Roadtrip Part 3 – Utah

The big August MTB vacation continues! Part 3 of the roadtrip covers Bill O’Neil and I in Utah.

Day 13 Plan A – Thunder Mountain

Day 13 – We started the day heading out to Thunder Mountain. The weather in the area turned for the worst. With too much thunder on Thunder Mountain we had had to come up with a Plan B.

Day 13 Plan B – Virgin River Rim Trail at Strawberry Point

Plan B was the Virgin River Rim Trail starting from Strawberry Point. This was an amazingly beautiful and challenging trail. The combination of terrain, grade and elevation all worked together to make for some spicey climbing. Oh the downhills were good! That night severe weather swept through the region and we good numerous flash flood warnings/alerts throughout the night.

Day 14 – Rainout Day. While the sun came out, the local 411 was to stay off the trails for the day.
Day 15 – Thunder Mountain Take 2

After the rain out day, for Day 15 we took another crack at Thunder Mountain. We managed to catch a good weather window and for the most part we were rewarded some near hero dirt. We only had a couple of squishy spots that were created by some irresponsible equestrians who went out on the trail way too soon.

Day 16 – Dark Hollow

For Day 16, we did the Dark Hollow, Second Left-Hand Canyon Shuttle. With nearly 5,000 feet of descent this was one impressive route with a some amazing trail itself and phenomenal scenery.

Bill O’Neil had to go back to adulting so Dark Hollow was our last ride together for this trip. I still have some time left before I have to reenage the realm of adulting.

Solo adventures to be continued….

Roadtrip Part 1 – Flagstaff

So I am on three-week MTB vacation.  These posts are quite a bit time late as I typically have the choice of riding, enjoying tasty beverages, chilling or posting stuff on the internet. Guess which one gets bottom billing?   Here is a quick recap of the events of the first part.

Day 1 – The MTBBILL Mobile Command Module moves to Flagstaff
Day 2 – Fort Valley Goodness

Day 1 was the transit to Flagstaff with the travel trailer.  The first ride was on day 2 in the Fort Valley area.   I climbed up Chimney, Lower Moto, a bit of the AZT, connected up with Secret and then descended Schultz Creek.   Schultz Creek was ever bit as good as I remembered it

Day 3 -The Flagstaff MTB Skills Park

On Day 3,  I checked out the Flagstaff MTB skills park which was right next to where I camped at Fort Tuthill.   This is an impressive skills park with access to the regional network of trails.   After playing around at the park, I hit up Soldiers Trail and The Bridge trail to loop right back to camp.

Day 4 – A good chunk of the Walnut Creek segment of the Arizona Trail
I also did a side trip to check out Fisher Cave which is down in the valley shown in the previous picture.

Day 4 was Chicken Noodle Soup for the MTB Soul.  The Walnut Creek Segment of Arizona Trail is simply amazing.  I did about an 18 mile loop that included the AZT, the Flagstaff loop trail and other tasty singletrack.   Later that evening my lovely wife and dogs arrived to join in the vacation festivities.

My lovely wife joined me for MTB vacation time.

For Day 5 I cut my wife some slack and we did a shuttle up to the top of Schultz pass.  We then did the half of the loop I climbed in day 2 as a descent.  Secret to AZT to Moto to Chimney and the the lower bit of Schultz Creek.   She was most appreciative of not throwing a beat down on her out of the gate.

Day 6 The sunshine before the storm

For Day 6, I did a 24 mile dumbell looking route from camp that included Highland, Soldiers, Flagstaff Loop, Rogers. Gold Digger and Two-Spot. It was a glorious morning when I started.   Pretty much at the apex of my ride the thunderstorms rolled in.   I had 10 miles with a hill in the middle to get over.  I arrived back at camp a waterlogged mess.  It was kinda awesome in its own way.

Day 7 – MBB Mobile Command Module Underway

Day 7 was move day.   It sucked having to pack up all the stuff that got caught out in the storm.  Everything has “its place” with our little house on wheels and stuff being wet meant stuff had to go in different places.   I managed to get rolling by 10AM enroute to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.  Now I have been to Locust Point a handful of times but I had never traveled those 20 miles of dirt roads towing a trailer.  A handful of miles down the main dirt road.  I parked my truck and trailer and hopped in my wife’s Outback and we drove the rest of the way to access the remaining roads and potential spots.   After a successful scouting mission in the Outback (Dubbed the Lunar Lander), I was back in the truck with the Command Module in tow.   We got a primo spot with the Rainbow Rim trail about 30 feet out our door with the canyon a few feet beyond that.

The End of Day 7 – Our Campsite

The adventure continues…

Herkey Creek 2007 Video

One more of the old skool videos remastered. This video is one of first videos with an HDV camcorder and the optical stabilization was so not geared to handle MTB type action. I tried some stabilization with this video but the crop required is just no good. I plan to put together a video of a scouting I did out here back in May so I wanted to get this out for comparison later. I really hope this area can recover back from the fires to something akin to what it was in this video.

Cuyamaca Big Loop

Off to an early start on the West Side Trail

I was ready to get in a sizable ride, but when record highs projected I decided a mighty early start with plenty of water was in order for my outing up in the Cuyamaca Mountains. I was at the trail-head at sunrise and was rolling shortly thereafter. The temps were nice at that time of the morning but I knew it would not last.

Upper Green Valley Singletrack

I made good time up the West Side trail and the Green Valley Fireroad and was on the Upper Green Valley Singletrack before things started really warming up.

Lucky Five Trail

I really enjoy the La Cima trail along with the Lucky 5 trail so at the top the Upper Green Valley singltrack I did the out and back on those two trails. I “imagine” that someday when MTB access to the PCT is restored you could make a good loop with it and the Pedro Fages Trail. Even if you could do a legal loop with those trails I would have a hard time passing up the downhill section of the La Cima trail over the the California Riding and Hiking Trail.

California Riding and Hiking Trail (CRHT)

The CHRT is mighty nice through here. While on this section I saw a pair of Coyotes and one of them had a rabbit in his mouth. I really wish I had my real camera (DSLR with some quality glass on it) with me. My phone has a really good camera on it suitable for a lot of situations, but it is no match for a DSLR with a quality lens on it.

Marty Minshall trail going by Lake Cuyamaca

It was plenty toasty at this point. I started with a three liters in my bladder and 750ml in a separate water bottle with a couple of electrolyte tablets in it. By this point in the ride I had killed the water bottle and refreshed the tablets and filled with water from my bladder. I connected up with the Marty Minshall trail which skirts near Lake Cuyamaca before coming out across from Milk Ranch Road.

Middle Peak and the tombstones of the forest

It has been a while since I had been up Middle Peak and I was interesting in seeing how things are progressing since the fires back in 2003. Without the trees on the mountain, there was little respite from the sun which was cooking things at this point. I was pretty stoked at how well I was handling the heat compared to how things were pre-surgery but the climb was still plenty taxing. After a water check at the top, I decided that it would be unwise to try and complete the ride without restocking up on water. The descent down Black Oak was fun but the descent down Milk Ranch Ranch Road seemed like wasted elevation loss.

Water Stop with bonus items

Once back at HWY79, I diverted off the planned route over to the general store at Lake Cuyamaca to resupply my water. While there I found a giant frozen ice stick that I simply could not live without. I enjoyed it along with nice cold Gatorade. I completely refilled water bladder even through I doubted I would need to all of that to get back to the truck. Better to be safe that sorry in these conditions. If I had a mechanical in a bad spot I could end up being out here a lot longer than planned. I also figured that if I came across someone in distress I could help.

Good to see some of you out on the trail

After enjoying my treat and the shade on the porch of the store I made my way back to the Marty Minshall trail where I retraced my route back to the top of the Soapstone Creek Fireroad. I descend this fireroad and picked up the Cold Spring Trail. I was feeling tired at this point but was still stoked at the fact I was not destroyed by the heat.

Team Cow was Moooooving Today!

As I descended down the trail you could felt the temperature climbing. By the time I connected back up with the West Side trail it was roasting. No more stopping for pictures at this point, I was ready to be done. When I got back to the truck it was was 103 degrees. My truck reads a little high after sitting so I think 98 or 99 is closer to legit. The difference being DAMN HOT and REAL HOT! Either way it was a new milestone for me in dealing with the heat. I went through 5.0 liters of liquids on the day along with six electrolyte tablets (Nuun brand).

You can download my current recommended route or the Old School Classic Grand Loop for this area here or get the exact route I did on this day over at Trailforks.

Black Mountain (Ramona)

Evil leaf all over the place where I started from.

Since recovering from a heart valve replacement last year I have been noticing that the heat does not crush me like it used to do.   To test this theory, I decided to ride the Upper San Ysabel Truck Trail and ascend Black Mountain in Pamo Valley.

I purposely started a little later in the morning knowing that it was going to be toasty at the end of the ride.  

The temperature was fairly reasonable when I started from the east end of the Santa Ysabel Truck Trail.   It is mostly a climb to the west to Black Mountain Truck Trail. The last time I rode this was on a bikepacking outing and it was much easier on this day than  back then with all the gear.

One of the few shaded sections of the Upper Santa Ysabel Truck Trail.

Once on the Black Mountain Truck Trail I settled into the climb and I was feeling good.  It was nice to have my seat post working for this climb.

The temps were climbing only slightly quicker than I was.   I had a full 3 liters of water in my camelbak.  I only put water in my bladder.   I used to put things like energy or electrolytes mixes in them but I have learned that I’m not dilengent enough to prevent inadvertent science experiments from occurring.  Instead I have a separate water bottle that I mix that stuff in using the water from my bladder.   

Along the Black Mountain Truck Trail.

About 2/3rds of the way up the climb I took a break and made another batch of electrolytes in the water bottle (I use Nuun tablets).  It was good and warm but I was still feeling good. 

The top of Black Mountain

Continuing on I made it though a steeper section that previously would have put a hurting on me, but today it was hard work but not a crusher.  After that section, it felt like a cruise in comparison to the top. 

Plenty of climbing

I was plenty glad to be done with the climbing and felt really good about the effort I put in.

After taking in some sights at the summit, it was downhill time.

Pamo Valley below
Views to the east

The descent was mighty zippy and I could feel the heat cranking up as I dropped in elevation.   It was quite hot when I got back on the Santa Ysabel Truck Truck and had to start using the pedals again.  When I got back to the truck it was 95 degrees out.   I was tired but I did have the kind of heat beat down that I would have previously had. At least it looks positive evidence to the theory from my perspective. One thing for certain, It was a good day to be on a bike.

Ohana Trails, Oahu

How quickly stuff piles up when you are out playing. Then there is that whole pesky work thing that tries to slow my roll. While in Hawaii last month, I was fortunate enough to meet a killer group of locals who helped get me on some great trails while I was there.

Bikes taking a rest in the Ohana (or was it the Aloha trail)?

The Ohana trails were some of those goods. This network had mucho flow a plenty if “micro-tech” to keep you honest.

View from the trailhead.
Sublime bermage
Rolling through woods
One of the regroup spots. AKA waiting for Bill to catchup. The fellows roll!

I have some video footage from this area that I am going to get together at some point, but one thing is for certain. If you should find yourself in Oahu you should definitely check out this trail network. If you use the Trailforks App, it pretty darn easy to find your way there. It is listed as Olomana Trails but most of the riders refer to the area as the Ohana. The next time I get back to Oahu, this is trail #1 on the list.

Fun Times at Ohana!

Hurkey Creek – Post Fire

Nichol and I spent this weekend at the Hurkey Creek Campground.   While there I got a chance to get check out some the trails that were impacted by the 2018 Charston Fire.    I am used to the shock of post-wildfire landscapes but I was particulary taken back by some of the damage nearly three years later.   It was not all gloom because at least a couple of the trails I checked out are only a little worse for wear.   Others are still a complete wreck. 

  

At the northern end of Coyote Run just before it gets faint.

I put notes on all the trails I checked out on my Hurkey Creek Page. The most encouraging thing I saw was the Johnson Meadow trail as it was minimally impacted and is pretty good shape. 

Johnson Meadow

The most disheartening thing is the Keen Camp climb as maybe 50% of it is rideable and it will require a lot work to get it functional again.  Without this trail there is no practical way to loop the trails together from Hurkey Creek Park.

Keen Camp Trail destruction

I did see some flagging in the Keen Camp climb corridor so hopefully there is some work planned. I don’t know about you but I would down to help out with that effort. I hopento chase down if something is indeed in the works.

Updated Hurkey Creek Page

Peacock Flats Loop + Video

Boy have I had a great week of getting out on the trails here on Oahu. I have a pile of pictures and footage to sort through already as well as great stories to share.

Jeep trail in the Mokulēʻia Forest Reserve

Last week I did the Peacock Loop. Sometimes just referred to as Peacock Flats. It is a big ride with big views!

On the Kuaokala trail

It starts at Dillingham Airfield on Oahu’s northwest corner. You will do a paved climb up to Peacock Flats and into the Mokulēʻia Forest Reserve will you will do some ridge riding (aka ups and downs) into the the Kuaokala Forest Reserve and Game Management Area were you will pick up the Kuaokala trail some amazing bit of single track before getting back onto jeep trails and more ups and downs.

Singletrack goodness along the Kuaokala Ridge Trail
Pointing to Japan
Working my way down the Kealia trail.
Descending the Kaelia Trail

You will finish up the loop with the Kealia Trail which is a pretty serious bit of steep rugged single track that I have heard called a hiking trail that bikers sometimes ride. I was somewhere between pooped and cooked at this point in the ride which make technical riding that much more interesting. All together you will do 21.2 miles and 3,700 feet of climbing. If it is clear out, I say the price of admission is worth it. If you are a Trailforks user you can find the route here, but realize that this route over estimates the total ascent by a bunch. Here is my Strava from that ride which shows the elevation better.

Finally here is the video I put together from this day’s adventure.

Rain Friendly Kailua Ride

Last week a few of the local boys were planning on showing me the Ohana trails over on the windward side of the island. It ended up raining all night so there was a change of plans to take in some stuff that is rain friendly. When ended doing some cool stuff.

Robert giving some pointers on getting out from under the Pali highway to continue on Old Pali road to the lookout

We started off with a bit of street riding to hookup with Old Pali road which has been replaced with the Pali highway. We were soon climbing on the road that is on its ways to be reclaimed by mother nature. We had one interesting scramble where Pali highway crosses over the old road.

I knew my quads were in trouble when Eric and Mike rolled up with these bikes. (On Old Pali Road)
Regrouping on the old Pali bridge.

We regrouped at the Old Pali road bridge. When I say regroup I mean the guys waited for me to catch up at this spot. I felt pretty happy about the climb I was putting down but these guys had a couple gears I don’t have (yet).

I set some PRs for sustained time in Heart Rate Zones 4 and 5 on that climb.
I think this is my “Mommie make the bad men stop!” face.
Handing bikes over the gate

After the old bridge we made our way up to the Pali lookout with the last challenge being getting the bikes over the locked gate. If under a certain girth you can squeeze between the gate and the rock face to get through. I just managed to squeeze through, but I had to do an an exhale 🙂

At Pali Lookout

I have been to the Pali lookout quite a few times but it had always been via a car so this time felt special considering the views were well earned.

Mike showing off mad road skills by taking photos while cruising down the road.

After Pali Lookout we took Pali highway down back down into Kailua where we took a series of streets over into a forest. We followed along some old dirt roads and some trails that follow along an irrigation system.

Hey Guys, its this way!!

This was off the beaten path stuff and it had been sometime since of these options had been taken. There was some hike-a-biking done. There were quite a few bike hand ups and hand offs combined with some ropes along the trail to help you with the hike-a-biking. My arms were pretty pumped by the time we got we got off the trail.

“Exploration along the irrigation trails”

The irrigation trails bought out us onto a forest road called OGR (standing for Old Government Road) and a sustained downhill. Wet clayish soil, actively raining and downhill. Yep this is what my bike with its aggressive tires that I had been hearing churning against the old pavement of much of the climbs today was ready to get to work. I zipped down that section and was able to get my first (and only) photos of the guys coming towards me.

On OGR (Old Government Road)

These guys have a system and Mike texted ahead and had coffees waiting for us at a local shop when we rolled back into town. Robert, Mike and Eric were quite tour guides on this day. Rain, Mud, Hike-A-Bikes….yeah it was great day to be out on a bike!

(The photos with me in frame were provided by Mike.)

Hawaii – Ka’ena Point + Video

I have a work gig in Oahu, Hawaii for pretty much all of April. Getting ready for this trip I decided that my it was time to upgrade my luggage. My Trico hardshell travel case has already been long in the tooth and it was time to retire it after 16 years of service. I bought a the EVOC Travel Bike Bag Pro with the internal stand. What a difference this bag made. It was so much easier to wheel it around the terminal and getting out to the rental car.

EVOC bag all packed up.

After getting into Hawaii, I spent the afternoon checking into my accommodations and making the first run to stock up the fridge and cupboards. I was sacked out pretty early. The body clock was off which had me up pretty darn early. I decided to make use of the time and got the bike put back together just about at sunrise.

O-Damn Early Start

After a having a leisurely morning that included a nap I had to get going. I do not know the reason way, but often times a three hour time shift seems to hit me worse than a 12hr+ shift does. Maybe it is a matter of expectations. Either way it was time for a shake down ride with the bike and maybe shake off some jet lag.

The bike is ready to roll

I have been out near Ka’ena Point numerous times but have not taken the old road/trail out to and around the point before. I had read that some vehicle break-ins had occurred right at the trail head so I took some local advice and parked at Dillingham Airfield about 1.5 miles short of the trailhead which is considered less prone to that type of thing.

Happy Bike

The cruise along the road was pretty darn easy and I was soon out on the old road. Trailforks has the orginal old road shown as the trail but there are numerous trails and path between the original road and the ocean. On the way out to the point, pretty much any of the paths/trail closer to the ocean will be more interesting than the old road. It did not take me long to figure that out. The scenery was incredible.

Out at Ka’ena Point

The tip of the point has a long heavy duty gauge fence fit for keeping out vehicles and just about any land critter without opposable thumbs. Once in this area there are two major paths with one being much further out on the point than the other. The trail going out further out on the point gets really sandy and you will end up pushing your bike. On your way out its is worth it to do a little pushing to see the views that you will not get otherwise.

Trail is in the upper left

Once around point the two trails rejoin and you will soon go through the other end of the significant fence. The road now is much more interesting and narrow. There is a washout of the road about a couple hundred yards after the fence but there is a foot scramble trail that goes around it. Don’t worry if you miss it, When you run out of road, turn around and go back about 50 yards or so. After the washout the old dirt road continues to impress with amazing views right along the ocean.

Pretty killer scenery along this old road

At around 7.4 miles (From Dillingham Airfield) the dirt comes out to a gate and transitions to pavement. There are a handful of options to extend your ride from here but this is where I decided to turn around today. The ride back was just as amazingly beautiful. Out the near the point I did take the route that stays closer to the mountain and further from the point. Once around the “corner” I had quite a hard breeze in my face which caused a bit more work than on the out portion of this route. This is most likely the flattest trail you will find on the island and it well earns its “green” trail rating. It should not however be overlooked. This is an amazingly beautiful XC trail that provides a unique and quality outdoor experience.

Not a bad start to a work trip at all. It was a great day to be on the dirt (and lava rocks)!

UPDATE: Added the video I shot on this day