Man, it’s been a while since I’ve put digital pen to paper. 7am, sitting on the brown coach in front of my blazing fireplace. Soft wood to start, now the hard wood has the BTU’s cranking. Step out to the deck for a sec. Pastels streak across the sky as the sun wakes up. The air is crispy and quiet with a hint of smoke… I’m not the only one wood burning this a.m. 38F. Winter is closing in. The resort even got snow earlier this week, allowing me to check one item off my list: I freerode my fat bike down Cornice Bowl. Actually, I was kinda gripped and conservative due to the pitch at the top (and being alone), so I glissaded for a bit, and then rode the rest. Got Gremlins Gulch too and had a super fun descent all the way down. Just me on a private adventure ride. Pretty fantastic!! I think next time I can clean the whole thing. Drop the seat and the tire pressure even lower (4 or 5psi).
Anyhoo… I digress. Lost on tangents… where was I? Oh yeah, the summer has flown by. Fall has strangled all the yellow, orange, and red out of the trees… And I never got a chance to journal about my family 4th of July road trip – 3 1/2 months ago!! I’m so scared of alzheimers (I watched both my grandparents deteriorate before they died), and my recollection skills are trash as is. Must write stuff down. Must save photos. Do not forget magical times. So now, with a Downieville trip cancelled because we lagged on reserving bike shuttles and they got booked up, I sit here with a couple free minutes. Time to re-live some good times before they fade away into my jalopy of a memory.
For the 5th year in a row, March 20-June 30 had me in Santa Fe, NM shooting Season 5 of Longmire. (BTW it just got renewed for it’s 6th and FINAL Season). I hear it’s pretty good, by the way, maybe I’ll watch it soon. A little over 3 months of complete dedication the craft. With 60+ hours of the week going directly making a tv show, what’s left of time is a competition for sleep, riding bikes, catching up on movies, and of course when they’re in town, every free moment is with La Familia. While you’re on a show… that’s it. It consumes you. Everything revolves around “getting the shot”.
My friends in real life have no clue what I do outside of Mammoth… it’s kinda funny. Then, in a poof, the job is over. A welcomed poof, yes. So what happens after every poof? Back to the chosen life of a ski/mtb bum that I’m instilling in my kids. Back to shaving once every month or two and super duper family time and wrenching on bikes and SEMBA and SUP’ing and hiking and camping and skiing and drinking beer and lying on the couch and watching UFC and cartoons with the kiddos and crap shows with wifey. The best part of Longmire is always looking forward to going home… the the ensuing adventures, all of which begin with the illustrious “road trip home”. Angela and I sit around and think… hmmm… where should we spend 4th of July this year??? Ok, Santa Fe > Salida > Crested Butte > Fruita > Zion > Home, with lots of stuff in between.
I chatted with my homie George from Niner Bikes… he’s based in CO, and drives the demo van all over the place. Finger on the pulse. He heard a new brewery opened in Crestone. Perfect, it’s on the way to Salida. Snap. Some trippy hippy’s with a birth-defected camel on a leash caught Lucy’s eye. Bought some camel’s milk fudge from them and tried not to get eaten alive by all the ‘squitos that accompanied the smelly beast and it’s equally stankified master. Ducked into the brewery. Now we’re talking. Shared a fantastic nitro porter and camel chocolate with Angela… perfection. Off to Salida.
Always LOVE Salida. Last time I was here, I rode the magnificent Monarch Crest. This time, decided to hit up the local Arkansas Hills Trail System while the girlies played in the river. You simply ride through town on F Street towards the big “S” on the hill, cross the railroad tracks, and start climbing. Before you know it, you’re in singletrack heaven.
As far as local trail networks go, the singletrack here is top-notched. I was lucky enough to hit it just after a rain storm. Super fun and flowy and tacky, well marked, and just a stone’s throw from town. Some nice climbs, and fast downs – I was stokey faced the whole time… and as pictured above, beautiful views around every turn. Frontside to Lil Rattler and hit Backbone and Cottonwood Trail to Happy Ending. Great little loop – here’s the Strava link. Chug down a local Elevation beer from Poncha Springs, and you’re good to go. When in town, I always pop into Absolute Bikes, and this time we had a fantastic meal next door at River’s Edge. GOOD TIMES!!
After a couple nights in Salida, we were on our way to Crested Butte for the 4th of July, with a quick stop in Gunnison. We needed our fill of mullets and cut-off sleeves. Just kidding… not. We stopped in at High Alpine Brewing for a wood-burned margherita pizza and a flight of yummy suds to wash it down with. Always peepin’ out the bike shop scene, so I dodged a hail storm to check out Double Shot Cyclery while the girls avoided golf balls falling from the sky by waiting in the car. I don’t even drink coffee, but was stoked on the vibe in Double Shot. Bike culture is alive and kicking in Gunny…
Arrived in CB early evening on July 3rd. Checked in at the Old Town Inn… grabbed fresh baked cookies from the lobby, jumped on our bikes, and headed out for some grub. One of the homies had mentioned Teocali Tamale and it didn’t disappoint. Their burritos were sooo good. Topped it off with some homemade ice cream from Third Bowl, and made our plan for the 4th.
I got up early and put our blankets out on Elk St to reserve a good spot for the parade. Then I headed out for my “Merika F Yeah” bike ride. I’ve previously done the magical 401 Trail and wanted to do something new. So I decided to ride Lupine, Snodgrass, and Slate River lower loop. It did not disappoint. Great views, great climbs and descents, in and out of aspen groves and slipping and dipping through wildflowers and along the river. Quintessential CB ride, and I couldn’t stop thinking about how blessed we are for the quality of life afforded to us here in Merika.
After a sweet ride, I met the ladies for the town parade. A bloody mary from The Last Steep was just the ticket for a post-ride recovery beverage. We hunkered down in front of Big Al’s Bike Heaven and watched the melee ensue.
Later that night, we snuck onto the ski resort, hiked out on one of the ski runs, and had the perfect vantage point to watch the fireworks from.
As much as we didn’t wanna go, we had to leave Crested Butte 😦 – On the road again. We stopped in Paonia for some of their famous cherries before heading to the mountain biking mecca of Fruita, CO. Picked up some palisade peaches from a roadside vendor — delish!!
Took the drive through Colorado National Monument, and it did not disappoint. The history behind it, and the treacherous feat of building the road is super interesting – highly recommend if you get the chance. In terms of riding bikes in Fruita, 18 Road is on of my list of all time favorites, but I decided to try riding the Kokopelli Loops in nearby Loma. Completing the whole 150 mile Kokopelli Trail from Loma to Moab is on my bucket list, so I figured I’d check out the fun loops at the Loma trailhead. I got out early and did a traditional loop which included fantastic singletrack on Horsethief Bench and Steve’s with some slickrock and tech sprinkled with Mary’s and Moore Fun. The views on Horsethief along the Colorado River were fantastic and you could look back and see Mary’s and Steve’s that you just rode. Some of the riding got a little techy, and had me wishing for a squishy. Very Moabesque. Somehow, I lost one glove while eating a banana mid-ride. Bummer.
After departing Fruita, we made our way to Hurricane, Utah. Distance-wise, it breaks up the final leg of the drive for the kids well. Bonus is that there’s exceptional riding to be had, and it’s next to Zion National Park.
I’d previously ridden the amazing Gooseberry Mesa, so this time I decided to hit the IMBA Epic / Hurricane Rim Loop. We arrived in Hurricane in late afternoon/early evening. Before hitting the Chinese buffet joint we like, I popped into the awesome Over The Edge bike shop, chatted with the owner for a bit and bought a map. He gave me some trail beta and I was stoked for a morning spin. Got out nice and early to beat the heat, while mom and the kids got brekky at blah blah coffee shop and then played in the river by the JEM trailhead.
It was a perfect ride to end a fantastic trip. It combines the Hurricane Cliffs Trails with Gould and JEM for a 25 mile loop, almost completely singletrack. There is a reason this is considered an “epic” and there’s a little bit of everything. Heart-pounding climbs, super flowy descents, techy rock sections, 360 vistas and views everywhere, you name it. What a blast!! The last few miles on JEM had me smiling from ear to ear as it’s just downhill enough to keep your speed high and the flow is PERFECT as you zig zag your way home. Here’s the strava link.
After the ride, we spent the rest of the day in Zion. Normally, I’d love to spend more time there, but with the kids and the schedule to get home, one long day was plenty. They enjoyed the tram rides more than anything… and we did a bunch of hiking and soaking in the river. What more could you ask for?
And with the blink of an eye and an ice cream cone from the McDonalds’s drive through, we were back to home sweet home and real life… camping and fishing and riding bikes and hiking and paddle boarding await. It’s always exciting to finish a vacation knowing that you live in a perpetual vacation town. Funny how that works…