My Happy Birthday Ride

Discussion in 'Ride Reports' started by OTHRider, Nov 3, 2014.

  1. OTHRider

    OTHRider Member

    Name:
    Duke
    Current Bike:
    '14 Giant TCX SLR2 Cross Bike
    Before I start, I must give "Wizard" over at the old STR forum credit for the idea. He posted an RR on this same ride and it captured my weird sense of adventure. The basics of the ride is 30+ miles with 5300' of climbing throughout the lower east end of Catalina Island. The catch was to do it on your (my) birthday to reap the rewards of Catalina's offers. I couldn't squeeze it in last year but the "5300' at age 53" cemented the ride for this year.

    With my birthday falling on a Monday I had no problem securing my free Catalina Express round trip (a $74.00 value). I did need to buy a Catalina Conservancy Membership to get my pass for back country bike travel ($30) and pay for my Heckler to take the boat ($7).
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    All ready for the Trip. I was checked by rangers three times - all were super friendly and helped me later on.

    I hopped on the 6:15 crossing and we arrived just at sunrise. I quickly stripped down to my riding gear and stashed my stuff in the lockers right at the dock. Since this ride was not held on a Grand Fondo weekend, the access to the single track portions of the Trans-Catalina Trail were off limits. I was bound to the fire roads which I was OK with. I have traveled to Catalina several times with the Boy Scouts for hiking/camping trips and I knew I'd still get some awesome views - quicker than expected. I hadn't even traveled two miles when I came across my first Catalina fox just enjoying the sun to warm up. He was too quick for my camera

    A 1/4 mile later this deer was much more accommodating. I rode about twenty yards behind him/her for a few minutes - neither of us was hurrying up the 10% grade. I have plenty of rear-end shots but he finally gave my a nice silhouette.

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    I was only 5' from him at this point. Absolutely no fear...we both parted ways with a tail flick.

    I shared the next mile or so with a young hiker from Utah who was doing a three-day, Avalon-to-Two Harbors-to-Little Harbor-to-Avalon hike & camp. He was my son's age and a recent college grad so we had lots to talk about. Before I got up to the spine of the island, I came to several vistas that let me know how high I had already climbed.

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    Looking down on Avalon. The sky was still hazy/foggy with the low sun.


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    Every corner offered new sights


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    I think this was looking down on the Botanical Gardens


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    Around Mile 6 it was time to merge onto Divide for the trip back over toward the Avalon side and join up with the Airstrip Rd



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    Looking back from where I just rode. You can see the wide fire road along the crest. It got a little hot on that stretch



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    The view from the Hermit Gulch trailhead. It was a hiker's only trail. Lots of signs announcing the deer hunting season. I didn't come across any hunters



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    Next up was East Summit with wonderful views. You can just make out the cruise ship anchored outside Avalon in the lower right corner. There is a newish, covered sitting area and I took a nice long break


    About a mile or so from here is a Haypress Campground. There are clean toilets and drinking water here. Rox, there's a swing set for you too. Lots of climbing continued and I soon passed Middle Ranch Road (my return route) and Black Jack Road to make a little extra elevation and visit the Airport. I watched a few take-offs and headed back down to Black Jack. In a mile or two you come to the campground which also has drinking water. I quickly noticed the huge amount of buffalo sign. There was a wide path over to a trampled fence. I looked everywhere but I couldn't find any mulling around. I quickly dropped down the road behind the camp and got an eerie feeling. I came to a slow stop and it was dead quiet. I waited for a minute and then started to pedal again. Within five cranks, all hell broke loose as a small herd of 10+ buffalo stampeded below me out of sight. I wisely slowed up and about fifty yards below me they showed up.

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    First out was the bruiser


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    Then some of his brothers came around the corner. Soon, more came out to stop directly in the middle of the road. They just wagged their tails and stared at me like a pile of green hay. I wisely moved a hundred yards back and located a bail-out tree. That didn't help. They kept staring & I think one winked at me. Time to go.



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    I started the slow climb back tup to the campground. I glanced back and they were still staring me down. This is at least 500 yards away.


    Just as I started to retreat, Momma Buf and her lil kiddo popped over the road berm about 30 yards ahead of me - hmmmm, not the birthday I had planned. Thankfully, they were on a beeline to the hole in the fence. I watched them disappear when the friendly ranger I had chatted with earlier drove up. Seems the buffalo are conditioned to the ranger trucks (not so much bike riders). He had me ride along side his truck and the buffalo gently trotted off to let us pass. Thank you Mr. Ranger.

    From here down to Cape and down to Middle Road junction I was a little spooked and didn't get any pictures although it was a great valley to drop into. Now it was time to climb out Middle Road and back over to the Airport Road

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    This sign was such a welcome sight. I was starting to get a little cramp twinge on the climb out. Now I knew the end was near.

    After a few climbs you hit the questionable pavement and start some serious elevation loss. You can easily hit 35mph here but the hairpin turns keep you honest. I stopped and watched a few couples take the zip line and continued on.

    The last views before getting back into Avalon proper.

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    Now it was time for the next phase of the tour - my free lunch and ice cream for the birthday boy. I pedaled back past the landing to the Buffalo Nickel and was served the perfect cheese burger. I enjoyed a few Pale Ales and then pedaled back for my free ice cream.

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    I had fully planned to do Wizard one better and take advantage of a free dinner at Red Robin. After getting back to Long Beach around 5 and fighting traffic back to Brea, I decided a Racer 5 and jacuzzi was a much smarter idea.....

    The ride won't make epic status in anyone's log but I was thrilled to pull off the climb and won't ever forget the future buffalo burgers staring me down.
     
  2. Mikie

    Mikie Admin/iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Lebec, California
    Name:
    Mikie Watson
    Current Bike:
    Yeti ASR5c, SC Hightower
    What a great Ride Report! Well written and great pics about a great adventure. I'm not sure why you said it was not Epic? The simple fact you went out to do a Catalina run on your birthday and did 5300' around some Buffalo Wild Wings is pretty Epic to me!

    Awesome!
    Thank You!

    Mikie
     
    Old&InTheWay and MrGreedom like this.
  3. hill^billy

    hill^billy Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Acton
    Name:
    Doug Lake
    Current Bike:
    Yeti SB-66
    Pretty damn good report to me! That was a solo ride on your Birthday? Damn I may have gone with ya! Nice and entertaining report. :thumbup:
     
    Mikie likes this.
  4. Rob S.

    Rob S. Member

    Location:
    La Habra, CA
    Name:
    Rob Skinner
    Happy birthday, Old Man.

    You realize, Duke, that the overwhelming majority of riders half your age wouldn't be able to ride or climb that far.
     
    Mikie likes this.
  5. ridinrox

    ridinrox Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Murrieta
    Name:
    Roxanne
    Current Bike:
    '16 Giant Trance Advance
    Wow Duke!! Just wow!!!

    That's the way to spend your birthday - Bravo my friend.
    And I do like swing sets ... Weeeeee
     
    Mikie likes this.
  6. mike

    mike iMTB Addict

    Location:
    Western US
    Name:
    Mike O
    Current Bike:
    Guerrilla Gravity Smash
    That is one EPIC bday ride! Way to show how it's done. TFPU your exotic adventure.
     
    Mikie likes this.
  7. H2oChick

    H2oChick Well-Known Member

    Name:
    K-Oss
    That's how a birthday should be spent! Nice RR and Happy Birthday
     
    Mikie likes this.
  8. Aviatrix

    Aviatrix Member

    Name:
    Kelly
    Nicely done, great RR, and Happy Birthday!!!!
     
    Mikie likes this.
  9. fatboyone

    fatboyone Newbie with Hope!

    Great RR, thank You!!
     
    Mikie likes this.
  10. Sprockethead

    Sprockethead Newbie with Hope!

    Name:
    Andy C
    Happy B-Day Duke!!! Wonderful pictures! Catalina's so steep it's an epic itself.
     
    Mikie likes this.
  11. Danimal

    Danimal Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Mission Viejo
    Name:
    Dan
    Current Bike:
    Rocky Mountain Altitude
    Nice RR and photos. Riding Catalina is not an everyday idea, it was nice to see something a little different.
    Thanks for taking the time to post it.
     
    Mikie likes this.
  12. imtbtrails

    imtbtrails Guest

    Congratulation my friend! :clap: :clap:
    Your Ride Report has been chosen as "Ride Report of the Month"

    It has been published on Singletrack Minds Magazine Here: http://imtbtrails.com/magazine/?p=1165

    Great Pics, Great write up, unique adventure!
    Thanks!

    :thumbup: imtbtrails
     
    Fueledbyex8 and Mikie like this.
  13. surftime

    surftime Newbie with Hope!

    Location:
    Huntington Beach CA
    Name:
    luke
    Current Bike:
    Yelli screamy Stump Jumper FSR
    Great R&R and i do remember the original from STR. BTW that ride is an epic in my book - nice job and sounds like a day to remember
     
    Mikie likes this.
  14. Faust29

    Faust29 iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Rancho Santa Margarita
    Name:
    Steve
    Current Bike:
    Chameleon & Highball C
    Happy belated birthday...

    This ride report has had me looking over the 3D map of the bike trails on Catalina for the last hour! I need to get out there with a bike, birthday or not. Thanks for the report!

    Steve
     
    Mikie likes this.
  15. OTHRider

    OTHRider Member

    Name:
    Duke
    Current Bike:
    '14 Giant TCX SLR2 Cross Bike
    Faust29, let me know if you have any questions. I kept all of my and Wizards trail notes.
     
    Mikie likes this.
  16. Faust29

    Faust29 iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Rancho Santa Margarita
    Name:
    Steve
    Current Bike:
    Chameleon & Highball C
    No Gran Fondo this year... I'm missing Catalina :thumbsdown: and this popped up on the Picture Slot Machine.
     
  17. SnakeCharmer

    SnakeCharmer iMTB Addict

    Location:
    Crescenta Valley
    Name:
    Mike, aka "Snake"
    Current Bike:
    Salsa/Trek/Kona
    How come no event at the island?
     
    Mikie likes this.
  18. Faust29

    Faust29 iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Rancho Santa Margarita
    Name:
    Steve
    Current Bike:
    Chameleon & Highball C
    I never did find out the answer to that... It was just off the schedule this year. It's a shame. I did it two years in a row, and would have been back for #3.
     
    Mikie likes this.
  19. Runs with Scissors

    Runs with Scissors iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    West Anaheim
    Name:
    Mark Whitaker
    Current Bike:
    2015 Giant XTC Advanced 1 29er
    Pic slots....and no more free birthday boat rides. :cry:

    I've lived in SoCal 50+ years and I've still never been to Catalina. :oops:
     
    OTHRider, mtnbikej, UPSed and 3 others like this.
  20. SnakeCharmer

    SnakeCharmer iMTB Addict

    Location:
    Crescenta Valley
    Name:
    Mike, aka "Snake"
    Current Bike:
    Salsa/Trek/Kona
    That's unbelievable! You should go soon. Its wonderful there in the Fall. Take the Catalina Express across for the day.
     
    OTHRider, Mikie and mountaingirl sara like this.
  21. Runs with Scissors

    Runs with Scissors iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    West Anaheim
    Name:
    Mark Whitaker
    Current Bike:
    2015 Giant XTC Advanced 1 29er
    Actually, I was gonna swim the channel. :laugh:
     
    Mikie and mountaingirl sara like this.
  22. mountaingirl sara

    mountaingirl sara iMTB Rockstah

    Location:
    So Cal
    Name:
    Sara Ford
    Current Bike:
    Santa Cruz 5010
    What!?!? I agree with Snake, you’ve got to go! It’s a nice date day as long as neither of you get sea sick:sick:
     
  23. Runs with Scissors

    Runs with Scissors iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    West Anaheim
    Name:
    Mark Whitaker
    Current Bike:
    2015 Giant XTC Advanced 1 29er
    Well, see, that could be the issue...the wife gets motion sickness just looking at the car. :whistling:
     
    mtnbikej and mountaingirl sara like this.
  24. mountaingirl sara

    mountaingirl sara iMTB Rockstah

    Location:
    So Cal
    Name:
    Sara Ford
    Current Bike:
    Santa Cruz 5010
    Lol, ya my hubby blew chunks on the trip back to the mainland, we were dating at the time:rolleyes: ...it was still fun tho :D
     
    OTHRider, mike, mtnbikej and 3 others like this.
  25. SnakeCharmer

    SnakeCharmer iMTB Addict

    Location:
    Crescenta Valley
    Name:
    Mike, aka "Snake"
    Current Bike:
    Salsa/Trek/Kona
    :gag: TMI!!! :eek:

    :laugh:
     
    mountaingirl sara likes this.
  26. mountaingirl sara

    mountaingirl sara iMTB Rockstah

    Location:
    So Cal
    Name:
    Sara Ford
    Current Bike:
    Santa Cruz 5010
    :p:p
     
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