Trails I've Ridden

What My Wife Calls My Bragging Wall:

Ohio: The Biggest Little Mountain Bike Trail (Camp Tuscazoar) 2 Ton Falls, Medina Reagan, Royalview, Bedford, West Branch, Mohican, *Vulture’s Knob, Lake Hope, the shit in Columbus, Dillon, The Wilds, AEP Lands, Wayne National Forest/Marietta, Findley Michigan Island Lake, Highland, Proud Lake, Hickory Glen, Novi Tree Farm, Addison Oaks, Merrill, Luton, Pontiac Lake, ***Potowatomi, Brighton, Yankee Springs, Fort Custer, **Big M, North Country Trail segments, *Copper Harbor, Boyne Highlands, High Country Pathway, Bass River, Stoney Creek, Hungerford, Florida Hannah State Park, Jacksonville West Virginia **Cooper’s Rock, **Davis, Slatyfork, Watters Smith, Two track to Wonder Falls/Big Sandy River Gorge, Big Bear, Mountwood, Kanawha, North Bend, Spruce Knob, Valley Falls Pennsylvania Moraine, Brady’s Run, Laurel Mountain, Tomlinson Run, Quebec Run, *Apollo/Roaring Run, Northpark, Bavington, Allegrippis, Blue Knob, 2 Mile Run, Tussey Mountain, Rothrock/Cooper's Gap Virginia **Carvin’s Cove, Massanutten, Harrisonburg/Reddish Knob New York Ellicottville Maryland *Gambrill/Frederick Watershed North Carolina Dupont, Pisgah, Rocky Knob, *Dark Mountain, that trail with all the berms in Wilksboro Arizona Sedona California *Sequel Demo South Dakota *Storm Mountain, Tinton Trail

Utah: Zen, Barrel Roll/Suicidal tendencies, Gooseberry, Guacamole, JEM

* My favorites

My Strava Feed

Classic 2Ton30Inch Pics

Artemis and the Pack

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Sunday, April 5, 2015

St. George/Hurricane, Utah

Last year's spring break took me and Brandon Le to Pisgah, Roanoke, and Massanutten. This year, we spent five days riding desert single track and slick rock in Southern Utah. 
Our home base was a cheap but very nice condo in St. George.

We arrived Sunday afternoon and hit up the Zen trail, later realizing:
A) we could have ridden to the trailhead right from the condo, and
B) Zen is one of the more technical trails we would ride all week. 

The week progressed thusly:
Monday: Barrel Roll, Sidewinder, Suicidal Tendencies (where we met our 2Ton Doppelgangers)
Tuesday: Gooseberry Mesa
Wednesday: tour of Zion National Park including a butt-puckering ascent of Angel's Landing, then an evening ride at Guacamole
Thursday: JEM, Cryptobionic and the recently built Deadringer

Once again, we suffered no mechanical issues, botched reservations, breakdowns or mishaps. Wait a minute....there was one thing that went wrong and later I'm gonna bitch about it for a few sentences because Red Rock Bicycles in St. George deserves some criticism. But even their douchebag customer service didn't put a dent in our fun. 

All in all, we enjoyed a nice epic sampler of some unique mountain biking and got away from the cold Ohio weather for awhile. 

Zen trail, St. George's version of buff suburban single track. Except that it's far more rocky, technical and climby than typical local singeltrack. And it's a blast. We almost rode it again at the end of the trip. 

Beautiful view of the mountains north of St. George. 

Brandon riding through the boulders. 

Sunset from near the top of Zen. Hmmm....maybe that's why it's named Zen. 

Looking down into the valley and the Bearclaw Poppy trail network, which we were advised against riding by the trail "expert" at Red Rock Cycling, but which we would later find out is a hoot to ride. 

The desert sun never got godawful hot and we enjoyed awesome weather. 

We only rode two trails in St. George but there's probably at least two to three days of good single track in the area, and much different from the terrain on the mesa trails near Hurricane. 

Yes, definitely Zen. 

Our condo. Through the gap in those bushes you can see one of the countless Razrs and four wheelers and dirt bikes and off road vehicles that people blast around in through the high desert landscape. 

Day two was Barrel Roll/Sidewinder/Suicidal Tendencies, just north of St. George near Santa Clara. 

The views kept getting better and better. 

Another view down into the Bearclaw Poppy system. That's the Santa Cruz Tallboy that Red Rock Cycles substituted for the carbon Bronson I had reserved. Kinda bullshit because there was no price reduction and I was really looking forward to riding the Bronson. A Tallboy isn't exactly the weapon of choice for some of the tight rocky trail sections we were riding and the damn thing had a 2.0 Slant six on the front. I took it in to Red Rock that morning and asked if they could swap out the front tire for something a little beefier. Their response was that they don't do that kind of thing. And it wasn't even a tubeless setup. I find that whole arrangement to be pretty much bullshit, and if my opinion counts for anything, I'd take my business elsewhere if I were you. One shop you might consider if you're in the area is Over The Edge in Hurricane. Awesome shop. More on that later. Red Rocks Cycles is more worried about selling $10k road bikes than taking care of mountain bikers. Stay away. 

The top of Sidewinder after our first taste of exposure. Whew doggy! Sidewinder switches back and forth down the side of a steep, rocky ravine and I'll admit that I walked most of the turns. A good place to have a front wheel-stand turn in your skill set. 
It was badass.
Barrel Roll was a blast and Suicidal Tendencies was actually just a nice gradual climb to the summit. 

At the end of the ride, we got to talking with a group of guys from San Diego and it turns out that they are basically the West Coast version of 2ton30inch. Excellent riders, excellent drinkers. Just a bunch of good dudes who have ridden some of the best trails in the American West. I hope to ride with them someday.
The Palooza Crew

And then it was on to Hurricane to pick up a rental bike at Over the Edge bikes.
So get this: I walk into the shop and the guys says he has some bad news: they sold the Rocky Mountain Altitude I had reserved. I'm thinking, shit, it's happening again. Next thing he says is that he's upgrading me to a Knolly Warden! Knolly bikes have a well-deserved cult following and the Warden retails for around $6500. Kevin from the Palooza guys, rides a Knolly Endorphin, and his praise for it had already caught my attention, so I was pumped to be able to ride a Knolly for the nest three days. The shop was awesome with a very local feel even though they have shops in at least four other locations, and the guys gave us some good, honest trail advice. I'd rank them near the top of the list of cool shops I've been to, including Blackwater Bikes in Davis WV, the shop at the entrance to Pisgah with the craft beer bar, Bike and Bean in Sedona, RMS in Spearfish SD, Family Bikes in Santa Cruz, and the shop in Copper Harbor Michigan (and of course The Edge Outfitters in Medina OH!)
Craft beer from San Diego.

Unfortunately, we couldn't fit a rack on the rental car, so we had to carefully transport over $10k worth of mountain bikes in the back. Brandon's Pivot Mach 6 suffered nary a scratch, and the Warden was a little dusty at the end of the week, but otherwise undinged or doinked. Brandon and I can attest to the quality of RockShox's Pike fork. 

Next day was the legendary rim riding of Gooseberry Mesa. We rode clockwise starting with the South Rim, with its fun slick rock moves and a route marked clearly with white dots. I learned quickly that making some of the blind moves was simply a matter of keeping my front tire on the white dots and rolling. The slick rock climbs are super grippy and the drops were smoothed out by the four-bar Knolly suspension.

Our first sighting of the peaks of Zion National Park. 

The South Rim lived up to its reputation. Uncrowded and unique. Like DuPont x1000 with plenty of punchy climbs and drops.

South Rim led to one incredible view after another. It never got so close to the cliff face to make us get off and walk, but the 1000 foot drop off was always there to keep our minds focused on the single track. 

This was a cool section that took us over two huge slick rock mounds with the cliff edge just a few feet to the left of tree in the middle of the pic. 

A view from the Gooseberry Point northeast toward Virgin. Somewhere down there is the Red Bull Rampage site.

Crazy view and exposure. One of the most beautiful places I've ever seen. 

A panoramic sequence:

We talked to a local old-time rider about a good afternoon ride and he suggested the Gander Trail on the North Rim. It took us through an incredible series of alternating red rock and granite zones, the colors of which I had never experienced before. It went gradually downhill and we had to be heads up for a cattle guard which would signal a short off-trail segment that eventually led to some two track that then led us back to the access road and the parking lot. Very cool ride. One of the best parts of any mountain bike adventure is talking to the local riders and getting kickass advise.
That evening, we found the site of the Red Bull Rampage, and our minds continued to be blown. Although the TV coverage makes the area look bigger overall, the drops and jumps are balls-out unbelievable. 

They dismantle all of the wooden features every year, but the jumps and transitions are left intact.

The next day was scheduled to be a bit of a rest day with some hiking in Zion.
Everybody we talked to suggested we climb Angel's Landing, with its steep route and fixed chains.

This was only about half way up. If you look closely, you can see people ascending the narrow ridge all the way to the top. Crazy, but plenty of people were doing it. 

My wife and I had done a similar hair-raising, chain-aided climb to the base of a waterfall in Supai, but this climb was twice as scary and a hell of a lot higher.
Straight over the edge from the top with the Virgin River below us. 

Brandon scrambled down to some cool rock cairns people had built. 
Strange coincidence: I got talking with a couple and it turned out that they were from my hometown and knew my daughter-in-law!!!!!! 
After a somewhat less hair-raising descent, we rode to the end of the park road, made a quick beer stop next to the Virgin River, then caught a nice draft behind a park shuttle on the way back. 

That night, we drove up to the Guacamole Trail and did some more mesa riding similar to Gooseberry, but our legs were cooked so we only did the intermediate route. Cool bum camping at Guacamole!

We saved the JEM trail for the last day. I've got some cool gopro footage that I'll post soon. We rode a recently-built trail called Deadringer that was freaking awesome, then made the long descent down JEM to the Virgin River Canyon. The stuff they are building near rt. 59 is sweet and portends some amazing riding in the future.
The day was windy and kinda cool, the only real weather we had to contend with. Fortunately, we rode downhill into it for the most part. This riding was mostly desert dirt single track, kinda like the stuff in St. George but with less climbing.
The Virgin River Canyon.

I'll admit that the exposure of riding along a cliff edge started to get to me after awhile, and we both agreed that downhill ripping on the St. George trails was preferable to some scary but relatively flat mesa rides. The scenery of the mesas, though, can't be beat. 

Not sure I could ever see spending $7000 on a mountain bike, but if I did, it would be a Knolly.

The contrast between the desert and the "civilization" of Las Vegas is mind bending. 

Brandon hooked us up with a nice hotel room at Treasure Island, thanks to his buddy who works there. 
I had never walked the strip, so even though our legs were doing the St. George "shuffle" we headed out into the night. I wasn't as overwhelmed as I was the first time I was in Vegas. My wife and I had spent a week roaming the Arizona desert and could barely stand driving through all the light and noise and people afterward. This time, though, possibly because we had stayed in relatively suburbanized St. George, the Vegas lights didn't seem so irritating. And when we walked in the CVS to get a brew and they had bottle openers built into the racks, I began to get a little amazed. Brandon said that you could walk right the sidewalk in Vegas with an open beer, and he was right, so we did! We watched a fun street show, sat down and did some people watching, then it was time to turn in for the final night. I went back to the hotel room and fell instantly asleep. Brandon, the youngster that he is, stumbled in around midnight, but was up promptly by 3:00 to make his 6:00 flight. 

A few memorable selfies. Sorry.

Thanks again the Over the Edge for hooking me up with the nicest bike I've ridden so far, the Knolly Warden. The guy at OTE says they are thinking about trying to bring the brand to the east coast.

A few reflections:

- Walking around Vegas makes me realize how far out of the main stream I really am. I blew $20 on a slot machine and had no desire to waste any more money, nor do I have any desire to ever spend a vacation in Las Vegas.

- Brandon and I agreed that although the southern Utah riding was incredibly scenic and technical, we both still prefer east coast riding overall, with its forest cover, loamy dirt and climbs. 

- I'd really like to see what the Hurricane folks are going to do with the upper section of JEM in the next few years. The recent builds were sweet!

- Maximizing the riding in the area would involve a Sprinter van and dirtbag camping at either Gooseberry or Guacamole. And a couple of "rest" days in the back country on a Razr!!

- However, you almost have to have a high clearance vehicle to drive the access road to either trail^. I guess that keeps out a certain group of people, which, I suspect the locals are happy about. I'm fine with that , too. 

- The OTE guys talked us out riding at Little Creek. The access is too difficult and the trails are only marked with widely placed cairns. If I ever get back out there, I'd really like to ride the area, though. It's supposed to be better than Gooseberry. 

- For all the riding we did, there's still a ton left to explore. It's an awesome area, although the towns are a little more built up than I was expecting. Guacamole was really the only place we ride where we couldnt see or hear cars in the far distance. Probably a good thing for our first time out!

- Thanks Utah!!! And thanks to my wife for being so cool about me spending my spring break riding my mountain bike.