Bridges, Jumps and Wall Rides

Bridges, Jumps and Wall Rides

The way things work in Mammoth is that the blue trails cross underneath the features of the black diamond trails. On my first day, I came across some cool bridges and decided to make a point of riding OVER them by the end of the trip. It turned out to be a daring and fun adventure.

The Taj Mahal on Sooth Operator. Snap shot from my GoPro

The Taj Mahal on Smooth Operator, which is a double black diamond jump line, is probably one of the cooler features at Mammoth. Its definitely a work of art at the very least. This thing is much steeper and more cambered than meets the eye. Equals scary. On my first go of it, i had to stop on the drop to assess. Yikes! I let go of the brakes and rolled it just fine. Second time, i didn't stop (see video below) and rolled it smooth, but on the third attempt i took it too fast and ended up almost going off the jump. I had to slam on the brakes and ended up stuck with one wheel off the ramp. Xina thought i was just waiting for her and dropped in. When she realized i was not going to move, it was too late and she had to lay it down. Thankfully no one got hurt.

The Monolith on Pipeline

The Monolith is another long beautiful structure. Huge kudos to the Mammoth Mountain Bike Park crew! It is part of a run called Pipeline which is double black as well. It's one of my favorite runs on the entire mountain with all kinds of fun features to play with. Foxy grabbed a few photos of me riding this trail last last year.

The House Jump on Bullet

My insisting on rolling the House Jump sent me down one of the more advanced trails on the mountain: Bullet. Steep drops and rock gardens, it was not pretty, but i made it.  Foxy followed me with the GoPro and you can see some of the highlights in the video below.

Jeff Fox whipped it out and nabbed this good one of me and Styles at the end of Shotgun. I was flying actually. Look at my suspension compressing, swerving to miss Jeff.

Out here free amongst the trees. Foxy took this one too. Loc: Shotgun

Family Ride

I haven't written much about my girlfriend, Christina, to protect her privacy, but i just had to share (because i'm super proud) that she bought a bike and is absolutely KILLING it. Footloose Sports in Mammoth gave her a screaming deal. She is mountain biking for the first time in her life and keeping up with me on advanced terrain. Kind of a shot to my ego, but who cares! Hot riding partner!

Xina is excited about her new toy!

Here's the video about the adventure. Let me know what you think!

Note: I got a few unsubscribes after my last blog entry and i think its because i included trail information. This blog will be about my adventures, pitfalls, gear and feelings. If you are curious about what i run into on the trail in more detail and accessibility information, you can read about that here: www.theunpavement.com.

Thanks for reading! Please share!

Memorial Weekend

Memorial Weekend

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Man, i am so behind on my blog entries! I did three rides in three days over the Memorial Weekend.

The first was Santa Rosa Plateau. We've been talking about this place for a long time now and finally went. I can't believe how close this area is to town! It's super easy for hikers, bikers and picnickers (I didn't even know that was a word) to run up the road from Murrieta and enjoy this absolutely stunning area. For mountain biking, the trails are pretty short, so you'll need to find ways to extend your ride. Also, everything on the southeast side of the road is for hiking only and mountain biking is restricted to the northwest side of the road. For you adaptive riders, there is a huge dirt parking lot but no bathrooms. There might be some at the visitor's center though. No sure. Everything i rode was mostly flat and wide open with the exception of Tovashal Trail. I definitely recommend having a support rider with you (adaptive riders) if you are going to attempt it. Overall, this area is great for hiking and there are tons of benches in key spots for soaking in the views.

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This was an interesting day for me. I spent the entire week editing my previous Weekly Ride video and did not do anything active for FIVE days. I was super grumpy, to say the least. When i get in these moods, in all honesty, i just want to run. I want to throw on my shoes and just go. Getting out there helps, but really there is nothing i can do about it and i just have to work through it. The feeling is anger and claustrophobia. Usually the best remedy is to have a long surf session, take a shower and reflect on everything i am thankful for over a good beer.

The feeling extended into the next day when i rode Daley Ranch in Escondido with my new friend Thomas. He gave me a pretty awesome tour of the area which is super rocky, rutted and rowdy. Adaptive riders, you can do most of this area solo but there are spots you will get stuck in so a support rider is a must here. At least at first. The free lot is dirt with no bathrooms, but there is a pay lot with handyman parking and running water facilities. There is a grueling climb called Five Bitches so be prepared for that. Thomas did not have a chance to pre-ride the single track so we decided to forego it and downhill the main firewood trail which was super fun anyway. We also cut the ride short and skipped a whole section of trail called Crest Trail. Next time.

I met Thomas the previous weekend at Sky Park in Arrowhead. There were a couple features i needed help with and he jumped on it without hesitation so i immediately took to him. There's something about people who take initiative and just know what to do without any instruction or needing to be asked. Asking for help can be hard sometimes.

I caught Thomas on my GoPro helping me at Sky Park and it was my intention to cut to those clps during the Daley Ranch segment, but i totally forgot so here it is. Thanks Thomas!

The next day, i was mostly feeling better and went for a "hike" With Christina in PQ Canyon. She was on foot and i had the power assist on my bike turned off. This was an experiment that totally worked out. I didn't think i could do it but it turned out to be not so bad. I did turn the assist on the lowest setting for hills and inclines though. All in all, my heart rate was way higher than usual (which is good) and i got a really good workout.

 May Gray Tailgate Setup

May Gray Tailgate Setup

This was also the first time i did Tunnels without anyone touching me. Thats a big deal for me. This is the coolest trail in the area and to be able to add it to my usual route has increased the quality of my rides exponentially. Since then, i have done it several times and am now riding it with more and more speed, making it more and more fun.

Afterwards we tailgated and grilled turkey burgers for Memorial day. Here's the Weekly Ride episode about the weekend. 

Sky Park

Sky Park

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I heard stories of burmy trails winding through a forest in the sky where mountain bikers go to Heaven and come back. This turns out to be no lie. Sky Park in Arrowhead, CA is just that. Its actually located in Sky Forest, appropriately named. The trails are manicured every morning. Jumps, features and bridges are built with flow in mind and i was excited to test it all out on the green machine.

The gentle grade of the climb trail covers about a mile with about 250ft of elevation gain to access the nine miles of trails. Turns are earned here, but it's not going to kill you. Half a dozen or so trails branch out in all directions from the top, where bikers hang and chat, gaining their breath after the climb before plunging down the trail of their choice. 2 1/2 of these trails, i am told, are my choices given the equipment i'm on. The others will not be fun for me.

 To make some of the tight turns, i had to use my rear brake, throw my weight inside and drift it.

To make some of the tight turns, i had to use my rear brake, throw my weight inside and drift it.

I had my doubts about my ability to navigate everything safely on my own, but found myself rubbers up only twice in three days of aggressive riding. Thats pretty good for me. The first was a slow rollover during the climb up, trying to experiment with a different line on one of the climb's tight turns. Experiment failed. The second was on the last day and due to the inability of my rear wheel to slide out in a tight off-camber turn on the freshly watered tacky dirt. Both crashes were minor with no injuries to me or my bike. Great success!

 Shakas all around with the SDMBA crew

Shakas all around with the SDMBA crew

There was one bridge that scared me though. The top of it slanted down to the right, putting my left wheel way above my right at the apex. The steep ramp down the other side cambered to the right as well, making the wooden structure appear to kind of twist. Up high and off camber can spell the type of disaster that i have tasted too many times to chance, so i had a spotter every time. If you watch the video, the spotters don't touch me though. I was actually doing this thing myself but was just scared.

Just one other really tight turn stopped me from riding all my 2 1/2 trails completely solo. After a few runs, we figured that sending down a friend ahead of us, so they could be waiting to grab my rear wheel and point me in the right direction, was the best way to handle this thing. I had a hard time accepting this at first. The last thing i want is to disrupt someone's ride, but soon came to grips that its still fun for them, just a different kind of fun. Stopping to help your buddy is more like adventure biking with a friend than flowing a trail nonstop. Both are pretty damn fun.

 That's Sean on my left. What an Ultra Bruh!

That's Sean on my left. What an Ultra Bruh!

One person in particular made these stops, to spot me on the twisty camber bridge and spin me in the right direction on the ultra tight turn, above and beyond the call of duty. Sean Murphy, husband to Susie Murphy (Head of San Diego Mountain Biking Association) stepped up as my Ultra Bruh this trip. Ya i'm coining a new term: Ultra Bruh. It means someone who steps up big time for a bro. In the videos, you can see him popping out of the trees, from seemingly nowhere, to help me over and over again. Thanks Sean!

 Islands in the Sky

Islands in the Sky

Susie booked an AirBNB for the SDMBA crew, that sat on the edge of the mountain, above the clouds. It felt like Cloud City in Empire Strikes Back. The view left me feeling spellbound. Huge bay windows lined my room and I watched the stars at night. I woke up to the mountain peaks poking through the clouds in the morning. They looked like volcanic islands in a white ocean. We had coffee together in the morning and beers and dinner in the evening. What a fun crew!

Making the video was interesting. I didn't film anything but the actual runs, so i ended up with all this redundant POV footage and had to record the commentary and voice all at home later. The runs i feature are my final runs on the last day because those were the best. I'm one of those people that needs to really work at something to be good at it. My first runs were really slow and i got better and better each time. If you haven't seen it yet, here's the video. Be sure to like, comment and share. It really helps me get the word out. I am also searching for direction. Let me know what you want to see. Ask questions. We're all in this together right! Enjoy!