Friday, December 29, 2017

Riding at China Camp

I was oncall for work today, and I needed to be within 30 minutes of my computer.  I've figured out that this means I can leave the it in my trunk, and ride the main loop at China Camp.  If I get paged, I can be back at the computer and online in less than 30 minutes.

I started up with the workout class again this week, and I'm still pretty sore from that.  So I wasn't planning on going fast, and my last ride felt pretty clumsy.  But I was killing it today.  I did the opening climb without stopping(except for a picture), and felt great.  According to Strava, I set 10 PRs.  I think a lot of my improvement is coming from getting more comfortable with the dropper post.

Climbing up Echo Trail.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Tamarancho on Christmas Eve

I rode Tamarancho yesterday.  I didn't turn on Strava until half way through, but I still managed to rack up a bunch of PRs.  It's funny, because I felt like I rode pretty badly.  Overall I felt rusty.  I managed to make a lot of mistakes.   I fumbled with the dropper post control a few times.  Instead of dropping the seat while going into an obstacle, I switched gears by accident and rode with the seat up high.  Oops.  On a few ascents and descents, I had to jump off a few times to avoid crashing.  And I went back and tried to clean some features that I wasn't able to clear the first time.  All in all, I felt like I could have ridden a LOT better.  But the numbers said that I had actually improved on my old times.

I think there has been a good amount of trailwork since I was last there.  The main trail was in good shape, and it seemed like it was harder than before.  Some rock gardens were rougher, some challenging obstacles seemed to have materialized from no where.

I haven't been riding as much as I would have liked, and this was a good reality check.  It was challenging in a way that tells me that I have room to grow.  I've been reading too many biking message boards and watching too many biking youtube videos.  To become a better mountain biker, I don't need a nicer bike, or different trails, or coaching.  Most of all I just need to practice.

Happy Holidays!

p.s. I'm not doing much skiing right now, because Tahoe is going through a dry spell.

Saturday, December 23, 2017


This was a total surprise.  I had no idea this was going to happen.  For my Christmas gift, Eileen gave me a seemingly random packing list(ski helmet, hiking boots, mountain biking gloves, two jackets) and we drove out to a park behind some random neighborhood.  The only clues I had was that we were meeting some people there, and it may not happen that day.  Once we got there my best guess was that we were going LARPing, which I thought was hilarious.  Hey if Eileen had set it up, I would have LARPed.

As we were waiting by our car, someone else pulled up behind us and waved.  As soon as I saw the huge pack in their backseat, I knew what was up.  Eileen and I had previously found this really cool park called Mussel Rock Beach Park near Daly City.  And sometimes there are paragliders flying around.  The paragliders have these huge bags strapped to them.  And once I saw that bag, I knew what was happening.  Eileen completely surprised me with a tandem paragliding ride.

Once we met the instructor and signed the paperwork, we hiked up to the top of the hill.  The other instructor was already up there testing the winds.  I was strapped in, and we took off.  Once we were in the air, I turned around said "Hey, I probably should have asked earlier, but what do I need to do to help land?".  It turns out landing was easy.  If the winds were stronger, we would have gone higher and maybe I could have taken the controls.  But instead we went back and forth over this hillside skimming the ground about 40 feet up.  Since we were so low, the margin of error is lower.  It was actually a very relaxing experience, and not an adrenaline rush like jumping out of a plane.  I found it really interesting to feel how the amount of lift was determined by where we were on the hillside.  I don't know anything about sailing.  But I'd imagine it was kind of like that.  You read the wind, and plot a course that takes you where you want to go, while simultaneously trying to stay aloft.

TODO: post some of the pics that Eileen has


Eileen and I had intended to go to New Zealand this December, but it turns out that December is their high season.  By the time that we were looking to book the trip, we were already ~4 months too late.  Oops.  A friend of ours had recommended a travel agent named Katie.  I had never used a travel agent before, and I was skeptical.  But this trip was just what we asked for.  She set us up with an eco-lodge in Nicaragua called Morgan's Rock.

We flew into Managua, and were picked up by an employee of the lodge.  It is supposed to be a three hour drive, but the driver got us there in just over two hours.

The lodge was incredible.  I think there were 18 bungalows and the place has 4,000 acres of land.  There is a private beach and a lot of jungle.  They have their own farm that provides food for the restaurant.  Trails through the jungle for hiking and mountain biking.

Rainbow over the cabana.
"Pass me a Toña"
Jungle bridge!

View from the restaurant

We did a lot of beach chillage while we were there, and had a private cabana.  Each day we would visit the beach bar, and have an excellent lunch.  We drank a lot of Toñas and other local beers.

Jungle biking
After breakfast I went over to the bike stand.  A group had just came through, and the only bikes left were a couple of medium 29er hardtail Specialized Hard Rocks.  I checked them out, and they seemed like their shocks were toast.  The brakes were cable operated disc brakes, and they didn't feel super responsive.  I took the bike out for about an hour on the trails.  Biking through the jungle is pretty damn cool.  In spots the trails were well maintained, but in other spots they were overgrown.  I think the map that I was using was out-dated and some trails on the map were reclaimed by the jungle.  I probably should have asked reception for some beta before I went out.  After an hour, I came back to the trailhead to refill on water.  I noticed that the other group had already returned, and the bike rack was full.  Now there were also a few large 29er hardtail Specialized Rockhoppers.  The bike that I picked up felt super new.  The plastic ring that would have held a price tag was still on the bike.  Better suspension, hydraulic disc brakes, and a lighter frame.  Definitely a better choice.  I imagine that the Hard Rocks were purchased as a bunch a few years ago, and the Rockhoppers were purchased much more recently.  I hydrated for a bit, since the Rockhoppers didn't have bottle cages and I didn't bring a hydration pack.  And then I took off for a few more hours.  I rode a bunch of singletrack and explored the property via the gravel roads.  I ended up finding some pretty fun trails.  According to Strava, I think I rode ~13 miles total without a whole lot of elevation gain.

Jungle biking!
Baby Turtles and Egg laying.  The hotel organized a trip out to a local beach that is known for sea turtles.  It was very dark on the beach and hard to see, but there were so many baby sea turtles.  You would be standing around, and then feel baby turtles on your toes.  We had to be very careful where we stepped.  After a while, some momma turtles started making their way up the beach.  We watched as they made it all the way to the dry sand, dug a deep hole with their flippers, and filled it with eggs shaped like ping pong balls.  Afterwards they covered the eggs with sand, and packed it down by smacking it with their bellies.

A laundry basket full of squirming baby sea turtles!
Jungle spider!

Monkey Quest.  We also took a private ride around the property in the back of a Jeep to look for monkeys.  It was so great.  We saw a bunch of Howler monkeys.  Every night we would hear these monkeys out in the jungle howling.  Including some little babies.  Even the babies were great climbers.  And we also saw some spider monkeys, which were much more skittish.  When they were spotted they instantly bolted.  Excellent jumpers.  We also saw iguanas, a porcupine, and lots of different birds.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Trailbuilding at Laguna Honda

On Saturday, I went to another SF Urban Riders trail building event at Laguna Honda.  We moved a lot of wheelbarrow loads of rock and gravel down the hill and onto the trail.  The funny part is, I still haven't ridden there yet.  I did walk the new trail down the hill, and I think that it's going to be awesome.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Ski weekend at Kirkwood

First let me start off by saying that I missed a few weeks of "The Weekly Gnar".  I did something stupid.  Before Thanksgiving dinner, I broke a plate and cut my middle finger pretty deeply.  After the dinner, I went to the ER to get it fixed.  They glued it back together and sent me on my way.  But I also caught a bad case of the flu while I was at the ER.  So between the finger and the flu, I've been riding the couch for a while.

This weekend was the start of our ski lease in Meyers.  My plan was to ski Kirkwood on Saturday, and then do a tour around the Carson Pass area on Sunday.

Saturday.  First day back on skis.  The Wall had the nicest snow on the mountain.  It was staying nice and chalky right down the middle.  I did laps on the wall most of the day.

Sunday.  I was intending to go on an exploratory solo tour around Elephant's Back or Round Top.  But the Avy forecast increased from low to moderate due to some new snow and high winds.  I decided to bail on touring by myself.  I know that I made the right decision, but it still feels very disappointing.  Kirkwood had 4" of new snow.  Eagle Bowl was skiing really well.  It was well coated with snow, but the gullies hadn't filled in.  So it was like a natural terrain park.

Shaffer's Chute?