Maple Springs to Motorway

Up above the clouds. We think the mountain seen on the top left of the picture is Catalina

Wow, what a beautiful Saturday it was above the clouds. As it is many times in Southern California in June, we were experiencing a bit of June gloom. I woke up on Saturday morning and left the house to a very slight drizzle. When I arrived at the trailhead, the drizzle had passed but the clouds were still present. Dan and I readied ourselves in the empty parking lot as we knew this would be a strenuous ride.

Heading into the canyon on the Jet9. This portion of the climb up Maple Springs is on pavement.

This would be my first time doing this route: up Maple Springs, connect to Main Divide then down Motorway back to the car. Frankly, I was a bit concerned but also excited. I wish all rides would have me feeling this way! The proposed route would cover almost 3,800 ft in climbing in a total of 16 miles. Maple Spring would cover 7 miles and steadily climb about 2800 feet. The next 6 miles would be a beautiful undulating ride along the Main Divide. The last 2 miles, Motorway, would be a fast singletrack fest back to the car.

Maple Springs was not too bad. Yes, there was a lot of climbing but we got to Four Corners, the start of the Main Divide portion of the trail, in 1:37 which means we were moving at about 4.3 mph. The climb was 3 miles of asphault and 4 miles of fireroad and not particularly steep at any time. It was really a grind though.

Amazing views along the Main Divide. The trail snaking its way up the mountain is Maple Springs. Its always nice to see where you came from.

The next portion, Main Divide, went longer than I thought. It was not until I got back home and examined my GPS did I realize that the MD was 6 miles long. I thought it was about 4 miles and this led to both Dan and I searching around for the turnoff to Motorway a couple of miles early. What hurt though, was the last two climbs on the Main Divide. After blasting out the first 2800ft on Maple Springs and another 200ft along the rolling Main Divide, the last two miles had two short climbs of about 400ft each. OUCH.

Dan, Airborne Goblin and the Main Divide sign. The green on the Goblin is SHARP. I likey. The pricepoint for the parts is impeccable. It reminds me of 2007 when I bought my X-Caliber for nearly the same price but the Goblin has better brakes and a nicer paint job.

Motorway was a great reward. Mildly technical due to some exposure and kitty litter over hardpacked with some smaller-than-babyhead rocks. Dan & I cruised back to the cars enjoying the flowy fast descent. But our cruise was curtailed by a tear of my new rear Specialized Fastrack Control. Thankfully I didn’t lose control and we were able to boot and tube it.

Almost all the way down Motorway. This part wasn’t even all that. I was really hauling through here when the slice occurred. Somewhere, a rock is grinning mischievously.

Quick update on the Niner Jet 9: The Jet9 did very well on this voyage, its third since being returned. She was waiting on a new cassette which held it out of service for a couple of weeks but I’ve put nearly 50 miles and over 7,000ft climbing in the week she has been back in service. I am really enjoying her 80mm of CVA suspension which has been efficient and comfortable although not as plush as the Voodoo Canzo’s 100mm it replaced. I have not noticed any lack of stiffness as compared to the Canzo, either.

Up next, as part of the agreement with the insurance company, the Jet 9 will be receiving new wheels (current wheels are from another bike) and new lowers on the Fox F29 fork to go from QR to 15mm T/A paid for by me.

Ride Report: San Juan

San Juan Trail… We started at the bottom of the valley

Dan & I headed out to San Juan this past Saturday for some riding. Dan was on his new Niner SIR9. I was on my Voodoo Canzo 29. The ride was cool, but not cold for the most part.

Our version of San Juan on Saturday was a 12 mile out and back. 6 miles up, followed by 6 miles back down. The ride was pretty good but we did encounter a couple of mechanicals issues with my bike that had me tentative on the ride back to the car.

Dan really likes his SIR9. I swung a leg on it and the engagement is sick and the steel is smooooooth

After the first set of switchbacks, I was noticing that whenever I coasted, my rear hub was not spinning very smoothly. After I would coast, I would begin turning the cranks again and I found that I would have to spin the crank almost a full turn before the chain would engage the hub again. Being on the bike and not able to really see whats going on, I first thought that it might be a derailleur issue, then guessed the chain. Little would I know that it was a hub problem.

About a 1/4 mile away from the turn around point, my rear tire burped out all its air. Weird as I had just aired it up to my preferred tire pressure before leaving the car. As I was pulling the wheel off the tire, whaddya know, the hub and the alloy cassette barrel (Hope’s terminology) separated. That doesn’t seem right.

On the right, my cassette on the alloy cassette barrel. The inner most circle is a broken spindle which is supposed to remain with the hub, not come off like this

Dan and I quickly finish tubing the tire and proceed to fit the wheel back in place between the dropouts. Surprisingly, the wheel held all the way back down to the car! In fact, the hub was even coasting in the correct manner, it was quite amazing. I did avoid any jumps and took it easy for the most part though.

The Voodoo got me back down to the car in one piece with a rear hub issue and all

My local bike shop got a chance to look at the hub today and called me to let me know that the axle broke. Hope calls it a spindle. $13 shipped. Not too shabby. I’ll be back on the Voodoo by week’s end.

Ride Report: Limestone Canyon

Looks to me like the Limestone Canyon train. All pictures courtesy of Dan Burdett

Dan & I got to ride another Open Access day this past weekend. This time it was Limestone Canyon. Limestone is also part of the Irvine Ranch Conservatory. It is best known for a beautiful canyon commonly referred to as the Grand Canyon of Orange County.

Front loading the climbs allowed us to take advantage of the marine layer that was starting to lift by this picture

Limestone Canyon was a shade under 12 miles and about 1750 feet in climbing. Most of the climbing is at the beginning of the ride which was nice this day as the marine layer was still around when we started. The marine layer kept things cool during our initial ascent but also made the views non-existent. We were lucky to see 20 yards beyond our front tire. The Voodoo Canzo did great. Since the previous ride report, I did a rear tire swap and removed one of the headset spacers. Still working on dialing in the fit, but its turning out to be a fun bike.

Dan on the singletrack Box Springs Trail

The ride was done at a comfortable pace considering Dan was under the weather and it was just a week ago that I was experiencing incredible quad cramps and two days ago when I got a bad calf cramp on a ride. I can be cramp prone.

Jeremy taking a quick breather before continuing on the singletrack ridge

Highlights included two great sections of singletrack. For the most part, Limestone canyon is a fireroad ride, but the two singletrack sections make up for it. The first section, Box Springs is pretty short, but very tight and fast. The second section of singletrack, name which I forget, is towards the end of the ride and is a singletrack ride along the ridgeline paralleling Santiago Canyon Blvd back to the main drag. This singletrack was wide open and rolling. It had a few short climbs and some fun descents. The best part of the 2nd set of singletrack was the speed with which you could ride it at. I was definitely able to big ring it through certain sections.

Yummy, King snake.

We also got to see the remains of someone’s meal, a half eaten King snake. I came upon this while I was climbing because my front tire almost ran over the remains. Scared the bejeezers out of me. After getting everything under control, I turned around and waited for Dan to get to the snake. A few feet away, we found another piece of the snake, but we never did find the head.

Pretty small snake, with missing head. We found another few inches of it a few feet further along the trail, but still no head.

Lastly, I got a glimpse of an owl. As I was waiting for Dan to come through a small tree covered area, I heard a brand breaking in the trees above me and saw an owl fly away. The distinct flat but round face and light brown coloring was beautiful to behold.

Ride Report: Bommer Canyon

Great views from our Bommer Canyon ride. All pictures courtesy of Dan Burdett

A small group of us (Weyland, Dan, Tim & I) headed out to Bommer Canyon in Irvine for this past Saturday’s Open Access day. In about 3 hours we rode about 16 miles and climbed over 3,000 feet. By the end of the ride, Tim & I were cramping, Dan (who was under the weather) was starting to slow and Weyland looked ready for another 16 miles.

Tim cruising down the singletrack after finishing off the descent from the hill behind him

Bommer Canyon is an open space preserve in the Irvine Ranch Land. Use is limited and reservations are required. In fact, you can only ride Bommer Canyon on open access days or on docent led rides. Yes, we even saw an Irvine Ranch Ranger as we were out riding. The land is an important preservation area for many local plants and wildlife. The open access days and docent led hikes/rides are ways for them to test the impact on the land before, hopefully, opening it up 7 days a week.

Because of the limited access, mountain biking in Bommer Canyon was a treat. Weyland was the only one familiar with Bommer Canyon so he led the way. We started off the route with a grueling climb ascending 600 feet in a little over a mile of singletrack. This comes out to be a 10% grade. The rest of the ride was a serious of rolling fireroad on the ridges and singletrack into the canyons with singletrack/fireroad climbs back out. Thankfully, we ended the ride with a blast down that initial climb.

Tim and a rare other rider

The views were very nice. We got to see some Pacific Ocean, some downtown Irvine and a lot of mansions in the neighboring housing developments. We also found that there were very few people out riding which is also a treat, especially when you’re suffering with cramps!

My replacment, a Voodoo Canzo.

I got to ride a new to me bike, a 2008 Voodoo Canzo. I was able to get a good deal on it through a local mountain biking forum but it does have some issues both cosmetically and functionally. After 16 miles, a couple of quick thoughts on the bike:
– not as efficient as the JET. The four bar suspension necessitated propedal on the climbs for me. This is probably the biggest reason why I like mini-link suspension designs: not having to turn on/off the propedal/lockout/platform. I definitely couldn’t stand and climb without the propedal engaged. However, the Canzo was very comfortable on the downhill although I still need to dial in the fork/shock pressures.
– As much as I like the idea of more travel (currently 120mm) I’m not sure if I have the huevos to justify it. I much prefer to walk sections that are at the edge of my riding ability. Hopefully, with time, I can grow into the fork.
– The first thing I did the day after the ride was swap out the end caps on the hub. It was using a standard QR but I had an extra 9mm DT Swiss Ratchet skewer (the JET’s hub was 9mm only). The 9mm is nearly double the diameter of a normal QR which in turns helps the wheels/fork track better through rough terrain.
– The Canzo felt heavy in the rear. I’m not sure why? Heavier bike (I had been riding a HT for the past month) or longer chainstays (18.3 inches). More time needed to diagnose.
– for the build, the bike came in at 29lbs 4oz. I’m shooting to get it down into the 28 lbs range and leave it there.