Archive for the ‘Travels’ Category

The Monarch Crest Epic

November 21st, 2015 by MTBBill

I have spent the last month working out of the country and pretty much had no-time and less mental energy to finish up my pictures and thoughts from my Colorado trip.  The Monarch Crest trail was my day six excursion and it did not disappoint.   Much of the route is part of the both Continental Divide and Colorado Trails.  This is certainly a bucket list quality trail that I’m super stoked to have ridden.


View from along the trail


Nudging up close to 12,000 feet of elevation.


Looking down into the Silver Creek drainage that I would soon be riding through.


Near the bottom of the Silver Creek Trail.

Check out the rest of the pictures and ride description here.


Twin Lakes south of Leadville

October 12th, 2015 by MTBBill

Day Five of my fall vacation through Colorado was riding around Twin Lakes between Leadville and Buena Vista.  There was plenty of nice trail and killer views.  Find all the pictures, maps and blabbage here.

Riding Commando

October 11th, 2015 by MTBBill

Riding “The Commando Run” that is, you  Dirty  Minded Bastards!  On day four of my Chasing Aspens vacation was a ride that goes from Vail Pass Summit down into the town of Minturn.  The route we rode was used by the Army’s 10th Mountain Division during WWII  as training for alpine skiing combat and commando raids for the war effort.  We rode a series of forest roads to the Bowman Shortcut trail to the Two Elk trail.   We did a total of 17.7 miles with 1,870 feet of climbing and 5,200 feet of descent.  This was one fantastic trail that pretty much kept all of your trail riding skills on their toes.   Check out the write up, pictures, map and GPS files I have added to the site.




Winter Park, Colorado

October 8th, 2015 by MTBBill

Day 3 of my Chasing Aspens Tour through Colorado was in Winter Park where I could to make some new friends as well as spend some quality trail time with old friends. It was an outstanding introduction to riding at elevation and pretty fall colors. I can find a few more words and a few dozen photos of that outing here.


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.