Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Got a Job!

Finally someone responded to my online application! I just left the interview for RGIS - an inventory collection company. It won't be the most interesting (or high-paying) job I've ever had, but it's work. The hours should be decent since I'll mainly be working before or after a retailer is open for business...that means I'll get to start my day early and get out with plenty of daylight left in the day.

I plan on living on the cheap though, so that I can save up for my big purchase just before the race season begins: an '09 GIANT Glory Downhill Bike!


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The New Year

Okay, so what have I learned from 2008 and where am I headed in '09? Well, in the past year I've:

- joined a mountain bike team and raced a full season
- bought the bus, converted it to vegetable oil, and taken tons of great trips
- moved to San Diego for the "offseason"

So where does that leave me and what should I shoot for in the coming year? I suppose I'd like to:

- stay on my bike and train for a downhill race season next summer
- get a job in San Diego so I can pay myself back for the drive here
- take an extended tour through the north on the way back to Richmond
- help Rowlett's become a mountain bike specialty store
- work towards becoming a personal trainer
- race downhill all summer long and cyclocross in the fall/winter
- stay in Richmond next winter, but make the most of the cold months

Nothing too hard I suppose. I'm looking forward to the future and will be much more at ease once I find a job. The rest seems like fun though, and I'm pretty satisfied with the way things are headed.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Drive Back (Long Beach, CA)

I broke up the drive from Ventura to San Diego into two days by stopping by Long Beach to see another friend from Richmond, Karen and her boyfriend Tony. When I first got in we walked the dogs, including one they were dog-sitting named Trudy. She's an English Bull Dog that looks pretty much looks like Meaty, Rob and Big's bulldog. Oh yeah, if you click on that link make sure to find the video about meaty's party planners...funny shit.

Anyway, we walked the dogs and then headed to Trudy's place (yes, the dog's house) to jump in the hot tub. Unfortunately we found that the tub wasn't on as soon as we touched the cold water - bummer!

The next morning we grabbed some breakfast and started scouring the area for veggie oil. I spotted one drum outside of a Mexican Grill called Lola's and decided to ask about it inside. The owner's son was super nice and told me I could come grab some of the oil, so I swung by on my way out, pumped a 1/4 tank of oil, and grabbed some taquitos to go. I just got home on that 1/4 tank and popped the food in the microwave...delicious!

On my drive back I spotted another mega-van. It was a Ford van like mine [without the bus body], but beefed up with a suspension lift, racks all around, and two surf boards on the roof. Got to admit, I was a little jealous.

Oh yeah, one last thing. My brother, Dave, got me a TomTom One 125 navigation system for Christmas which I picked up from Circuit City on my way back. Thanks bro!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Dirt Jumps (Ventura, CA)

Mike is one lucky guy. He's got a downhill course and dirt jumps about a 1/4 mile behind his house. Today we needed to run a couple errands, so we decided to ride that area for a couple hours instead of trekking out to some far off trail.

The course was short and sweet. Just about a mile long, winding down the hill with bermed corners and small tabletops in between. The dirt jumps were even more fun. I didn't feel comfortable tackling most of them, but did hit a set of two that turned out to be pretty exciting. The best part was the view from the jumps. Below was the beachfront and in the distance you could see Santa Cruz Island.

Cooke's Smokehouse (Ventura, CA)

The latest BBQ joint, Cooke's Smokehouse.

Great feel inside this restaurant with dark wood and exposed brick. I got the pulled pork sandwich - pretty damn good, but not better than the Saltlick in Austin.

Romero Canyon (Ventura, CA)

After leaving Ojai, I drove over to Mike and Galen's place in Ventura. They live halfway up a mountain with a balcony view over the ocean.

Mike took me to one of his favorite rides in Santa Barbara called Romero Canyon. It starts with a four mile climb up a fire road, followed by a blistering downhill through some rocky technical sections. Both of our bikes suffered minor punctures, but we just aired the tires up a couple of times and made it to the bottom of the trail. For the last mile or so the trail dumps back onto the original fire road which allowed us to gain some real speed (somewhere around 35mph I guess).

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas in Ojai

I lucked out BIG TIME when Tony and Eva came to visit. They let me come along for Eva's Christmas celebration. We spent a night at her parents' house in Carlsbad and then headed to Ojai the next morning to see her Aunt and Uncle, Laura and Rocky.

Their place was magnificent and the two of them were some of the best hosts ever! The place was set on the top of a mountain, surrounded by five acres of avacado trees and some of the most beautiful sights imaginable. They have seven dogs and the entire property is fenced in, so I was able to let Dignon and Andy's two dogs run around all five acres. Rocky (Eva's Uncle) fabricates custom motorcycle saddles (Bill Mayer Saddles) and served as an encyclopedia on great drives for me to check out on my way back to Richmond. The feast was great and the company - even better! I was served a piece of steak larger than my head (it was delicious). They even gave me a Christmas gift.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Elfin Forest

Drove to Carlsbad today to hang out with Tony and Eva for Christmas and whatnot. I brought along Andy's Rocky Mountain Slayer SXC and went riding at Elfin Forest with Tony. It was an out-and-back ride up a rocky doubletrack. The climb was short but brutal so we walked a fair amount of it.

The ride down was great! I let one of the dogs come along, but she was starting to slow on the descent and we had to stop and wait every hundred yards or so. We walked back up some sections and sessioned the rock gardens while waiting for Gracie (the dog).

A few minutes later we reached the bottom and loaded up the bus with dogs and bikes. Now we're at Eva's folks house and tomorrow we'll be driving to Ventura, where I look forward to riding with Mike King. Oh yeah, I drove the bus on vegetable oil today...and it worked great!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Balboa Park

Just over a mile away from Andy's house is Balboa Park. We visited the park on Sunday and caught a glimpse of the trails beside the park in the Florida Canyon. Today I rode back to the park to check out the trails.

The trails aren't very long, but they do wind down the canyon on either side, which allows you to climb up to the top and make several laps in a short time. I even found a small gap jump at the top of the canyon and played on it for a bit.

Later today Tony and Eva came into town to visit, so I took them back to Balboa. I figured there was plenty to see there and it was doubtful that I'd seen it all. I was right...we had a blast just riding bikes through the park and taking in the sights.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Fiesta Island & Morley Field

On Saturday we took the dogs to a leash-free island called Fiesta Island. It's basically a huge dog park. It's located near Ocean Beach. The dogs had a blast and we got a chance to partially test out the veggie oil system on the drive there.

Today we went to Balboa Park. We played a few holes of disc golf at Morley Field and then walked around Balboa Park to check out the botanical garden, street performers, and Timken Museum of Art.

We saw a Unimog on the way out of the disc golf course.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Hurricane Diego

It rained ALL day today. Apparently it's the most rain Andy has seen since he got here in July.

Vnecks Forever

Yesterday I was changing out of a white Vneck and into a tan one when I realized...I'm back in Vneck Summer!

I guess it's time to dye some more Vnecks for another great season!

Gingerbread Village

Last night we went to a holiday party in La Mesa. The theme of the party was gingerbread building. The organizer of the party (Kelly) throws this event each year in the upstairs floor of a friend's restaurant. There were several bottles of wine and about ten teams of gingerbread builders. I just took photos, ate candy, and drank wine the entire time which was fine by me.

Friday, December 12, 2008


I've taken a bunch of photos, but only posted a few. Here are a few more that I've collected over the drive.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Catalina Mountains (Tucson, AZ)

I just left the trails and am now updating in a Tucson Starbucks. Today's ride was possibly the best of the trip, except for maybe Asheville. Anyway, I camped out last night in Coronado Park and woke up this morning to a very pleasant surprise - warmth! Yesterday in Las Cruces I woke to a bunch of frost on everything.

The road through the Catalina Mountains is an almost constant uphill, so I pedaled from the lower trailhead to the upper, probably a total of about five miles on the road. The Bug Spring trailhead climbs to the peak of a ridgeline (which I walked) and then meanders down to the creek and back up again (which I also walked) to another ridgeline. The last three or four miles of trail are mostly downhill. The rocks and loose dirt make keeping traction very entertaining. The sights at all points are breathtaking too.

About one mile from the end of the trail, you can begin to see the road again. The trail switches back and forth a few more times before dumping you back onto the road and into the camping area where I met an excited dog ready to get out and stretch his legs.