Wednesday, June 25, 2014

And we're off...Destination: Arctic Circle and Beyond.

Inuvik. It's pronounced I-New-Vick. I think...

As mentioned over the past few years and in at least three previous posts, I am heading into the Great White North this weekend. That part of the world continues to call to me like a mentally unstable lover...

My friend Dan and I will be departing Sunday, June 29, for the town of Inuvik, in Canada’s Northwest Territories. I’ll also try to squeeze in a visit to Alaska’s Deadhorse/Prudhoe Bay (just an extra 2,500 miles). We aren’t retired, we aren’t riding for a cause, we aren’t attempting to commit any acts of badassery...we just want to ride to the northernmost possible point, meet some nice people, drink some interesting beverages and return with some cool stories -- virtually unscarred .

We have every intention of riding our big motorbikes from San Diego all the way north and crossing back into the US near Blaine, WA, in late July. I will be riding a KTM 990 Adventure; Dan will be on his BMW R1200GS. We plan to camp most of the time and stay in hotels when we can’t stand our own musk. We’ve mutually agreed not to be eaten by Grizzlies if at all possible. The bear spray we bought at REI has a “no maul” money-back guarantee, so that’s good.

We have a very flexible agenda. There are many things we’d like to see in 30+ days, but we’re playing it by ear. It’s 3,800 miles each way, with lots of side roads in between, and we expect to ride over 10K miles. Neither of us has a particularly remarkable attention span so the possibilities are endless. Dan’s bringing along a fairly nice SLR camera, and we both have small video cameras, so we'll do our best to document the experience.

Here are two GPS map trackers so friends and family can follow our progress:

Where Am I Riding Map (Works in Chrome, Safari, FireFox, and IE9): http://www.whereamiriding.com/my-profile/userprofile/DanDiego

SPOT Adventures Map: http://share.findmespot.com/shared/faces/viewspots.jsp?glId=0GOrQRdjM0Y1M7p9gWdJJU8oP3zJ5ubA1


I will try to provide updates on this blogsite as I travel along, but I'm unsure how that'll go...

Share in the adventure as we go a couple of degrees north of the Arctic Circle in search of...well, we haven't really identified a purpose yet. It's likely just a midlife crisis. But come along, anyhow!

Your humble sojourner.

Danny

Monday, June 16, 2014

Annual Ride to Work Day: Monday, June 16.

Remember, Annual Ride to Work Day is TODAY (Monday, June 16).


So, who rode into work?

(Yes, yes, I know...some of you ride to work EVERY day.)


Be safe out there.



Dana Neisler Memorial Ride: Baja (June 14-15, 2014)

Dana Neisler was a Baja guru with whom I rode last year; you might've read a Tecate to Mikes Sky Rancho ride report I posted. He was a great guy with an electric smile, a zest for life and an extensive knowledge of Baja riding.


He unfortunately passed away in a tragic accident near Laguna Hanson on January 25, 2014.


This weekend, I participated in a Memorial Ride in his honor. Here is the ride description and some photos:




The GPS location of the memorial site is N31"58.361" W115"58.443


I counted 35 bikes and a total of 50 people. After meeting at the memorial site, many riders met for tacos and beer at the Old Sawmill (Ramona's). Some headed back to the border, others went to Mike's Sky Rancho.


I headed down to Valle de la Trinidad, across an obscure road to San Vicente (La Calentura) and on to the small town of Erendira where I stayed the night.


I then headed north to the border on Sunday. All in all, I rode over 350 miles in Baja; 165 miles of that was off-road.

An excellent way to pay tribute to a great guy. You're missed, my brother.


Here's info:

The Dana Neisler Memorial Ride (a one to two day ride) is scheduled for June 14 and 15, 2014, leaving Tecate Saturday morning to Laguna Hanson then continue to Mikes Sky Rancho and return Sunday afternoon.

The overall plan is meet and ride to Dana's Memorial site about three miles past the Saw Mill by 11:30 to meet up with Dana's family in the trucks. We'll then head back to the Saw Mill for lunch and gas.


Bikes meet at the Tecate, California, border gas station on June 14, 2014 at 8:00 leave at 8:30 AM.


1. Technical group: Ken Kugel will lead bit more technical track to Laguna Hanson; the route will be determined depending on the skill set of the participating riders, then will continue to Mikes (after lunch. This group will stop at the Kurt Caselli Memorial on the way.

2. Slower big bikes/noobs: Arnie will lead a slower big bike group through La Rumorosa to Laguna Hanson on the way down then back through the Compadre Trail on the way back. Depending on the skills and bikes, Arnie will try and stop at the KC memorial before Mikes.

3. Trucks and cars leave out of TJ: Meet at San Ysidro Insurance Office on June 14, 2014, and leave at 7:30AM. The address is 4575 Camino De La PlazaSan Ysidro, CA 92173.

The trucks will head to Ensenada and head to Laguna Hanson off the S3. Dana's dad will lead the trucks; cars can make the trip to Dana's Memorial site without any problems. If you would like to continue to Mike's, a higher clearance vehicle is recommended.

Please share the event on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/events/1473.../?notif_t=like






Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Are You Criminally Inadmissible to Canada?

As you may know, I’m embarking on a month-long ride throughout Canada and Alaska this summer.


I’ve provided some info for those who desire to travel into Canada yet might’ve committed youthful indiscretions. Seemingly minor offenses years ago can lead to heartbreaking and embarrassing situations. As an example, a friend was turned away last year for a public intoxication charge he’d all but forgotten about. Unfortunately for him, Canadian officials — who have access to US criminal history databases — had not forgotten or forgiven; and it promptly it ended my friend's Canadian adventure.


While it’s not impossible to enter Canada when you have minor crimes in your past, it can be disastrous when you’re turned away — or worse, deported — from Canada at the beginning of a scheduled ride. A couple options for avoiding problems at the border:

• Obtaining a visa (AHEAD OF TIME);
• Complete required forms to officially request permission to enter (“proof of rehabilitation”);
• Carry proof that past crimes were adequately resolved (fines paid, probation done, etc.).
Plan ahead, know the rules and enjoy your ride!


Are You Criminally Inadmissible to Canada?


If you have been charged or convicted of any crime, including driving while impaired, you may be prohibited from entering Canada to visit, work, study or immigrate.

Please read the Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Criminality: http://www.canadainternational.gc.ca/australia-australie/visas/rehabilitation-readaptation.aspx?lang=eng


In general, people are considered to be inadmissible to Canada due to past criminal activity if they were convicted of an offence in Canada or were convicted of an offence outside of Canada that is considered a crime in Canada.


Similar to other countries that prevent the admission of convicted offenders, Canada does make provision to allow people with criminal records into Canada under certain circumstances.


If you are not sure of the steps to follow in your specific circumstances, you may Contact the Immigration Section or send an enquiry by email, fax or mail and we will advise you further.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Psycho Hillbilly Crackheads from Hell:How I Spent Memorial Day


Psycho Hillbilly Crackheads from Hell (Or, “How I Spent my Memorial Day Weekend")


It was to be an enjoyable weekend of motorcycle camping at a secluded spot—a shakedown ride for a summer ride to Canada and Alaska. It morphed into a drug-fueled soundtrack consisting of bluegrass, AC/DC, hip hop/rap, radio static, what sounded like painful sex acts and hillbillies yelling, “yeeeeee-haaaaawww!!!” All at maximum volume. I was subjected to this delightful scene between the hours of 11pm and 7am.

Ah, but let me start from the beginning…

My riding partner, Dan, recently suggested a second and final shakedown ride to make sure our camping gear was ready for the wilds of Canada.



He knew just the spot, a hidden campground in the middle of the Cleveland National Forest., a place so far from civilization that he predicted no one would even be there but us. Perfect, I said. Let’s go.

We met at San Diego’s finest back-country biker bar, the Hideout Saloon in Santa Ysabel (http://www.thehideoutsaloon.com), on Sunday afternoon for a planning session and a couple warm-up brews.

By 5pm we had reached the spot, tucked away in the hills and 7 miles down a little road.


Dan was correct as there was only one other car parked there, a young couple tent camping. We selected a spot away from them and set up our gear.


Everything appeared to be going well; the tents and cooking gear were in fine order. We started a campfire as the sun went down and sat back to enjoy a couple big San Diego Lost Abbey brews (http://lostabbey.com/).


By 10pm we were both ready to turn in and try out our sleeping bags and air mattresses (yes, we are old and no longer enjoy sleeping on the hard ground).

It was almost exactly 11pm when I heard the first, “yeeeee-haaaaaww!!” The hillbilly holler was accompanied by the all too clichéd bluegrass banjo music (My Old Kentucky Home, no kidding.) My tent was lit up by a large truck’s headlights pointing right at my tent. I scrambled to grab the necessary hardware to confront the unwelcome guests and unzipped my tent at surprising speed for a tired old guy full of local beer.


As I jumped out of my tent, wearing naught but boxers and a Smith & Wesson, I faced a scene from Deliverance. Instead of squealing like a pig, I inquired “semi-nicely” as to their intent. The 3 men and a little lady looked intrigued as to who would spoil their good time. The big truck’s engine was revved for effect, of course. The bluegrass music was turned up even louder, of course. And off the truck screeched in a show of backcountry lunacy. Of course.


Holy cow. I just stood there and listened to them race through the campground, hooting and hollering. The only other sound was Dan’s impressive snoring coming from deep within his tent. You have gotta be kidding!

I went back inside my tent and listened as the group proceeded to whoop loudly, smoke crack, sing along with the radio – badly, may I add— and make all sorts of love to that poor girl. It would have been amusing, funny, even, if I hadn’t been so tired. I am amazed at how the other couple who were camping directly across from this redneck disaster tolerated the fiasco, but they did, apparently.


Dawn broke by 5am and I could take it no longer; I’d slept not one wink. I dressed, sat in my camp chair and made coffee as I listened to the catastrophe wind down. And it did, too, at 7am sharp. I guess their crack/meth wore off at the same time that Dan’s Ambien did, because all of a sudden the radio noise died and Dan stumbled sleepily from his tent.

“Did you hear music just now?” Said Dan as he rubbed his eyes.

I looked at him incredulously. It took all I had to now toss my hot coffee at him.

“Are you serious?” I sputtered? “You didn’t hear any of that?”

“Of what?” Asked Dan.

“In. Frickin. Credible. Just amazing.” That’s all I could say.

Dan warmed up some coffee as he listened to me recount the Hillbilly Massacre of 2014. He chuckled as I recalled the hooting and/or hollering I endured; the 2 hours of full-volume radio static; the high-fiving, love making, crack smoking lewdness that was now silently passed out in the dirt just 100 yards from our campsite.

Dan asked me why the redneck quartet acted as they did, especially in such a nice campground. I could only reply that the cretins’ neighbors would never allow such thoughtless merriment to occur in their trailer park. That was only a guess.

We packed up camp and left by 8:30. The only evidence of the madness I’d listened to for 8 solid hours was a lone hillbilly, leaning unsteadily on a truck and 3 lifeless bodies lying in the dirt alongside of him. I revved my bike’s motor for effect, but the group was too far out of it to even realize we were there.


True story. Good times…

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Watch those blind spots: What Big Rigs can't see!




The driver of this big rig can't see ANY of the bikes in this photo.


Something to think about.

Friday, May 9, 2014

PanAm Trip: Living Vicariously Through Two Cool Dudes

So, these two yahoos show up at my brother's house two months ago en route to "Central or South America." They called me for advice on border crossing; we spoke for a while and I sent them, "How to cross every border between Canada and Chile."

They had a beat up van, some surfboards and, most importantly, the beautiful and indispensible naiveté of youth. And off they w

I started corresponding with them via email but I only received one response: We're somewhere south of Oaxaca and, man, we're having a friggin' blast!

So this morning I received the following message and I thought you all would enjoy it. The video is priceless...


VIDEO LINK



(Music by Manu Chao, Warren Zevon and Stick Figure.)


Good morning!

I hope this email finds everybody well. I want to update everybody as to how the trip down south is going. Right now we are in Tamarindo, Costa Rica. It's world class surfing out here and the water is 70 deg and clear. It's been two months since we've left Tucson and I've hardly sent anything to anybody, sorry about that. Internet has been pretty shoddy since we've crossed into Mexico but it's also because we both want to make the most out of this trip and step away from our 21st century duties, sort of disconnect a bit. We initially told everyone (really, a lot of people) about setting up a website (elyoda.com) where we would post videos, pictures, and updates for the trip. After two months, we posted one picture. I now feel that maintaining a website while on the road would detract from the experience of the trip, and as most of you all know I'm pretty tech-tarded so it's a lose lose. So, instead we will try to seek a balance of keeping you guys informed and not filing a lost persons report while I still preserve sanity with my Macbook. We will try to send out an email update every week or so, maybe a few sentences about progress (or regress), a dissertation about the meaning of life, or a report of my inner workings depending on what foods I'm ingesting that have or have not been properly prepared.


We brought a GoPro with us to give you guys a point-of-view perspective of the trip. Unfortunately, I left the charge/transfer cable on my mom's kitchen counter, so there is no footage of Baja or Northern Mexico. You didn't miss much anyway, we were mostly driving. We finally have a video up (still, there's a lot of driving) so let us know what you think. We will continue to kick out videos as we go along on the trip. They will be posted to my YouTube channel and not to the website. If you do want to get this 'so-called' weekly email as well, please reply so I can create a mailing list.


We miss being home and seeing everybody.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Alaska Shakedown Ride to Joshua Tree Nat'l Park

I rode out with Dan — a friend and fellow SDAR (San Diego Adventure Riders) member — to Joshua Tree on Friday afternoon for some motorcycle camping. This was just a quick shakedown ride to test our equipment before our planned ride to Inuvik this July.






As you might've heard, there was some wind and rain. The wind was howling and pushed us all over the road on the way there. Lotsa fun!

We arrived to JT by 5pm and were informed that all camping sites were full. The ranger at the entrance told us, that due to the strong winds, we wouldn't want to tent camp there, anyhow. Pffft! What does he know!

We turned around and headed back to town where we found the Black Rock campground LINK (http://www.nps.gov/jotr/planyourvisit/blackrock.htm). Dan checked with the ranger who gave us the very last campsite. Score! We set up our tents—using a strand of trees for a windbreak—and headed into town for some grub.

We found a cool little bar and grill — the Joshua Tree Saloon (http://www.thejoshuatreesaloon.com/) LINK — and had ourselves some burgers and brew. Since karaoke night was in full swing, we hopped onstage and did a fine rendition of “I Will Survive.” (OK, maybe that last part wasn't exactly accurate…)

We headed back to camp, where—On the way back into the park— I dropped the bike in some sand I hadn't noticed. Doh! No biggie as the IPAs I'd enjoyed soothed the pain.

We finished up a flask of bourbon as we admired the desert surroundings and hit the sack by 9:30 or so. The wind was persistent but the tents seemed fine. That was about to change...

Throughout the night, we experienced some hellacious wind and rain on top of that. There were strong gusts and some sustained winds that threatened to send our campsite to Arizona. The tents held up just fine...they moved around a little but stayed put.

We were up by 7:30am and on the road by 10 after some camp-brewed coffee.
On the way out of the park, Dan motioned over to the hills we'd admired the day before; they were now dusted with snow above the 6k’ level...a beautiful site for sure.

We stopped in for some fantastic biscuits and gravy at a roadside diner (John’s Place in Yucca Valley). It was a good foundation for fighting the STRONG side and head winds we encountered until we made it south of the I-10. The side winds were of the variety that threatened to lift the front wheel off the ground…the fun kind of wind...

We decided to skip the mountain route over Anza due to the snowfall. Dan knew a fun route that took us to the I-15 via Winchester Road. We were in Escondido by 2 and I was in La Mesa shortly after.

It was definitely an excellent opportunity to try out the gear we plan to use in Canada/Alaska this summer. (NOTE: It’s clear we still have some tweaking to do…)

Monday, March 17, 2014

Super Moto Sunday!

Some of you will remember a ride I did to Cabo San Lucas in November.

LINK


The guys who went with me exhibited some serious street skills on those Baja highways and I asked them where they picked up that experience. All of them were fairly new Super Moto riders and suggested I attend a course.

So, fast forward a few months...



This weekend I enjoyed some Super Moto riding for the first time. For those not familiar with this type of racing, Super Moto is basically a dirt bike with street wheels AND it takes place on a track mixing three styles: flat track, motocross and road racing.

Wicked fun!

The instructor -- a friend of mine, champion rider Tim Weig -- said that Super Moto is basically “riding like you’re running from the police.” So it’s a combo of varying levels of traction (street, dirt) at really fast speeds.

From Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supermoto): Super Moto was originally conceived as something like an all-star game, in which the best riders from the three separate genres of motorcycle racing could temporarily leave their normal race class to come together and compete for the title of best all-around racer.

The course was held at Adams Racetrack in Riverside, a medium sized go-kart track with an off-road section in the infield. Super Moto by definition must include a certain percentage (minimum 30% and up to 50%) of dirt, so the Adams track was perfect in having dirt sections of packed red clay and motocross-style obstacles like bermed corners and jumps. The Adams track consisted of some tight turns, fast straightaways and a small section of dirt (berms, turns and jumps).

While I never slid around the corner sideways like some of the more experienced riders, I'm pretty confident in the dirt so I really enjoyed the jumps (I'll post photos/videos of me catching some serious air).

The motorcycles provided by SoCal Super Moto were newer Suzuki DRZ 400s set up with road-racing wheels and tires.

The participants on Sunday wore a combination of road race and off-road equipment. I wore my cordura jacket/pants and motocross-style helmet and that I routinely use for dual sport and street; others wore motocross gear or full leathers.

More photos and info to follow, but I am still smiling from a most enjoyable time and highly recommend it to those interested in improving their street skills...or just having a blast on someone else's bike!

Here’s some info on Brian Murray who operates Socal Super Moto:

Business website www.socalsupermoto.com
5292 24th St
Riverside, CA 92509
Phone number (619) 224-6686

Socal Super Moto, Southern California's all inclusive supermoto school. Whether you ride a dirt bike, Harley or sportbike, just one day on a supermoto bike will transform your riding. You'll also have the best time you've ever had on two wheels. Just $199 for bike rental, training, trackfees, and photography.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Good-bye, old Katoom. (Hello new Katoom!)

UPDATE: I made it back from Oakland (510 miles to San Diego) in 8 hours. Encountered some rain, wind, lightning and the infamous Hell A traffic. Piece of cake.

The bike rides beautifully and I really think I'm gonna like this one. Hey, maybe I'll keep it for more than 3 months this time!

Now, to get it in some dirt!

*********************************************************************

Does this sound familiar?

Well, I’ve gone and done it. I’ve sold the KTM I just bought in December! After barely 3 months and 1,500 miles, I had to let her go...

Here's a quick update on the continuing saga of my quest to find and buy "the Perfect Dual Sport bike" if there is such a thing...

As you may know, I bought a 2004 KTM 950 ADV a couple months ago. Almost right away, I realized that the bike just wasn't for me. Among other things, it had too many miles (30k) and I preferred a newer bike with EFI vs carbs.

So I put two bikes up for sale -- my trusty KLR and the KTM -- to finance another bike: a newer KTM 990 Adventure; they both sold right away.

After having no luck finding a 990 for sale (Craigslist, ADV Rider and eBay), I went proactive and put up some want ads. That got me some decent offers but none were really close.

I missed out on a really good one locally. It was a beaut but had too many miles for what they were asking. So my options were narrowed to a 2007 in Seattle or a 2010 in Oakland. I made the seller in OakTown an offeron his loaded 990 and will pick it this Saturday (a fun fly and ride deal).

In the meantime, a friend met me in Carlsbad this past weekend and let me ride his 990 ADV. Wow, that's quite a bike! We talked bikes over coffee and then I took the big girl for a spin down PCH. If I was on the fence about that bike at all, that ride put any qualms to rest. It is a super nice bike and makes my weeklong wait to get my own that much worse!

I fly to Oakland Saturday morning and should be back in San Diego that evening after a 500 mile ride down the coast that is supposed to be a little wet (the weatherman is calling for heavy rains!). Great way to break in a new-to-me bike...

Here are some photos to compare the two bikes (outgoing gray 950 and new orange 990):



Will update everyone when I have the new girl home.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Good-bye, trusty KLR


Well, I’ve gone and done it. I’ve sold my beloved KLR. After just 2 years and 7,000+ miles, I had to let her go.

The reasons are varied and probably don’t make sense, but I had 3 bikes in my garage and couldn’t justify keeping all 3 if I wasn’t riding them all enough.

I put all 3 up for sale and sold the first two to get offers: My KLR and KTM 950 ADV went fast. Am looking at another bike soon, but will keep my Triumph for now.

I was asked by a friend why the KLR had to go. It was really about a recent Baja ride I did. Off pavement was fine, it was riding 4 full days of 75-85 MPH that convinced me that I need a long distance dual sport bike that holds up for lots of miles on a day-after-day basis. Many of you know that I’m an Iron Butt guy and put a lot of miles on my bikes so if I buy another Dual Sport, it’ll have to be something that is great off road and good enough on long distance asphalt.

Sure, I’ll miss my KLR. It was bulletproof and dang near perfect for the riding I do. But what I’ll miss the most is the camaraderie of the other KLRistas. The guys I rode with in Arizona, San Diego trails and Baja. And the fine folks I met at Eagle Mike’s tech days. There just isn’t another bike community like the KLR riders I met and rode with.

So I guess this is good-bye, KLR-wise.

For now, anyhow.

Monday, February 3, 2014

San Diego to Inuvik and Return (July 2014)

Here is the tentative route from San Diego to Inuvik, NT, Canada, and back I plan to ride this July.

And if I have the ganas* when I reach the northernmost drivable city in Canada, I may go ahead and ride up to Deadhorse/Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, to see the Arctic from the US, too.

ROUTE LINK

Here are a couple of Ride Reports that have helped me plan for this ride:

Alaska Primer: http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=788417&highlight=alaska+primer

The Lure of the Dempster: http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=906146

Haul Road/Dalton Highway Primer: http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?p=23085597#post23085597

And, yes…before you ask, this is one of those Bucket List things… I say it's never too late to have a happy childhood.

As Mark Twain put it: Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed with the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

* Spanish for desire, wherewithall, etc...

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Camp-Ride Report: San Juan Trail and Blue Jay Campground, Jan 2014

Camp-Ride Report: San Juan Trail and Blue Jay Campground





I met up with fellow Christian and KLR rider Jeff for a go at the San Juan Trail off of the Ortega Highway (Hwy 74). Instead of taking my KLR, I brought along my slightly bigger and taller new acquisition — a KTM 950 Adventure — to see how it did in the rough stuff. More on that …

We agreed to meet at the Blue Jay Campground on Saturday afternoon to plan our ride. It also gave me time to shake out my camping gear. I rode up the I-15 north from San Diego to lake Elsinore. I stopped by the lookout to enjoy the view with others who had the same idea.

When I arrived at 3:45 PM, the 55-spot campground was almost full. I parked in one of the 3 available sites and strolled around the ground. Hearing a large and boisterous group of drunks nearby, maybe I should have moved right then… An Adventure Pass is required for stopping in a National Forest, so I zip-tied the pass I’d purchased at REI recently to one of my forks. The campground was reasonably-priced, costing less than $10 each for the night. Each of the campsites included vehicle parking, a flat area for tents, a wooden table, a grill and a firepit; restrooms and water were nearby.

This isn’t the type of camping I prefer, but it really wasn’t to bad at all for those who don’t mind camping near others in a more structured environment.

Jeff arrived shortly after I did and we set up camp and cooked up some chow as we discussed the next day’s ride. Jeff has a highly-modded 1992 KLR that is made for this stuff. We didn't snap any photos of our tents and bikes, but this is more or les what it looked like:

We talked until about 9:30 and called it a night. The party continued at the Blue Jay campground well past midnight (that’s what earplugs are for).

Up early the next morning, we took our time cooking breakfast and packing up camp. Hitting the nearby San Juan Trail, I was a bit more loaded down than I would’ve liked…but how tough could the trail really be? I was soon to find out. We aired our tires down just a bit to contend with the soft dirt and sand and off we went.



The trail started easy, just hardpack dirt, some loose gravel and quite a few rocks to dodge. Soon, however, as we gained elevation, the trail gave way to ruts and rocks. I remained behind Jeff and chose a zig zag approach, staying in 1st or 2nd gear to negotiate the changing and somewhat challenging terrain. Due to the sharp changes in elevation, we encountered some tight switchbacks along the way. We didn’t come upon any oncoming traffic, though.

We passed about a dozen hikers on the 11-mile ride to the top of Santiago peak. We also passed a dune buggy driving slowly up the grade as well as a lone mountain biker. The views were pretty spectacular—maybe too much so, as the trail required my full attention. The few times I took my eyes off the trail to gaze at the nice vistas, I was rewarded with a deep rut or loose rocks. Keep your eyes on the road, boy! Ride reports I’d read before starting this ride stated, “If you have never ridden this trail, take it easy, don't go all out. There are many sections that are steep and exposed that come up on you without notice. Don't get caught off guard.” True Dat!

Jeff stopped at a couple of nice spots to snap photos of the scenery. At one stop, we were joined by 4 local riders on dirtbikes. They were really flying up the grade and having a great time doing so. We talked with them a while and they passed along some good info about side trails, gates and alternate routes. After wishing us well, they were off in a cloud of dust.

I took the lead and put it in 3rd gear, seeing what the big girl could do. The KTM Adventure is really a big dirtbike and she did very well on the rough terrain. In no time we had reached Santiago Peak (also known as Saddleback) and met up again with our dirtbike riding friends from earlier; they asked us to join them for a burger at Tom’s Farms later. Also stopping to enjoy the view (Catalina Island could be clearly seen) was a group of hikers who said the walk had taken them 4 hours to reach the top and they were on their way back down.



Starting off down the other side, the trail topography again changed to dust and looser, larger rocks. We both pushed it a bit, stopping twice for photo ops along the way. In no time at all we had reached the bottom and had to figure outhow to exit to the I-15. The trail ended in a fork – one side leading to a golf course, the other into a residential community with Stay Out signs posted everywhere. We were able to find our way to Tom’s Farms where Jeff and I parted ways. I wanted to get home and I still had 90 miles of asphalt to contend with. Jeff decided to skip lunch, too, so we filled up at a nearby Arco and aired the tires back up.

What a great ride that was! Fun yet just challenging enough to keep a rider on his toes. This was just one of the many off-road trails in the Cleveland National Forrest…so, what’s next?!

Info from the net: The San Juan Trail is one of the premier single track trails in Southern California. Many avid bikers flock to this trail to test their endurance or simply for an amazing downhill ride. Located just inside Orange County, the San Juan Trail traverses some classic SoCal landscape such as chaparral, dense oak trees and meadows of bunchgrass.
It begins high in the Santa Ana Mountains at around 3,400 ft. and carves its way down into Hot Springs Canyon at around 800 ft. This trail is a huge attraction for endurance mountain bikers and for downhill riders and should only be ridden by experienced mountain bikers! There are many technical (and often very steep) areas and quite a bit of exposure in certain areas ranging from 20ft to 100ft.

View current conditions here: http://www.fs.usda.gov/cleveland/