After Kagel, it was obvious I needed a real mountain bike, with the capability of low gears to get up the hills. So I got one. It is a low end model, but is adequate for riding the fire roads in the San Gabriels. I decided to try it out on Mt. Lukens. I chose to start at 2900 ft altitude Grizzly Flats fire road, which after 4 miles connects with the Mt. Lukens Road. The latter is a well graded dirt service road for the vehicles that maintain the antenna farm on the summit. The total elevation gain is something like 2200 ft, and 6.6 miles one way. Any other road would have started lower and meant more elevation gain!
The Grizzly Flats Road starts at a turnout on the left at mile 30.5 on the Angeles Crest Highway, about 6 miles from La Canada. I parked there, and the gate is around the corner to the left about 50 yards up the dirt road.
I talked with Bob KB6CIO on the Catalina Repeater, he and Martin (WN6E) were driving up to activate Occidental Peak and were going to use the Mt Wilson repeater so we switched to that. I started off, and yes, the bike was much easier to pedal up hill in the lowest gear! After about 0.8 mile, I came to the junction with the Hoyt Mountain Road, which went off to the right. Then shortly to a saddle and some downhill before resuming the climb. The fire road was pretty easy to ride, a little rocky in places but OK. Also becoming more like a single track rather than a road here and there. There are outstanding views on this ride/hike.
The new bike with telescoping jackite antenna mast attached with bungee cords. This is after 4 miles, at the intersection with the Mt. Lukens road. I think from here there is another 1000 feet or so of elevation to go. No more shade.
I took the bike the final 50 yards to the summit. It took just under 2 and a half hours all told, I guess I pushed the bike a total of 5% to 10% of the way which is way better than Kagel where I pushed the old bike 90%!
Had a bit of difficulty with the mast. I tried to set it in the little rock pile at the summit register, but it kept falling over. So I velcro strapped it to a burnt tree finally. Then when I started on 20 meters, there was a buzzing S2-3 noise level. I wondered if it was from the antenna farm or the elevated solar activity which had been predicted. I called CQ for 15 minutes or so, with no luck. I saw later that RBN had got me twice but was not reported at all as a spot to the SOTA page.
I switched to 2 meters and talked with Dan NA6MG 2 meter simplex, so at least I had achieved one QSO! I told him I was going to 30 meters, and I saw later that the RBN-SOTA spotted me OK. There was no noise on 30 meters, and W7RV came back 599 for the first CW QSO. 30m was excellent, it sounded like there was a pipeline everyone was so loud.
After this, Dan told me Bob and Martin were at the summit of Occidental, so we tried 2 meter simplex. They could hear me 59+ but they were in the noise at my end, even when Martin cranked up to 20 watts. I don’t understand this as we had line of sight. Maybe the antenna farm was desensitizing my HT, or there is an attenuator set in my VX6 HT that I don’t know about. Very puzzling. In a separate writeup about climbing Mt Lukens the author stated his cell phone was messed up for half an hour after leaving the summit, he figured the antenna farm had done it. Now Tim K6TW has told me his HT and HF rig suffered from RFI up there so maybe that was it.
Went back to 20m, the noise was gone now. Dan spotted me in case the RBN-SOTA spot didn’t work. Now 20m was “working” and made some QSOS, including two summit to summit. Thanks to Dan for helping me, Bob and Martin today!
144 MHz FM: NA6MG
10 MHz CW: W7RV NA6MG W7CNL W7/DL1UF NK6A W7USA N7AMA NS7P K0YO WA6RIC(Rick “assisted” on the key by his cat Obie!) AE7UT WA6JCH K6TUY AE9F
14 MHz CW: W0MNA W0ERI NA6MG N4EX KI0G K7NEW K6TUY N4MJ W7CNL AA5CK N7WM NM5S(S2S W5N PW020) KE5AKL(S2S W5N SI018)
The descent went quickly. Took about an hour to get down, even with breaks for photos and to admire the view
Thanks to everyone for a great day! Back at the house, I chatted with Bob and Martin on the Mt Wilson repeater. I was sitting on the front porch and they were driving home. Gotta love ham radio!