Pathways to Adventure

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 (NeuroAdventures.com, or NeuroAdventures Facebook page, or NeuroAdventures YouTube channel).

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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. 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 NeuroAdventures

Started Saturday and Sunday mornings with two very different activities.

Saturday, 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.

Sunday began with a more 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:

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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!

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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…

 

 

Local Rides – Standard WhiLu

Yesterday, we hit the classic FriWhiLu and I registered my 14th fastest out of 118 efforts on Strava for the “Luge DH from flag” segment.

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Not bad, but nothing to write home about (or post about…;-). The other trails — Cactus, Sage Scrub, Cow Trail, Live Oak, etc. inside Whiting Ranch — were their usual fun selves, with just enough speed to pump up the norepinephrine levels a tad. The standard 60 to 90 minutes of climbing also got the endorphin and endocannabinoid/anandimide levels elevated a bit. And the beautiful riparian forest sections and mountain-to-sea views most likely increased the serotonin flow. So, all-in-all, a pretty typical morning at a pretty typical place. In other words, pretty typically AWESOME!

It’s hard to believe such amazing opportunities for adventure exist out here, accessible to millions, yet so few take advantage of them as a normal daily activity. Sort of blows my mind, really… But, that’s fine, my MTB tribe(s) and I will just continue to make these places our private playgrounds for mid-week and weekend adventures. And that is how I want to end this post, by giving a shout-out to a few members of the local tribes, and the real highlight of this ride:

FriWhiLu Crew - 8/3/18

From left to right, Vermy, Jesse, Clinkie, me, BRD (Big Red Dog) — a solid crew of (mostly) Friday regulars. Happy to have Clinkie join the FriWhiLu mid-week group, since he’s normally a member of the weekend tribe. All definitely the type of people you want to have along, cheering you on for the tough sections, and willing to help out in any way possible if/when bad shit happens, which it sometimes does, sometimes many miles from the nearest paved road.

So let’s end with the highly-underrated oxytocin aspect of the adventure sports world. While we all love the challenge of a good solo adventure, and probably half my rides and nearly all my surf sessions are of this variety, the camaraderie and support that a group of like-minded fanatics engenders is the light that burns brightest and longest.

Hope this post inspires others to find your ride, find your tribe, and get outside…

 

Local Adventures, Part 2

All right, big announcement: As of today, I am now a full-time field reporter for NeuroAdventures. I had a great 2-year stint as a consultant (aka – barnacle) at an exciting company specializing in launching rockets into space for cheap, but all good things must one day come to an end. And that end was yesterday… I will say that my tenure there provided many neuroadventures of a different kind than the earth-based ones I will now spend time covering, and I feel humbled and honored to have been a small part of the team there. As a former vendor, I’m technically not supposed to mention them by name, but <<hint-hint>> they are one of the dozens or perhaps hundreds of multi-billion dollar private companies in L.A.’s South Bay that specialize in reusable rocket boosters to dramatically lower the cost of space travel, with the goal of one day colonizing Mars. And they currently contract with NASA, the U.S. military, and both private and government entities who wish to launch satellites into the atmosphere for less than half the cost of competors. ‘Nuff said!

While there, one of the biggest norepinephrine > dopamine hits* was being able to witness this particular incident, in real time, on a giant screen behind a glass-walled control room, with dozens of other space groupies cheering on the adventure. The after-party at a nearby watering hole was pretty faaaaking epic, as well.  Lots of tribal bonding and oxytocin* manufacturing going on that day:

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(Hopefully, the Gaussian blur of the company logos will keep you guessing as to the exact identity of said company…)

The incident below that occurred back in December 2017 was another surreal event I witnessed from Chez Boba (aka – my house) during one of my regular offsite workdays, and it had hundreds of people calling in to report an alien invasion of some kind:

Turns out, it was just a simple polar-orbit satellite launch out of Vandy that just happened to occur just after sunset on a clear evening… OR WAS IT ACTUALLY ALIENS??!!!???!!? The world may never know…

I will say it most likely activated my serotonin pathway pretty well, as sunsets normally do anyway, but with an extra kick that didn’t even require any little brown mushrooms to get there…**

But back to the present. That was then, this is now.

So what epic adventure did I embark upon during my first day as a full-time field reporter for NeuroAdventures? Ahhh, nothing too notable — yet. Today was pretty relaxed, trying to get a few things sorted out (like setting up this new computer that I’m now typing on with cutting-edge video editing software). But I also managed to take a couple of our kids out shopping:

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The little one on the left is Pepper, and the bigger one on the right is Twix. They’re both constant oxytocin-generators for our whole family and everyone else who comes into contact with them. We are lucky to have adopted a couple of the sweetest kids on the planet. Kids is sort of a misnomer, though, as Pepper, at age 12, is probably past his peak physical — and mental — fitness. Twix is also getting up in her years. She’s fifteen, which is 105 in dog years for those who don’t want to do the math. What an incredible twelve and fifteen years it has been! They both have provided countless hours of neurochemical happiness along the oxytocin and endorphin pathways for us, and we appreciate every day we still have with them. Life lesson: if you want a massive boost in your overall happiness, get a couple of pups as sweet as these ones:

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Here we are buying kitty litter for their feline cousin, descriptively named “Kitty.***”

Eventually, we made it back home from our outing, and the canine kids were still happy happy happy, but Kitty was visibly not impressed:

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Ride planning ensued in a flurry of text messages, and my local MTB tribe members and I settled on this place for our weekly Friday ride:

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We call this one the FriWhiLu, short for Friday Whiting/Luge, one of the quintessential South OC rides. I’ve hit “117 efforts” down Luge so far on Strava since 2012, but have been doing this loop since the early 1990’s, so the actual number is probably triple that. Despite hundreds of journeys on this loop, it is still a favorite. Here’s a link to a fairly lengthy video of the same ride from my former identity as BobaSurf59. Sorry for the poor video quality. As mentioned, the new computer and editing software should improve upon the quality for future vids…

With all the hard work and planning complete, it was time to activate the serotonin and endorphin pathways again, with a pretty decent sunset from the Chez Boba Firepit:

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The fermented grain beverage provided just enough effect to loosen up the GABA receptors* a little, and enhance the pleasant feelings from the serotonin and endorphin buzz provided by the sunset and primal fire… (And the kids were kind enough to hang out with me to keep the oxytocin pathway flowing, too.)

Well, signing off for now, but hopefully I’ll have a story or two to tell after tomorrow’s FriWhiLu. And, coming up next week, we’ve got a fun crew heading up to Lake Tahoe for some of the absolutely epic rides that can be found around the lake and mountains there. Will definitely report back from that one…

Keep the NeuroAdventures flowing!

BobA

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*I won’t spend time explaining these neurochemical pathways again, since you can read about them here.

**This reference isn’t actually in the Neuro-101 section of this website, so I’ll tell you in quick layman terms that the well-known chemicals psilocybin  and lysergic acid dietheylimide both work their effects by turbocharging the serotonin system in the brain, so likely other naturally-occuring surreal moments do, as well…

**Not going to spend a lot of time covering her contributions to the household, and I have nothing personally against cats as a species, but this one is definitely a twisted and possibly completely evil example of her kind…