Archive for the ‘Travels’ Category

The Good Water Rim Trail

October 3rd, 2015 by MTBBill

Man, I got back from vacation and found a mountain of work had piled up while I was gone so it has been a bit slow getting my pictures and thoughts together on that last trip.  But I have managed to get a page put together on the first stop on my most excellent jaunt through Utah and Colorado.

The Good Water Rim Trail in “The Wedge” area of the San Rafael Swell was an awesome opener.




The Chasing Aspens Tour

September 28th, 2015 by MTBBill

I just got back from a 10-day jaunt where I did some riding in Utah and Colorado.   I meet up with some old friends, made some new ones and rode some bucket list quality trails that are already on my Top … list.  Riding in the aspens during the brief window that they are turning has been on my list for a long time.   So when a slow-down in my work schedule along with a tip-off on the aspens turning coincided I pulled the trigger.  I packed my truck with camping gear, two bikes, fly-fishing gear, every map and guide book of the regions I owned along with a cooler full of enough San Diego microbrew cans, bottles and growlers to keep half a dozen people chilling for a week .   After stuffing my laptop and GPS with tracks and waypoints I headed out.   I had some general ideas but my schedule was not set more than 2 days out and it was all subject to change.   This was going to be a very loosey goosey  vacation.   Just have a great time, see beautiful country and ride good stuff.  This trip really did turn out to be something I am going to be talking about for years to come.  I have many gigabytes of photos to sort through and hopefully I can gather up the right words to articulate in a meaningful way just what a life enriching experience each one these places were.  For now here is a quick recap of what my on-the-fly itinerary turned out to be.


Day 1: I did a full day of driving to the San Rafael Swell in the eastern part of Utah where I setup camp in a area known as “The Wedge” on the edge of The Little Grand Canyon.


On Day 2, I did a dawn patrol ride along the Good Water Canyon Rim Trail where I enjoyed some great scenery and some high quality on the edge singletrack.  Afterwards I broke camp and did another sizable drive to Winter Park, CO to met up with my old friends Kevin and JD and met Greg and Barb.   I would be crashing at Greg’s house for the next two nights.


Greg owns a trail design and construction business and the next day I was treated to some of the local goods that he played a major part in bringing to life.  This was also my welcome to high-country Colorado riding day and boy was the top elevation of around 11,000 feet a wake up call to my sea-level lungs.  The aspens were awesome!


On Day Four we did a point to point ride from the Vail Pass Summit to Minturn on the Bowman Shortcut trail and the Two Elks trail.   Oh my what a great trail and with some good technical riding. This trail really made you use pretty much your entire range of on-the-ground technical skillsets.  I was blown away by the beauty of this ride.   We enjoyed some tasty post-ride grub and beers in Minturn.


Afterwards we heading back up to Vail Pass summit and then further up a forest service roads to Shrine Pass where my and Kevin’s truck were at. When we got there I noticed there was a fire ring already setup not far from my truck.  The views were great so I did not even move the truck.  I pulled up out the gear and setup camp for the evening at 11,100 feet.  The rest of the trip would follow this same kind of short-tem decision making.


On Day Five, I traveled south and rode the trails around Twin Lakes. Part of the loop I did was also the Colorado Trail and the Continental Divide Trail.   After the ride, and a review of the weather forecast,  I continued south and camped near Poncha Springs.


On Day Six, I grabbed a shuttle out of Poncha Springs and  did the Monarch Crest Trail along with Silver Creek and the Rainbow trails.   An IMBA Epic, this ride was 32.5 miles long with 2,200 feet of climbing and 6,600 feet of descent with the highest elevation being above treeline flirting with 12,000 feet.   The numbers are meaningless in comparison to the experience.


On Day Seven I took a rest day by fly-fishing in Salida on the Arkansas River.   It had been about 14 years since I last fly-fished for trout.  I should have checked my wading boots a little better before the trip because about 3/4th of a mile down the river the soles disintegrated loose from the uppers and floated away down the river.  This made for both a comical and gingerly return back to my truck.   I am reminded that it is called fishing and not catching so their was no trout dinner for me.  It was still a great morning of standing in a river waving a stick.   That afternoon I enjoyed a beautiful drive to Crested Butte and setup camp.


On Day Eight, I rode the 401 trail loop starting right from camp.   This is a mountain bike classic trail and it did not disappoint.  The fall colors were majestic and I have already put a return trip on the list to ride this trail again in the summer when the hillsides are covered with wildflowers.


On Day Nine, I rode the Doctor Park trail.  Awesomeness was the prescription of the day.  The long middle section of the descent of this ride through the turning aspens is one of the best bits of flowing single track bliss I have experienced.  A handful of the folks from Team B.O.B (Babes on Bikes) and I think of subgroup of the Shreddin Betties that I had met on the 401 trail the day before were also doing this trail.  Turns out some of them were friends with Barb, Greg and Kevin so we swapped some stories over beers at the lower trailhead for a while.  Good times. The afternoon/evening of day nine was going to be a drive to Flagstaff or Show Low Arizona but I did not account for the mountain pass driving and construction so I only made to Cortez.   On the morning of Day 10, I thought about riding Phil’s World there in Cortez but opted to knock out the drive.  I am going to make a separate trip at some point for the Cortez and Durango experience.  One thing that was interesting that morning on deciding to ride or drive, I realized that I was completely satisfied with this trip.  My MTB soul cup was full,  life was good and it was time to head home.


Mammoth Mountain Playtime

September 6th, 2015 by MTBBill

So last week I got in a couple of days or lift-assisted MTBing at Mammoth Mountain.   Eight of us went in together on a Condo rental which made for some comfy living arrangements.


Mandatory photo at the top.      Over the course of the two days I hit most of the trails with the exception of some of the red triangle “pro” lines.   Some of those are freaking gnarly and I felt under traveled and under protected.  There are plenty of trails for all skill levels and genres here.  Good times indeed.


Steve on Twilight Zone




LeAnn rolling


Megan cruising


Dayle and Michael



Michael on Skid Marks.   I love taking the Gondola all the way to the top for the last run of the day and taking Skid Marks to Juniper to roll all the way back down into town.   The trail dumps out less than a quarter mile from our house and it is a fun and scenery descent.   Highly recommended.


Michael rolling on Juniper

Lower Rock Creek

September 3rd, 2015 by MTBBill

Last week I spent some time at Mammoth Lakes for some lift-assisted mountain biking.    The opener for this trip however was not lift-assisted.   Dave and I and checked out Lower Rock Creek located about 15 miles south of Mammoth Lakes right off of HWY 395.


To keep the logistics simple, we did this ride as a loop.    We parked at the bottom of the trail and climbed Lower Rock Creek Road.   It was about 7.8 mile climb that gained somewhere around 2,200 feet of elevation.   Considered that we started off around 5,000 feet of elevation was quite apparent that we were not beach cruising.  Dave and I eventually made our way to the top and then it was time to cash out that elevation.


The trail crosses Lower Rock Creek Road twice dividing the trail into thirds.    The upper section is nice and flowy with lots of buff goodness that weaves through pines and aspens.  It pretty much all downhill as well.


The trail is exceptionally beautiful and follows along Lower Rock Creek the entire time.  It was really cool to have the sound of creek along the entire route.   After the first road crossing you are in the section colloquially referred to as the “Middle” section.  This section also has some nice flow with the flora shifting to more pines than aspens.   If you do not smile at some point in this section just throw your bike in the creek, hike out and give up all outdoor activities forever as you are clearly too calloused to be out in mother nature.


After the second road crossing the trail gets much more technical as canyon narrows on both sides.


Dave working through the rocks.


More fun in the rocks


At several places where we stopped to figure out a line or session a move, we could see trout in the creek.  Awesome!


There was some tastiness waiting in the cooler at the lower trailhead for us.   This will not be my last time on this trail.


Rainbow Rim Trail Video

August 16th, 2015 by MTBBill

Well it has been many moons since I did a MTB vid. Lots of reasons why but mostly because I was not particularly motivated to do a video. I have shot lots of video but had a tough time wanting to futz with it at a keyboard.  Well after looking at my footage from the North Rim, I felt like putting a video together. So here you go.   I’m hosting this on YouTube at the moment and I’m still working out the kinks on getting the video encoding to look its best through them.    You can select up to 1080 HD if your connection and device will handle it.

North Rim of the Grand Canyon

August 10th, 2015 by MTBBill

A few days ago I got back from a vacation that included a few days in the Las Vegas that included seeing Aerosmith in concert.   Wow, can those guys still kick some ass on stage!  After the Vegas portion of vacation we continued northward and eastward to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.   This was my third time out here and Nichol’s first.   I first came out here on an Arizona in Summer roadtrip in 2006 and then again on a Flagstaff & North Rim trip in 2010.  You don’t come out here for technical riding, you come out here for the incredible scenery and the experience of riding on the only singletrack currently open to mountain bikes along the rim of the Grand Canyon.   The Rainbow Rim trail is in the Kaibab National Forest and is miles and miles away from pavement, cell phone coverage and any of the tourist trappings of the Grand Canyon National Park despite the border of the national park being just a few feet below the rim of the canyon in this area.   The place requires a commitment to visit but it is well worth it.


We made our way out to the Kaibab Plateau on a Monday and made our way out to the middle of five points that stick out into the canyon, Locust Point.  We had the entire point to ourselves.


The view into the Tapeats Amphitheater of the Grand Canyon from our campsite.

(Nichol looking out from Fence Point)

Now between an overuse injury and an illness I had been off the bike for a two solid months.   The injury was (and still is) tendonitis in my elbows.   I had been trying all kinds of things but rest and all I really managed to do was make it worse to the point where it was not only painful to steer the bike, but painful to do all kinds of daily activities.  Just about when I was ready to get back on the bike I came down with some nasty flavor of the crud and that kept me off the bike for another couple of weeks.   I’m going to call it a blessing in disguise for my elbows.  So the following morning when we headed out on the trail the general decline in fitness along with the trail undulating between 7,500 and 7,750 feet was quite a wake-up call for this sea-level slacker.


The good news for me is that the Rainbow Rim trail is not a trail to be bombed.  If you come out here to work on your Strava time you are an idiot.   This is a stop and smell the flowers kind of place.


We split the Rainbow Rim trail up into two days.   On the first day we did an out and back from camp to Parissawampitts Point for a total of 18 miles.   I was dragging by time we got back to camp


A killer little meadow


I think aspens are one of the pretty trees there are and I really like how they are intermingled along the trail with the large pines.


MEAT!   Big fat cowboy style T-bones cooked over a campfire about 20 feet from the rim.  Life is good!   There were only a few hours between sunset and moonrise but in that time the stars that could be seen were crazy amazing.


The following morning we did an out of and back from Locust Point to Timp Point.  The trail in this direction was just as awesome as the previous day.


Once again, I’m a sucker for aspens.


Lots of wildflowers out showing off


When had some of the locals out watching us.


When we got to Timp Point, I wanted to show Nichol the Thunder River coming out of the side of the canyon.   I thought I was looking in the right direction but was quite befuddled.


It was not until after the trip when I reviewed my photos from the 2010 that I figured out my mistake.  The photo above is from the 2010 trip.  Notice the slightly different angle of the “slot” of the canyon in the above shot and the one of it from this years trip.     I had forgotten that we hiked down a trail at Timp Point that goes further out onto the point.   It sheds off quite a bit of elevation, but you have to do this to get the right angle to be able to see further down into the canyon that reveals Thunder River.


Here is a zoomed in shot of Thunder River. Those are not bushes but trees!

There is an 8-mile extension of the Rainbow Rim trail in the works.   It will consist of 3 miles and change of new singletrack and a decommissioned forest service road will be converted to trail.    I rode about 1.5 miles or so of the roughed in new single track beyond Timp Point before heading back to Timp Point.   It will be a sweet extension when complete.   The cruise back to Locust Point was just as awesome as the outgoing leg and the chunk of the extension I did brought the days mileage up to 21 miles of coolness.   We had another lovely evening and we casually broke camp the following morning to start the road trip back to San Diego.    This was such an awesome trip and well worth the effort to get out here.   This will not be my last time out here.

Utah Pages Added – Updated

June 18th, 2015 by MTBBill

Magic Carpet Ride
The Magic Carpet Ride Trail on Little Creek Mesa

Following up on my recent road trip to St George I have updated my Utah section of the site.   I have added the following pages:

The Boy Scout Trails
The Zen Trail

I also updated the Little Creek Mesa page with an updated map, GPS files and pictures from both this most recent trip and a 2013 trip.  I also have enough Utah trails on the site now, that I split them out from the “Other US Trails” section to try and make things a little more organized. (It is still a little wonky)  I also split out Colorado Trail into its own section, but that section looks a little light.   Time to plan another ROADTRIP!

Utah Weekend – Little Creek Mesa

May 18th, 2015 by MTBBill

Our last day of the Utah weekend found us rolling out of the hotel at a pretty descent time and headed out to Little Creek Mesa with a pit-stop at River Rock Roasters  for some caffeine and sandwiches for a mesa-top lunch.  I have ridden Little Creek several times before and this place is just great.  It has pretty much everything I want in a trail.  There is plenty  flowing singletrack with technical goodies.  Huge vistas that start right at your feet , rock slabs to play on with features big and small, and nature’s beauty all around you.  It also has a feel of being far and away and the route finding you have to do (even with the aid of a GPS) offers a kind of mental engagement that I love in a trail.


We started out on the main loop and soon found ourselves playing on rock slabs with Zion National Park in the background.


With all of the rain over the last handful of days there was plenty of water pooled up in the depressions in the rocks.  The big rock slabs gave way to forested single track that was just awesome with the fresh scent of moisture.


I was not expecting to see snow on the mountains west of St George.  I just don’t see how the views from this mesa could ever get old.


“The Hot Tub” along the western rim of Little Creek Mesa.  This was one helluva spot for snacks.


The rain had lots the cacti blooming.


Better to look than to touch.


The main loop took out to the fork for the North Point loops. There are some sweet bits of single track goodness as you head out to the North Point with Gooseberry Mesa typically in the background.


I had ridden this thing a couple of times before but failed to notice the gap this slab went across until this trip.  I guess I was too focused on where I was going.


The same gap after it opens up a bit.   What an amazingly gorgeous day!   Once back out to the main mesa  we enjoyed a bit of route finding as there seemed to be cairns here, there and sometimes seemingly no where.  You could play out here all day.

Our playing around eventually took us to “The Waterfall”, one of the iconic features of the mesa.  This was my first time doing the waterfall with actual water around.  I dug how the water showed the line I took. The dark line on the slab is the rear tire while the much fainter line to the right of it is the front wheel.  Here is a shot from a previous trip that shows the led in.  We took the Magic Carpet Ride trail back to the trailhead.   After leisurely enjoying some refreshments and more snacks we had to lament about the reality of still having day jobs and the continual puzzle of how to grow old without growing up.    Considering that we spent that last few days playing in the dirt and riding bicycles we had scored points for neither growing old or growing up this weekend.   That shit would have to wait until tomorrow.

Utah Weekend – Boy Scouts & Zen

May 15th, 2015 by MTBBill

We woke up on day 2 of our Utah weekend to find that it had rained most of the night.    After consulting with the folks at Over The Edge in Hurricane, we changes our ride plans for the day to kept from mucking up the trails. We went out to the Quail Overlook Trail System which is beside the Quail Creek Reservoir.  Colloquially this place is known as the Boy Scout trails due to a nearby Boy Scout camp.


Oh my this place put down some techno-spank right out of the gate that included tight rocky single track with plenty of “power” moves.


The trail system primarily includes four loops on three sawtooth escarpments.


The builders have done a super job of laying out the system to maximize the use of a rather small chunk of land.


This place is advertised as an expert level trail system and I can’t argue with rating, but I will clarify it.   This is a “slow-tech” wheels-on-the-ground playground. There is not a lot flow here and it is not a bad thing, its part of the character of that place that just seems to pack “It” into the miles.


I particularly enjoyed the combination moves.   Things like a rocky climbs with ledge moves coming out tight switch backs.   There were plenty sections where you seem to be continually in a state of using body English.


The most northern loop called Adventure Scout was by far the most technical of the bunch out there.   We ran into one of the primary builders of this trail system (Quentin – – Awesome Job Quentin!!) and he described a couple of sections as best ridden “Balls over Brains”.  It is interesting to note that not following that advice could have you literally going “Balls over Brains” into some very unforgiving terrain.   There is a lot of effort per mile designed into this this place.  We only did a little over six miles and it felt like we had done twice that.   I really dug the combination of power moves and the bit of  mental “checkers” required to clean the stuff out here.

As we enjoyed a tasty smuggled in San Diego microbrew over lunch, we decided that we had enough gas in the leg tanks for an afternoon session.


We hit up The Zen Trail which is right on the outskirts of St George.   I had heard lots of good stuff about this trail and it has always been on the To-Do List but have never gotten to it.


Things opened up with a climb and soon we were near the edge of the mesa.


There is about a total of 1,100 feet of climbing on this route.    We could see ominous clouds slowly moving our way.


The variety of this trail is quite awesome. Rock crawling, sweet single track, vista, there are lots of goodies out here.


When we got to the top of the mesa we had some great views of Green Valley below.  We could also see the rain a coming!  Shortly after the picture above, the rain caught us and the camera remained holstered in my pack.   The descent was exceptional with a combination of sweet single track and with some slick rock.  There were also a few undulations along the way that put a little sting in the legs at this point in the day’s overall effort.   We also missed a turn and found ourselves on double track.  After a bit of uphill backtracking we hooked back up on the single track that lead us back to the trailhead.


Just as we were getting back to the truck the rain stopped and the sun broke out.    Ahhh rainbows and microbrews from heaven.  We were living well!


Utah Weekend – Guacamole

May 11th, 2015 by MTBBill

This past weekend Bill O’Neil and I made a dash to Utah to get on some good red dirt and killer rock riding.    We were quite surprised that a storm had settled in the SoCal area the night before and brought in some much needed rain along with some snow at the higher elevations.   It was a mighty fine time to get the hell of Dodge.   The destination for day one was the Guacamole trails perched up on a mesa outside of Virgin, Utah.   After copious amounts coffee, beef jerky and a tank and change of fuel (burned at a highly uneconomical rate), we crossed into Utah to be greeted with storm clouds.   As we rolled through St George and Hurricane we were intermittently getting rained on but I had learned that in this neck of the woods if you don’t like the weather wait five minutes.  As we rolled through Virgin there were clear skies above and the dirt road that goes up to the mesa had just a puddle or two.


It was a bit brisk and windy but beautifully sunny when we rolled out onto the first trail segment called Margarita. This was a new trail to me and I was stoked to check it out.


It was not long before we juked onto the Salt on the Rim trail and got in some good views along with the sight of incoming weather.   Someone in Seattle once told me that there is no such thing as bad weather only bad gear.  We had the gear, but from the best we could tell it looked like this storm would pass us just to the south.


We did end up get a little sprinkling on us as we made our way out to the main Guacamole Loop but it only lasted a few minutes.   What we were left with was straight up hero dirt.


We took a connector trail called Lime (These trail names rock!) that went out to another loop called Holy Guacamole that took all the way to the southern tip of the mesa.  We had good views of Zion Nation Park as well as the north rim of Gooseberry Mesa from here.


This is some fantastic single track with good technical challenges through amazing landscape with Zion National Park just a stones through away.


In several spots the trail is literally along the park’s fence line.


Holy Guacamole this is a fun trail!


The Holy Guacamole goodness brought us back to the other side of the earlier loops we were on that eventually took us back to the trailhead.   This was some grade A trail awesomeness and it will certainly not be my last time riding on this mesa.   Shortly after we got off the mesa and headed back to St George we got into a good bit of rain.   We were pretty stoked at our window of fortune with the rain and we were particularly glad we had decided to get a hotel room for this trip vice our typical camping arrangements.  It was a mighty fine start to the weekend.