Friday, June 19, 2009

SD Zoo & two more rides

The day off from sightseeing today - I get a bit sick of it & today's early start hasn't helped my energy levels (it may have been the three hour well-paced ride this morning). Yesterday I went off to the renowned San Diego Zoo nice & early. I'm not much of an animal person, but it's a great place & it exceeded my expectations. Particular highlights were the reptile house & all the snakes, lizards & komodo dragon.
Also, was pleased to see a different kind of pheasant (Malay Great Argus) - the photo is a little poor through the netting. And I spent a good while looking at the kiwi foraging in the dark - I don't remember ever having seen one so close in NZ (that's not to say it didn't happen - only I may have been quite young).

The new elephant enclosure was pretty good - but it's not quite the same as seeing them roaming the streets in Thailand or Nepal or even going for a trek on one. Giraffes have always been a particular favourite of mine, so it was cool to see some tall-tall ones & some short-tall ones (the youngest being only a few months old).The gorillas were good to watch as well & a special mention must be made of the polar bear. I have never seen one so playful & active - all the ones I have seen in exhibits (or anywhere for that matter) have looked rather bored. This one had oversized ball to play with in its enclosure. It was a big day of walking & some pretty decent hills in there too - so I hopped on the Skyfari cable car to get back to the top - as you can see it's a big zoo:

Back home & a brief refuel (for me, not the car) & then off to meet another MTBer from . We rode for about an hour and a half on some tracks that are supposedly off limits ("I mentioned it once - but I think I got away with it") - not that you would know, we must have seen thirty other riders out there. Some nice rocky & dusty trails up a canyon (interrupted by a brief mechanical - Allen managed to bend a tooth on his granny ring perpendicular to where it should be - this in turn caused shifting problems & then broke the chain - just as well I had a breaker & Missing Link), before we went up a side canyon under a pretty canopy. Quite a nice middle-ring climb with a few technical bits to keep it interesting. Reached the top of the mesa & then we hit one of the five routes down. Really tight trail with very low overhanging twisted trees - reminded me a little of beech forest riding in the South Island. The first route downhill went for ever & it was a lot of fun. Reaching the bottom, we went up the same route & down a different one - this one was even closer & more technical - good fun, but a bit shorter & didn't seem to flow as well.

As if that wasn't enough, I was up at 5.30 this morning for another ride (the one that got canned on Tuesday). Drove about twenty minutes to meet another mate. After a bit of tuning (my brakes don't squeal quite as much now), we were riding by 7 o'clock. A few miles of road before we hit Mission Trails, then under another freeway before we hit the outskirts of the same Marines air base as Monday - this time on the opposite side & well away from anything. The riding was extremely hard packed drit trail with a few ruts left over & the odd rocky patch. Hard & fast. A nice long series of switchbacks to climb a fair way & then the switchback went all the way down - some were quite gnarly & very dusty, rocky & rutty. Started to miss 2.3 tyre on the front when I almost lost the second corner, but no problems after that - just fun. Continued winding our way up the valley/canyon for a while with a few pinch climbs. Reached a gate & decided since it was 9 o'clock, it was time to head back. Big chain ring down a lot of the path back down & really starting to enjoy the rocks. With a brief mechanical stop (it turns out the pivot in Chip's Blur had snapped) & a couple of good climbs, we were home at 10.00.

Popped in to the SDPD Northern District HQ to try & get my stolen money back - apparently I have to wait until Monday 3 pm when we go over the scene of the crime with the DA & detective. Which is a bit of a pain in the butt, as I was planning on driving to Vegas that day - it will be a late night, but which night in Vegas isn't?

A bit worn out & not wanting to do the tourist thing again just yet - I drove Chris out an hour east on I8 to pick up the van - which has had its radiator replaced. It got back safely & our eventful camping trip can finally be put to rest.

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