Archive | Rides

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San Jacinto Enduro filled up

Posted on 27 August 2014 by Brendan

The ride is full! no_vacancies_sign_143-R20-B We’ll have an email coming out soon with gathering & start info. Tagged: idyllwild, outdoor education booster club, San Jacinto Enduro

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San Jacinto Enduro sign up is OPEN

Posted on 18 August 2014 by Brendan

Sign up, get training, and come together for a good cause


Click here for the registration link. 

Tagged: gotta get up to get down, registration info, San Jacinto Enduro

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May Valley Road Reopened

Posted on 30 June 2014 by Brendan

After nearly a year, May Valley Road has been reopened to public access. 

Dave and Marlin drop into May Valley road.

Dave and Marlin drop into May Valley road.

We took this past Saturday’s shop ride through May Valley, something we haven’t been able to do in nearly a year.
The Forest Service reopened May Valley road last week, which now means cyclists, hikers, and horseback riders once again have an off-highway route to connect Idyllwild to Hurkey Creek and surrounding areas of Thomas Mountain, Rouse Ridge, etc. It also means we will have better access to bikepacking opportunities all over the mountain without having to ride Highway 243. The entire area had been closed to public access following the Mountain Fire last July, which burned nearly 28,000 acres.

The closure is still in place for most of the trails in the May Valley area, including 100% of the burn area. From what we could tell from the road on our ride, the trails were utterly decimated, eroded beyond recognition from rains before new vegetation took root.
However, on the bright side, the area is full of grasses that grew in this spring, hopefully adding some stability to the dirt. In the area near the May Valley/ Bonita Vista road intersection, Ribbonwoods have already been springing up, some nearly 2 feet high.

Entering the burn area, where Spring grasses have already taken root, and browned.

Entering the burn area, where Spring grasses have already taken root, and browned.

The Oak Tree on the old 24 Hour Course survived the fire and looks to be sprouting new growth.

The Oak Tree on the old 24 Hour Course survived the fire and looks to be sprouting new growth.

The Johnson Meadow trail was reopened. Despite the fact the fire ripped through this area, it was hard to tell much had changed. The trail is lined by signs instructing trail users to stay on the trail.
The area of May Valley above the burn area has been getting quite a bit of fuels reduction. The area around South Ridge has stacks of cut vegetation waiting to be disposed of, presumably this coming winter.

Taking a break near South Ridge trail.

Taking a break near South Ridge trail. Fuels reduction efforts have deposited stacks of vegetation nearby. 



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Biscuits & Gravy Ride June 29th

Posted on 17 June 2014 by Brendan

This gravy train has biscuit wheels.

View from Indian Mountain area

View from Indian Mountain area

We’re putting in some good miles on some strange dirt. It’ll be like a shop ride, but bigger, harder, longer… and on a Sunday.
When? Sunday, June 29th. Be at the shop and sign your waiver by 8:30. Buy some stuff while you’re at it. Ride leaves at 9am.
Where? At the shop. Park at Idyllwild Inn, in the middle of town. Book a reservation there while you’re at it.
Who should come? Folks who have ridden our shop rides before, but would like to go further. It’ll be a challenge.
The Ride: about 45 miles, 6,000ft of climbing. 50/50ish dirt & pavement, out to Black Mountain, then waaay up, around 8,000ft elevation. Bonus loop for those who are interested. Some of the very best views-by-bike available in the San Jacintos. Expect to be back around mid afternoon.
GPS track? nope, sorry.
Food & Water: Robot food, energy bars, chews, etc are all available at the shop. Bring plenty of water. Potable water at the spring near the top of the Black Mountain climb. Pine Cove Market will be a good stop on the way back (optional singletrack right afterward)
Why’s it called Biscuits & Gravy? Because we’re country like that.

View at the top of Black Mountain Trail

View at the top of Black Mountain Trail


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72 Hours in the Rabbit Hole- The Mountains

Posted on 05 June 2014 by Brendan

I didn’t sleep well at the beach. 
Three or four hours passed on the sand, but I awoke several times to anxieties of undesirables who might be lurking in the bush nearby.
My day started at 4am.

I clipped in and rode off into darkness, lights on in the haze. I felt tired, and a little hungover, even. A cumulative effect of suboptimal food, a lot of sun, and 200+ miles in 48 hours.  Within a few miles I stopped at an AM/PM, which delivered on their claim of “Too Much Good Stuff.” I stocked up for the day ahead. Nuts & drinks.
I collected myself at the gas station a while with a cup of coffee, yogurt, and chocolate milk, and called Mary to discuss the ride. She knew I could have pushed on further the night before, which would have been a better setup for a final push up into the mountains.
I didn’t tell her at the time, but there at the gas station, I started to consider a monster effort to ride the route from the ocean all the way home to Idyllwild in one push. It would mean a 130 mile day, with the bulk of the route’s climbing ahead.

First things first
The big push concept was daunting. I had to break it into steps, starting with the clearing of my foggy head, and did my best not to make too many calculations about time checks I should aim for along the way.
I soft pedaled to North of The Border bike shop, where there was a care package and friendly note waiting for me. In the package was an assortment of energy gels, electrolyte drinks, and the like. I really appreciated the gesture.

A note from the guys at North of the Border bike shop.

A note from the guys at North of the Border bike shop.

And then there was Penasquitos Canyon. Urban singletrack, early morning stomping grounds for a zillion mountain bikers… and perennial Bermuda Triangle for me. I don’t carry a GPS on the Stagecoach 400 route because having created the route, I know every turn… almost every turn anyway. There are over 300 route cues for the course and I feel utterly comfortable going through the most remote of them by memory alone (I carry maps for reference) but the Penasquitos Canyon twists and turns totally confuse me. The sky overhead is often foggy from the ocean moisture, with city lights reflecting off the haze at night… both take away reference points for me.

And I got lost.
I charged off in the direction I thought I needed to go… then second guessed the decision about a half mile out, and turned around. Then charged up a hill to gain some line of sight perspective. Nothing looked familiar.
I saw a guy on a bike and flagged him down. He was in a hurry, blurted out something about “go that way,” so I did… a mile later it became apparent I was way off track, by a mile.
I turned on my smartphone map and did my best to compare “current location” to the red line on the Trackleaders website. I reminded myself that this too, is part of the challenge. I needed to slow down and solve this early morning riddle. Eventually I found the way and soft pedaled out of my least favorite canyon on the route.

Mile 256
The Circle K where I pulled out, sick, last time. I have bailed on ambitious rides here in the past too. I love and hate that spot. This day, I was feeling stronger, even a little buzzed to ride away from that point under my own power.

Loaded up and ready to press on past where I'd stopped on my last attempt.

Loaded up and ready to press on past where I’d stopped on my last attempt.

I pressed on through Black Mountain and into the San Dieguito River Park area. Great pedaling weather with cool temps and a light breeze. I indulged myself to go ahead and start making plans for the long day ahead in the mountains. The I-15 crossing would be my last viable stop for all resources. I drilled my mind on what I’d do there: order a sandwich, drink chocolate milk while it was being made, stock up on more nuts, mix up some robot drink, etc.

Ranger Dave from the river park Spot stalked me, and provided escort through to the end of his turf. A nice gesture for sure. We moved along at a fast pace, perhaps faster than I wanted to go, but slower than he wanted to go… so just about right. I hit hwy 78 at high heat, and seemingly high traffic. The climb up this long stretch of hot pavement would be the last I’d see of San Diego county’s hustle before turning off into the ranch lands of Pamo Valley.

Up into the hills
When the heat started to break I mixed my last baggie of Perpetuem, which I had been carrying since I left Idyllwild. I had four servings in total and had saved the last one for this climb. I turned the ipod on, more Daft Punk and Pixies. I felt this was a make or break moment of the day- if I could get in a groove and climb strong, I would make the effort to push all the way home.
The climb out of Pamo Valley is a bitch, but I crushed it. Just blew it away. I felt almost too good going up toward Black Canyon, but monitored my legs and breathing to keep it consistent.
Then Sam Johnstone showed up. Sam is an extraordinarily strong bikepacker, and an exceptionally good guy to ride a bike with. He rolled down from his home in Julian, down into the deepest depths of the worst part of the Stagecoach route to come ride with me. Crazy!
“How far you wanna ride today?” he asked
“Well, I’m kinda thinking of going all the way.”
“To Idyllwild?”
“Yep, but that’s just an idea. We’ll see after Warner Springs.”

Sam was fully loaded for an overnight trip, all in. We pushed on up the Black Canyon climb, riding strong. I was amazed and thrilled to see my legs going strong. Some of the prettiest countryside on the route revealed itself at the top, near Mesa Grande road.

Me and Sam Johnstone at Mesa Grande road. Sam is a great rider and a great guy.

Me and Sam Johnstone at Mesa Grande road. Sam is a great rider and a great guy.

I checked in on Facebook and saw I had quite an audience following my SPOT track, and read through all the well wishes. They all expected me to turn off to Lake Henshaw resort, over a mile off route but the obvious resupply point. I talked it over with Sam, who was loaded well enough that he didn’t need to stop. We blazed the Hwy 79 section to Warner Springs in what felt like record time. We had a strong tail wind, even. I checked my Facebook one more time to see Kevin Hinton’s update on the Stagecoach page: “HE”S GOING FOR IT!”
I phoned Mary to let her know to keep the proverbial light on for me that night.

We took some time visiting with a firefighter in Warner Springs to stretch legs, lube chains, and organize my gear for the night ahead. By this point in the route, well over 300 miles in, my gear became an extension of myself. I could access clothing layers or food items blind, which I figured I’d have to do the final night.
The sun set as we churned up into Lost Valley.
In darkness, I did not turn on my light. “Imagine it’s all a climb” once again my mantra. It was easy to fool myself into believing the whole thing really was “all a climb” since I couldn’t see very far ahead. Every now and then I’d feel my front wheel drop down into a descent. Bonus points, in my mind.
Through Chihuahua Valley and on to the Cienega Truck Trail. The place Kevin and I have called “nut punch mountains.”
UP, down, UP, down, UP, down… Sam disappeared far beyond me. I continued to ride with no light, which meant Sam never really knew how far behind I was.

After Midnight
Body soreness set in. I kept an even pace but allowed very few full stops.
I could not stop and sit, for fear of cramping, or falling asleep.
My mind started to play tricks on me. My vision was off.
I walked a lot.

Jim Truck Trail, climbing out of Anza. The entire thing was a walk. Sand slog at the bottom, rocky at the top. I tripped and stumbled a few times. The cold of the mountain night set in, I donned all of the clothing in my bags at the Speed of Light Reflector.
I don’t remember the conversation Sam and I had at the top of that hill, but he tells me I said something about “Gotta keep moving or the Sleep Monster will get me.”
I do remember a very strong desire to sleep, but at this point I was a scant 14 miles or so from the end.
Garner Valley was very cold, freezing. Ice crystals formed on the road. Sam, underdressed, blazed ahead never to be seen again.
Leaning hard on my aero bars, I was falling asleep on the bike. I would “come to” every now and then and find I was swerving in the road. Thankfully it was about 3am and there was absolutely no traffic at that hour.

I turned on my phone. I texted Mary to let her know I would be back soon. I was still in striking range of keeping to my sub-72 hour goal, but it wasn’t in the bag anymore. I walked up Keen Summit. I walked up past my son’s daycare… a gentle grade even most kids could ride. I gazed at a couple grassy spots and wondered what it would be like to curl up and sleep.
On the bike… time ticking down.
I had less than 20 minutes left to keep the ride under 72 hours.
10 minutes left…. creeping in to town.
5 minutes left… around the bend entering town. Big chainring, out of the saddle 100% effort down to the elementary school. Aero tuck.
Climb up North Circle, 3 minutes left.
Time check 71 hours, 58 minutes. Done.

I cried. On the steps of the bike shop, accomplishment.

I floated in a sense of bewilderment the next day. Folks around town asked how my ride was; I puffed with pride. The route I’d created was no longer my own nemesis.

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72 Hours in the Rabbit Hole- Day 1

Posted on 30 April 2014 by Brendan

 71 hours, 58 minutes and so much more 
I left Monday after delaying the start a full day… which would’ve been a move up in the first place. I had the opportunity to see the Pixies live at Pappy & Harriets… a barnlike venue in Yucca Valley described as a “hipster honky tonk”. The chance to see Pixies was worth shuffling my days, I figured. But duty called, and it turned out I didn’t have much time to spare. A guy can only have so much fun.
Jump in
Higher Grounds Coffee Shop, the starting point of the ride.

Higher Grounds Coffee Shop, the starting point of the ride.

I left the house around 4 am Monday morning, stopped by the very closed coffee shop for the obligatory SPOT turn on and called the start of my ride at 4:20. I rolled off in the cold & dark, down the route into Garner Valley. Dave See, my riding buddy, happened upon me along his commute some 10 miles out, just before my first turn off on to dirt near Thomas Mountain. He pulled his car alongside and gave me a shot of enthusiasm with a pumped fist & raised cup of coffee.
A very red sun rises over Anza.  Day 1

A very red moon sets over Anza. Day 1 at daybreak

I lingered a bit at the top of the first climb near the Speed of Light Reflector, which is an artifact left over from scientific experiments of the 1930’s. The setting moon was red and fat on the horizon. Commuter traffic was building on highway 371 below, I noticed the motorists seem to zip around a bit quicker when that first hint of civil twilight breaks. Just like the critters rustling around in the bushes.
Descending into Coyote Canyon, the day matured. Pines and Pinyons gave way to Creosote Bush and Ocotillos. Lizards scurried on rocks and sand, warming in the low yellow sun. I settled into solitude for the long haul across the desert. By the time I reached the Ocotillo Wells General Store a number of hours later, I was deep enough within my own head that I could barely hold conversation with the resident desert socialite. A chatty blonde girl with a pack of cigarettes, legs dangling over the arms of her plastic chair.
Summer is coming early
The route jumps deep into the Anza Borrego desert from Ocotillo Wells. Soft sand, churned by Jeeps and dried by intense sun and too few rainy days. Southern California has been in a drought of historical significance. Desert dwellers from Borrego Springs to the Imperial Valley can see it in the vegetation, and even in the ground they walk on. Prior to my ride, I had talked with Carter Taylor, from Brawley, who told me of the recent changes he’d witnessed in his home turf: the wind had been busy moving dry sand, and the firm layer of “crust” was thin and fragile.
I stopped briefly at the mouth of Fish Creek wash to air down my tires and give myself a pep talk. I’d been feeling pretty good on the bike to that point and decided to press into the ride with effort, to make my mark on the ITT right there. “Effort” is a relative term on a hot day in the desert. It is nothing at all like effort in the hills, or effort on the flats. Effort in the desert for me means holding a sustainable exertion for a long time, with few stops. It takes a constant self-diagnostic check of breathing (don’t get too deep) and pressure on the pedals, combined with a carefully reading the sand for firm spots and avoiding the impossibly soft ones. The margin of error is razor thin. Get breathing too hard, hit a soft spot and be forced to push… and you’re done.
Getting settled in the desert.

Getting settled in the desert.

I started off during the day’s peak heat, a temp in the mid 90’s. The sand in wash was soft, as predicted, and the steady breeze came through the valley like a hair dryer blowing on my face. Forward progress came from about 80% pedaling, 20% pushing and walking.
I kept at it with businesslike effort, running calculations in my mind for arrival times at various goals that day. I was anxious to get to the shade beneath the tall rocks near the Wind Caves, a few miles up the wash. By the time I got there, I’d spent about 2 hours straining in the heat since leaving the store in Ocotillo Wells. My stomach had knotted up, and my energy level was quite low. That “effort” in the sand- and the focus on time goals- was a mistake. I sat in the shade for quite some time reevaluating the situation, and decided to walk at a slow pace until the heat broke.
I walked for hours, stomach distended and head hot. When I allowed myself to ride it was at a creeping pace, barely turning the pedals. The push up Diablo Drop Off, a deep silty grade up a steep hill, was particularly heinous. I took three breaks on the way up, covering less than a quarter mile in probably a half hour.
By the time I reached Arroyo Tapiado the sun had relented, and I finally had gravity on my side. I pedaled at what turned out to be a more reasonable “effort” for the rest of the day until I reached Highway S-2 around dusk.
Blood Moon
Mark puts on a laser show

Mark puts on a laser show

I pulled up to the Agua Caliente General Store in the dark and located doorbell: a tethered ingot of steel the visitor whacks against a hanging oxygen tank with the bottom cut out. Mark, the store owner, welcomed me into his home for the evening and immediately provided for my every need: a home made turkey sandwich and cold Dos Equis, which he described as “clean and refreshing,” and he was right.
It was the night of the Blood Moon eclipse; cause for celebration. We stayed up a while, visiting and enjoying the night sky outside his compound, which is equal parts health food store and repair shop. Mark put on a laser light show against the nearby mountains and we related stories of tourists and the state of the world.
I laid back in a hammock below a large Ocotillo, rocking in the gentle breezes. I listened to a symphony of frogs from the nearby spring, and lingering notes of wind chimes in the air… I drifted off to sleep.

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Rejuvenation Celebration on The Hill- Idyllwild Opening Again

Posted on 21 July 2013 by Brendan

The evacuation order for the Idyllwild area was just lifted. Locals are filing back in to town and beginning the return to normalcy.

The Mountain Fire has over the past week led us to the verge of heartbreak, and consumed our thoughts… but it has also grown our community closer to one another, forged new friendships and reinforced community bonds. I for one feel even better connected with the town I love after this fire than I did before. I am extremely proud to be a part of Idyllwild. Now it’s time to give back.

The imagery & coverage on TV news has been daunting and scary, but I’m here to tell you: To many, Idyllwild will appear pretty much the same. Some folks lost their homes- friends of ours, and fixtures of the community- but our town and vast swaths of our natural resources were spared thanks to the outstanding efforts by fire personnel working the Mountain Fire. We stand strong and ready to open for business again soon.

Many of our mountain bike trails remain unchanged. The “middle May Valley” area got burned and will take time to rebirth, but mainstay trails at Hurkey Creek, the Hub system, Thomas Mountain, and more all remain unscathed.


We want your support.
Local businesses will have been effectively closed for a week. As many of you know, Idyllwild depends on your visits for our economic health. Restaurant wait staff haven’t been earning tips, stylists & barbers haven’t been cutting hair, and storekeeper’s doors have been shuttered. The list goes on.

Come up for a visit- spend a weekend with us in town. Here’s some activities for you to consider this coming weekend:

-Saturday, July 27th, 9am at Hub Cyclery
Rejuvenation Ride and Cyclists’ Moment of Thanks: Please join us at The Hub for a Rejuvenation Ride around town followed immediately by a MTB ride at the Hub system.
The town ride and Cyclists’ Moment of Thanks is open to all rider abilities and bicycle types. Expect a leisurely, social pace and a stop for a moment to give thanks to the remarkable men and women who’ve worked so hard to preserve our town and way of life. We will gather for a group photo during the moment of thanks to share with the world.
After that, we’ll hit the trails at the Hub system for some of the finest Singletrack Idyllwild has to offer. ;-)

-Sunday, July 28th 10-noon at the ICRC site on Hwy 243
Sunday Bike Rodeo: Bring your kids, bikes, helmets, and safety gear for a FREE safety check, helmet & pad inspection, and kids skills course. Expect a relaxed atmosphere and a fun time with your little ones.

In conjunction with either day’s event, please consider donating to the Idyllwild Help Center. Financial donations can be made here, or we will be accepting non-perishable food items at the shop and during upcoming events.

We will have more info on next weekend’s events soon on our website and on our Facebook page. Stay tuned or call the shop with any questions. Please consider making a weekend of it, staying in our campgrounds or inns, eating from our restaurants, and shopping at our stores.

We appreciate your support!

Brendan Collier

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Overnighter in Garner Valley

Posted on 11 December 2012 by Brendan

We busted out a sub-24 a week ago in an unsung local area with a nearly full moon.


Errin and Bruce joined us from LA, and locals Nick & Robin chaperoned the party. We made our way out from the shop mid/late day down into the May Valley system and out into the land of sand, tri-tip, and gold mines that seemingly only ever produced broken dreams.







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2012 San Jacinto Enduro in the Books.

Posted on 30 October 2012 by Brendan

The year of the single track.

What can I say? We had a great ride. This year’s San Jacinto Enduro was mile-for-mile tougher than any year before. The difference between the 45 mile route and the 60 mile route was significant, the equivalent of climbing an extra mountain.

We took a new approach to the ride this year. Beyond offering a fun time for everyone to get together for a ride, we decided it was high time to leverage the opportunity to help out own local community. We asked for donations to the Idyllwild Help Center to stock the food bank shelves. Going into Fall, we figured this was an especially timely opportunity.
A cursory count shows us mountain bikers raised about 300 food items for the Help Center!

And we had a good time doing it.

The ride was hard, the weather was great, and the vibe was chill. Kids, and grown up kids alike all had a great time. Thanks to everyone who came out. On to the pics…







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Backcountry Family Experiment: Kokopelli’s Trail

Posted on 24 September 2012 by Brendan

We are heading out on an entirely new family adventure.

This afternoon, the Collier family will depart on Kokopelli’s Trail, a 140 mile trail linking mountain bike towns Fruita, CO to Moab, UT. What’s that you say? Crazy? It might be. But then again, maybe it’s not crazy. It might be a ton of fun.

The jist of it is this: Mary & I (Brendan) will be relaying the ride, taking turns riding and leapfrogging the other rider with our son. We will car camp along the route. We might even ride some of the trail with the kiddo in tow, where the terrain will allow it. We will do our best to keep a businesslike pace on the trail, but be sure to put that on balance with family time in camp.
It’s a grand experiment for us, integrating our family roles with the bike-based adventure lifestyle we’ve enjoyed for so long. We will be taking notes of what works and what doesn’t, and sharing them for other parents to consider.
We have set up a Spot Satellite Tracker Shared Page where you can follow along.


We will update the blog as we are able to.
We’re leaving Moab now to the Loma start. See you on the other side of the rabbit hole.

-Brendan, Mary, and Alexander.

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Summer Hours

Monday 10-5
Tues - Closed
Wednesday - Closed
Thursday - 10-5
Friday - 10-6
Saturday - 10-6
Shop Ride @ 8, SAT
Sunday - 10-2

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