Monday, December 01, 2008

Thanksgiving Ride 2008 - The Spirit of Giving in Action!

This ride called the Appetite Seminar, Turkey or Thanksgiving Ride is a tradition that started in 1975 (click here for some history and click here for last year's ride story/pictures).
There are several popular social gatherings spots along the route of this ride, and I decided to document what happens on three of them:

1) At the start, by the Java Hut parking lot in Fairfax, Marin County. And the spirit of giving starts right here with Java Hut offering free coffee, bagels and cream cheese to the riders.
2) The second popular gathering spot is Horse Shoe Junction, where the spirit of giving is also in action!At Horse Shoe Junction, Josh (a great mechanic from Fairfax Cyclery) and Dave, offer pancakes, hot chocolate, and hot coffee to any rider wanting to taste their goodies. They start carrying their cooking equipment and ingredients days before using their bike trailer.
and the pancakes are quite yummy!!!! Kristy really liked them!
3) And this the third popular stop spot I would like to talk about, at the top of the hardest climb of this loop, by Green Hill where Danny, Jim, Shrek and others were giving out GUs and Tamarancho applications. Based on Danny's estimate, about 900 riders went by this year.

Here is Danny giving out GUs
Jim giving out GUs Shrek giving out GUs
And here are more celebrities I found along the route...
Tom who decided to bail due to the climbing and went home without partying.
Mike, who probably should have bailed too since he was sick like a dog... but he did the whole loop!

Julia was also out on her single speed
Marty sticking his tongue at the camera and missing Nancy
Mary Lynn visiting from Tahoe, I miss her!
Nick probably done with the worst climb

Randy and Barbara looking good after the climb

even my neighbor Nick was there with a friend!
Gravy all happy after eating pancakes at Horse Shoe Junction
Jeff also quite happy since the climb is over!
Kristy and John who I decided to join to start heading back to Fairfax
Charlie with a friend said hello to the camera
And this is me all covered up in many winter layers, the only way I can survive for more than 5 minutes in the cold.

And when I though I was done with pictures I found Ricardo at the Java Hut parking lot putting his' and his girlfriend's bikes on his motorcycle rack! A home made bike rack with old Wilderness Trail Bikes Ti hardtail frames.
The End! Until Next Year!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

My Second Weekend Riding in Laguna Beach

Some weeks ago, I got in touch with my Southern Californian friend, Geof, to let him know I was going to a wedding (my friends Tracy and Eric) and a lovely and yummy pre-Thanksgiving Dinner with Sally's family. In between events, I wanted to do some downhill and technical cross country riding. And last weekend I had two perfect days doing so!.

On Saturday, we did the "downhill thing". From left to ride: Celia, Daniel, Rob, Bill, Geof and Brian. These are the name of the riders and you will have to believe me since it is a little hard to recognize anybody with those sexy full head helmets!

As I said before, we did the "downhill thing", meaning the car shuttling coordination thing with all of our vehicles. Look at these hot bikes on the hot truck:We were shuttling to descend on the Telonics (awesome DH trail, click here if you want to see pictures and descriptions). But back to the "downhill thing", it takes some brains to efficiently implement it, it could be challenging to design the car shutles order so you get as many downhill runs as possible with the least amount of driving. And Geof was seriously thinking all the time how the next shuttle was going to be!

Here are some action pictures I took on the Telonics.

This is Geof

This is Brian

And this is Rob On Sunday, we did a technical cross country ride that included steep fire road climbing and sweet downhill technical singletracks: T&A, Old Emerald, Rattle Snake, Nothing Better to Do (heritage trail), Marie Calender's (heritage trail), and Lizzards (heritage trail).

Here are the cross country riders: Brian, Natalie, Dave K., Rob, Geof and Daniel (from left to right).
Here is Geof showing some class going down on T&A
Here we are in one of the rest stops

I am glad I didn't crash on one of these cactus!

It would have been painful!!!!!

And here is a picture of the Telonics and the Laguna Beach Canyon (You can click on the picture for a bigger format):

And this is me with my dorky biker look after the ride....

To read about my first time riding around Laguna Beach Canyon, click here, read about and see pictures about a DH trail called Telonics.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

North Bay December Rides

Come and join Dana on these two fun only-girls rides:
  1. December 7th: Beginner, Helen Putnam Park, Petaluma. Meet at Sonoma Bicycle Company 11:00 am
  2. December 14th: Intermediate/Advance, Annadel State Park, Santa Rosa. Meet at Santa Rosa Cyclery 11:00 am

For more information, email Dana Beckstoffer at

These rides are sponsored by:
  • Sonoma Bicycle Co. : 265 Petaluma Blvd., Petaluma, Ca. 94953 (707-776-0606)
  • Santa Rosa Cyclery: 4325 Montgomery Dr., Santa Rosa, Ca 95405 (707-537-2254)

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Thanks to Magura, Gravity Dropper, Manitou, Shimano, Tom Fallon, Brian Popplewell, Richard, Martin, Tom Mac, Brian Herrman and Josh Orland

If you are one of those "do-it-yourself-bike-mechanic-wanna-be" like me with many questions on how to fix, clean, replace or service bike parts, I encourage you to ask for help. I frequently call or email bike companies and visit bike stores with questions on what to do and how, and almost always I find incredible support. Here are some examples:

Magura: for many years I have used Marta Magura brakes on my three mountain bikes as you can appreciate in the picture below. These brakes are super light and great for feathering for super smooth riding. Jeff, Jude and Matt (all of them work at Magura) have taught me their tricks to calibrate, bleed, replace master cylinders and calipers through emails, phone calls and in person at the races.
The coolest thing of Magura is that they take their products very seriously so when I have an issue with my brakes they always help me to take care of it or guarantee the part. Below is a picture of the recently replaced master cylinders on one of my three mountain bikes.

Gravity Dropper: I ventured myself into servicing the gravity droppers I have in two of my mountain bikes. I changed the housing and cable and cleaned all the parts. In the process I ruined the screws that hold the cap of the lever and the seat post cap where the magnets are located. I called them and not only they sent me new screws but they gave me several tips and encouraged me to go ahead and service them myself. Now they both work like when they were brand new!

Manitou: I decided to purchase a Manitou Swinger-SFS X6 Coil Shock to install it one of my bikes (I had an air rear shock but I like coil suspension so now 2 of my mountain bikes have front and rear coil suspension). But the bolts I ordered with the rear shock didn't fit the frame. I emailed and called Shanan at Manitou who told me which bolts I needed and sent them to me! My bike now is ready to go!

Shimano: one of my Shimano SPD pedals lost one of the screws holding the pedal spring. I called Shimano and somebody (I forgot his name!) really nice and patient not only sent me several extra screws but took the time to tell me over the phone how to put the screw in the pedal without forcing it. I then sent him an email thanking him so much for his explanation and he sent me 3 pairs of Shimano socks!!! And my pedal is working just fine!

I want to thank my friend Tom Fallon for encouraging me to research how to work on my bikes, for showing me how to do it and for pushing me to do it myself. Also thanks to him I ride probably the only Santa Cruz Blur XC with front and rear coil suspension. Tom fabricated special parts for the frame to fit an longer eye-to-eye rear shock so he could fit a coil one and with a Titanium spring so the bike is still quite light, great for technical cross country riding and some dirt jumping too, check it out below:

Also thanks to Brian Poppewell, Richard and Martin at Mike's Bikes for their continuos support, and for inviting me to one of their bike mechanic training which gave me the opportunity to observe an expert from Fox shocks servicing several fork models. And guess what... one of the forks being serviced at the training was mine! :-)

And last but not least, thanks to Josh Orlando, Brian Herrman, and Tom Mac at Fairfax Cyclery for helping me finding out the right bolts I needed for my new Manitou rear shock, and also for encouraging me to finish servicing my fork and celebrating me for doing it!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Searching the Telonics, Laguna Beach, California

Everything started with a mountain bike magazine short article I read describing a downhill trail called Telonics as one of the favorite trails of Hans Rey, one of the best trail and DH riders of all times, and the RADs, a local DH riding group.

I then decided to get in touch with my friend rider Geoff from Orange County and ask him if he would take me to the Telonics the next time I visit my partner's family. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to do it because he was going to be riding at Mammoth. But he assured me he was going to find someone to take me down on that trail and other DH trails of the area.

After a couple of days, Dave emailed me to set the date and time for the Telonics ride. I was so excited! Finally I was going to check that trail out! So I packed my Nomad, helmet, knee and elbow pads in our family car, the minivan. I was bummed I couldn't take my truck to this trip, but I had to compromise since I was travelling with my three teenagers and my partner. Remember? This was a family trip not just a bike trip.

Anyway, the day of the ride Sally drove me in the minivan to meet Dave at the bottom of the Aliso and Wood Canyons State Park. We put Dave's bike in the minivan and drove to the top of a local DH trail called Five Oaks. It was the perfect trail to get used to the terrain: loose sand, nice sticky slick rock, cactus and packed dirt.

In this picture you can appreciate the trail conditions of the area:

And we found creeks with trees offering nice cool shades:
The trail has some technical sections like this one where Dave is riding with perfect balance and body positioning:
After playing on some other DH trails, we then headed toward Telonics. On the way there, I learned from some downhillers we found on the trails that Hans Rey broke his leg racing Telonics at a local competition.

Near the top, the views of the ocean, Laguna beach and the mountains were just gorgeous! I am glad these mountains were recently made into parks so no development will take over them and its fun trails.

We continue on our ride toward Telonics, near the top along the ridge I took this picture below where you can see the bottom of Telonics (trail at the left of Laguna Canyon Rd) and another DH trail called T/A (trail at the right of Laguna Canyon Rd. behind the fire road you use to climb to the top).
And here we are at the very top of Telonics, called "Top of the World" which is how you feel when you are done with the DH trail and have cleaned the whole thing!Telonics is a fast DH trail with steep rocky, loose sand and slick rock sections. It also has jumps and drops that you can hit with different speed levels. To fly just go fast and to jump and get some air which is what I did this time just keep a steady pace/speed and pull up your front wheel. All the sections were rollable with the exception of a couple of drops. It is a good idea to scoop the trail and check it out before going on it at a high speed. Well... at least for riders like me that like to keep their bones in place. :-) Toward the bottom of the trail, there are great steep swichtbacks with really well designed chambers that allow you to corner fast without loosing control.

This is me riding down one of the steep sections. I promise this section is steeper than what it looks in the picture!
Here is a picture I took from the top where Dave is pointing at the trail to show how steep it is:
This is another steep section on slick rock like Moab, Utah. I took this great picture od Dave riding it without sliding because it was quite sticky rock!
When you see this picture at the end of Telonics you do feel in the top of the world! Dave was really happy because he rode and cleared many sections on that trail he used to walk.
After celebrating while eating some snacks we climbed, went down and climbed back again a DH trail called Steps with some really fun rocky sections forming steps. Some steps you can launch them and get exhilarating air.
And here is me going down on Steps with my dorky concentration face
After Steps we went back to the other mountain and hit a super fun trail called Rock It, really fast trail down through rock gardens.

When we were done, we pedaled our bikes to the local Mexican restaurant for tacos and beer. Dave's friend Jason joined us for beer and to talk about the ride. Too bad Jason couldn't join us earlier for the awesome ride but I was happy to meet another local rider. Bob couldn't join us because that day he was celebrating his anniversary. I learned that Jason, Geoff, Dave and Bob won a 24-hour race competing with 33 other men teams. These guys are really in shape and ride fast. I am glad I was able to hook up with Geoff, Dave and Bob a couple of years ago.

This time instead of Sally picking me up, I got picked up by our brother-in-law Jess who probably was bored listening to so much biking talk. But Jess is very nice and polite so he listened to all of our stories, drove Dave back to his car that was getting new tires. Thank you Jess! And also thank you Dave for an awesome ride. I will be back!