Pathways to Adventure

Tahoe Road Trip – Day 2 (8/10/18) with a Video!

Put together a POV video of our group ride on the second day of the trip around Lake Tahoe, Stop #1 of the NeuroAdventures World Tour!

To start things off, we climbed for 3000 vertical feet to 9750′. As luck would have it, the smoke and haze from nearby fires cleared substantially from the day before, so we were rewarded with some nice views at the top.


We then turned around and enjoyed a long descent on three separate trails – Tahoe Rim Trail, Armstrong, and Corral (Upper and Lower). All were fun and with varied terrain, from open face alpine traverse to tight/twisty pine forest to rocky staircases to flowing berms and tabletop jumps. Here’s a link to the highlights of over 7 miles and 90+ minutes of 100% singletrack downhill (when you have about 20 minutes to spare):

I’m going to award this one a Dopamine Rating of 8, based on the views (serotonin), long climbs (endorphin+anandamide), fun descents (adrenaline/norepinephrine) and camaraderie with friends old and new (oxytocin). This will be a tough act to follow, since an 8 is really frikkin’ good! But let’s see what the next few days can deliver.

Happy NeuroAdventures to you!


Tahoe Road Trip – Day 0&1 (8/8/18 – 8/9/18)

Left The OC on Wednesday morning, August 8, headed for Lake Tahoe: Stop #1 of the NeuroAdventures World Tour. The plan: meet up with trip organizer DT, aka -DfT, aka – Dr. fukking Tom initially for a ride en-route on Thursday, then join Erik, Debbie, Margo and Clinkie for dinner Thursday evening, and follow that up with some epic Tahoe rides Friday through Sunday.

Blue skies and light traffic on I-5 made for a pleasant drive.


Decided to stop along the way for some lunch. And nothing quite screams “Road Trip!” like pulling up to a Bakersfield truck stop for some greasy-ass Jack in the Box tacos:


Two tacos for $1.69, along with some 99¢ fries. Woo! Was the food-coma dopamine hit worth the impending gut punch? Oh, yah. Smiling Jack definitely approves…

The aftermath looked like some kind of Law and Order crime scene, though. Gruesome…


Time to get back on the road. But first, since I planned to stop in SF for dinner with daughter Erin that evening, decided to take the bike off the roof rack, remove both wheels, and stuff it into the back of the SUV, to deter potential thieves when parking on the streets near The Haight.

Remainder of the drive to SF was uneventful. Then met up with Erin and we went to a local family Italian restaurant (Bambino’s Ristorante – highly recommended!), where I ordered some amazing chicken cannelloni in a creamy marinara sauce, accompanied with a house-blend red wine, followed by crazy-good tiramisu and an espresso macchiato. After a quick after-dinner stroll around the Haight, walked Erin back to her Cole Valley flat, and drove an easy hour to Napa for a night’s rest at the local Motel 6, located at the apparent epicenter of fast-food heaven:


Motel 6 accommodations were spartan but fine inside, but the noise outside was pretty brutal… Every couple hours, until the wee hours of the morning, raucous guests decided to shout f-bombs across the balcony on the way to their rooms, for reasons I could never quite figure out… Oh well, good riddance to Motel 6 rubbish, and after an early-morning breakfast burrito at one of the myriad options nearby, I was on my way up the 80 to the 50 towards our first ride, Sly Park, visions of flow trails playing in my head.

Pulled up to the parking area a little ahead of our 10am meeting time, and soon enough, DT pulled up, as well, so we began assembling our bikes for the ride ahead. OK, front and rear tires out, frame out, upside down on the dirt, towel under the dropper post handlebar button, and let’s put the wheels on… Wait, where’s my rear axle quick release? Where da fucq is my REAR AXLE QUICK RELEASE!?!?!? Apparently, on the tarmac in the parking lot of the Jack in the Box at a certain Bakersfield truck stop, just where I must’ve left it… FUCK!!!!

DT suggested calling some Tahoe bike shops to see if they had any in stock. First shop found in a Google search looked promising, and they did have some 12×142 rear axles, but they couldn’t tell if the thread patterns were right until I brought it in. So we decided DT should ride Sly Park, and I would drive another hour to our South Lake Tahoe final destination and check out the bike shops there.

Long story short, they didn’t have the axle I needed in stock, since Pivot bikes like mine take an unusual thread pattern, but they could order one for their Friday delivery from Pivot. In the meantime, did I want to rent a demo bike? Well, f-yes, since they had a 2017 Mach 6 available, same size and geometry as mine. Main diffs were aluminum instead of carbon frame (no biggie) and a regular, i.e. – non-dropper, seat post (suckee, but can live without a dropper post for a day or so…).

Then the shop mechanic showed me a loop on their Tahoe MTB map that I could do from their shop parking lot, so it was off to ride!

Got a few photos from the loop, but no video.

Here’s a typical view of the wandering singletrack thru some decent pine forest:


Here’s the cool orange demo bike, resting a bit against a tree:


A little more POV of the s-track:


And a final ominous warning sign upon leaving the trail:


“If you ride this trail you will be eaten by a bear!” At least I think that’s what it’s saying. Upon closer inspection, it appears to be something stapled up there by the local community as a joke, since it’s just a printed page in plastic and doesn’t have any USFS logos on it or anything. Also, since I am living proof you can ride there without being eaten by a bear, it’s downright misleading, as well! So, don’t believe it! Go ahead and ride there. It’s a fun beginner/low-intermediate loop up South Tahoe Mountain and down North Tahoe Mountain trails, with a little fireroad and pavement thrown in to make it a 9.8 mile loop with 1,058 feet of climbing – a nice warm-up ride, perfect for getting acclimated to the mile-high+ elevation.

So rather than reflect on a bunch of lessons-learned from the whole forgotten-axle incident, maybe it’s best to just remember when traveling to stay flexible, improvise when necessary, and try not to stress (too much…) when things go wrong! It doesn’t hurt to have a little good luck thrown in, too: super cool people at the shop (South Shore Bikes, btw), same bike model, size and geometry available to rent, planned delivery from Pivot the next day to the local bike shop for the axle, etc., etc. All-in-all, memories of good rides on the orange Pivot combined with a few good laughs at my stupidity for leaving the axle on the ground more than make up for the hassles and expense of the little boo-boo…

Oh ya, need to figure out a Dopamine Rating for this. Let’s go with a +4 for the nice dinner with Erin, the quick Tahoe Mountain Loop ride, and the fun evening hanging out with the group at our Tahoe condo. But then I guess we should subtract -2 for the lost axle hassle and expense, and the obnoxious Motel 6 guests. So that’s a net rating of +2. Still in positive territory! But I think we can do better over the next few days.

So, keep NeuroAdventuring! Hope to see you on the trails or in the water soon…

8/6/18 – More Local Stuff: Another Creek Paddle…

…but this time I brought the GoPro along. No epic rides on monster waves, no harrowing stories of near-attacks by great whites, not much that anyone would really call super eventful, TBH. But it was still a pleasant way to get in shape for upcoming (and hopefully epic) surf trips as part of the NeuroAdventures World Tour, and it seemed like a better idea than hitting the gym or swimming 100 laps in a pool somewhere. And the strange thing to me is that it is something anyone with the time and energy to hit the gym or pool could do outside, instead, but I was the only one out there doing it. Not that I have anything against people hitting the gym. Any exercise is way better than no exercise. And time constraints can obviously play a factor. But, as a lifelong NeuroAdventurer, it seems that adding the serotonin boost of an outdoor experience and the norepinephrine hit from an adventure sport to the very worthy endorphin reward of a good workout seems like a no brainer… Oh, well. On to the video.

The full name of the video is “Up Salt Creek (with a Long Paddle).” Hope people don’t mind the tongue-in-cheek title. But that sort of describes it, as well, since I started at Middles break of Salt Creek, then paddled a mile up north to Heroin’s Point (aka – Shell Beach), a secluded strip of rock and sand on the far side of Monarch Bay.

This is probably a Dopamine Rating of +3 or 4, mainly for the nice serotonin release from the sublime beauty of this secluded area, combined with a healthy dose of endorphin/anandamide from the 2 miles and hour+ of steady paddling. A few fun waves and some deliberate maneuvering between rocky swirls off the coast at Heroin’s Point provided a tiny hit of adrenaline/norepinephrine here and there, too, but not enough to significantly raise the score above a +4. Still, it beats hitting the gym! And the memories of fun waves at Middles and crystal waters, empty sand beach, and curious sea lions up at Heroin’s has me looking forward to the next visit. Hope to see you there one of these days!

Local Stuff: Something Old/New – 7/28/18

On Saturday, 7/28, I took the longboard down to Salt Creek for a bit of a paddle. With an upcoming trip to Scotland in hopes of scoring the mythical and renowned rock-shelf reef waves at Thurso East, it seemed like a good idea to ratchet up the fitness level for that sport, since I have been sorely remiss in ocean time of late. I didn’t expect much in the way of surf, and when I got there, that was indeed the case. Weak dribblers pushed in at the Point with probably a dozen people scrapping over them. Bumpy outer sandbar mush and closed-out shorebreak filled in at Middles with just a few guys out. So I set my 9’0″ in the water and started paddling towards Heroin’s, the rare winter break on the far North end of the long crescent-shaped beach, and which also wasn’t breaking at all today.

A couple minor waves came to me along the way, near Gravels, so I rode one fun left and a pretty decent right. After 20 minutes or so of paddling, I reached the end of the sand and the start of the boulders. With minimal swell, a bright idea popped into my head: up the adrenaline level a bit by paddling through the gaps in the rocks near shore. It turned out to be pretty fun, not too dangerous with such a weak swell, and definitely added a tiny norepinephrine hit to an otherwise endorphin+serotonin-oriented day. And by now the steady paddle and serene blue ocean and sky were starting to get those two pathways flowing nicely, as well. In this happy state of mind, the next destination was the clump of rocks a couple hundred yards offshore and in front of Heroin’s point.

Got there in a few minutes of easy paddling, and the occasional waist-high swell created swirling eddies between and occasionally washing over rocks covered in sharp mussels. Based on this, plus the fact I didn’t wear any booties, decided not to try and climb up on the rocks. So I left the swirling serenity of that space, and started paddling towards a secluded pocket of sandy beach between the sandstone rocks of the north headland and the boulders on the main beach. It was easy to see fingers of sand between the rocks by looking for their tell-tale pale aqua green coloring, so I followed them to shore, until the last few yards, when sea grass-covered smooth rock didn’t present any problem at all to walk over and reach the sand.

As expected, I had the beach to myself. The sandstone cliff had clinging vines running down it, and stands of tall bamboo along the base, so it gave the beach a tropical feel. One wouldn’t expect to find something like this in South OC.

The mile paddle back seemed to go quickly, with the endorphin levels now elevated, and when I caught one last wave at Middles to end the 90 minute paddle/surf session, I knew I would have to return to this place soon.

Unfortunately, I didn’t bring the GoPro along with me that day, so wasn’t able to capture the solitude and beauty of this unexpected place. But I intend to bring the camera next time.

7/29/18 – Final Weekend Ride…

…before becoming a full-time NeuroAdventurer! This was a Sunday cruiser with Clinkie that started off with a couple of steeps near his house: Edge-n-Ledge (in the video) and Centipede (fun! may film that one on a future ride). From there, it was onto various XC singletracks in the Tijeras Creek area. Will post another short video of the highlights from those trails, hopefully later today…

If you like this video, please click “Share” on wherever you found it (, or NeuroAdventures Facebook page, or NeuroAdventures YouTube channel).


Ok, got the second part of the video done.

This is a continuation of the Edge-n-Ledge ride shown in the video above. Much more mellow, though… Sometimes fun XC singletrack through the woods is a nice break from steeps and rocks. Main trail is called Ripper, then we strung together random trails along Tijeras Creek on the way back to Laguna Niguel. Also tried to film Waterworks, but had apparently changed the settings to “Photo” instead of “Video,” so only got a silly shot or two of my handlebars and the ground…

Oh, well, fun ride anyway, so enjoy the Ripper!

Oh, yeah, I would give this portion of the ride a Dopamine Rating of +3 (Not bad! Decent serotonin and endorphin opportunities), and the first portion a +5 (with Edge-n-Ledge and Centipede upping the norepinephrine levels nicely), so a combined rating of +4.

More Local Stuff – with a Video!

Adding a video from our pre-work Friday ride a couple weeks back on 7/19/18. Good fun!

This one was produced with a new (for me) editing software – Davinci Resolve. It’s more powerful than the ancient version of Adobe Premier I was using, but also more complex. I’m still learning the details, but am pleased with the quality of the final cut.

Have a look and let me know what you think!

And if you enjoy it, please Like, Share or Subscribe (or all three!) on the YouTube channel to see future videos!


Local Weekend MTB NeuroAdventure – 8/5/18

Saturday began with a typical but still exhilarating ride in Laguna with some of the weekend crew, and this time Ken, Clinkie and Hao showed up around 7am to try and beat the impending heat. Took the easy route from the Aliso side up to Top of the World, with a misty overcast marine layer keeping things a bit cooler but more humid, then descended into Laguna Canyon on the moderately technical (i.e. – steep and rocky) Telonics trail. Good fun. From there, we slogged up the mile-long Willow Canyon fireroad in the rising heat as the fog lifted. Up top is where things got interesting. Ken and Craig chose a trail that shall remain nameless, and both were game to try the new Cactus Gap. Ken JRA’d it (Just Riding Along – when you hit a stunt without looking at it first), and was hiking back up with a big grin after his successful launch. So I of course offered to document the effort, and that inspired Clinkie decided to have a go, as well.  They both hiked a ways back up the trail to get enough speed to send it properly. Speed is essential to clear a 12 foot gap jump with serious consequences for coming up short, but ironically, Ken overshot the landing on his first go around, and, as shown below, dialed in his speed and loft perfectly for the next attempt:


Craig went next, and came up a tad bit short, slamming his back wheel on the front of the landing (also known as “casing it”), but managed to ride out of it unscathed. Whew!


And that gets to the next topic. Hao and I were perfectly content to watch (and document) this particular feature. Everyone who participates in adrenaline sports needs to know their limits. Push past them gradually, incrementally, when you feel up to it, but go beyond that and you will definitely cut your adrenaline sport lifespan short. With big stunts like these, sometimes even the very best end up getting airlifted out, breaking multiple bones in a single crash, fracturing vertebrae, blowing up spleens, or worse… So since I want to keep doing these things, as I stare down the end of my fifties and look forward to beginning my seventh decade on this planet, I have to carefully decide when to go and when to say no.

So far, so good…

And that’s the goal of the NeuroAdventures life going forward: Push just far enough on the norephinephrine pathway to keep it real. Enjoy the myriad other pathways that come along with it. And I’m hoping, as I roll into my eighth decade on the planet ten years hence, we’re still talking about the next NeuroAdventures we will take…