On the Trails: Post Turkey Day Biking

Since Minh and I weren’t going anywhere near the malls or shopping centers on Black Friday, we headed out to the Santa Ana Mountains for a nice long-ish mountain bike ride. Since we were going for a longer, more difficult ride, Minh said we could take our geared bikes. This meant no work for me since I have two mountain bikes, but loads of work for Minh since he had to convert his singlespeed back to a geared bike by adding a cassette to the back (and all the other stuff that is needed, i.e. shifter.. and then the tuning and adjusting). What was supposed to be a 15 minute job ended up taking about an hour, and Minh ended up giving up. For some reason, he couldn’t get the chainstay adjusted properly, and he was getting very frustrated. Instead, he took his cross bike.. it seemed like an OK idea at the time.. but ended up being a very very very bad idea…

Our planned route was Black Star Canyon – Motorway. This was a good training ride and eye-opener for what to expect for Traverse in May. I’d never ridden this before, so it was definitely a humbling experience.

The first part of the ride was pretty straightforward… head up Black Star Canyon to Beek’s Place. I’ve done this before… easy peezy. The rest of the ride was not so straightforward. After we pass the big white ball, each foot of riding is a foot further that I’ve gone into the Santa Anas, each foot of extra elevation gained is a foot higher I’ve been in Orange County. It was fun and exciting being on my bike and seeing new places, but it was also a little terrifying since I had no idea what to expect and no idea where I was going. It was also a lot of stopping and waiting because Minh’s bike (and legs) stopped working for him and started working against him. The brakes weren’t working so great, so he had to walk most of the downhills. And the easiest gear ratio on his cross bike was still harder than the one on his singlespeed, so he had to walk a lot of the uphills (after his legs died from powering up Black Star Canyon).

No brakes means having to walk the descents...

... or carry the bike down the descents..

... or figure out that it's too heavy to carry that far and just walk..

Eventually, he told me to just go on ahead. So I did. What I didn’t hear him say was to wait for him at the white gate. My plan was to go ahead until I saw the turnoff to head down the mountain and wait for him there. I completely misse the turn and kept going, went past it about 3 miles before a truck came by and told me that Minh was waiting for me eating a sandwich. Lucky for us the truck was on the trail, or else I could have gone on forever (well.. not forever, but a long time). My phone had also died while one the trail, so Minh had NO WAY of contacting me.

here's the trail sign that I COMPLETELY missed...

Here’s what I ended up doing actually riding…

The little "tail" on the right is the "extra bonus" that I biked...

Actually, I ended up having to walk a lot. My quads stopped wanting to climb and my morale was deteriorating fast since there seemed no end to the trail. I went through some emotional ups and downs since I had no idea where I was, no idea where Minh was, no idea where I was supposed to stop, and no one around crossing my path at all. That and I was a little afraid of mountain lions after I saw some tracks. We were EXTREMELY lucky that a truck was out doing trail maintenance work… if not for the truck, I would probably have gone on for 10 miles, stuck in the mountains with no communication and only half a ham and cheese croissant sandwich and some gels. Minh was actually worst off, since he also had no idea where I was and couldn’t ride much (he had also cramped up pretty bad). He waited for me for a while at the white gate, but eventually started walking towards my direction looking for me, stopping every five minutes to yell out my name just in case I had fallen off the trail or gotten hurt. It really freaked him out…

Lesson Learned: Don’t go on ahead… and if I do… make sure I stop at regular intervals to regroup.

4 thoughts on “On the Trails: Post Turkey Day Biking

  1. Sounds like quite an adventure! If you stayed on Main Divide you continued on the Traverse course at least (a section of Main Divide I have never ridden!). Glad you guys found each other and hope that the trip down Silverado Motorway was uneventful.

    • Going down Silverado was only uneventful because we walked A LOT… but will definitely want to go down it again.. someday when I’m more prepared..

  2. Pingback: December 1 – Blackstar Canyon « Think Tran

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