Thanksgiving Singletrack: Sonoran Desert Preserve – Peoria, Arizona

Not every ride has to be an epic.  It’s the routine of riding bikes day in and day out that is important.  I knew when I flew to Arizona for Thanksgiving, I was going to miss having my bike.  Instead of paying the $150 each way to fly with it, I banked on borrowing my dad’s bike while I was out there.  I also knew that I’d be eating a lot, and had to at least earn some of it 🙂

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Kinda weird thinking my dad’s complete KHS bike cost him about as much as my brakes.  In the end, a bike is a bike, and these trails were FUN!!

I decided to try out the relatively new Sonoran Desert Preserve near Phoenix. You could tell the trails were machine built, and they were kind of wide – but it was perfect for beginners and novice riders.  I’m sure it’ll narrow down and get more enjoyable over the next few years.  I did a loop of Sidewinder and Ocotillo.  Strava link here.
A couple of good climbs on Sidewinder get you up high and you feel like you’re away from the urban sprawl.  Good flow, great fun.  Even though you’re just off a major highway, you feel like you’re away from it all.  Great resource to get out of the “bustling” Phoenix grind.
My dads Kmart special bike served me well, other than some crappy shifting.  It almost made it through the day, but I punctured my rear tire with 3 miles to go.  Bummer.  I didn’t have a spare tube, or any type of repair kit/tools that I’d normally have on my own bike.  I didn’t feel like walking, and was frustrated.  So I rode the rim for a while, and felt as if I was shredding up the 1.95 Kenda Small Block 8 in the process.  I didn’t care and knew I could replace the wheel and tire for the cost of a decent meal.  My dad picked me up, and we stopped by Sport Chalet for a tube.  After getting back to his house, I set about installing the new tube.  Somehow, the wheel had remained round and true, and the rim was virtually undamaged.   The tire didn’t have any tears either.  Yahoo!
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What else could I expect from a 1.95″ Small Block Eight? 

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Happy Thanksgiving, 2015 from the Jacoby Fam.  #thatbeardtho

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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 — https://www.strava.com/activities/406861562

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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!!
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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.

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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

 

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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 /…

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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?

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The Great Tahoe Flume Race – Yeah Baby

I feel like a buster sometimes.  It’s like those people that live down the block from Disneyland who’ve never been.  With Lake Tahoe so close to home, I’m embarrassed to admit, that this was only the 2nd time I’d ridden a bike up there.  The first time was at the 8 hours of Lake Tahoe Race – where I had a blast, and swore to explore the area more.

Photo I stole from Sierra Cup's Facebook - Marlette Flume Trail with Lake Tahoe in the bg - Gorgeous!!

Photo I stole from Sierra Cup’s Facebook – Marlette Flume Trail with Lake Tahoe in the bg – Gorgeous!!

So, when I heard about the Great Flume Race – the final race of the Sierra MTB Cup Series,  at the last minute, it was on.  I was stoked at the opportunity to ride the longest ongoing bike race in the area (it’s been running since 1984).  But first…

I ran around Mammoth Mountain all day Saturday, trying to keep up with, and cheer on Lucy and her partner Ella as they did the girls 6-7 division of the Kids Adventure Games.  Such a super cool event!  Promoted teamwork and helped kids overcome fears, conquer obstacles, and get that overall addicting feeling of setting goals and accomplishing them.  Woohoo!

Lucy defeating a demon on the Tyrolean Traverse.

Lucy defeating a demon on the Tyrolean Traverse.

Super duper slip n slide to end the event!

Super duper slip n slide to end the event!

Had dinner with the fam bam, kissed my ladies goodnight, and drove up to Tahoe.  Should’ve cleaned the bugs off the windshield first.  Oncoming headlights = backlight = moments of near catastrophe.  Yeah.  That reminds me, I’m pulling out the razor blade today and scraping that window clean! — Digression — rolled up to Spooner Lake Park around 11pm.  Found a legal place to park nearby, off the road, away from lights.  Reclined the seats, threw on a puffy and dozed.  Woke up at 6.  Not too bad.

Met up with the 8 other Mammoth/Bishop locals that were also at the race, representing the Eastside – what, what… got a quick rundown on the course from Jeremy who pre-rode it with his daughters a couple days earlier (all three of them wound up on the top step in their classes, btw).  Met up with another singlespeed buddy, Mark, who I met the year before at the Sierra 7500 Redux and kept in touch with via the interwebs. He further helped me with some local course knowledge.

Another stolen interwebs photo - of what might be Matt Gunnell from NICA - cruising through another beautiful section of trail.

Another stolen interwebs photo – of what might be Matt Gunnell from SoCal League/NICA – cruising through another beautiful section of trail.

Speaking of the course – it was fantastic.  Slow for SS because of a couple of long, flat sections… where the gear clickers kept whizzing by… including Mike and Ted… but nonetheless, there were some epic views of Lake Tahoe along the Marlette Flume and some great singletrack.  The SS class did the Pro/Cat 1 loop – which was 27 miles, 4k climbing.  It starts with an 1,100′ climb over 4 miles up a fire road.  Nice warmup.  Not.  My legs were startled and wanted to hide under a rock.  I knew I had to keep a decent pace here, and push through it, but what a PITA.  Then there were some flats, a couple fast descents, and a couple more bigger climbs – obviously.  But it was mostly a blur.  I didn’t sleep well, and was kinda in zombie mode after the first big climb and knowing I’d put some good minutes between myself and the next ss’er.  My legs and lungs were still able to keep a pretty good pace, somehow.

Ted and Mike with their steezy Mammoth kits on the podium.

Ted and Mike with their steezy Mammoth kits on the podium.

As I passed through what I thought was an aid station, I learned it was the finish line.  It was over.  Much quicker than I anticipated, and not as brutal either.  What a blast!  Met up with the other Mammoth-ites and hung out and enjoyed the rest of the day.  Out of 9 people, we somehow got 7 podium spots, including my SS win.

Motley bunch - Tammy, Ted, Mike (front), Genevieve, Meade, Jess, Tom (middle), myself, Jeremy (back).

Motley bunch – Tammy, Ted, Mike (front), myself, Genevieve, Meade, Jess, Tom (middle),  Jeremy (back).

Anyhoo, that’s about it.  Back to long, slow riding, which my body is more accustomed to… as we put the finishing touches on the Caldera Route – which is coming up so soon!!!

 

 

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Getting High on your own Supply: The Sweetwater Mountains Traverse

Definitely one of the gnarliest climbs, if not the gnarliest climb in the whole Eastern Sierra.  Definitely some of the most amazing views if not the most amazing views and landscapes available to bicycles in the Eastern Sierra.

Yeah, I'm stoked here.  Little did I know this was a false summit and I still had more climbing!!

Yeah, I’m stoked here. Little did I know this was a false summit and I still had more climbing!!

These seem like tall statements, considering this region is littered with grit testing/visually rewarding climbs like the White Mountain Epic, Coyote Traverse, Laurel Lakes, etc.  But I crap you not, this is up there on the podium with them.  Once you start the “main climb” up to Mt. Patterson, it’s about 10 miles with 4,500′ of climbing and one super annoying false summit that stabs you in the gut.  Sure, there are plenty of other routes that appear tougher on paper (Silver Canyon with 6k climbing over 9 miles comes to mind).  But this dirt is soft and littered with baby heads in sections, making for very tough work, even on the flattest portions.  The pitch gets so frickin steep in parts and the extended hike-a-bikes sap your energy and induce hallucination.  With a loaded bike, and being in the moment, this definitely felt like the hardest HAB I’ve ever done.  Luckily for us, we got some trail angel love from a couple of rock crawlers coming down off the 4×4 route.  They gave us some cold water and warnings about the storm we were riding into.  Luckily, we were ready for storms, as we were fully loaded with our bikepacking rigs, and intended to bivy anyway – but the storm never produced more than a drizzle for us.

Lots of this going on.  Push, push, give.

Lots of this going on. Push, push, give.

Backstory – Kevin and I were doing some scout riding for the Caldera 500 Route, and wound up starting the ride up the Sweetwaters later in the day than we would’ve liked.   But it afforded us cooler temps, and a gorgeous sunset descent to the west.  After a stare down with a wild-eyed bull, who even charged at us for 50 yards, we began the traverse east to west, (following the Caldera 500 route).  Although most ride it west to east, I have to say, I think east to west is better – the climbing is relentless, regardless, but the descent down Desert Creek with the views out to the Sierra and Yosemite to the west/south are FANTASTIC!!   Meanwhile, the climb up the old stage road would make for a much more “meh” descent, and it’s nice to reach the ruins of Belfort mining town (10,200′) for a breather before the last push up to the top.  Belfort makes a great pit stop, and is meaningful psychologically as you rest up for your last big push to the summit.

Finally made it to Belfort.  Two buildings left standing.  But we still had lots of climbing to go.

Finally made it to Belfort. Two buildings left standing. But we still had lots of climbing to go.

I'm pretty sure he's saying, "WTF were we thinking.  NO turning back now."

I’m pretty sure he’s saying, “WTF were we thinking. NO turning back now.”

People scribed up some window trim in an old Belfort ruins.  These dated back to 1953.  Super cool.

People scribed up some window trim in an old Belfort ruins. These dated back to 1953. Super cool.

As TJ Scott would say, "A frame within a frame - cool, cool."

As TJ Scott would say, “A frame within a frame – cool, cool.”

This is one of the few rides I know of (other than the top of White Mountain ), where you can ride your bike right up to the summit/high point of the whole ride.  You can pedal straight to the top of Mt. Patterson at 11,644′.  Pretty special.  They call it “Mars with Flowers” up there.  The extreme weather and soil doesn’t allow for much life, but a few rugged flowers and plants have managed to survive.  The bald and pale color landscape above timberline is so varied and diverse, it’s breathtaking.IMG_1875

When we got up there, the sun was setting and we wanted to descend in ambient light, so I didn’t take as many pics as I’d have liked – but it is marvelous.  The last light in the sky was pushing us down that ridge and into the canyon below until we finally needed to put on the lights.  The images from that night were pressed into my memory bank with an indelible stamp.

11,500' false summit.  We had to drop back to 11 and then climb right back to 11,600' - OUCH!

11,500′ false summit. We had to drop back to 11 and then climb right back to 11,600′ – OUCH!

We made it down just after nightfall, and camped near Lobdell Lake.  Kevin threw me a tangerine, which I somehow lost in my sleeping bag.  I didn’t find it until I got up to pee a few hours later and there it was.  I stared at the star-filled sky while eating that sweet orange before dozing off again.  Good times.  When I woke up hungry just after sunrise, I saw Kevin with a small fire going trying to thaw out his damp, creek-drenched socks.  I decided to eat the cream-filled churro I’d been saving.  Yahoo.  We descended Burcham Flats and cruised back into Bridgeport to finish our loop.  Man, was that fun.

It was all a dream.  Flying down through Bircham Flats on our way back to Bridgeport.

It was all a dream. Flying down through Bircham Flats on our way back to Bridgeport.

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Ride Report: Wasatch Crest / Park City IMBA Epic

The hills are alive. A ribbon of bliss on the Wasatch Crest.

The hills are alive. A ribbon of bliss on the Wasatch Crest.

So, I found myself rolling through Park City, Utah – saying hey to my buddy Tony.  He’s a badass singlespeeder and pretty good at drinking beers.  So that’s what we did.  Drink beer and ride singledingle on some super singledingletrack.  Last time I was in town, we hit the Mid-Mountain Trail which was pretty cool.  But I wanted to see some more.  So the Wasatch Crest IMBA Epic was on tap.

Some old mining remnants, early on the Armstrong Trail climb.

Some old mining remnants, early on the Armstrong Trail climb.

I was stoked because you can hit this loop from town = no driving to a trailhead.  Score.  It starts with the Armstrong climb – tough for a warm-up, but a nice, consistent grade makes for good uphill flow.  Before you know it, you’ve gained massive elevation and don’t feel too much worse for the wear.  Boom.  Fab views open up of the town below and of the ski resort across the way.

Taking a break on the Armstrong Trail climb to soak in views of Park City Mountain Resort.

Taking a break on the Armstrong Trail climb to soak in views of Park City Mountain Resort.

Next, you jump on Mid-Mountain Trail for a short jaunt, before heading up to Pine Cone Ridge.  We got pretty lucky as they were preparing to close the trail and do maintenance for a couple days – we just slipped through.  The grade steepens as you pass through gorgeous aspen groves.  It got tough here for my weak legs pushing a 32:17t, but there were many rollers that help generate momentum and give short moments of rest in the fakies section.  Without those rollers, I surely would’ve HAB’d a bunch of that section.

Tony up on the crest!

Tony up on the crest!

Before you know it, you reach the Wasatch Crest.  It’s pretty special up there.  Right away, you’re greeted with sick views of Brighton and Solitude ski areas and you feel like you’re on the spine of a huge dinosaur.  Cottonwood Canyon to one side, Park City to the other.  Ok, enough lookie looing, let’s keep riding!   Tony had to head back and take his daughter to dance camp – so I kept on pedaling.  Double track quickly turns to tacky single and the hills are alive with the sound of music in my head.  More sick views and fast red dirt with wild flowers of every color surround me like the Austin Powers shag-wagon.

Lush for days.

Lush for days.

Wildflowers and views to Solitude and Brighton from the Wasatch Crest Trail.

Wildflowers and views to Solitude and Brighton from the Wasatch Crest Trail.

More squigglies and views that don't suck.

More squigglies and views that don’t suck.

Most of the climbing was done, and the downward slithering had great visibility, so I was able to uncork the beast!   A snap of the fingers later,  and I romped through a different section of the Mid-Mountain Trail before taxing hero dirt into Canyons Resort.  Ambush Trail to Holly’s and boom – pop out at pavement, ride a couple miles back into town, smiles the whole way.

I just couldn't get enough of the gorgeous flowers lining the red dirt trails.

I just couldn’t get enough of the gorgeous flowers lining the red dirt trails.

I should check the gpx file and see exactly what lift this is - but suffice it to say, gorgeous view.

I should check the gpx file and see exactly what lift this is – but suffice it to say, gorgeous view.

My type of ride.  A solid climb, eye candy on the crest, and a fast, engaging descent to finish it off.  An apple ale at Wasatch Brewing solidified the memories and capped off a grand day.  This ride is definitely worthy of IMBA Epic status, and one that I’d do again in a heart beat.

 

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2015 Freedom Ride: Spring Creek Trail in Steamboat Springs, CO

Jungle riding at its best.

Jungle riding at its best.

Fourth of July, 2015 was spent in Steamboat Springs, ColoRADo this year.  Word on the street is that out of the 6 highest touted pyrotechnicians in the country, 3 live in the “Boat”.  We figured it might be a nice spot to kick back and watch the fireworks after floating down the Yampa River.

But first, let’s take another bike selfie.

Surrounded by aspens and tacky velcro dirt below.

Surrounded by aspens and tacky velcro dirt below.

Can’t be in The Boat and not take a bike ride.  That would be sacrilegious.  So I decided to see what all the buzz was about on the Spring Creek Trail.  It’s an out and back that leaves right from town, which I always love.  I can leave the girlies snoozing in the hotel room and slip out into my head without leaving them carless if they decide to jam out for some reason.

Lush vibes - you'd think I was in South America.

Lush.

Once on trail, I felt like I was in Costa Rica.  Couldn’t believe the rain forest vibe that was going on so close to town.  It was lush, jungle riding with 4′ tall grass and wildflowers closing in on me like those crazy inflatable windsock people, as I made my way up the narrow singletrack ribbon.  ScaryDancer12-3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Half the time I felt like I was riding in a maze with high walls, and whenever I popped out, it was either for a bridge crossing of the creek, or to slip through an aspen grove.  Quite magical indeed.  It’s basically one big climb to the top that gains 1,500′ over 5.5 miles.  Manageable for the most part with couple strong efforts sprinkled in.  The sound of water flowing down the creek was soothing and overpowered the wheezing created by my inadequate lungs.

Flowers!!

Flowers!!

I didn’t spend much time dilly dallying at the top – as I just wanted to start descending as quickly as possible.  I knew the fab schralping that awaited, and wanted to get going before the trail got too crowded.  I bombed down the flowing singletrack, making sure my bar ends steered clear of the grassy walls.

Wifey at the parade.  Dragons and horse dookie , yahoo!!

Wifey at the parade. Dragons and horse dookie , yahoo!!

Molly!!

Molly!!

Lucy!!  Out front of the kick ass Rabbit Ears Motel - I highly recommend to everyone.

Lucy!! Out front of the kick ass Rabbit Ears Motel – I highly recommend to everyone.

The girlies!!

The girlies!!

No better way to enjoy the 4th than with a freedom ride, floating the Yampa River with Lucy, family time kickin it at the parade route, and the best fireworks show I’ve ever seen with a Buzzcock English Ale in hand.  It’s nice to be FREE.  Let it ring!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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