A new to me trail

This past Saturday Animal showed up to our ride at Whiting Ranch. He rolls up and tells us he had just finished a lap and was looking to add more miles that morning. One of our other buddies J-Kewl joined us for this ride. By the way, all the photos were courtesy of Lady P and Animal.
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Animal tells us about a section of Whiting Ranch that not many riders dare to climb. In fact while we were there we only saw one other guy on a bike. Check out the this photo that Lady P took of Animal, J-Kewl and yours truly. She was pretty fierce that day and was mashing up all the climbs.
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Here’s one of the look out points that Lady P found. Click on the image to make it bigger.
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Once we got to the top we were greeted with a picnic bench where we could relax and take in the scenery.
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Animal was riding his Airborne Goblin.
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I took a little video of our ride with the GoPro while it was mounted on my handle bar via Trail Rail Mount.

As tough that new trail was, it certainly was rewarding. It’s funny, I’ve ridden Whiting Ranch for years and I never even knew that part was there. I guess it pays off to go exploring once in a while.

My humid weekend…

SoCal was pretty humid this weekend. So much so that when you sweat, it doesn’t dry out so it can cool you down. Nope, all it did was stay on your body and make you more miserable. In fact, it was so humid that in the course of 2 days I must have showered at least 6 times just to keep fresh and cool. This Saturday we gathered some of the troops to go riding at Whiting Ranch over in South Orange County. I loaded up the IBEX Asta and the KHS XC604
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If you’ve ridden Whiting, then you’ll know about the dreaded climb called Mustard…it sucks. I’ve been told that this photo looks like I’m about to throw up…well ya, I was about to. Ugh…But going down the other side of the trail made the climb worth it. A great number of fast switch backs and g-outs made it so much fun.
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You know what else I find fun, matching Lady P’s outfits, yes,I try to match her even when we ride.
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I’m not quite sure what Doc and Dan were looking at…
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Perhaps they were checking out Khoa’s new carbon Rocky Element 70…nice
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Before I end this write up, I must say that IBEX ASTA EXPERT was such a blast to ride. It was very easy to climb with and super responsive during the switchbacks. The suspension soaked up all the bumps and made the whole ride so much fun.
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The No you can’t, Yes I can Ride Report

This past Saturday, we decided to round up a small group of friends to ride a local trail called Whiting Ranch. This trail was closed for a while due to some rain damage and it was obvious that the water did a number on the trail. So much so that the entrance didn’t look familiar at all. In fact, when you start riding, there’s a 150 foot sand pit that no one can get through.

From left to right, Megan, Aleah, RL, Animal,Khoa, Priscilla and Nick. Dan was taking the photo.
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This ride was a great opportunity for Dan and Animal to get used to their new bikes, the Airborne Goblin. These bikes were assembled the night before and it was great to watch the guys put them through the paces. You should have seen the two of them, anytime Animal would do something, Dan would try to do it and vice versa. The whole display of machismo reminds me of that song from Annie Get Your Gun. These guys would ride extra credit parts of the trail at a 100% the whole time and by the time we got to the end, the duo were pretty much tuckered out.

Here’s Dan and Animal near the end of the ride. Dan is showing off is P90x body. Funny how 29er bikes look proportioned to tall/big riders.
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Priscilla, Nick and Megan.
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My daughter, Aleah and I were mashing it on our tandem. I had serviced the fork the night before and I was pretty impressed that it worked great out on the trail. One thing that I’m realizing with our tandem, the brakes suck. I’m on V-brakes and I’m finding that they fade extra fast when we’re going down the hills. So to address that issue, I’m going to have the bike fabricated with a disc brake mount. I’ll have them install an extra gusset to reinforce it too.

Our obligatory post ride group shot after a healthy breakfast at Del Taco.
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Weekend “Wet” Ride Report – Whiting Ranch to the STT/Luge

This is a little bit late but why not… this past Saturday a group of my friends and I met at Whiting Ranch at 7:00am to go on our weekly Saturday ride. The weather in So Cal for the past few days has been fairly wet in the mornings with lingering low clouds until the afternoon. Well Saturday was a little bit more than just lingering clouds – we actually had light rain/drizzle. Needless to say arriving at the parking lot, it was WET.

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Some of the guys contemplating whether they should ride or not.

There were a total of us twelve of us who met at the parking lot. We stood around for about half an hour chatting, hoping that the light rain would pass. No such luck while we were at the parking lot, but we knew it would eventually taper off.

By the time we decided to roll, half of the guys backed out because they thought it would be too muddy (dubbed as Team NO Go) . The other half mounted our bikes and headed into the park. Whiting Ranch is covered with a lot of trees therefore the ground wasn’t muddy at all. As a matter of fact, it was perfect! All of the sandy sections were nice and tacky.

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Bottom of Mustard before our climb.

Reaching the bottom of Mustard Rd, the trail was dry. This was the first segment of our long ascent. At the top of Mustard was Four Corners where we took our first break. This is where we will break off from Whiting Ranch and make our way to Santiago Truck Trail (STT) for more climbing.
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Resting at Four Corners

There was a moment there where a few of us contemplated on continuing to STT. Luckily the rest of the guys convinced us to keep on going. From here we crossed the road and towards another trail. We had steep climbed on the road known as Modjeska Rd, it literally was a grind to the STT trailhead. From here we took a short break and then continued our ascent to the flag.
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At the start of Santiago Truck Trail.

Several miles later we were at the peak of our ride… we made it to the flag where we would start our fun descent down the Luge – what a blast!!! This ride down never fails to disappoint.

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Team GO! … six that braved the little rain we had.

Reaching the bottom we had to make our way back to Whiting. From here it was an easier grind up the road. We hooked back up into Whiting and finished off our ride by hitting the single track out till we exited the park. What a ride! A total of 15 miles of on and off drizzle as we climbed and descended. This turned out to be an epic ride!

Below is a video of our run down the Luge. I have video from Whiting however the video will be too long. Enjoy!

I love long weekends

Most of you may have had a day off in observance of Memorial Day. First and foremost, I’d like to thank our brave men and women who have served, or are currently serving for our country. I personally appreciate all the sacrifice and hard work you all have put in.

Usually when we have a long weekend, we try to pack in some good riding. So on Saturday a group of 6 of us headed out to Aliso Woods in Socal. I love Aliso Woods because this place has some great trails that meets anyone’s needs.

After climbing a trail called Cholla, our little group split up. Priscilla, Dan and Khoa hit up Top of the World and down Meadows. While Doc, Val and I hit up Rockit.
Saturday was really nice. Blue skies and a cool breeze.


Cell phone pic of the view from Meadows. That’s the Pacific! If you look closely, right above the saddle, there’s a guy naked on the top of his roof….psych! Made you look! You’re dirty!

While Priscilla and her group were having fun in Meadows. The boy’s and I were ripping it up on Rockit. We were doing back flips, jumping gaps and riding without our hands on the bars…Unfortunately I didn’t have a camera…bummer, I wanted to really show you all the pics of me doing some gnarly stuff.

On Monday I assembled a group of guys to ride Whiting Ranch to the Luge. Funny thing is, I’ve ridden both trails before, but never connecting them. Everyone kept telling me that the would be much climbing. Oh boy…they weren’t kidding! Our climbs were long and hard (get your mind out of the gutter). We started up Mustard and I have to tell you. This alone is one tough climb. But the Animal kept doing some extra credit portions of the trail just so he could get a good work out in.
Then we headed out to the Luge for some major climbing. I made sure I kept my own pace so I wouldn’t burn my self out too soon and the guys were nice enough to wait for me since I was usually the last person.

I think they call this place Modjeska Grade. It’s a super steep road that we needed to ride on to get to the Luge.

From left to right: Dan, Chuck, Animal, Mark and Khoa. This was also snack time for us. My legs are already toast by this time. But we weren’t even half way done.

There was miles and miles of this.

Pretty view.

Animal was our leader for the day. For a guy who was hung over, he kept a pretty good pace.

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Khoa and yours truly(by the way ladies, Khoa is single and he has his own house! Call him for a date)

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We finally got to the flag pole to rest and load up on snacks. This spot is right before some really nice single track called the Luge.

By the time our ride ended, we logged in about 16 long miles. My legs are gone and I’m sure I’ll be feeling it the next couple of days. But it was a great weekend overall.

Photo credits belong to Dan Burdett, Khoa Nguyen and Boss.

Weekday Ride Report – Whiting Ranch, Anne Hjelle

MtnBikeRiders has been frequenting Whiting Ranch as of late.  Today was just another ride as I showed Val the trails of Whiting Ranch.

 

What made this ride interesting was when we reached Four Corners there was a Ranger truck parked up top without a ranger. After a brief rest, we headed down Cactus.  I was leading the way when I saw the ranger on the singletrack flagging me to slow down.  When I reached his location, I asked him “is everything ok?”.  He responded with “yes they are just filming down there…”

 

Not too far away was a camera crew and a female mountain biker (without her bike).  From my standpoint it looks like they were doing an interview.  After the ranger allowed us to pass, we cautiously rode past the crew.  I see the female mountain biker and recognize her face – it was Anne Hjelle. 

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For those who are not familiar who she is, she was attacked by a 110lbs mountain lion in Whiting Ranch, January 8, 2004.  It happened on the same trail we were on.  Also earlier that day (2004), the same lion killed a man, Mark Reynolds prior to attacking Anne Hjelle.

 

Below is a portion of a CBS News report in 2004:

 

Hjelle recalls, “He pulled and tore away at the flesh on my face. I thought this is it.”Hjelle is a fighter. A former Marine, she fought a battle that even her military training couldn’t prepare her for after she was attacked by a mountain lion in January while biking with her friend, Debby Nichols, in the hills of Southern California.  Nichols bravely held onto Hjelle’s legs as the mountain lion pulled her off the trail and into the thick brush.

Right after the attack in an interview Nichols explained the incident, “I was holding on to her the whole time. He would not let go. He had a hold of her face.”

Hjelle says, “He was going for my neck and his goal, as it would be with any type of prey, was to break my neck and paralyze me.”The pain must have been excruciating.

“I had no pain,” Hjelle says. “I didn’t feel pain at the time. But I felt just the strength of it.”

But Hjelle was terrified and fully aware that the lion had just torn away half her face.”

 

 

This was certainly an experience seeing a survivor of what we fear the most out on the trails.  Anne Hjelle is a brave woman and very fortunate.  After passing them, I stopped just a few feet from them.  I waited for Val to catchup to me then I turned around towards the crew.   They looked at me as if they were going to ask if I needed something.

 

 

I yelled out “Anne?”…

She responded with “Yes”.

I wasn’t quite sure of what to say so I just gave her the “thumbs up”.

 

Other riders that passed the crew also recognized her.  Val and I went on to finish the ride without a hitch.  Val enjoyed his first time at Whiting.  It’s as fun as always but this was a ride I’ll always remember.

 

To read Anne story you can click here or find more information on the web.

Ride Report: Whiting Ranch for a Bday Ride

Tim Scissors & I were able to get out for 2 laps at Whiting Ranch this past Saturday. It was a birthday ride but the birthday boy was a little shy so no pictures of the group.


Tim Scissors salutes the beautiful ride, great weather and fun trail

We’ve written about Whiting Ranch a couple of times on this site. It is a nice set of trails about a 30 minute drive from mtnbikeriders.com headquarters. It’s also a very busy set of trails on the weekend especially if the weather is good.

And boy was the weather good this past weekend. Other than the winds it was absolutely gorgeous out with temps when we started the ride in the upper 50s to the low 70s by the time we were done. The winds were a bit gusty but we weren’t exposed to it. It only hit hard on a fireroad climb up to Four Corners, as if Mustard wasn’t enough!


Full Squish Robinson’s first ride on his Specy

We started off a little later than planned but got into a good groove right away. We were 9 strong and only had one mechanical, truly amazing and it has got to be a record somewhere. The mechanical happened to be an easy fix too: a slow leaker on Full Squish Robinson’s front tire. Some air and we were done.

Whiting starts off with a gradual uphill ride on a trail called Borrego. Not hard climbing, mind you, but just enough uphill to get the blood flowing. Borrego goes for about a mile and half and was in good condition. It had a couple of sand pits but if you’re on a 29er you’ll get through fine.


Test bike, the Kona King Kahuna, made short work of sand pits and baby heads alike

Borrego ends at Mustard which is a short 0.8 miles to Four Corners on an approximately 9% grade. The fun part about Mustard is that it kicks up just a tick the last 15 yards or so. Lots of fun I tell ya.

From there, you can choose a variety of routes including hitting the Luge which adds a 4.5 mile climb before a short bun descent, the Dreaded Hill climb, or a couple of options going downwards. We, of course, pointed our tires downwards and took off on Cactus and a couple of other trails before arriving back at our car for a second lap.


Me, dropping into the Cactus singletrack after a stop at Four Corners.

Two had to bail before our second lap so after bidding adieu, 7 of us took off. The only mishap on the second lap was we lost one of our riders, AV Dan, when we split up at the bottom of Mustard. When we found him he was dying from exhaustion but gamely willing to finish the ride, for the birthday boy. What a trooper, AV Dan.

Overall a good ride. If you’re wondering how the trail conditions in Whiting are, no fear. There are only a couple of sandy areas. The rest of the trail is in good condition and a lot of fun as always.

Ride Report: The Luge

The Luge is finally back open after the fires from 2007. Whiting Ranch, which Joe rode in July the weekend of its Grand Opening, is across the street from the Luge and was also closed for months after the fire as well. I wasn’t able to get out for the initial reopening Luge ride, but a few of us did ride there a couple of weekends later.

The Luge is a great ride if a little short at just under 8 miles. It has a couple of grueling climbs but nothing too long and it ends with a fast singletrack descent from the flagpole.


Donnie, Mark, Tim “Scissors” & me. The Luge starts right behind us and descends along the faint singletrack down the mountain.

Donnie, Mark, Tim & I did something we normally don’t do and shuttled to the beginning of Santiago Truck Trail. This shortened our ride even more by allowing us to skip out on some road riding on Modjeska. Not normally a shuttler, I have definitely found the benefits to this type of riding! By the way, just an fyi, we found out afterwards that parking along the street before the dirt entrance is a big no, no. Some cops were giving out bright orange warnings, not tickets.

The Santiago Truck Trail part of the Luge ride is usually a bit on the boring side. It’s basically a fireroad climb to the flagpole which is the beginning of the “Luge” part of the Luge trail. But this time the STT was different. The trail was the same but the surrounding scenery was burnt making for very interesting views. The best part, though, was seeing how new growth was beginning to push its way through the burnt plants.

The weirdest thing was shooting down the Luge. The luge is fast, singletrack shaped in a sort of small “u” shape… hence the “Luge” name. It was weird riding down the Luge because on my previous trip here, the Redline Mono 9 handlebar got caught on a branch and I went OTB. This time though, the fires made sure that there were no branches to reach out and touch my bar. There were very few bushes at all which although a great relief to me, did take away from the Luge a bit.


The ride up STT didn’t have much vegetation to look at to begin with, but the fires didn’t help with the view either. I’m not complaining though as it’s definitely good to have the Luge back

Since we were strapped for time, the Luge was all we could schedule in for this morning ride. Next time though, with both Whiting Ranch & the Luge open, I’m definitely voting for a 2-fer.

Don’t be stupid

Don’t be stupid and pet mountain lion cubs…

PORTOLA HILLS, Calif. (KABC) — A hiker was injured by a mountain lion after allegedly petting one of three cubs near Portola Hills in Orange County.

It happened when the hiker was out for a walk and came across three mountain lion cubs. Allegedly, even though the man knew the mother mountain lion was nearby, he pet one of the cubs. That’s when the mountain lion lunged at the man and scratched him.

For the rest of the story click here.

And from what I hear, they’ve closed down Whiting Ranch to complete the search for the cougar.

Ride Report: Whiting Ranch Grand Re-opening

This past weekend was the grand re-opening of Whiting Ranch.  Having been closed since October 2007 due to fires, mountain bikers and hikers were eager to hit the trail for the opening.  I was one of them.  Joined by several friends we hit the dirt anxious to see what was left from the fires and changes to the popular trail.   

Off the bat, the most evident was the sand.  There were sand pits throughout the trail.  Not sure if this was part of the restoration process but this was the main obstacle of the park.  From the start and all the way to the base of Mustard (climb), every so often you will have to grind through sand pits.

                               Sections of sand through out the trail.

     Unable to ride through, many walked their bikes.

The route to the Cattle Pond was also widened into more than a double track.  What was once a sweet singletrack was now groomed and more than less-technical.  The climb to the top of Mustard was smooth and all of the rocky sections were now gone.  When we reached the top (Four Corners), many bikers/hikers were congregated.  Many were either resting from the humidity or sharing past stories of Whiting.

     Climbing Mustard Rd.

Onto the fun stuff… the entrance to Cactus was also rerouted.  Many sections of the singletrack was sandy.  This made the descent slower than expected.  As we headed into the meat of the trail, we found that majority of it was changed.  There were lots of turns where it was virtually impossible to gain speed. None the less, it was new and exciting.  The last part of the trail was still a blast.  As we rode through the Oak trees, many of the fun sections where still there mixed in with sand pits.  

Despite the sand, we finished the trail with smiles for miles.  Whiting Ranch can definitely use rain and in time, the sandy section will become hardpack.