California Mountains MTB

5 Hours of MTB Winter Wandering in the Laguna Mountains

Patello femoral pain syndrome, is what the Dr. called it 2+ months after dealing with it, meaning not seeing a doctor and waiting for it to magically clear up. 6 weeks of twice weekly physical therapy, got me back to climbing stairs without sometimes near-crippling pain. I kind of accepted that I had a new normal to deal with, with regard to my left knee.

The human body wears down.

My mind said: fuck it. I’m going on a long ride and I don’t care what it does to my knee and I don’t care what the trail conditions are like.

From the kiosk on the Sunrise Highway, I connected on the single track and then went up the old county rode to drop in on Chico.

A little snowy and icy made for some dicey riding. I had a big grin on my face, thinking that the conditions reminded me of yesteryore riding back east and in the midwest.

Remember when sloppy riding was okay to do? Damn, if it wasn’t fun to ride and get messy. To kick off the new year, I made a secret trip to Sedona. Conditions there were wet and sloppy, too. I stopped at a local shop to get the beta on what trails I should likely avoid.

Shop worker response: no trails are off limits. Go ride. Whatever. Trails will return to flat and dusty. Your bike might need some work afterward, though.

I kept that in mind as I worked my way over to Red Tail. Rolling over snow was good for the inner workings of my being. Actually, rolling over dry, tacky, wet, muddy, sloppy, snowy, icy trails for 5 hours was what my mind/body/soul (can I say that in 2020?) needed.

Up and around Red Tail, then on over in the direction of Wooded Hill via the “back” trails, is how I went. Damnit–I cleaned the first 3/4 of the rock garden and then goofed the exit. Up some more, and then I stopped to snack and soak up some sun.

Pine cones can knock you off your rhythm.

Pine cones are the future.

Wooded Hill long view was spectacular. The initial attempt at the rock entry was not. I messed it up for the first time in a while. So, I went back and started over, rolling it with ease.

Down Wooded Hill and then back up the county road to Gatos. For sure, Gatos was a total mess; it likely should be shut down for a few months. I slipped-slided and held on, making it down to the meadows without falling.

Up the meadows’ east side, and then back to Penny Pines, hopping up on the Sunrise Highway, was the way. Before turning on to Pine Mountain trail at Pioneer Mail, I stopped and breathed in San Gorgonio’s snowy breezes.

Pine Mountain trail might be my favorite in the Lagunas.

At Champagne Pass, I turned left on to Indian Creek trail.

Indian Creek might be my favorite trail in the Lagunas.

Stop. Listen to the trickling of water as it passes through golden grasses.

Why have favorites?

Stop. We all do.

Let it go.

Up to Noble, turn left and then taking the connector back over to the meadows, I started to tire. I ingested more electrolytes back at Indian Creek and was waiting for them to kick in. Going down the west side of the meadows, they did.

Pedaling bliss.

Why not have favorites?

Stop. Do those birds on the water have favorite watering holes, or do they simply swim there because it’s what is available to them now?

I got home and washed my bike. It rode just fine the next day and my knee felt “normal.”

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