Palm Canyon Epic – Bikes, Beers, and Singletrack Balyhoo

Pretty, pretty please… with a cherry on top.  Can I go for a “guys” weekend to Idyllwild?  So I can drink beer from stainless chalices and shred the fabled Palm Canyon?

And so it began.  Jumped in Ted’s spiffy new Forerunner.  Loaded gear in the back, bikes on the rack.  A quick weekend of campfire stories, bluetooth tunes, singletrack slaying, and a stack of memorable memories.


Popped into The Hub Cyclery in Idyllwild, but Brendan was off in Sedona – boo hoo.  Cruised over to the art school, met up with Big Joe, aka “Missing Link” to get the lead out of our legs.  A nice warmup ride on the singletrack network to get the blood flowing and sweat dripping before grabbing some mexi food and a negro modelo.

A quick run to the grocery, where Joe promptly had a six pack fall apart in his hand.  Beer down!  Mop mop, grab another out of the fridge… some fruit, some nuts, and a pumpkin pie later, and we were on the way to the campground.



Met up with the rest of the San Diego tribe that’s made this ride a yearly ritual.  Lucky that Ted invited me along to hang with this great group of peeps.  Pinion Campgrounds.  Flush toilets and hot water – nice!  Kevin’s RV was plopped right in the middle and served as the epicenter of activity.  Got my tent pitched, and before long, a fire was blazing, Pandora was jamming, and Pizza Port brew was flowing down throats.  No better way to meet new friends and catch up with old, than by the glowing embers of a campfire.  Eagerly, we chatted with anticipation about the ride we would embark on in the a.m.  I couldn’t believe that it started right next to our campsite.  Pizza and beer and shuttle vehicles would be waiting for us at our final destination in Palm Springs.  Are you kidding?!  Sounded too good to be true.  I was the only “first-timer” in the bunch, and by the way everyone’s eyes lit up as they explained the ride, I knew I was in for a treat.


After a windy night and tough sleeping, I was happy when the sun woke up.  It was like Christmas morning.  Let’s get going!!  The ride lived up to the hype and then some.  Sure, it’s an considered an “epic”, so people know it’s good.  But it’s still a fairly unknown, somewhat “hidden” gem.  Fine with me, and obviously fine with the locals.  BTW, there’s a chance this trail could be lost forever due to a potential land exchange between the BLM and the local Indian tribe.  Learn more and PLEASE sign this letter!!


Palm Canyon is the Full Monty.  You’ve got rocky sections and techy, exposed descents to keep you on your A-game.  Punchy climbs to keep your cardio on check.  Magic carpet,  butter smooth singletrack that will put you in a trance, as you ebb and flow through cholla-lined ribbons of bliss.  On and on it goes.  30 miles of singletrack magic.  Top notch desert riding on par with anything you’ll find in AZ or NM.  We came across a rare desert tortoise, and a few other humans, but for the most part, pure solitude.  When all was said and done, we descended over 6000′ with 2,300′ of climbing sprinkled in.  A fantastic blend.



Most everyone was on 6″ trail bikes.  I brought the 29+ rigid bike, and it was perfect for me.  Plowed through rock gardens and slashed up the trail.  Albeit, my forearms took a beating at points… but overall, it was a great tool for the job.



Pizza and beer and fellowship to put a great stamp on a wonderful day.  Back to camp, and a Mike Hess DIPA by the fire, before my tired body told me it was time for bed after a solid day’s work.  In the morning, poof – everyone said their goodbyes, and another annual homage was in the books.  A breakfast quesadilla in Idyllwild, and before I knew it the 80 degree temps had dissipated, and we were greeted back in Mammoth with some fresh fluffy white and shivering temps.  Just another dream induced by the insatiable urge to spin pedals in new places.

Strava Link

Posted in Favorite Rides | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

My Stab at the Burning Man of Bike Races: 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo – 2016


24 Hour Town – Life in the Old Pueblo.

It’s been over two years since I did a 24 hour race (24 of Halloween in Los Olivos, CA).  Honestly, I’ve grown bored of the format for solo racing.  I don’t really get stoked to do lap after lap of the same 10-15 mile loop.  I’d much rather be bikepacking or doing one big  100+ mile loop, where I get to explore more terrain and enjoy solitude – like the last race I did (JayP’s Fat Pursuit).  ps – some pics are mine, some I stole from instagram.

FullSizeRender (8)

The lamp zone – where you decide to go for the rock garden, or bypass to the right.

But the magnetism of “The Old Pueblo” was just too much.  It’s been on the radar for way too long, and this year, I woke up at midnight to register before it filled up.  The mayhem takes place on Valentine’s weekend, and my daughter gets President’s Week off from school.  The perfect excuse to rally the fam bam in the Suby wagon and make road trip memories –  away from snowy mountains and off to 80 degree heat and Sonoran singletrack bliss.  Tucson, baby!!FullSizeRender (5)

Here’s how it went down:

Got a motel room 1/2 hour from the race venue.  With a 2 year old and a 7 year old, 24 Hour Town isn’t ideal for 3 nights, especially for a solo racer who’s wife is also the pit crew, who’s also tasked with taking care of the groms while I ride.  So we minimized our camping to one night, and went civilized leading up to the race.  Good decision.  Set up my pit area on Bag It Rd on Thursday.   Believe it or not, all the decent spaces were already taken, so I was a little bit off course, which is a bummer for solo racing… oh well.   On Friday, I threw back some In and Out before the pre-ride… after pre-riding, watched Collateral on tv in the motel room, kicked the legs up, ordered some pizza, and got a good night’s sleep.IMG_3531IMG_3614

Race Day:

Got pulled over by the fuzz while driving to race venue on Sat. morning – gave me a fix it ticket for the crack in my front windshield.  Some rookie with his boss watching on.  Comedy.  Anyhoo, soaked in the vibe, went through all the pre-race rituals, got to the start line and before long, the shotgun sounded… 400 yard Lemans run at the start, with a nice beer handup to keep my hydration game strong… found my bike in the sea of anarchy, and off I went.  Single dingle with 32×20.  There were 47 peeps in the Solo Singlespeed field.  Awesome!!  This was the easiest 24h course I’ve done.  16.2 miles with only 1200′ of climbing per lap.  Never had to hike my bike once.  But it felt like I was on a crowded Los Angeles freeway.  For a rider that longs for solitude, this was tough to handle.  Constantly getting passed by the speedy team riders, or making passes myself, I felt like I could never “relax” and get into the flow… right when I would, I’d hear “on yer left!!” — It’s one thing to yield and let riders pass, no problem.  It’s another issue when they expect you to go off into the cholla to let them around.  Not gonna happen.  Some douches would get agro about waiting 10 seconds for a safe place to pass.  I saw a couple crashes in front of me because of this, and I tangled bars on more than one occassion… luckily never went down.  I did have the “Good Times” afro pick in my jersey just in case I had to extract cholla.  Luckily, never had to bust it out.  I saw one dude get air lifted on the bitches (a part of the course with steep climbs and super fast descents), and was forced to walk my bike another time by an evacuation crew as they took a bloody bloke out on a stretcher.


Mi Chorizo – My team name.

FullSizeRender (3)

All in all, my favorite lap was the pre-ride, sans rush hour traffic.  Of course, the sunset lap and sunrise lap were magical with the desert sky, and the night laps were not as crowded… but it made me realize why I don’t do 24 hour races… it’s just not my style.  So I stopped at the whiskey tree.  That’s my style.  Wished I was on a team, so I could drink some beer and watch people endo on the Sierra Nevada rock drop.  That’s my style.  Anyhoo, I’m not a negative nelly, so back to the awesomeness.  The singletrack was fast, flowy, and narrow.  The camaraderie of participants and stoke factor was off the charts.  I loved all the motivational signs that lined the course.  My favorite was “Ride Smooth” right after the exchange tent.  That was basically my plan.  Ride smooth.  Ride consistent.  And do what another one of my favorite signs suggested, “Keep on keepin’ on”.FullSizeRender (31)

FullSizeRender (6)

Beer can corner. It got bigger and bigger as the race progressed

Saw countless flat tires, and other mechanicals – very happy that my bike performed flawlessly, and I only crashed twice.  Once around 2am, I was reaching for my Camelbak hose and looked down for a split second trying to get the nozzle open – next thing I know, I’m face down in the dirt.  Luckily, I avoided cacti.  Shook it off, adjusted my light mount, and back to the grind.  The other crash was absolute bullshit.  Last climb of the loop, on my last lap.  Only one mile from the finish line.  I got behind two guys and was grinding out of the saddle, up the narrow singletrack.  All of the sudden, they completely stopped.  I slammed my brakes, and went to dismount – but my cleat wouldn’t disengage.  I fell over into a cholla.  I made it through the whole race without touching a cactus, until then.  I was livid.  The cholla in my leg didn’t keep choice words from flying out of my mouth to the schmucks in front of me.  I got the barbed pricklies out, and didn’t let the negativity consume me.  After all, I’d ridden almost 200 miles and climbed about 15,000′ – and I was a short descent away from the finish line.

FullSizeRender (q1)

Whiskey Tree

I got a shot of fireball and a gooey chocolate chip cookie as I passed by the DrunkCyclist pit area. Then, one final time down the rock garden to hoots and hollers from the hecklers before being handed a Dale’s Pale Ale and turning in my baton at the tent.  And so it was.  12 laps.  I had time to go out for 13, but I was content.  10th place out of 47.  I had fun.  I rode long and hard and steady.  Memories that will not soon be forgotten.  Another adventure on two wheels in the can.  Oh yeah, here’s some other random stuff-


Banjo tunes through the night laps


Lucy posing at a pit stop on the way to Tucson

What I Ate:

PBJ’s, bananas, macademia nuts, sausage, blackberries, pickles, strawberries, a gu gel, some gu chomps, naked juice.

What I Drank:

Water in a camelbak, and a water bottle filled with gu in a cage.

More Random:

Watching the sun dip over the horizon at sunset was magical in the Sonoran Desert.  So peaceful as it transitioned to night.  Night laps are always tough mentally as the sleep demons get at you and your pit area offers a nice napping opportunity, especially when your wife and kids are asleep.  So quiet, lonely, warm, inviting you go just take a short nap.  Get in, get out.  As long as you can get back on course quickly, the demons don’t win.  Some laps go by fast, some drag on forever.  Hallucination kicks in.  The rodent road kill is like nothing I’ve ever seen.  Tons of dead animals laying in the singletrack.  Weird.  Next thing I know, I’m getting pulled through one of the flowiest parts of the course by EndlessBikeGirl  around 3am, after almost bonking, and my spirits are high again as the buzz from her hubs and glowing angel wings keeps me honed in.  Before long, ambient light overtakes 1200 lumens of man made candlepower and you know it’s gonna warm up… just like Gandhi said, “Every night I when I go to bed, I die.  Each morning, I am reborn.”  The sun streaks over the barren landscape, warms your core, and you wake up.  Recharged.  Riding fast and strong.

FullSizeRender (7)

Someone offering a beer handup to EndlessBikeGirl

FullSizeRender (2)

And just like that, poof.  It’s over.  Some nagging neck pain, foot pain, and some numb fingers linger for a bit.  24 Hour Town is but a distant memory.  Everyone is gone in one big dust cloud.  Lucy and Molly and Angela and I.  Off to the next –  adventure on two wheels seeking singletrack and solace and peace with this gorgeous earth.IMG_3583

Figured out the design for my first Maven t-shirt in my head somewhere along the ride too – stoked to get it made soon.
Ride bikes.  Drink beer.  Live happy.

Posted in Favorite Rides, MTB Racing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

A Mid-Pack Racer’s Night Adventure – JayP’s Fat Pursuit 2016


photo by Gary Lee Chrisman, stolen from Fat Pursuit FB page

I get cold easy.  I live in a ski town.  I love snow.  But I still get cold easy.  Brrr.  I guess that’s why I decided to do my first winter fat biking ultra.  To test myself.  See how I’d hold up mentally and physically while riding in conditions where survival can become a factor if you don’t have your shit together.  Where taking your hand out of your pogie for an instant to slam a frozen peanut butter cup in your mouth, unzip your top layer, guide your hydration hose into mouth, gulp gulp, re-zip, and put hand back in pogie, can mean ten minutes of wiggling fingers to get them happy again.

After some research, I decided to test my grit at JayP’s Fat Pursuit in quaint Island Park, Idaho – population five hundred something.  2016 marks the third running of the race.  What is so special about a 200k loop on groomed snowmobile trails through Idaho and Montana, going as far out as West Yellowstone and meandering around the Continental Divide?  Exactly.   Note – there is also a 200 mile version that Jay added this year for those that qualify by first completing the 200k.  Hmmm… already thinking about next year🙂

Anyhoo… daydreaming about the massive, open beauty of the region and serenity of quietly pedaling through this winter wonderland stoked the fire for this adventure.  I longed for the solitude – being alone, in my head, with my thoughts and my opaque breath and the sound of rubber crunching on hardened snow.  Yes, I’d spend more hours in the car getting to and from, than actually on my bike (at least that’s what I was hoping).  But this one is worth it.  I could tell.  This one was gonna be special.

Getting out there:

FullSizeRender (2)

Bike loaded in the back of the truck – ready to roll!!

I met up with a bikepacking buddy Blake, who also happens to be one fast badass.  He completed the 200k last year, but wasn’t stoked on his performance – so he was out for some redemption.  Which he got, btw, along with a sweet custom belt buckle reserved for the podium peeps.  Yahoo!  So yeah, Blake lives in Truckee.  We met in Reno.  I left my truck in a hotel/casino parking lot, and we rolled in style with his brand new 4×4 Sprinter.   Jay P told us about Island Park Cabins, and we reserved bedrooms for $25/night from Pam in a sweet 5 bedroom cabin.  Only a couple others booked – Scott, doing the 200k and Bill doing the 200m, while his wife Mo held down the fort.  The cabin was huge and we were all pretty stoked – even though we wouldn’t be spending much time there.


Our bikes, riding in comfort in the back of the Sprinter van.


Bike and Gear:

I’m adding links to some “gear lists” and race reports at the bottom.  If you’re planning on giving this beast a shot – set yourself up for success.  Read up.  I used these to help my planning and try to wrap my head around the event.  Neil, who won the 200 mile race this year with a blistering pace, also just posted his 2016 gear list – very helpful.

In terms of my bike, there’s not much to say.  I own a Salsa Mukluk.  Tried and true.  And heavy.  30lbs, 6oz naked, and 48lbs 4oz loaded (without food or water).  Ouch.  Here’s a few specs:

  • Panaracer Fat B Nimble 26×4 tires – pretty light, not too bad, but not enough side knobs – mostly around 6-7 psi, but lowered to 4-5 later in the race and never re-filled.  Tubeless with orange seal regular and subzero mix.  I would go with 5″ tires next time… not much heavier, but in variable and sloppy sections of the course, I definitely could’ve used the added float.  Surly Holy Rolling Darryl rims are pretty heavy – if someone gives me some carbon hoops, I wouldn’t mind!!
  • 1×9 drivetrain with 32T front ring, and 11-32T rear- if I do this again, will definitely go 1×11 – my knees were killing me half way into the race, trying to push that hard of a gear, and not being able to get out of the saddle was a killer (I’d just slip and slide) – People would pass me by spinning, while my legs were yelling at me.  Yes, better than SS, but life would’ve been much better, I wouldn’t have worked as hard, and would’ve ridden faster with a “real” drivetrain.
  • PDW Aether Demon red light mounted to seatstay, Princeton Tec EOS mounted to fork – those were my safety lights, worked perfect.  I had a Exposure Joystick on my helmet and a Fenix LD22 light packed as a backup for night riding.
  • Low end Avid Elixir 3 brakes worked flawlessly.  Hydraulic, just fine. Cheap.
  • Porcelain Rocket frame bag, Revelate Gas Tank, Jerry Can, Feed Bag, Viscacha, spocket, and Handlebar Harness.  All worked great.  Viscacha a little big, probably use a smaller/lighter seat bag next time, and could ditch the Jerry Can (tools were in there, but I had room in the frame bag).
  • Flat pedals (stupid choice, more details below)
  • Ergon GS-2 grips (on every bike I own)
  • Revelate Pogies (only ones that I’ve found where I can still use my bar ends)
  • Inverted canister stove – MSR whisperlite worked great.  I tested it down to 0 degrees without inverting.  So I knew that it would be fine, since inverting also gives you 10-20 more degrees.  I kept the IsoButane fuel (make sure to get 80/20) in my jersey pocket as well, to keep it warm, just to be safe.  My 8oz of water boiled in just a couple minutes at the mandatory check.  Sweet!  PS – don’t use an Esbit stove.  Takes forever and everyone who uses one regrets it.  Take the weight penalty and use a “real” stove.
  • I brought a closed cell insulated foam pad.  It’s super cheap, and super light, but it’s bulky.  For $25 vs $100+ for an insulated inflatable, I went the cheap route.  It also doesn’t need your lung power to use… so if crap hit the fan, it’s quick and easy… never had to use it (thankfully).  Sure, I would’ve liked a gucci one, but this was just fine for me.
  • Sleeping bag – a buddy let me borrow a mountain hardware 0 degree, which again, thankfully never had to use.
  • Lezyne HV Micro Floor Pump – my favorite pump for fat bikes.  Works great and fast when adding air as snow conditions firm up.

    Ready to roll


    Just after the mandatory gear check. It’s about to get real.


    Cockpit – my old Garmin eTrex Vista HCX still does the job… pogies, feed bag, gas tank and my sleeping pad strapped to my sleeping bag


    Viscacha seat bag, with spocket on top (holds Spot Tracker), and the camo jerry can with my tools

Once I showed up at Pond’s Lodge, I couldn’t believe how many $8k, super spendy carbon fat bikes with HED carbon wheels.  Wow.  This was legit.  People were hardcore.  I felt slightly out of place with my, dare I say it, aluminum bike.  After checking out all the drivetrains, and setups – I got even more nervous.  At the least, people were running 1×11’s with 28T front rings and 42T rears.  My bike is normally set up singlespeed, but I was scared to do this race SS.  If crap hit the fan, I did not want to be hiking for hours on end.  I wanted the ability to soft pedal if cramping, and to regulate my body temp/how much I was sweating, etc.  So I threw on a 9 speed cassette I had lying around the shop.  I had a 32T front and 32T rear as my granny, which is a lot for a singlespeeder.  Still a far cry from the spinning capabilities of my counterparts – but hey, I wasn’t going to pony up for a 1×11 just for this race.


Cheap gas – and a nice Fat Pursuit welcome sign at Ponds Lodge



  • Hydration was spot on – 48oz camelbak under my thermal vest, and a 20oz insulated water bottle in my handlebar feed bag.  I’d read in Andrew’s blog that putting your bottle upside down with a handwarmer in the bottom of the feedbag worked well.  He was right.  Never froze.  Most riders, including Gabe (the 200k winner) seem to route the camelbak tube under the armpit… but I just routed it normally and it never froze.  Blake’s did freeze… so next time, I’ll go under the armpit – but I also kept my hose near my belly so I could unzip on climbs without worry.  I also drank often to keep water flowing.  Zero issues with water freezing.
  • Hot water was also key.  At each checkpoint, I refilled with hot water.  Not only did it keep the water from freezing, but it warmed my core when I drank, and the warm bladder felt good on my back.


My layering system worked pretty awesome.  Granted most of the race was in the teens and single digits, so it never got too cold.  Regardless, I was never too sweaty or cold.   I stayed layered basically the same for most of the race, until I threw my shell on for a little more warmth at the end.

  • Rab super thin next to skin short sleeve wicking baselayer
  • Pearl Izumi Thermal Barrier long sleeve base layer – I love this piece, it’s got windstopper material in the front, but still breathes well everywhere else
  • On top of that was an old Kenda long sleeve jersey that I picked up at a race for $20 a few years ago.
  • On top of that was a thermal vest that I scored on eBay for $10 a while back – no, I’m not really on the Trek Subaru race team.
  • In the seatbag was an ArcTeryx shell and my Rab puffy for peace of mind.  Most people had lighter shells and much lighter puffies (patagucci down sweater, nano puff, etc) – I probably could’ve saved weight here, but I knew I’d never freeze!
  • Gloves – I had two pair – Pearl Izumi Softshell Lite for most of the ride, switched to Pearl P.R.O. Barrier gloves at night – between these and my Revelate Pogies, I was pretty dialed for my hands.  Except for a couple long descents, where my fingers were touching my metal brake levers (not to self, carbon levers next time or wrap them in electrical tape), my fingers stayed pretty cozy.  After W.  Yellowstone  I put hand warmers in my gloves too… extra toasty!!
  • I don’t own tights, so I just used a regular chamois and leg warmers for my bottom baselayer.  I had some loose fitting Spyder long johns over that, and some Marmot nordic pants (that I borrowed from my wife) over that.  Legs were perfect the whole race.
  • Socks and shoes – I wore a thin liner sock with some Darn Tough merino wool socks on top.  I was scared my Lake 303’s wouldn’t be warm enough, because they fit me pretty snug, and aren’t sized up… so I wore Merrell hiking boots that I know are warm for me, and have ample room in the toe box.  I used adhesive toe warmers which I switched out mid race, and my feet stayed warm the whole time.  I also carried a couple plastic grocery bags in case I needed to do a poor man’s vapor barrier – but it never got that cold.  The downside?  I switched to flat pedals because of the boot situation, and it was not comfy.  I’m super used to clipless, and I didn’t like the feeling of my feet “floating” around on the pedals.  Not sure if my knee pain was because of this or my gearing, probably a combo of both.  Next time, I’d definitely buy some bigger sized Lakes or 45Nrth boots so I can ride clipless and have room to layer socks, vapor barriers, etc.  I’d also consider an outer boot and/or gaitors depending on temps.
  • I had sunglasses, but wore my prescription eyeglasses for much of the race.  It was overcast and snowy for the most part.  Switched to clear oakley motocross goggles at night.  They keep my face warmer.  I wound up losing my glasses… they must have fallen out of my gas tank somewhere near Two Top.  Oh well.  I was due for some new ones anyhow.
  • I used Dermatone on my face, lips, and nose to protect my skin.  Worked great.
  • Pearl Izumi P.R.O. skull cap and an Icebreaker merino wool buff on my neck – also worked great… at night I switched out to a light balaclava and it was all I needed to keep my head and ears warm.


I knew there were 3 checkpoints stocked with warm food, so I brought snacks to get me through.  Macademia nuts, trail mix, and peanut butter cups were in my gas tank.  In my jersey pockets, I also had gu chomps, gu gels, and a pbj.  This kept everything warm.  I also ate a couple of bananas.   I never bonked, granted I was riding very conservatively the whole time.  But I feel my nutrition plan worked well.  Forced myself to down calories and water every 45 minutes or when opportunities arose – like after an endo or during a hike a bike section.

The Race:


Start line of the 200 mile race which started at 5pm the night before my race

FullSizeRender (3)

Jay P, about to send off the 20 mile riders into the abyss!

Absolutely fantastic.  Everything I was hoping for.   I could only eat a few bites of my huge breakfast burrito.  My stomach was churning like it always does.  We made it to the start.  Aaron’s GoPro drone buzzed overhead.  Jay was on the phone with Matt Lee, ironing out the last minute Spot Tracker issues.  7am.  We’re off.  Into the dark abyss.  Yes, all the prep, travel, worry, fear, anticipation, were over.  I was riding a bike.  In my happy place.


Me, at the first checkpoint, getting ready to boil water – photo stolen from Fat Pursuit FB page


Blake using a similar inverted canister stove to mine. ICE BEARDS RULE!!


Gabe (right), eventual race leader, and Blake hustling to get through the water boil test. – photo stolen from Fat Pursuit FB Page

The conditions were variable, of course.  The first 30-40 miles were nice and firm and fast, and the climbs felt great.  The middle 40 miles were soupy and slow, and the slog into W. Yellowstone was the most heavily trafficked snowmobile section – making the trails very energy consuming to get through.  A couple guys flew by kicking up snow and debris in my face and mouth, but for the most part, all the snowmobilers were super friendly.  On the last stretch into W. Yellowstone, Derek came up on me and it was nice to have company heading into town.  I’d met him at dinner/pre-race meeting the night before, and his bubbly demeanor kept me from focusing on my own low point.  Oh yea, Derek and I got cussed out by one dude riding his snowmobile 60mph down the street in W. Yellowstone.  Apparently we missed a stop sign.  Then we went into the gas station to get Derek some batteries, and I forgot to turn my headlamp off… oops, I blinded this nice young lady, and everyone looked at us like we’re aliens.  Haha!! That was awesome!!!


Some of the awesome volunteers cooking up soup and grilled cheese sandwiches at the W. Yellowstone checkpoint

Night had fallen and I took a nice long break at Checkpoint 2 (Checkpoint 1 was a quick water boil, some saltines, water fill and I was out).  This time, I took off a bunch of clothes, which a volunteer put in the dryer for me.  Nice!!  Put my socks and boots by the fireplace while I ate pickles, soup, grilled cheese, and a bunch of other crap.  I burned 45 minutes easy before getting out of there.  Back out, the night air was crisp and single digits.  The snow was firming up.  The stars came out as I was climbing Two Top (the last major climb of the route) and it was simply magical.  Around every turn, shadows stretched and hallucinations kicked in… tree branches and rocks became ghosts and ghouls… I was in a Tim Burton movie!!!  My legs came around and I was on top of the world – definite highlight!!!  I passed a groomer and for a few miles had fresh tracks.  Caught up with a cool cat named Chris from Seattle who did the ITI last year, and we rode a nice long section together.  I waited as he had to put a tube in a flat tire… stoked that it wasn’t me, as he hustled to keep his digits from freezing!!  Also stoked that I had zero mechanicals the whole race (except putting a little air in my rear tire).  Then we came across Robert, a 200 miler, who was delirious.  Luckily, TJ also came up and knew of a warming hut close by.  We walked with Robert for a bit, and made sure he got into the warming hut for a nap… then kept on pedaling to Man Cave (checkpoint 3).  Oh yeah… scarfed down bacon, potatoes, and pancakes…


Man Cave – checkpoint 3… I’d been riding for around 20 hours at this point and a little loopy for sure…

Moral was high, only 22 miles to go.  I made this a short stop, and started out with a great pace.  Caught up with Chris and Beth (female winner, she crushed it!!) and then realized I wasn’t gonna keep their pace for the next few hours.  My knees were killing me, and I kinda wanted to be alone anyway… so I let them go, and rode the last 10 miles with a grin on my face.  It was quiet, I was at peace.  I was comfy, warm, confident.  The elements did not defeat me.  I embraced the ice on my beard and the tingling in my fingers.  I was cleansed.  This whole experience was magical, and I was enjoying every second of it.  Sure I didn’t ride particularly fast, but it went by in a blink of an eye.  Then I crossed the finish line.  10th place.  23 hours 41 minutes.  Completed both of my goals.  #1 Finish.  #2 Finish in under 24 hours.  Strava file here.  Blake and Beth and Neil and Jay and Aaron and a handful of others, hanging out at the line.  High fives and more memories.  YES!!!  With the confidence gained, and experience, I know I’d feel much more comfy riding harder, going faster, and pushing myself if I do something like this again (or should I say when I do it again).


Neil got this shot of me riding across the finish line… whoo hoo!!

A shower and a nap – sublime.  Then a noon toast under the arch and a western burger at Ponds Lodge.  War stories and beer… before I knew it, we were at Perkins in Pocatello for free pie Monday, and back at my truck in Reno.  A blink of an eye later, back in the arms of my loving wife and daughters… with a green hoody and a sweet beanie for proof.  It wasn’t a dream.  I was there.  I finished it.  I got busy living at the Fat Pursuit.


Nothing but good times!! The traditional noon toast under the arch!!!

Good reads:


Posted in Favorite Rides, MTB Racing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

2015 Badger Race aka San Jacinto Enduro: Idyllwild, CA

I love Idyllwild.  No need to pull my arm to make a trip out there and see Brendan and Mary at The Hub Cyclery and ride bikes with friends.  Plus, I never felt satisfied with the amount of Idyllwild trails I rode on the Stagecoach 400 – since it merely takes you in and out of Idyllwild as the beginning and end of a super duper lollipop. So when the Badger Race (re-named from the San Jacinto Enduro) lined up with my fickle schedule, it was on like Donkey Kong!  The perfect excuse to conquer 57 miles and 7,200′ of climbing on the best trails in the area!!  So Hunter and I jumped in the trusty Tacoma, and after a stop to fill growlers at Mountain Rambler Brewery, made our way to paradise.

The venue for the movie screening did not suck.

The venue for the movie screening did not suck.

The weekend started off with a movie screening of Inspired to Ride at a snazzy restaurant call Idyology.  Waited an hour for my burger, holding up my skunk cabbage sign.  It finally came and it was pretty darn good, so it made up for the wait.  Before the movie, Hunter played a short film of the 1980 Crested Butte to Aspen Klunker Race (I highly recommending clicking this link and watching both parts on youtube).  A great look back at mountain biking roots!   We all hooted and hollered and got fired up!!  Then, the movie itself was a pretty good way to get you jonesing to ride, as it chronicled last years Trans America Race.  The Italian lady in the movie was super annoying.  She’s a great racer, and demolished the female field… but her arrogance and constant competition with these other Italian guys got pretty over-cooked.  Other than that, it was a great glimpse into minds of ultra-endurance athletes pushing themselves to physical and mental limits.  My kinda stuff!!

Holding up my skunk cabbage sign, waiting for my burger.

Holding up my skunk cabbage sign, waiting for my burger.

Quick note – Brendan and Mary raised $1,500 for the local school arts program with donations from the screening/race – super classy as always.

Hunter and I shared a room at the Idyllwild Inn, the same spot I stayed before and after the Stagecoach.  Funny, we got the exact same room, except this time, the queen size bed didn’t seem so huge when I was sharing it brokeback style with Hunter🙂  Before we knew it, dawn cracked and the race was upon us!

Get busy living or get busy dying.

Get busy living or get busy dying.  Pre-race meeting.

But first - Brandon's selfie from the roll out.

But first – Brendan’s selfie from the roll out.

Race Highlights:

  • Riding bikes with friends old and new is always fantastic, no matter what – you’re on a bike and you’re riding, and you could be on a coach, but you’re not.
  • The trails were fantastic, the views just as agreeable, and the weather just perfect.  Bliss on a bike.
  • Mary was at a surprise aid station, towards the top of Thomas Mountain (the longest climb), and I sucked down some pickles and pretzels that raised me up and kept me moving.  Trail magic boom!
  • The “b-sides” as Brendan called them were just as good as the “A” trails, and Ramona definitely didn’t disappoint.

    Hunter and I at the aid station where Mary saved my life.

    Coke and pickles.  Hunter and I at the aid station where Mary saved my life.

Race Lowlights:

  • Putting in some bonus miles by missing a critical turn somewhere before a big climb.
  • Physically feeling like doggy do for most of the race (thank goodness Hunter pulled me up the Thomas Mountain climb when I had zero in the tank and jellyfish legs).
  • Choosing 32×18 gearing – not too smart for what wound up being over 7k climbing  – my chicken legs were screaming and yelling at me the whole ride for this, but my arse was smiling as it rarely touched the saddle🙂
  • On a tight, fast descent, I took a cactus to the shin, and had to spend some time extracting the needles.  Luckily I was wearing leg warmers which took some of the impact, but it was still a big owee and I never did get all those needles.
  • With only a few miles to go, I hooked one of my bar ends around a branch, crashed hard, and snapped off the bar end.  Thankfully, it was almost over, but I couldn’t lock my grip so it kept rotating on me and it felt like I was revving up a motorcycle.

    The reward. A grapefruit Sculpin in the brokeback room.

    The reward. A grapefruit Sculpin in the brokeback room.

Before you know it, it’s all over – another blur of a dream of surreal time spent on a bike.  Next thing you know, you’re kicking it on the Collier’s patio, re-hashing the day and hearing everyone’s highs and lows.  Went back to the room for a beer, a shower, then returned to the party.  Sitting in a fold out chair, wrapped in a blanket, with friends and coversation to fill the night.  Before long, the crisp night lets you see your breath, and the fire pit is glowing high and warm.  The Jeremiah Weed Whiskey from Walmart is spent, along with the Peach Triple from Mountain Rambler (so tasty!).  On cue, KC brought in reinforcement beer (oh the Pizza Port DIPA was spot on!!).  Brendan pulled some Omaha steaks from the freezer, Mary cooked potatoes, and Doug brought some canned creamed corn from his trailer.  As we had fellowship by firelight, I could not help but to feel so blessed for the company, and the beautiful family waiting for me at home.  Probably the best post-race meal I’ve had.

Oops. The broken growler Hunter left in the freezer.

Oops. The broken growler Hunter left in the freezer.

Hunter had a growler of Skywalker Ale filled for KC, but left it in the freezer in our room. Oops.  next time…

This weekend was a great reminder of why I write this journal – so these memories don’t fade off into the abyss somewhere.  After bonking and cramping hard, and watching Tyrone blow past fresh as a daisy, I was extremely happy to finish at all.  When I found out I was 7th overall and 2nd SS (behind “Lightning Fast Freddie”) out of 31 or 32 starters, it was a pleasant surprise.  Strava link.  I would’ve been bumped to 8th, as Hunter was way in front of me, but he missed a critical turn and wound up doing bonus mileage and extra climbing right at the end😦

Ah yes. The post race brekky gang. Life doesn't get any better.

Ah yes. The post race brekky gang. Life doesn’t get any better.

A breakfast quesadilla in the morning with the boys, then it was back to reality once more.  The ride home was filled with dreaming about the next adventure, and before I knew it, power hugs from Lucy and Molly and Mommy greeted me.  Life is good.  As Gandhi once said:

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow.  Learn as if you were to live forever.”

Posted in Favorite Rides, MTB Racing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Ummm, DROP – 8,000′ of DOWN on the Cannell Trail – Kernville, CA

The skies opened up as we made "The Plunge".

The skies opened up as we made “The Plunge”.  Can you believe this was the same ride where we started in the snow??!!

This ride has been on the “Bike It List” for a good, long while now.  It’s weird how the rides closest to home sometimes take the longest to tackle.  Kernville is only 3 hours or so from Mammoth.  It’s kind of like living in Hollywood and never making it to Universal Studios.  So, this summer, as I went through my list, I put a big exclamation point next to one of the first IMBA Epics.  It was time to conquer the Cannell Trail.

Load 'em up.

Load ’em up.

A week before the planned trip, my buddy Ted got in the mix, and it became a two-person crew instead of a solo mission.  Ted, along with myself and three others, is a Founding Board Member of SEMBA (Sierra Eastside Mountain Bike Association).  We figured this would be a great scout trip for possibly rallying a group together next Summer.  It’s always fab to ride bikes with friends… and share gas.  Ted was familiar with the area, as he’d done some crazy adventure racing on roughly the same route.  The weekend we wound up going, just happened to be “Shuttlefest”, and Mountain & River Adventures was running shuttles to Cannell and Just Outstanding all weekend long, and there were lots of mtb’ers lurking around.

Yummy beer at Kern River Brewing!!

Yummy beer at Kern River Brewing!!

After getting to town and scoping the free camp spots, we headed over to the Kern River Brewing Company for dinner time grubs and suds.  Super tasty pulled pork tacos were accompanied by a flight of equally tasty beer offerings.  That’s the way to start an adventure.  Our bellies were happy, and the stoke level super high.  As expected, just after setting up my bivy, it started to rain.  It transformed into a magical lightning show.  The numerous strikes  were diffused behind cloud cover and every hit illuminated what seemed like the whole world for a split second with soft, radiant light.  It continued to trickle and drizzle through most of the night, so sleep was a little tough, but it was another great test on my bivy sack which kept me warm and dry.  I got up at 3am for a piss, and the stars were out and skies clear.  One of those “ah yes” moments, looking up at the beauty and wonder while relieving myself.

My bivy spot. Comfy cozy.

My bivy spot. Comfy cozy.

Anyhoo, after a couple more hours of restless sleep, it was finally go time!  Packed up camp and headed over to Mountain & River to catch our shuttle.  After a nice long van ride with stinky, hungover brethren, we finally made it!  Grabbed the bike off the rack, and oh crap – back tire was completely flat.  A little concerning.  Asked the van driver for a floor pump, nada.  Instead of taking a bunch of time to pump it, I pulled out a 16g co2 cartridge.  It was still leaking before I finally realized my tubeless valve stem was loose.  It must’ve gotten bumped during the ride up.  Luckily, I tightened it, and it held air.  I was still nervous though, as I only had a 20g cartridge left, and my pump was not working well on schrader valves (the Stans Hugo rims are the only schrader valve wheels I own, and my pump is usually relegated to presta duty).  Not the most confidence inspiring way to start a 30 mile epic ride.  But the tire held up the whole time, with about 12psi in it.  I never used the 20g, but I liked having it available just in case.

Getting started on the climb up to Sherman Peak.

Getting started on the climb up to Sherman Peak.

Ted and I decided to first climb up to the top of Sherman Peak, which adds some steep, technical climbing to the beginning of the ride (gaining 700′ over 2.5 miles).  We figured we’d come this far, might as well hit the high point of the area and tack on an extra 5 miles.  Well… by the time we got near the top, at 9,900′ it was snowing pretty heavy, and we were freezing and wet.  I knew Ted was cussing me under his breath as we pushed our bikes to the top (I later confirmed this).  But hey, we hit the summit and then mashed down as quickly as possible to our starting point – where all the smart folks left us over an hour earlier.  Unfortunately, while blasting down the descent, I went over the bars and slightly bent my front rim.  I tried my best to field true it, but it still rubbed slightly on my fork for the whole ride.  Crazy – not one mechanical in the last 1,000 or so miles on this bike, and then two within an hour.  Oh well.  Let’s ride.

Yes, it was snowing. Yes, it was cold. But summit we must.

Yes, it was snowing. Yes, it was cold. But summit we must.

The "proof" shot at the top of Sherman Peak.

The “proof” shot at the top of Sherman Peak.

Cannell is awesome.  So much different trail character as you change elevation from over 9,000′ to a mere 2,700′ as you reach the river by ride’s end.  Trippy climate change too… from a lush, foresty, wet roots, rock gardens vibe to flowy velcro, butter smooth singletrack… descend for a bit, then climb for a bit, up and down, up and down… then you hit this wild area that looks like Stonehenge.  A great spot for freeriding some big boulders and such.

Yes, this area is open to motos.

Yes, this area is open to motos.

Pretty hard not to smile on this ride!!

Pretty hard not to smile on this ride!!

Playing around in "Stonehenge".

Playing around in “Stonehenge”.

A sublime piece of singletrack through a gorgeous meadow.

A sublime piece of singletrack through a gorgeous meadow.

There’s a long fire road climb and a couple steep ups on moto trails, but every up is rewarded with a more than generous helping of down… and it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out there’s a lot of down to be had.  Finally, the clouds burned off and when we hit the “plunge” portion of the ride, the skies opened up for us as we hit the most memorable portion of the adventure.  Boom, you drop 4,400′ over the last 7.5 miles – So sick!! The views are breathtaking!!  Brake pads be warned… I had a new front, but my warn rear pad was howling at the moon by the bottom…  All in all, including the summit of Sherman Peak, our ride was about 30 miles with 3,100′ climbing and 8,000′ descending.  Yahoo!  Here’s the Strava link if you wanna check it out.

View of Lake Isabella.

View of Lake Isabella from “The Plunge”.

Ted, coming through a fun section of "The Plunge".

Ted, coming through a fun section of “The Plunge”.

Overall, totally worthy of epic status.  Reminds me a lot of the Whole Enchilada in Moab.  Such varied terrain and geography with a huge payoff at the end.  Looking forward to returning with a SEMBA group and camping for a few days and riding more of the local trails like Just Outstanding, etc.  Hoot!!


Posted in Favorite Rides | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Taste of Tahoe – Sweet Singletrack Packed Overnight Bikepacking Mission

Grabbing a quick bite before starting off in Tahoe City.

Grabbing a quick bite before starting off in Tahoe City.

Man, I’ve been lagging.  Between SEMBA and getting my little business going, not much time to journal – but still riding a bunch🙂.  A buddy of mine, Matt Reynolds (who recently finished the Caldera 250) showed me a sweet route he just did that loops around Lake Tahoe on dirt – utilizing just about every section of the TRT that’s legal to bikes.  You can check his Strava file for the route, here.  It also hits up the Incline Flume and the Marlette Flume, which are both stunning in their own right.  Turns out a couple peeps from Santa Barbara (Erin and Wes) were planning on doing the same route – so we made a plan.  Let’s do this shizzle.  Wes had a spot in Tahoe City for us to crash on a late friday night after they did the 8.5 hr drive up from SB and I did the 3.5 hour drive from Mammoth.  Then, poof, we were off.

Erin. Always smiling. What a pleasure to ride with these guys. Always in a good mood.

Erin. Always smiling. What a pleasure to ride with these guys. Always in a good mood.

Yup. TRT

Yup. TRT


The riding on the TRT is sublime, albeit super tough in sections.  But every hardship is rewarded with mind-blowing singletrack sections, spectacular views, and a remote sense of peace.  In order to make this route work, there are a few sketchy connector sections, and a little bit of bushwhacking and route finding.  In one of these sections, we came across an old dude with no shirt on, gun holstered on his waist, and pruning sheers.  I didn’t want to sneak up on him, as his back was turned.  So I made a lot of noise and greeted him from far off.  Turns out, he was a mountain biker doing some trail work – trying to make the stuff we just bushwhacked into a more distinct trail.  Kudos!!  He said he’s never seen anyone else riding out there.  That’s how we like it!!

Early going on the TRT from Tahoe City to Brockway Summit.

Early going on the TRT from Tahoe City to Brockway Summit.

Anyhoo, we stopped for a bite at the sports bar in Incline Village.  A chicken sandwich for now and stashed some pizza for later.  Our waitress was from Romania… and it took a bit, but we finally got some tin foil to wrap slices in after the language barrier was crossed.  I filled up a RoguePak bladder 1/2 way with some coke and we were ready to roll.  I really dig the RP system for bikepacking with sticky icky beverages – it’s a re-usable hose that connects to disposable (recyclable) cartridges – so if I wanna fill it with gatorade, coke, etc – no worries about cleaning later – and I can keep spare bladders with me, in case I really need to camel up before a long, dry section… cool little system… Anyhoo, we mounted our steeds and attacked the steep pavement climb up to the Incline Flume turnoff.  What a reward!  The Incline Flume singletrack crosses Diamond Peak Ski Area, where a group of bucks just sat and stared as we flowed across the historic route.  I desperately struggled to keep eyes on the trail, but all they wanted to do was wander out to the huge mass of water to our right.

Crossing Diamond Peak Ski Area on the Incline Flume Trail.

Crossing Diamond Peak Ski Area on the Incline Flume Trail.

Wes, enjoying the magic light on the Incline Flume Trail. Lake Tahoe in the BG.

Wes, enjoying the magic light on the Incline Flume Trail. Lake Tahoe in the BG.


Next, we merged on the Marlette Flume Trail where I witnessed one of the most memorable sunsets and mountain biking moments of my life.   These pitiful photos can’t begin to capture that sunset or how it felt to be on that magnificent trail at the perfect time.  But at least they can trigger those memories and evoke the way it made me feel – which is even better!  All the endorphins got the best of me, and I kept shouting up at the parasailer – “GET SOME!!! FUCKING AWESOME MAN!!”

Marlette Flume Trail. Boom.

Marlette Flume Trail. Boom.

Sunset on the Marlette Flume. So fantastic.

Sunset on the Marlette Flume. So fantastic.

This photo doesn't do it justice.

You get the point.

Another gratuitous Marlette Flume shot.

Another gratuitous Marlette Flume shot.

This dude had the right idea. A sunset parasailing mission. Yahoo!!

This dude had the right idea. A sunset parasailing mission. Yahoo!!

Eventually, as ambient light bid us farewell, we past Marlette Lake and descended towards Spooner Lake.  We found a great camping spot near a creek.  We chilled out and chatted about the rad day.

Magic hour at Marlette Lake.

Magic hour at Marlette Lake.

But after a tangerine and a couple pizza slices, I was ready for bed.  I got cocooned up in my bivy, and the soothing creek sounds lulled me to sleep.  I got a few z’s in before the inevitable rain and heavy winds.  We knew it was coming.  Both Erin and Wes packed tents for this reason.  I like my bivy, and looked forward to seeing how it would hold up to a night-long deluge.  It held up heroically.  I stayed dry and toasty, but the noise and feel of water slapping so close like Chinese water torture kept me up much of the night.  Around 5am, I’d had enough and decided to get an early start to the day.  As much as I was bummed to leave my cohorts behind, I had to get moving.  I knew there were a couple big climbs ahead, and got going.  The first big climb heads up the TRT to Kingsbury.  I did this partly in the dark, and summited just after sunrise in the rain and ominous fog with almost zero visibility.  Bummer, because everyone says the views at the top of this climb are magical.  Oh well, I’ll be back!

Taking a break during the early am climb to Kingsbury.

Taking a break during the early am climb to Kingsbury.

My breakfast stop was at Tramway Market, just before entering Heavenly Ski Resort.  A handful of macademia nuts and a microwave burrito were responsible for caloric replenishment.  I also downed some water, a Sobe Grapefruit, and some peanut butter cups before starting the 2nd big climb of the day – the TRT up to Freel.  I knew the storm wasn’t done, but didn’t mind riding in the rain.  It was actually quite peaceful, and I have good gear – so I was warm.  For a while.  By the time I had zig-zagged on the TRT up to Star Lake, the rain turned to sleet turned to snow.  As I inched my way up to 9,700′ at Freel Mountain, I was basically in a blizzard.  No visibility and howling winds.  I had soaked my way through 4 layers, but was still mostly warm and comfy – save for the toes and fingers that were starting to numb as I pushed my bike through what felt like a couple miles of slushy wet snow – completely unrideable while climbing.  I was plenty prepared, with dry socks and spare gloves in my seatpack for an emergency.  But if I put those on, they’d be soaked in a minute anyway – so I opted to keep pushing foward, regularly taking inventory of my condition.   This section was fairly remote, and doubtful I’d see anyone else out in this weather.  I had my Spot Tracker with me, just in case.  The couple times I pulled off a glove to take a photo, my hand froze even more – so no more photos after Star Lake😦

Climbing up to Freel. This was still low elevation. By the top, there was a few inches of fresh snow. Amazing and annoying at the same time.

Climbing up to Freel. This was still low elevation. By the top, there was a few inches of fresh snow. Amazing and annoying at the same time.

Star Lake. Looks more like the Pacific Ocean with the wind howling and slush flying.

Star Lake. Looks more like the Pacific Ocean with the wind howling and slush flying.

I went into conservative/stay focused mode.  Having a crash or a mechanical at this point could’ve turned things sideways pretty quickly.  As long as I was moving I was good.  But to stop for even 30 seconds, my core started to chill as the wind cut through my sweaty layers.  Eventually, I hit the highpoint, pushing my bike through a fresh foot of snow and almost getting blown off the ridge.  Then the descent began.  Again, had to focus hard and stay conservative – a mechanical or a crash on the wet, sloppy descent was not an option.  Randomly, after a mile or so, I  passed a group of college kids in their Nikes and fleeces – hiking down.   They looked very cold and under-dressed, but were in good spirits. They made me feel better – just to see some humans.  Before I knew it, I’d dropped down a couple thousand feet, and the snow was gone, and tacky hero dirt took over.  I dropped below the fog line, and now could see beautiful mountains and more importantly, the trail in front of me.  My numb fingers eased off the brakes and the stoke was back!!  The ensuing descent from Freel down to Armstrong to Armstrong Connector to Corral has to be one of THE BEST continuous descents I’ve ever done.  Fall colors turning everywhere, and some of the best singletrack in the world.  My oh my – rediculous flow, on velcro dirt.  Bermed turns, and jump lines.   As I got lower, the temps got higher.  I was cold no longer, and before I knew it, I was boosting past people on my loaded bike.  So.  Frickin.  Good.  It was all worth it.

When I hit the parking lot at the crowded Corral Trail, everyone looked at me as if I was an alien.  They were all on their clean and shiny 6″ trail bikes – while I must have looked like shit.  And smelled like shit too.  Once they realized I started in Tahoe City and was now exactly on the opposite side of the lake, everyone started offering beer and high fives.  Next thing I knew, a few guys in a gooched out Sprinter were heading back to Reno.  They offered to drop me off at Tunnel Creek – Max Jones’ shop in Incline Village.  I quickly did the math.  I could hitch a ride with them, grab some grub, then ride my bike another hour to my truck in Tahoe City – and be home in Mammoth in time to put my kids to bed.  Or, I could continue on with the ride and finish the last 80 miles, which I knew would never live up to what I just did.  So I decided to cut the ride short, and ended on a super duper high note.  After a chicken sandwich, half quesadilla and mango smoothie at Tunnel Creek, I grinned ear to ear as a rode around the lake, back to my truck… and back to real life.

Hanging out at Tunnel Creek Station, before heading home. A quesadilla and chicken sandwich with a mango smoothie hit the spot!

Hanging out at Tunnel Creek Station, before heading home. A quesadilla and chicken sandwich with a mango smoothie hit the spot!

Just as I was nearing my truck, I got a phone call from Wes.  They were at Star Lake, making their way to the top of Freel.  Part of me wishes I stayed with them, but the other part of me was happy to be getting home early and back to the fam bam.  They went on to complete the loop a couple days later – Salute to them!!!

Anyhoo… moral of the story… The TRT is all that and then some – Once Matt makes this a bikepacking race, I will be back to do the full loop with better weather for sure!!!


Here’s the strava link to my ride —

Posted in Favorite Rides | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Local Exploration – Finally did the McGee Mountain Climb

The peaceful ascent through Tobacco Flats.

The peaceful ascent through Tobacco Flats.

Once in a while, I ride Tobacco Flats.  I always manage to stare up at the crazy zig zag line that carves its way up McGee Mountain and think about what the views must be like up there.  As I stare at said zig zaggy line, I always think about when my buddy Jeremy McGhee (no relation) told me about how he almost drove his Forerunner off that dicey doubletrack road.  So yeah, it’s been on the list to explore up there.  I figured it would be kinda like the Laurel Lakes climb.

Looking back, part way up the zig-zag switchbacks.

Looking back, part way up the zig-zag switchbacks.

So… how was it?  Taxing and invigorating.  You can drive up to the switchbacks, but I prefer to park by Mt. Morrison Rd and ride up through Tobacco Flats to add some mileage and a nice warmup on my stubborn legs.  I took the Gnarvester with 29+ wheels and 3″ tires, and it was definitely the right tool for the job.  It also has a 1×10 drivetrain, so I was super spoiled with the 32×36 granny gear!!  Still, there was mucho hike-a-bike.  But I never mind hiking – it works different muscle groups, gives my heart and lungs a rest, and slows you down so you’re forced to check out the views.  Otherwise, I’d be so focused on the rocky, sketchy trail ahead of me, that I might not stop to smell the roses – which by the way, the purple wild flowers and strong scent of sage accompanied me on much of the ride – fantastic!!

Purple wildflowers were everywhere!

Purple wildflowers were everywhere!

 As you get towards the top of the switcheroos, it gets steeper, and harder.  Rock gardens and baby head graveyards make for some tedious sections.  But the rewards that greet you around each bend make the suffering palatable.  Views to the Glass Mountains, Convict Lake, Crowley Lake.  Even the Minarets come into view.  FANTASTIC!

A good excuse for a much needed breather. Crowley Lake in the distance.

A good excuse for a much needed breather. Crowley Lake in the distance.

It's a nice feeling when you get high enough to see Convict Lake beyond the ridge.

It’s a nice feeling when you get high enough to see Convict Lake beyond the ridge.

 Finally, the switchbacks end, and it opens up on a big plateau where the climbing up to the Wilderness Boundary is cake compared to what you already handled.  Yes, you do hit Wilderness and it’s the cue to turn back.  The descent is a blur and before you know it, you’re back at your car.  You’ll never gawk at McGee Mountain the same.  Not for everyone, but if you’re up for an adventure – give it a go!

It's unfortunate all the motorized tracks I saw beyond this sign. Come on people.

It’s unfortunate all the motorized tracks I saw beyond this sign. Come on people.

Here’s my Strava Link if you want to geek out on the stats.  Hoot!!
Posted in Favorite Rides | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Shreddies at Bootleg Canyon: Las Vegas, NV – Interbike Outdoor Demo 2015

Let's ride bikes!!

Let’s ride bikes!!  29ers are so 2014.

Let’s be honest.  Vegas is not my jam.   Never has been.  Never will be.  Sure, I had fun for New Year’s in college, when we stayed at the Tam O’ Shanter (before it got torn down, it was the cheapest motel on the strip, right across from Treasure Island).

I miss you Tam O'Shanter! FANNY PACKS ON SALE!

I miss you Tam O’Shanter! FANNY PACKS ON SALE!

I’ve also had my share of fun with the drag racing crew back in the day, and more recently filming The Buried Life and a documentary with Shug Knight  – but all in all, smokey casinos and grungy night life are definitely not my jam.  My jam is bikes.  Riding bikes and geeking out to bike stuff is my jam.  So, I sucked it up this year, and made the pilgrimage to Interbike.  I’m not gonna bore ya with all the “best of interbike” stuff you can read anywhere else online – but just as a reminder – there is some stellar mountain biking to be done just outside of Las Vegas at Boulder City (Bootleg Canyon).

The Pivot Carbon Mach 6 did not suck one bit.

The Pivot Carbon Mach 6 did not suck one bit.

Sure, I did have some business to attend to at Interbike (I guess the cat’s out of the bag with me opening  a year-round bike business in Mammoth, but that’s another story).

The Maven. Open for business.

The Maven. Open for business.

The real excuse for going, was to punish some bikes that don’t belong to me at the Outdoor Dirt Demo.  I got to ride some rip-roaring bikes that have about 6″ more travel than I’m used to and about 10 more gears than I’m used to and a price tag about 3k more than I’m used to.

I'm really digging the new Skookum carbon fatbike from Fatback. Yummy.

I’m really digging the new Skookum carbon fatbike from Fatback. Yummy.

After tearing up the cross country courses and shuttle runs and silver bullets with the boys from Footloose Sports, it started to rain pretty heavily in the late afternoon.  It sent everyone bailing out early, and Bootleg became a ghost town.  I handed back my 5″ travel Fuji, and fifteen minutes later, the rain let up.

The Surly booth, of course.

The Surly booth, of course.

Gotta get the obligatory "line up of fat bikes shot".

Gotta get the obligatory “line up of fat bikes shot”.

Pump it!!

Pump it!!

Some tacky singletrack on the xc side of life.

Some tacky singletrack on the xc side of life.

Riding with the Footloose mafia.

Riding with the Footloose mafia.

With everyone gone, and hero dirt calling my name, I pulled the singledingle out of the truck bed and proceeded to log some super duper smiley bonus mileage – much needed as moonshine from the White Lightning booth was still oozing boozie out of my poors.  Girl Scout, I.M.B.A., East Leg, West Leg, Mother, you name it – I rode it in solitude.  Life in balance.

But first... let's take a #selfie.

But first… let’s take a #selfie.

View looking down canyon on Blah Blah Trail.

View looking down canyon  after the rain cleared on Blah Blah Trail.


I like this sign. Especially after seeing way too many eBikes at Interbike.



Check out this super fun feature - I want one in my backyard!!

Check out this sick teeter totter feature – I want one in my backyard!!

So yeah, that’s my Interbike story and I’m sticking to it.  PS – here’s my selfish plug – If you need anything bike service, parts, or accessories in Mammoth, any time of year –  Hit me up.  No skis.  No snowboards.  Just bikes.  The Maven.  Haven’t found the right storefront yet, but the mobile repair shop is up and running, tons of stuff in stock, and the craft beer is always flowing.  310.801.9297IMG_2134


Posted in Favorite Rides | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Caldera 250/500 – Race Diary of the 2015 Grand Depart

“Confronted with the petty concerns of my ordinary life, I feel empty, as if I am wasting a priceless gift, the brief time that is allotted to each human for creativity… Can this longing and restlessness be the price that mortals pay for daring to trespass in the houses of the Gods? Mountains are not stadiums where I satisfy my ambitions to achieve. They are cathedrals, grand and pure, the houses of my religion. I approach them as any human goes to worship. On there alters I strive to perfect myself physically and spiritually. In their presence I attempt to understand my life, to exorcise vanity, greed, and fear. From the vantage of their lofty summits, I view my past, dream of my future, and with unusual acuteness I experience the present moment. I celebrate creation, for on each journey, I am reborn.”       – Anatoli Boukreev /…

View original post 2,571 more words

Posted in Favorite Rides, MTB Racing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ride Report: Helen Putnam Regional Park – Petaluma, CA

Quick – let’s head up to the Bay Area and camp in the salty air, while it’s still warm enough!  Let the girlies frolick in the sand and play with drift wood and catch sand crabs and race the ebbing shore break and get grossed out by seaweed grabbing their legs and build castles and draw our names on the ground and be bums for a few days.IMG_1706IMG_1707

On our way up to Bodega Bay Campground, we decided to spend one night in Petaluma.  Not known as a mountain biking mecca by any extreme, but being so close to wine country, I figured they had to have some rolling hills with fantastic views, right?  After all, I did the 24 hour race in Los Olivos a couple years ago, and it was one of the most beautiful settings for riding bikes… so I did a little interwebs search on the trusty MTB Project, and boom – Helen Putnam Regional Park popped up — nothing crazy, but completely accessible by bike from town = no driving… as always, a super plus for me.  I let the ladies sleep in at the swank motel (am I allowed to use those words together, even in jest?) – actually, nobody slept in, because it sounded like our upstairs neighbors were rolling a keg around all night.

A nice little pond in Helen Putnam Regional Park.

A nice little pond in Helen Putnam Regional Park.

Anyhoo, after a short pedal through town and up a hill, I arrived at Helen Putnam Regional Park.  I wondered who she was, and why have a park bestowed in her name.  So before getting shreddy alongside lots of horse people, I checked up on her.  Turns out, she was my kind of woman.  She did stuff and inspired others to do stuff.  A mother, school teacher, principal, mayor of Petaluma, and Sonoma County Supervisor – you name it.  She passed in 1984.  Putnam encouraged everyone she dealt with to pursue excellence – I got jived up, and kept that in mind as I rode around her park.

Helen Putnam. 1909-1984.

Helen Putnam. 1909-1984.












Ok, ok.  To the riding.   This is not a huge place – a quaint 8-10 miles of trail total.  A couple big fire roads for access, but there definitely is some sweet singledingle and killer views that make it worth it.  Beware of HORSES and hikers.  Seems like those are the main users, and quite frankly, I’m surprised they even allow bikes here – but another great example of a multi-use trail system with all user groups getting along nicely.

Singletrack bliss.

Singletrack bliss.

After a nice warmup climb, views open up, and it’s hard to believe a few minutes ago you were in historic downtown.  It’s easy to navigate and well-signed, so next thing I knew, I was just flowing on the mostly smooth, hardpack singletrack.  There are lookout points all over the place, with benches and fantastic views to sit and enjoy your bagel.

Artsy fartsy.

Artsy fartsy.

Nothing techy or gnarly, but this was more like a “sunrise walk in the park”.  Within an hour, I’d done Pomo, Panorama, South Loop, Savannah, Ridge, Arroyo, and Fillaree.  Guess what?  That was everything.  Yeah, I guess it could get kind of boring (and honestly, all the trails felt pretty much identical, so boredom was setting in already).  If I lived here, it would be my post-work workout ride, and I’d be like Cliff on Cheers – everyone would know my name… and the sound of my bike bell.

Uh huh.

Uh huh.

Just up the road in Santa Rosa is the fabled Russian River Brewing Company – perfect for post ride libations… you can get one of the craziest flights around – certainly the biggest one I’ve ever tried – 18 beers.  Whoa!!

18 beers in the Russian River flight!!

18 beers in the Russian River flight!!

One last note – while camping in Bodega Bay, someone stole my bike from my campsite while we were sleeping in the tent.  It was a heart-breaker, as my green One 9 had been with me through a lot.  Long story short – I found it for sale on Craigslist 2 weeks later.  A sting was set up, bike retrieved, justice served.  Crazy, huh?  Now I just have to get back to Bodega Bay before the snow flies to pick her up out of evidence… Maybe a good excuse to ride Susanville?  Hmmm….

Nice "downhill bike" eh?

Nice “downhill bike” eh?

Posted in Favorite Rides | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment