COPMOBA and more

I’ve had time recently to write a couple of columns for the local paper The Daily Sentinel.  Here are links to both of them.

COPMOBA article – This one was about my first COPMOBA (Colorado Plateau Mountain Bike Trail Association) meeting and how getting involved can help you make changes. It also discusses economic drivers for Grand Junction.

Get out and Ride – This one covers all of the places we visited this summer/spring and discusses various rides at each location.  It includes mountain biking in Eagle, Breckenridge, Frisco, Crested Butte and Durango.

 

 

Back in CB again

After taking a year off to check out Steamboat Springs, we headed back to Crested Butte this year for wildflower viewing, biking and drinking. We were smarter this time around and booked a condo earlier in the year. It could have been a little bigger, but for four people it was just fine. We had a nice view of Mt. Crested Butte from the balcony and even better, we were dry when it rained.

We started the trip off on Thursday with a great warm-up ride.  From the Welcome Center parking lot, we headed back to the bike path and took that up to the Lupine Trail in the Saddle Ridge (or ranch) subdivision. As you’re on the bike path, watch for the 7% grade sign. Not long after this there will be a piece of singletrack on the left that will take you up to the main road. Cross over, bike up through the subdivision, and you’ll see the trail sign.

Lupine is a great intermediate addition to the Crested Butte trails. After a short initial climb, it rolls along for several miles before providing riders with a wicked fun set of downhill switchbacks. At the bottom you can either climb up the doubletrack for “middle Lupine” or turn off onto Slate River road.  I recommend riding middle Lupine.  You’ll stay on the doubletrack for a bit and then the trail will split. Lupine goes downhill again through the woods and onto another set of fun switchbacks before finally dumping you out on the road.

From here, turn right and continue down Slate River Road to the bridge crossing the creek. You can pick up Lower Loop and ride it, or any of the trails off of it, like Upper Lower Loop, from here.

This ride is perfect for the first day because it allows you to get acclimated without bursting your lungs.  Plus it can be done right from town!

Lower Loop Trail, Crested Butte Colorado

Lower Loop Trail, Crested Butte Colorado

On Friday, since Adelle had never ridden the 401 trail, we decided it had to be done. We don’t ride it often because the uphill singletrack is brutal, but we knew that it was a once-in-a-lifetime ride, so we figured we’d suck it up. I’m SO glad we did because the wildflowers were more spectacular than I’ve ever seen up there! We were battling rain, hoping to beat it to the bottom, but we had to stop and take a few pictures because…wow.

So from CB we drove up Gothic Road to the “end” parking area.  This is not the one just outside of the town of Gothic. This one is a few miles further up the road and is at the end of the “upper” 401.  We’ve found the lower 401 really isn’t worth the ride; we’d rather go ride Snodgrass.   Anyway, we parked here and rode the 4 or so miles up to Schofield Pass (10,700 ft).

We made it this far!

We made it this far!

The singletrack climb starts just across the road. It’s maybe 1.5 miles…but it can be brutal. It just requires lots of stops to push your lungs back down to where they belong.  Once you reach the top, though, it’s a pretty fun ride! There are a few tough drainages to cross before the true fun downhill begins.  I do not recommend doing this ride in the rain. We were fortunate and did beat it to the bottom. It started raining just as we crossed the creek at the end of the “upper” section (turn right onto the doubletrack instead of crossing it and continuing on the singletrack).

Riders on the 401 Trail in Crested Butte

Riders on the 401 Trail in Crested Butte

This was the only ride we got in on Friday because the rain continued all day long. Luckily we were tucked away in our condo with plenty of beer and snacks.

Saturday was just an “ok” ride day. The trails were pretty wet, so riding Snodgrass was a bit of a feat. It was way more pedal-y than normal and the roots of course were slippery. The same was true with Upper Loop. We finally headed down Tony’s to town and had a great afternoon of burgers with some local friends before climbing the bike path back to the condo.

Sunday looked like rain early on, so we opted not to ride Doctor’s Park. Boooooooooo.  Since a friend of ours had arrived late and really wanted to ride Lupine, we rode that again and added in the new Gunsight trail that branches off of middle Lupine. It was an intense ride! A few miles of climbing were followed by several miles of tight switchbacks, aspens and even a weirdly dark tunnel. There was one bizarre up hill in the middle that we all could have done without. We hit Lower Loop (Gunsight comes out right across from the bridge over the river) and booked it back to town as the rain started to fall.

CB doesn’t disappoint and it’s predictable: it’s going to rain at some point. Be prepared with rain coats and bail out options!  For more information on any of the trails listed here, visit 14erskiers.com or mtbproject.com

Head to the mountains!

This past 4th of July weekend we headed east to Eagle and then on to Frisco for some much needed cooler weather and relaxation. Along the way we fit in 4 bike rides.  Though my lungs sometimes hated me, the views and the trails were spectacular! Here’s a list of the rides we did and a few places where you can find more info:

Thursday – We headed to Eagle and knew we wanted to ride up The Boneyard and down the Pool and Ice Rink trail. It’s a great, recently professionally rebuilt downhill trail with lots of switchbacks and berms and even a few drops. Start here to find information on all of Eagle’s trail systems. Those guys are really growing fast!

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View from The Boneyard trail in Eagle, Colorado

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View from The Boneyard trail in Eagle, Colorado

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View from The Pool and Ice Rink trail in Eagle, Colorado

On Friday our friend Alice took us on some new trails (well, new to us) near Breckenridge. We climbed up a fun wooded singletrack called “Turks”, which we reached via the B&B trail, then turned right and climbed the road to the Sallie Barber mine. After that we took another piece of singletrack up and down, then picked up the Barney Ford trail and connected from that to the V3 which we took down. These were AWESOME trails! They were well-built and flowing with lots of fast turns.  The trees were wide enough for my handlebars, but still tight enough to provide a little adrenaline rush.  You can find info on this trail and the others mentioned below at MTBProject.com

I was too busy riding to take many pictures. This was taken at the Sallie Barber mine.

I was too busy riding to take many pictures. This was taken at the Sallie Barber mine.

On Saturday we got out early for a ride on the Frisco Peninsula Loop. This has been a staple of our rides in Frisco for the past several years and I love it.  The trail is narrow and sometimes dangerous (watch for fallen trees sticking out on the trail!), but it’s SO beautiful. Overall the trail is pretty tame; I rode it when I was merely an “intermediate beginner”. There are many options but almost all will include the Lakeshore Perimeter trail. Others you might want to check out are Olympian’s Link (we went down this) and Dickey’s Trail (we went up this). This is a great area to explore!

Biking the Peninsula Loop / Lakeshore Perimeter Trail in Frisco, CO

Biking the Peninsula Loop / Lakeshore Perimeter Trail in Frisco, CO

Awesome views of Lake Dillon from the Peninsula area trails

Awesome views of Lake Dillon from the Peninsula area trails

Finally, on our last day, we steeled ourselves for the Dredge Boat ride. We parked at the Dredge Boat trailhead off of Tiger Road and immediately began climbing on the baby-head covered trail towards Horseshoe Gulch. At the top we turned left onto Blair Witch, a fun, purpose-built trail that winds through narrow lodgepole pines.  At its end we dropped down what I call “the trough” and enjoyed(?) a long descent through wildflowers on a sometimes deep and unruly bit of trail before reaching “the ranch” and starting our climb towards the Colorado Trail.  This is where it gets tough.  From the ranch there’s about 2.2 miles of climbing. Sometimes easy, sometimes very hard, but always always climbing. At the top though, you’re rewarded with gorgeous views and a fun descent down the Hay Trail back to the car. It’s another one that we’ve done for years and years and it still kicks my butt – just not as much as before!

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Heading down “the trough” through the wildflowers near the Dredge Boat Trailhead, Hay Trail, Horseshoe Gulch and Blair Witch trails in Breckenridge, CO

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View from the Colorado Trail (I think)

I did my best to get the trail names right, but make sure to double check with a map before you make any turns!

Durango Biking and a NEW BIKE!

Last week we spent 4 days biking in and around Durango, Co.  We love going to Durango because the biking is so different from what we have here in GJ and the weather in May is pretty darn perfect.  Alright, it’s all really just an excuse to eat at Serious Texas BBQ and Home Slice pizza, ok?

This year we made stops at some of our favorite haunts including Phil’s World and the Horse Gulch and Sale Barn trailheads.  However, we also checked out a newer area called Twin Buttes.  It’s located just outside Durango.  If you’re heading to Cortez from Durango, after you turn onto 160 watch for the “Giant” gas station on the right and you’ll see a big gravel parking area beside it. This is where the trail starts.

It appears as though Twin Buttes is going to be a subdivision and that, as part of their land purchase, the development was required to add in “green space” or rec trails.  The first set of switchbacks are steep but totally rideable. I love it when good builders do this.  Making switchbacks that can be ridden up or down is a true feat of engineering if you ask me.

The signage needs work, but I’ll try my best to tell you what we did (which took us off the main trail at one point).  We followed the trail up the switchbacks and then climbed more (gently) with a few descents until we reached a T-junction.  We thought we saw a trail sign lying to the right, so we went that way.  Technically the main trail goes left.  BUT we went right and followed the singletrack and then a jeep road around and up to the left and just continued straight. This brought us to a 4-way junction with the original trail. Turning right here will put you on a new trail called Cliffrock (I found that on MTB Project and their app is the best one to use for this trail system). Follow Cliffrock and then when you finish the super fun downhill there you’ll be back on a doubletrack road. If you want killer climbs, follow the road to the right and take the singletrack on the right; this will set you up for hike-a-bike switchbacks to the top of the ridge.

We turned right and just stayed on the doubletrack.  After a mile or two you’ll see the singletrack on your left and from here the route back is pretty straightfoward. There are signs when you need them.  The downhill on this section was really fun!

These trails aren’t super technical, but whooping through the trees on my bike was awesome!  You’ll find yourself back at that first intersection again; take a right and you’re home free.

Giving the bikes a rest at Phil's World in Cortez, CO

Giving the bikes a rest at Phil’s World in Cortez, CO

A view from the Twin Buttes trails in Durango, CO

A view from the Twin Buttes trails in Durango, CO

Another Twin Buttes view near Durango, CO

Another Twin Buttes view near Durango, CO

And finally, we brought home a new addition to the family! The BF recently purchased a new Specialized Stump Jumper (2014 model) and loves it.  While in Durango we decided to see if the shop there had anything I might want to demo. Honestly I wasn’t planning on buying anything…BUT the store there (Mountain Bike Specialists) has a 2-hour FREE demo on EVERY BIKE in the store! So I demoed a Specialized Camber Expert Carbon Evo 29er.  It’s a men’s frame, but I was STILL able to have standover room on it, so I went for it.

After riding the bike at the Horse Gulch trails for 2 hours I had no choice but to buy it.  The handling of the 29er, the 1×11 drivetrain…the weight savings (although to be fair my other bike was fairly light).  I just couldn’t imagine going back to the 26er after seeing what this bike was capable of.  We knew the local store here didn’t have any in stock and so we just went ahead and bought it. I consider Durango to be sort of “local” anyway 😉

GO DEMO A BIKE. It’s so worth it.  So, without further ado…world, meet Mustang Sally.  Mustang Sally, meet the world!

Specialized Camber Expert Carbon Evo 29er

Specialized Camber Expert Carbon Evo 29er

TIMe Machine Trail and volunteering

This past weekend I got to be part of one of the most inspiring volunteer days ever. Over 110 people came out to build trails, restore old jeep roads to their “natural” condition, and pick up trash.  Many of them came to do it in honor of a guy named Tim Sewell.  Tim was an avid biker who committed suicide a few years ago. His family wanted to build a trail in his honor and this weekend that happened.

I’ve never seen anything like this. To see that many people come out to work in the sun all day building a trail…there just aren’t adequate words to describe it. In the end, though, we finished 2 trails, TIMe Machine and the Curt’s Lane reroute. Currently both are VERY sandy and we’re hopeful that the rain forecast for this week actually hits the ground. Still, after riding them on Sunday I can see that they’re going to be a big hit.

TIMe Machine: Can be found by taking the longest Three Sisters route – follow the Yes N Dee Dee signs and then, at an unmarked intersection at which you can turn right or make a very sharp left to go up and over the ridge, go left. Keep biking across a rock patch and you’ll see a trail heading off to the left.  It switchbacks in the middle of a rocky area and then continues across meadows before descending down to end at Leftover Lane, right at the top of the portage.   From here you can either go down the portage and either up the other side of Leftover Lane to Miramonte Rim, or continue straight/right into Miramonte Canyon. Miramonte Rim is more technical.  OR you can climb up Leftover Lane and then continue right or left on Curt’s Lane.

Curt’s Lane Reroute: The reroute bypasses the long straight portion of Curt’s that often gets rutted by rain. If you are heading towards the Curt’s Lane switchbacks, just past Leftover Lane you’ll see a trail branch off to the right. Take this.  It will wind around for a bit before you encounter a rock feature.  The left line is a 5 foot drop; the right is a nice roller rock.  Depending on your ability, choose your side accordingly!

The trail eventually meets back up with the old Curt’s Lane just before the switchbacks start.

This was my third trailbuilding experience and WOW was it a good one!

Team #1 surveys a rock bridge that was built during the day.

Team #1 surveys a rock bridge that was built during the day.

volunteers

Volunteers can be seen all across the meadow with the trail disappearing in the distance.

trail

This is a portion of the TIMe Machine trail that I worked on on Saturday.

 

Solo Rides

It’s been quite some time since I’ve been on a solo mountain bike ride.  Usually my weekends are filled with rides with the BF and/or Adelle.  Those rides are great! We all enjoy the same trails, we have a great time visiting before, during and after rides, and we are pretty encouraging of each other too.

Still, this past week and weekend I’ve gone on 3 solo rides and it’s been much better than I thought it might be. I do it so infrequently that I assume I’ll be lonely.  But what actually happened was that I was able to push myself.  When biking with others you develop a group mentality; biking alone I was able to focus just on me and what I wanted to do.  I challenged myself to ride Wrangler’s and Rustler’s without stopping and I did it!

On Saturday I managed to get out to the trails early to beat the crowds.  There’s one big drop towards the end of Mary’s that I don’t think I’ve ever ridden alone. It seems every time I’ve ridden that ledge I’ve followed someone. I’m a good rider. I don’t need to follow someone, but I always had and so as I approached it I thought, “Will I know where to go?” Of course I did and I was surprised at how easy that drop seemed!

I think all types of rides are good for us. Riding with a big group reminds me to be patient, to chill out, to go with the flow.  Riding with my favorite people always makes me more comfortable and willing to try new things or to go faster. Riding by myself teaches me to be more independent. I have to remember all my own tools, be able to fix mechanical problems that might arise, and be comfortable enough with my own skills to ride technical terrain alone. It’s a different feeling, riding alone, but it’s not necessarily a bad one.

I stopped for a snack at Pizza Point (where Mary’s and Steve’s intersect) and snapped this photo.  I had the whole area to myself!

Steve's loop with the Colorado River in the background

Steve’s loop with the Colorado River in the background

MTB Tips and my own two cents

If  you’ve never watched this You Tube channel: MTB Tips for great video tips on how to ride switchbacks, big drops, etc, you should.  Go do it right now.  This guy is a great teacher! I’ve learned a lot just by watching his tips on switchback riding.

For myself, I have lots of tips that I throw out there (to myself) when I’m biking.  Lately I’ve been focusing on looking UP. Examine the rider below:

A rider on the Gunnector Trail in Grand Junction, Colorado

A rider on the Gunnector Trail in Grand Junction, Colorado

You can see that the rider isn’t looking down at her tire or the drop, she’s looking UP and ahead to what will happen next.  This is akin to “looking where you want to go” but sometimes on big drops if I tell myself to look UP that also means that I’m shifting my weight over my pedals and back over my seat.  Why is this important? If my weight is back, then when my front tire hits the dirt I won’t fly over the handlebars. If my weight is too far forward then all the weight hits that front tire and over you go!

The MOST important tip I’ve ever gotten in biking is the “look where you want to go” tip and it still works to this day. If you stare at the rock you don’t want to hit or that cliff you don’t want to fall off, that’s where you’ll go. Instead, if you focus on your line, get on it, then look up to focus on the next piece of trail, you’ll ride more smoothly and have more success.

The Daily Sentinel’s 2015 RIDE magazine: A guide to mountain biking in Grand Junction, Fruita and beyond!

The Daily Sentinel’s annual RIDE magazine came out today! You can find the E-Edition version of it AND all of the individual web stories by clicking here: www.gjsentinel.com/bike. 

The E-version is linked right at the top. The guide this year is full of “how-to” articles about buying the right bike, getting started mountain biking, getting your kids into biking, and advocating for trails. We’ve (full disclosure: this magazine is my baby) worked with COPMOBA and local bike shops in town to produce yet another magazine full of maps and valuable information for both mountain AND road bikers.

I hope you enjoy the magazine and make use of it the next time you’re in town.  If you get here and need a “paper” copy of it, stop by REI at the corner of 7th and North in Grand Junction.

Advanced Biking Tips and Videos

For our recent RIDE magazine (publishing Feb 27) I wrote a great piece about advanced biking tips and techniques.  It covered: switchbacks, drops, rock gardens and steep rollers.  Unfortunately we had SO much content for the magazine that these tips ended up online instead of in the actual magazine.  That turned out to be a good thing though because I was able to include video links to some great tips by MTBTips.com.

 

To read the full article and see the video links, click here.

 

Here are a few snippets:

1. When riding switchbacks, look to where you want to end up.  It feels weird at first to be looking about 90 degrees from where you are, but it really helps you to move forward to your finish.  This works for going up or down switchbacks.

2. For big drops, make sure to lower your seat.  This is such a huge deal and I think I actually need to go back and add it to the article. Lowering your seat will really make it easier to get a little further back (weight centered over your pedals but with your butt behind your seat) and this will prevent you from endoing (this and not grabbing your front brake) on a big drop.

3. For rock gardens: momentum is key! Keep some momentum, stand up and be in a gear where you can pedal if you need to.

4. For steep roller rocks you’ll need to use front and rear brakes to keep from skidding.  This takes practice but try just steep hills like Joe’s Ridge in Fruita, first.

Advantages to February mountain biking?

ARE there any advantages to mountain biking in February? There should be snow on the ground, inversions overhead and skis strapped to my feet all weekend long and yet…no such luck.  The Aspen area had the its lowest snowfall accumulation for January since 1935.  What the hell, winter? FINE if that’s the way you want to be, I’ll just bike while I can.

Here’s where we biked on Valentine’s Day:

Biking Western Rim on Valentine's Day

Biking Western Rim on Valentine’s Day

There were lots of dirt bikers out and 4-wheelers, some of whom apparently feel that the term “no 4wheelers allowed” doesn’t apply to them on the singletrack portion of this.  Seriously people…keep it single!

BUT I’m supposed to be talking about the advantages of being able to bike so early in the season, so here goes:

1. My endurance.  Usually we start slowly getting back into biking in late March/early April.  It takes about a month to really feel like my endurance is back to where it was at the end of the previous season.  This year, I’ll be way ahead of the game!

2. Technical skill work.  We went to Lunch Loop yesterday and biked a good 7-mile loop involving Clunker, the Miramonte Rim, Ali-Alley loop and Ali-Ali, Raven’s Ridge and Holey Bucket.  Those are some rock-filled trails! I hadn’t been on much more than PetYKes and High Noon since maybe August or September.  The monsoonal rains and done quite a bit of damage to Clunker, so we stayed off of that side for the rest of the season.  They’ve been nicely repaired and getting out on those early means my tech skills will be solid and so will my confidence, by April.

3. Drought, Famine and Wildfires aside, what could be bad about this situation?  If this is how Mother Nature is going to be, who am I to argue? I can’t move the high pressure ridge (though it IS beginning to break down), so I might as well make the best of it and enjoy some awesome early season riding.

 

Watch for the 2015 edition of RIDE magazine brought to you by the Daily Sentinel on February 27, 2015! Find a location to pick up a single copy of The Daily Sentinel by clicking here.  I’ll post a link to the electronic edition that day.

Bikes at rest on the Western Rim trail

Bikes at rest on the Western Rim trail