I had another great season in the climbing program at Thacher. Joshua Tree, Yosemite, the San Gabriels and our beloved Los Padres were our playgrounds, our training medium and our solace. I miss this group already! Looking forward to the spring climbing season. For now it is the opportunity to develop aerobic capacity, work on our local trails and hope for snow in the hills.
Thursday, September 11, 2014
Saturday, May 24, 2014
Sierra Madre and San Rafael Mountains
Over the course of 6 days, 10 students from the Thacher School and I bikepacked the Sierra Madre Rd/Buckhorn Rd route across a section of the Los Padres National Forest. We departed from Aliso Canyon Campground, climbed to the Sierra Madre Road via the Hog Pen Spring Trail, followed the Sierra Madre Rd to the Buckhorn and the rode some great single track near 19 Oaks Camp as well as the last mile of the Santa Cruz Trail above Upper Oso Campground. This trip was organized as part of our bi-annual (fall and spring) 6-day expeditions into the backcountry as part of our school’s curriculum.
We had a wonderful tour and enjoyed camping in the solitude of the Los Padres. This part of California is absolutely amazing; it never fails to delight and surprise. Conditions were cool, water was readily available and the students were among the most adventuresome and enthusiastic about bikepacking as I have ever experienced. Some bumps, scrapes and minor crashes were sustained, but my students wore the scars and bandages like badges of honor. We also had very few mechanical issues, but one of our group bent his front rim badly only 2 miles from Upper Oso Camp. He was forced to pack up his bike and hike out, but otherwise sustained only a scratch. “I am just bummed to not be able to keep riding singletrack” was his only negative response after the crash. Upon reaching the road, one of his comrades gave him his bike to ride the 1.4 miles while he “piggybacked” on the OMM rack of a fellow student. They bent the rack skewer a bit, but otherwise I have to praise them for coming up with a solution and keeping the band together. Awesome kids.
Our camps were: Hog Pen Spring Camp, Painted Rock Camp, Alamar Camp (a dry camp, but sufficient water was available at Chokecherry Spring), Bluff Camp, and 19 Oaks Camp.
- Hog Pen Spring – trough was full, steady trickle from the spring
- Painted Rock – used Montgomery # 2 Spring – cattle trough – very fine sediment, supply a little low. Montgomery # 1 was pooling, but insufficient supply for our group.
- Oak Spring – steady trickle as of 5/20
- Chokecherry Spring – steady trickle down the creek. 26 oz in 1 minute (5/20)
- Bluff Camp – 32 oz in 18 sec. (5/21)
- 19 Oaks – ample water in pools in the creek below camp (5/22)
- I am deeply appreciative of the superb racks from Old Man Mountain in Santa Barbara as well the support from Channing. These racks have been solid and are easy for my students to work with in the field (a critical element with a large group).
- I used a handlebar bag (a Sweetroll), Gas Tank and Jerry Can from Revelate Designs this spring and am very pleased with how well they install and pack loads on the bike. For one reason or another I have been skeptical of carrying gear on my handlebars on technical single track, but this bar bag has changed, or perhaps better informed, my perspective on carrying gear in this manner. Mounted on a Santa Cruz Blur, I didn’t feel that the load on the front was problematic at all while riding. In fact, I appreciated the way that it allowed me to balance out the bike.
- Hammer Gel, Hammer Perpetuem and Endurolytes.
Sunday, February 23, 2014
In preparation for the spring climbing season, I went over some of my notes from the fall and was reminded of a series of interviews with Olympic/World Cup skier and NFL football player Jeremy Bloom from the Podium Sports Journal. I have found these interviews, albeit brief, to contain insight and bits of wisdom that have been helpful in the sports I pursue. For example, while riding the Tunnel Trail recently in Santa Barbara, I distinctly felt that while the technical nature of the trail requires certain physical skills, the mental side of riding the trail well, and safely, is perhaps the most important. I focus a lot on teaching the mental game to my students, although I do find it to be one of the more challenging things I instruct. In other words, I don't have clear metrics for determining the effectiveness of these teaching tools, but I believe that they make all the difference in the world. The following video gives a sense of these mental skills. I you will find it useful as well!
Monday, February 3, 2014
I enjoyed seeing this Vimeo featuring Will Gadd. If you haven't read his blog, I highly recommend it. There is a lot of wisdom, insight, inspiration and humor in what he says. I also really like how much he discusses safety and technique in the mountains. Really good stuff.
MOVE from ARC'TERYX on Vimeo.
MOVE from ARC'TERYX on Vimeo.
Saturday, February 1, 2014
Galen Rowell on the topic of man in the natural world, which is something that has always inspired me in my climbing and photography. Mountain bikes are a way to have similar interactions with the trail, the chaparral and the geology that comprise the mountains. Not unlike mountaineering, a demanding trail can result in similar levels euphoria and require the type of focus that makes you feel as if time has slowed down. I am especially appreciative of these opportunities in light of the absence of snow in our mountains. It has been surprising to me to feel a similar sense of engagement and satisfaction from mountain biking as what I am used to getting from skiing. Most likely a good portion of that has to do with the incredible trails that are just out my backdoor. Skis have been traded in for knobby tires, and I am enjoying the ride.
Jon Chang dropping into a section on the Tunnel Trail that characterizes the rocky and technical nature of this trail. Jon has improved a ton in his riding over the past three years. He really commits to the terrain and just goes for it. We first rode together when he was a sophomore at Thacher on a 107 mile backcountry bike packing tour of the Los Padres.