for me.

The weekend started when my office closed up a little early in celebration of Chinese New Year… the year of the Tiger, by the way. I was able to get in a short 4 mile ride by running a couple of errands my wife asked me to take care of. That half hour of riding was a little blessing as it was totally unexpected.

On Saturday morning, Dan and I met at 7th Avenue in Hacienda Heights to ride 7th Ave and Turnbull. The route I chose was 15 miles long with 3k feet of climbing. I printed out extensive directions (3 pages) for our ride but 4 miles in, I made a wrong turn and couldn’t back to the correct trail (mental note: keep eyes out for a gps system on the used market). Boo. I promptly started guessing how to get to the next section of singletrack, but to no avail.

After a mile or two of that Dan and I rerouted. We climbed up the wide fireroad leading in from the Whittier side of the trail and hit A-line. We then climbed back up that same fireroad to the colorful water tower and then returned back to the car on my favorite trail of 7th/Turnbull. This section consists of a sweet set of switchbacks under a beautiful canopy of trees. Its fast, flowy and a hoot to ride on. It turned out to be Dan’s favorite section as well. 12.5 miles with well nearly 2500 feet of climbing. Not a bad substitute for the original route.

Me and Dan up at the colorful water tower. Niner AIR9 & Giant Trance.

Sunday was a day of rest.

Monday was a bigger mileage ride. 23 total miles leaving from Mr. Scissor’s house to the Mills Loop and Marshall Canyon for about 2200 feet of climbing. My body was killing me on Monday as it usually is the 2nd day after experiencing cramps on a ride. But since the wife had approved of the ride (on Valentine’s Day no less!) I was there.

Me and Tim. Beautiful day of late afternoon riding with the setting sun and snow capped mountains in the background. Tim is rolling on the Trek Fuel EX

This ride lasted about 3 hours with a few much needed stops in between. Dan and I were pretty gassed for much of the ride but it was still a blast to hit Mills and Marshall Canyon especially since we were able to get up to the mid-30’s mph when coming back down Mills. The ride back to the house was an exercise in warding off cramps as we were at the three hour mark.

You can’t see it in either of the pictures but I am riding the Prologo Vertigo Nack. I find the saddle to be pretty comfortable, similar to the Rocket V in padding, and durable. A few days after Monday’s ride I got a chance to clean the bike and the Nack was still in pristine condition after over 100 miles of riding. I will keep you posted.

All pictures from Dan the Man

Big Ring It!

Lightly tensioned chain causes major chain slap noise

Are you experiencing chain slap on those downhill sections or sections of trail that you are not having to pedal? Doesn’t that sound get annoying to you after a while?

If you are experiencing a lot of chain slap, try moving your chain into the big ring up front. When you big ring it, you are essentially taking up more slack in the chain. By taking up some of that slack in the chain you reduce the amount of vertical movement of the chain which thereby reduces the amount of chain slap you hear.

Shift the chain to the big ring to reduce chain slap.

Just be careful when the terrain changes on you. If you are suddenly confronted with a little hill to climb don’t start dumping gears via the rear cassette. First, move the chain from the big ring to the middle chain ring up front then quickly change gears in the rear. Find the gear you need and pedal up the hill. If you immediately start dumping gears, while panicking that you won’t make it up the hill, you may reach the bottom of your cassette before you even know it and now you are cross-chaining! Ask me how I know this. 🙂

Of course, the best approach would be to plan ahead. If you see the trail heading upwards, start shifting before you reach the hill and get down into the gear you need so that you can attack the hill accordingly. Then, when it flattens out or points down again, big ring it!

Awww… Music to my ears, or is that the sound of silence?

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.

Sea Otter 2009: Turner Sultan Quick Ride Review

The 2009 Turner Sultan

The longest but least technical ride of the weekend sadly belonged to the Turner Sultan. The “least technical” part was not by choice. Scissors and I started out thinking it would be great to get in a longer ride on Saturday morning before the crowds showed up. After looking around we saw a 10 mile tour ride. Sadly the “tour” part meant all fireroad. It ended up being about 4+ miles of fast downhill fireroad proceeded by a long, tough 5+ mile climb. We were able to, in the end, ride some fun singletrack, but that was short lived as we hit the pavement after less than a mile of singletrack and went back to the Sea Otter exhibition area.

The DW Link is new for the 2009 model year on the Sultan and, correct me if I’m wrong, all Turner bikes

My first thought on the Sultan was: 4.7 inches of travel on a 29er is going to be total overkill for my riding style. I was very concerned about the extra travel robbing me of the pedaling efficiency I experience with hardtails and 3″ full suspension 29ers. Pedaling efficiency was and is key for me because even though I’m more of a XC oriented rider, I’m still a clyde and pedal bob wreaks havoc on my mind.

The Sultan, though, blew me away when it came to climbing. It was extremely efficient even without having to “lock out” or turn on the propedal feature of the shock. I distinctly remember commenting to myself that even though I’m not a fan of long sustained climbs the Sultan’s efficiency made it sort of OK. The 50% more travel than I’m used to (from 3″ to 4.7″) wasn’t noticeable at all when climbing. I expected some bounce and for the shock to be using some travel, but nothing.

The Off Road 10 mile Tour’s saving grace was a rest stop at the bottom of the descent. Cookies, drinks, made to order sandwiches and a bike mechanic, all for free! You rock, Sea Otter!

On the wide fireroad downhill, the Sultan did great. I mean really, what bike would not have done well in that situation? Poor trail choice by the rider. The singletrack we finally did get to do was new to me but I did get a chance to open things up just a smidge when the coast was clear and I could see ahead down the singletrack a bit. The Turner Sultan did really well in those situations but even then the zip tie showed I wasn’t using all of the travel. I really wish I had some more time on more technical trails to get a good feel for this bike.

Sea Otter 2009: Specialized Epic 29er Quick Ride Review

Specialized Epic 29, waiting to be ridden

I got a chance to swing a leg over the new Specialized Epic 29er at Sea Otter. Nic of Specialized was great. He spent a good twenty minutes talking about the bike and getting it set up for me. What he did not mention, and what I felt immediately and confirmed later, was that the bike was a size too small for me. I found out later that they had run out of my size.

Specialized’s own shock of course.

The Epic 29 is a full suspension horst link frame that uses the 2009 Reba with a customized Specialized crown and steerer tube. The crown and steerer tube changes make the Reba stiffer, but lighter, a great combination indeed.

Tapered headtube, with an internal headset to keep things down up front

Taking the Epic out on the test loop I immediately noticed it’s racy roots. The Epic 29 was fast bike with good handling. There were a couple of times when the handling may have been a bit too fast for me or I was just not used to it yet, and the smallest movement had me straying off the singletrack. Thankfully the brakes brought me back under control before I hurt myself and I was able to quickly get back on the trail without any issues.

I was also impressed with the out of saddle climbing as I was uanble to feel or see any pedal bob. There were short stretches of trail where I got out of saddle and hammered things out and the Brain did its job and limited bob. When I got a chance to open up the bike and speed along, the shock and Brain did their jobs in taking out some of the terrain’s edges.

In the short time I was on the Epic 29, I could definitely tell it was a race worthy 29er bike. It felt efficient when climbing and yet descended well on the non-technical open trail.

Sea Otter 2009: Specialized S-Works Carbon HT 29er Quick Ride Review

Tim “Scissors” was able to get some ride time on the new S-Works Carbon 29er HT from Specialized. Here are his thoughts from the short loop we rode:

So here I am on an all new Specialized S-Works Hard tail 29er made from the fiber of the gods, heading to the trail head with Gary Fisher. Why would Gary Fisher be riding with little ol’ me you say? Well, we just happen to be riding at the same time and at the same place at the land of the Dirt Otter. Gary on his, well you know, and me on the badest Specy Hardtail ever made. Yup, that’s right, the not yet released frame rid’n on the not yet released Roval 29er wheel set.

Specialized S-Works Carbon HT 29 with singletrack ready to be ridden

One of my 2 current rides is a 29er hardtail that was geared and is now single speed. This demo is perfect for me since I rode my On-One Scandal geared for a lot longer than it has been a S.S. My Scandal is made from Scandium tubing and the Specy from carbon so an immediate difference in ride characteristics should be noticeable. The Specy was also outfitted with their Fast Track tires in size 29 x 2.0 set up tubeless and mounted on the new Roval 29er wheelset with straight lacing on one side and 2-cross lacing on the brake side. The front fork was a Rock Shox with custom Specialized carbon crown and steer tube. The crank set was a Specy unit with integrated BB; head tube was a 1.5” to 1 1/8”tapered variety, this all made for a very stiff frame laterally.

Integrated BB for stiffness and Specialized’s carbon cranks

Nic, global sales manager for Specialized, took care to make sure I was sized right on the bike adjusting the seat post height and fork air pressure. With everything dialed in, I hit the trail with Jer. We met up with Gary Fisher and Laura and proceeded to ride about 5/6 miles of almost all single track. First thing I notice of course was how compliant the frame is. It absorbed all the little nuances in the trail but remained laterally stiff at all times. This is definitely not a soft tail but this frame rode very well indeed. The bike was very predictable at speed and on rough trails as long as you were smart about how you rode it; ride it smartly and it rewards you with excellent acceleration, predictable handling and a compliant ride that won’t beat you up.

Roval 29er wheels, straight laced on one side, 2-cross on the other

This bike was set up tubeless with the fast rolling Fast Track tires. We got to take home some Fast Traks which will get a full test in the future. I typically prefer a little wider tire than the 2.0’s but I got to say, these tires got the job done without scaring me and the bike went every where I pointed it but remember you have to ride it smartly.

We came to a short but very steep climb. At this point, I was determined to ride it as a S.S. and just see how well it would perform. With Gary Fisher in front of me, I rose out of the saddle and started to hammer. Passing Laura, I continued up the hill where I finally caught Gary at the top resting. I made a comment to him about the bike weighing about 20 lbs and he says “ let me see”, he dismounts his ride and proceeds to pick the Specy up with both hands and says “it weighs a little over 20 lbs”. I guess this comes from years of picking up bikes by hand to determine the weight. Later that on the same ride, while riding next to each other, he looks over at me on the Specy and says “nice bike” with which I return, “ you wanna ride it” he says “no”. I’m not sure why he didn’t want to ride it but, I agree with him, this was a very nice bike indeed!

Singletrack… Sycamore Canyon

Earlier this week, I headed out to Sycamore Canyon in Riverside, CA. Through the years I’ve heard so many great things about this place. With my trusty Garmin 305, I downloaded the route off www.geoladders.com.  Below is the link for those that are interested:


IMG_2319 by you.Singletrack in the back ground.

Sycamore Cyn has a variety of challenges through the network of trails which consists of long climbs, descents, rocks gardens, drops, stunts but most of all – endless SINGLETRACK!

IMG_2310 by you.Network of trails…

On this ride I completed 16 miles, 80% of it were single/double track. Below is a helmet cam video of some segments of the trail.


The First Annual, Quarterly Lift Assisted Ride Report, Part III

The bikes: ready to rock the SART… or is it ready to be rocked by the SART? We soon find out.

We jokingly considered buying lift tickets again for Sunday morning’s ride, but riding some of the best singletrack in So. Cal. was too tempting. After cleaning up the cabin and packing our stuff, we set off to visit the local bike shops in town… for umm… research. Then off to the trail.

Our trusty steed all loaded up waiting at the Visitor Info center

The Santa Ana River Trail is somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 miles of trail, the vast majority of it being singletrack. Because of time, fatigue and lack of knowledge of the trail, we decided to ride just about 8 miles of it. Since the trail is really best done as a shuttle, and us with only one car, we had to ride a little over 4 miles of fireroad to get to the trailhead. 4 miles of fireroad with a return of almost 8 miles of singletrack is a deal I’ll take everytime.

Yes, a flowing river in the middle of summer in So. Cal. No cement side walls either

We parked at Angeles Oaks off of Glass and Hwy 38 then rode 4 miles to the South Fork campground. I never really thought about it before but SART actually parallels the Santa Ana River. The 4 mile fireroad also paralleled the Santa Ana River even crossing over it a few times. The gradually ascending fireroad was a relatively easy ride if we hadn’t juiced our legs the day before. But, we grunted it out and quickly got to the SART trailhead.

Tim & Jeremy riding the fireroad for four miles

WOW. It’s not often when something actually lives up to its billing, but the SART definitely did. Singletrack for 8 continuous miles, probably the longest stretch of uninterrupted singletrack I’ve ever done. SART, though, isn’t for the faint of heart though. During the 8 miles, we probably had some sort of exposure for at least 1/3rd of it. Exposure is both good and bad in that it makes the ride more technical, but has its dangerous aspect if we fell. It’s also great for getting some sweet vistas of the river and valley. Some of the exposure was VERY umm… exposed, like someone made the singletrack half as wide as normal and there was a sharp dropoff that left absolutely no room for error.

Eroding singletrack. Time to dab or walk… not time to do something stupid

Other times, the singletrack would drift away from the side of the mountain and we would find ourselves in a beautiful meadow dotted with trees. During these instances, we would open up the throttle and hammer along until we got into more exposed singletrack that required a bit more technical acumen and bike handling accuracy. Add in a few short climbs with baby head sized rocks thrown in for fun, some short descents going in and out of the forest, lots of blind turns and you basically had the 8 miles we rode. At the point where we turned off the trail I think all three of us stared longingly at more singletrack. This is definitely a trail we are going to hit up some more.

Khoa comes into the clearing

Part IV, some lessons learned and miscellaneous pictures that weren’t on the other posts.

Ride Report: Turnbull Canyon – Guest Appearance

All of us lucky enough to go out and ride Turnbull Canyon on Saturday got to see one of the most elusive, stealthy animals on the planet… The Moe. The Moe is very similar to the mysterious cougar who prowls the bars of Orange County searching for the unsuspecting young buck. Wait, wait, wait… I’m thinking of the wrong cougar.

No, the mysterious cougar that The Moe resembles is the feline that is seldom viewed by the public. More often the mysterious cougar has probably seen a mountain biker 10 times before the mountain biker has seen the cougar once. The Moe, via the power of the internet probably has the same 10:1 ratio or seeing mountain bikers to being seen by mountain bikers.

Anyway, enough about The Moe and onto the Turnbull Canyon ride report! Turnbull Canyon claimed its first victim when, not even half-a-mile onto the trail, our friend Ryan got his chain stuck between the bottom bracket and the crankset. A twisted chain link later and Ryan was cruising back to his car. This was a great downer for all of us and the depressed mood pervaded the band of bikers for the next few miles or was that depressed mood more a result of the nasty climb? Either way, we were all bummed for Ryan.

Turnbull Canyon has lots of fun parts to it. We decided to take the 2 mile fireroad climb in. Yes, it is actually fun. We followed this by switchbacks going down and then switchbacks coming up. We capped off the great ride with a sweet singletrack descent that dropped us off on the streets below our car. I’m not much of a roadie but the last singeltrack, with its exposure, is worth having to grind out a half-mile road climb back to the car.

All in all, about 1500 feet of climbing in an 8 mile double loop. Lots of fun. Hopefully, we’ll have Ryan riding with us again soon. And for your viewing pleasure, never before published video of The Moe. The Moe is the biker wearing blue riding the silver bike. He sometimes looks like he is struggling on the trail… that’s because he is.

Turnbull Canyon: Lame Report!

Just Kidding!

We definitely didn’t have Moe and his moves, but we did have a local trail that demands to be explored. This place definitely has a few challenging & fun sections that we could spend a few hours riding over and over again. On top of this, after riding those challenging sections, we were consistently rewarded by grand vistas of either the cities of Whitter or Hacienda Heights and beyond.

There was one particular place that was definitely worthy of attention: a rather fun switchback area aptly named “rattlesnake”, shortly followed by a nice section of flowy singletrack that just begged to be ridden harder and faster. The nice thing about the flowy singletrack section was that even though there was some exposure, the exposure was tempered by a small embankment. That embankment meant that you had to REALLY screw up to go flying off the side of the hill.

This time around I brought just my point and shoot camera. After getting used to a dslr, it is hard to go back to a P & S. The main culprit for having so few pictures for this ride report? The delay between squeezing the button and the firing of the shutter, also known as shutter delay. I kept missing shots. Every picture would be of a bush after my riding buddy had passed by or of an empty trail prior to my friend riding through view of the camera. The other culprit for having so few pictures? Substandard models…umm… I mean we were having too much fun to stop. So, only a couple of staged shots for you all.

This shot was taken after I originally missed them coming around a corner on the flowy singletrack section

Our steeds were resting on the hitching post before the final descent back to the car

I hope everybody got in a good ride this weekend. It’s only going to get hotter here in So. Cal.