Monday, November 24, 2008

Going Big (Noble Canyon RR)

More big training miles this past week. My "Winter Coat" is starting to come off and I'm progressing toward my goal weight. I'm also coming down to the last few weeks of the school quarter, which means studying becomes a little hectic. Add in the holidays and it's easy to get overwhelmed. I have to remind myself to do one thing at a time and it'll all get done.

Saturday I met XC racer Chris down at Fiesta Island and we did the SDBC loop (not the group ride because it gets a little sketchy). It's a fairly scenic 50-miler that winds East into the Faribanks Ranch/ Rancho Santa Fe area before heading back to the coast in the So. Carlsbad area. Chatting wih Chris made the miles tick by much faster than whe I ride solo and I failed to look at my HRM throughout much of the ride. I got home and looked at the data: went WAY too hard. Oops! All told, a solid 4-hour ride. Sweet.

I woke up Sunday and got what I call "the urge". Every so often, I get that urge to do something slightly crazy and unorthodox. I was feeling Saturday's ride, but really wanted to get in an epic MTB ride somewhere besides my normal weekday rides. I was torn between Idyllwild and Noble Canyon. I had a limited amount of gas in my Jeep and no money to buy more. After doing the Google maps gas math ((gallons of gas x MPG) - round trip drive to trailhead) I settled on the Cuymaca-Noble Canyon ride.

I'd done this ride 2 years ago with riding buddies Ben and Craig, but wasn't sure I could remember all the turns. Luckily, I own a decent compass, I can read a topo map and mountain bike bill had the maps I needed. I got my stuff together, made a PB&J and went for it.

I knew I'd be pressed for daylight, but also knew I could knock this route out in 4 hours if I had to. I would have to since I got rolling at 12:20. This ride is SICK!

Around 31 miles and about 6k vertical. The idea was to see if I could pace myself at 8 mph (planned Vision Quest pace) and not kill myself. Even tired, I has enough gas that I could push it from the 12 mile mark all the way to the end, even on tired legs. Cool.

A view from the top of East Mesa fire road before heading over the ridge and into the Cleveland National Forest. The fire damage is from 2003 and there were lots of fallen snags on the downhill side of this (Deer Park Trail).
Start of Indian Creek Trail. A rocky, nasty little climb that had me dabbing and even walking a few places. My full-squish would've helped here.

Once at the top of Indian Creek, I ran into some riding buddies (Ben included, ironically!) and we all came to the conclusion that I'd have to hustle to make it out by dark: it was already 2 and I had 18 miles to go. Uh oh...

So I said my goodbyes and put the hammer down; hence no more pictures :(. I was tired, but did not want to get stuck in the dark in the backcountry. Once at the bottom of Noble, I turned onto the second-nastiest pavement climb in the world (the on to the top of Southridge in Idyllwild is #1) and turned the jets on. I topped it out, turned left back onto Deer Creek and chased the sun. It retreated behind the ridge while I worked my way back up toward it. Thankfully, I won this time :). I made it back to the Jeep just in time for some pics of the sunset...
...and the accompanying alpenglow.

A great ending to a great weekend.


Monday, November 17, 2008

Again With the Burning?

My weekends have been pretty nuts recently. I think going to school during the week makes the rest of life look hectic since I spend a lot of time sitting on my kiester staring at a computer screen or text book. Here's how this past weekend went down:

Worked until 1 Friday and headed home to pack and clean since I'd be heading to Ventura (more on that later) and Holly's parent's were heading down for her half marathon. We crashed early.

Saturday morning we got up early and finished the cleaning/packing and I hit the road for Mom and Dad's in the OC. I took my bike (SS 29'er) with plans of hitting 2 laps at Fullerton Loop since it's flat and I could take it easy before my Ranger/Lifeguard Cadet test Sunday. When I hit Mission Viejo, I could see a huge smoke plume form a brush fire. I called my Dad who said it was in the Santa Ana canyon. Since the smoke was blowing west (over Fullerton!) I made a quick decision and headed for Santiago Canyon instead.

I parked at Cook's Corner and hit Santiago Truck Trail, The Luge and Whiting Ranch. The damage fom last year's fires was bad, but I was stoked to have the area open again. Climbing all that stuff on the SS was harder than I had planned on riding, but at least I wasn't eating smoke.

I finished the ride and headed over the hill towards Mom and Dad's in Yorba Linda...yeah...a little city you've probably never heard of until this past weekend.

...and there's thick smoke everywhere, light ash falling from the sky and the unmistakable odor of homes burning. I can't describe the difference between brush fire and structure fire, it's just different. I walk in the front door and it's all over the news how homes in East YL are on fire. Really surreal watching your own city on TV. My brother, sister and I all grew up there, so there's little doubt that some of our friends may have been evacuated...or worse.

I couldn't help but feel guilty as we ate dinner that night. There we were eating Moms tasty Roast Beef while people quite literally ran for their lives only a few miles away. Again, surreal is the only way I can describe it. Mom and Dad put their important papers in a single box in case the evacuation order came. Thier house is a few miles from the hills where the fre started, but the high winds and unpredicability had us all on edge.

We went to bed half expecting a knock on the door, but it never came, fortunately.

I woke up ridiculously early Sunday morning and hit the road at 5, heading for Ventura. Made it there with plenty of time to spare, signed in, got my wetsuit on and lined up with the rest of the wanna-be Lifeguard/Rangers. No fanfare...just Perm Guard Peabody with a stopwatch..."GO"!

Cold water, and way less fighting for feet than a tri. These guys swim fast and I wound up on my own, but started reeling in the guys that went too hard early on. I got close to the bouy and smacked head-first into someone coming the other way...sorry, dude. I rounded the bouy and realized the breeze was way stronger than I thought as I wound up eating chop the whole way back to the beach. Anyway...I hit the beach and checked my watch:17:20. Sucky, but under the 20-minute cut-off.

The 200-400-200 went much better since swimmers don't run so well. I made up a lot of positions on the last run since guys were gassed. Time: 8:10. Pass.

After that, I got soe food in me and then over to the Ranger physical agility testing: super-easy if you just workout a few times a week and stay away from McD's chicken nuggets. I digress.

Physical Agility: Pass.

I met with one of the background investigators, drove back to Mom and Dad's (fire now burning somewhere else), raided their 'fridge and passed out at 10; 18-hours after I got up.

I slept in this morning (I deserved it!), raided Mom and Dad's fridge again (they left for Vegas Sunday after I left for Ventura) and moseyed on back to SD. Busy weekend...

Rumor has it that background investigations start in early December and the academy could start as early as June. Whoa.


Sunday, November 9, 2008

Holy Jim-Trabuco (calf injury, week 7)

The calf is still no good. I tried running Tuesday and it started hurting 2 miles in. I tried it again today and it's the same story. Much more of this and I'm just gonna cut it off below the knee.

Fortunately, I can still swim and ride, so I'm getting in all the big rides I've been skipping in the name of training. If the end result is that I turn into a monster XC racer, then so be it.

I hooked up with fellow Xterra racer Ryan Weeger who hasn't ridden the Santa Ana Mountains much. He's missing out and I figured I'd show him some of the "good stuff" since he's racing the Counting Coup this year. Once the Cleveland National Forest opens back up (Monday11/9), I'll be heading up here lots more so I can work on my climbing.

I was late (as per usual) and we didn't get started until 8:30. Thankfully, Ryan was patiently waiting at the trailhead. Though I'm sure he would have taken off if he had known the route we were taking :P

I actually stopped and took some pics this time:

From Holy Jim Trail heading up towards the Main Divide Road

Looking back down the trail. The runner you can see is in the trail marathon: Blue Jay Camp, down Trabuco, up Holy Jim, across Main Divide back to Blue Jay...Sick!

Ryan. Starting to feel not so great. He mentioned he might have had one too many Negro Modelos the night before. D'oh!
Short hike-a-bike section as we reached the Main Divide.Me on the Main Divide with Holy Jim Canyon, that we just climbed out of, in the background.

Same spot, but looking South toward "The Wall" section of Main Divide that you must climb to get to Trabuco Trail. You can almost see where it splits the two peaks in the distance over my left shoulder.
From Main Divide looking down Holy Jim and Trabuco Canyons. Not a super-clear day, but you could see Catalina Island peeking out of the haze. Hard to see in the photo...

Trabuco Trail head on Main Divide. This is the final downhill on the Vision Quest route and such a sight for sore eyes when you're that tired. I stopped and hugged the brown post/trailhead sign in 2008 I was so happy to see it. No one had a camera.

Christmas Tree! Just a random tree that people decorate each year. Not sure who does it, but one of those things that makes you stop and go "Hey! That's kinda cool!" One of the many stream crossings on the way down Trabuco. These are technically challenging normally and even more so when they're running water in the rainy season. Some are not rideable. OK, maybe hans Rey could ride 'em...
Looking down Trabuco Trail where we'd be going momentarily.

Looking up West Horsethief Trail from where it turns off from Trabuco Trail. This trail is friggin' EVIL and you get to ride/hike it for the Vision Quest. I'll be back in March to do battle with this little bastard.

Total time came out to 4 hours including stops for pics and for Ryan not feeling so hot; we've all been there.

All in all, a great ride that reminded me how much San Diego trails SUCK compared to the awesome-ness that is the Santa Ana Mountains. I'll be hitting some more of my favorites once they're open; keep your eyes peeled for more huge photo posts.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day

So get off your a$$ and go vote. NOW!

The new job is official, I start wrenching at the campus bike shop tomorrow morning. Sweet. I like working on bikes and I've always done my own maintenance, so this is a perfect fit for me. Now if I can just keep from strangling these silly college kids...

Seriously, go vote...

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Good news, bad news

Good news:
I got mail fram the State Parks this weekend: they sent me my background packet and notified me that I'm scheduled for the physical agility.

Bad news:
It's in two weeks in Ventura and there's a 1000 yard open ocean swim. Expected water temps are in the high 50's...very Tahoe-like. Add in that I've not been training for a while thanks to my calf injury and making the 20-minute time cutoff now becomes an issue. Time to get my happy a$$ in the pool.

Saturday I headed out to Vail Lake for some laps with Luke and recent AZ transplant Chris. The calf held up well though the rest of me didn't. I made it two laps trying to hang with the boys and had to let them go play for 30 minutes while I collected myself. After that I was better, but it's clear my fitness is nowhere near where it was. Time to go back to basics.

Today I hit up the local trails for an easy recovery spin from yesterday's beat-down and things are feeling better. I'm going to try some light training next week and see how the calf holds up.

I might be starting a new job next week. I'll talk more about it once it's finalized, but I kinda talked my way into it. Dad always said it's not so much what you know as who you know. True dat.