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

Here’s to 2014

I’m totally stealing this from my friend Sparky over at A Slice of Spark.

She’s right when she says it’s great to look back at the year ending and reflect on our accomplishments.  Here’s to a great year of biking, skiing and adventuring!

January was dry dry dry.  It was so dry that instead of skiing we actually took a weekend to go biking in Moab.  It was my first adventure on the Poison Spider trail and I loved its variety of techy rock riding and sandy doubletrack.

Biking the Poison Spider trail in Moab, UT

Biking the Poison Spider trail in Moab, UT

February found us skiing at Powderhorn, Monarch, Crested Butte, Vail and Snowmass. We took our first trip ever to ski at Crested Butte and Monarch mountains and found a new love at Monarch.  What a great little ski hill that is!  This was also the month that I took a half day off of work to go ski powder at Powderhorn. It was a true adventure with plenty of POW and an exciting drive to the resort.

Skiing at Snowmass Ski Resort

Skiing at Snowmass Ski Resort

March brought a variety of skiing and biking as things warmed up in the valley.

18 road biking

18 road biking

In April I took on Singletrack.com’s 30-days of biking challenge and fulfilled it.  30 straight days of biking brought about some weight loss and a new found love of biking any trail I could find! From the Riverfront Trail to Lunch Loop I was on that bike every day of the month, rain or shine, wind or no.  To me, this challenge represented more than just biking.  It took discipline to get on that bike every. single. day. Some days I told myself to just ride around the park and then, half an hour later, I’d return home.  Just riding around the park became just riding to downtown, just riding down the Riverfront trail, just doing laps at Lunch Loop. It renewed by love of biking.

Day 30! The 30 days of biking challenge

Day 30! The 30 days of biking challenge

In May I started hiking in preparation for a July backpacking trip.  I got our garden veggies in the ground and got a new POC helmet to review!

Riding Rustler's Loop in Grand Junction, Co

Riding Rustler’s Loop in Grand Junction, Co

I also wrote one of my most successful posts ever for Singletracks, on tips every beginner needs to know.

In June I spent most of my free time biking and working in the garden.  Towards the end of the month my friends Adelle, Alissa and I headed to Ouray to celebrate Adelle’s birthday.  We hiked to the Neosho Mine and I saw views of Ouray that I’d never seen before! It was worth the 8 mile hike after very little sleep the night before!

2014-06-22 11.35.37

In July we took our annual birthday backpacking trip with my Dad who came out from Georgia. This year’s trip was a repeat of one John and I had done before.  While we had some rainy conditions we all still had a great time hiking the Ute Creek area of the Weminuche Wilderness on our 5 day adventure. We also headed up to Steamboat Springs later in the month with Adelle for some biking and relaxation.

2014-07-31 15.54.51

Biking in Steamboat Springs, CO

hiking in the weminuche wilderness

hiking in the weminuche wilderness

In August I threw my backpack down the side of a rocky hill during another backpacking trip.  Fortunately it and everything in it (including my phone) survived.  We took a weekend to hike to Wetterhorn Basin and enjoyed every minute of it.  What a beautiful place! It was definitely a trip that reminded us of the beauty of nature; it reminded me to be grateful for the things we are able to experience if we’re willing to put in a little bit of effort.

2014-08-15 19.39.49-1

Wetterhorn Basin with a view of Wetterhorn Peak from our campsite

In September J and I took our annual Labor Day trip and this year chose to do a road trip across Utah.  We biked around Brian Head, UT and near Bryce Canyon and then drove up to Park City to spend the final part of our trip biking there and visiting with old friends.  This is a week we look forward to every year.  It’s a trip set aside for the two of us to just relax and enjoy each other’s company. This was also the trip on which I endoed for the first time in over a year.  It still hurt.

Biking Utah's Thunder Mountain Trail

Biking Utah’s Thunder Mountain Trail

Biking Utah's Thunder Mountain Trail

Biking Utah’s Thunder Mountain Trail

In October we continued biking in and around Grand Junction and we explored some trails in the area that we’d never ridden before like Zion Curtain and Down Uppity / Edge Cutoff at 18 Road.

Biking part of  the Edge Loop Cutoff at 18 Road

Biking part of the Edge Loop Cutoff at 18 Road

Adelle on the Zion Curtain trail

Adelle on the Zion Curtain trail

At the end of October/beginning of November we headed to Moab with a group of friends to explore the Mag 7 trails and ride at the Brand Trails area. The Mag 7 area has turned out to be one of our new favorites and we’ve already been back a second time to ride there.

Biking Moab's Mag 7 trails with friends

Biking Moab’s Mag 7 trails with friends

A very warm December led to biking on the 11th instead of enjoying Powderhorn’s opening day, but within a week or after that we found ourselves back on the slopes.  Another year has come full circle.  It’s been a great season of traveling and exploring both near to home and far from it. We’ve made new friends and improved ourselves as bikers, skiers and hopefully as kind and loving human beings.

Biking Horsethief Bench in December

Biking Horsethief Bench in December

Powderhorn's Opening Day 2014-15 season

Powderhorn’s Opening Day 2014-15 season

Happy New Year everyone! May it bring you peace, happiness and confidence.

Moab Mountain Biking Photo Essay

We’ve spent 2 weekends recently biking over in Moab.  While we love the area, we don’t get over there nearly enough! We checked out several trails including the Mag 7 area and the North Klondike Trails.  You can find them all detailed on UtahMountainbiking.com.

Mag 7 is a great area of intermediate – advanced trails at the upper end of Gemini Bridges road.  (Turn like you’re going to Dead Horse Point and then after about 5 miles you’ll turn left onto Gemini Bridges Road).  We’ve ridden this area twice now, both times completing 15-17 mile rides.  Our favorite way to ride this area is to drive about 2 miles down the road to park right across from where the Getaway trail comes out.  This will be past the main dirt parking area with a map by about a mile or so. You’ll see a rocky spot on the right that is suitable for parking.  Ride down Getaway, then ride Arth’s, Little Canyon and Great Escape.  Ride back on Getaway to your car. It’s great Moab-style rock riding with scenic views and lots of variety.

Bits of dirt road connect Bull Run to the rest of the Mag 7 trails in Moab

Bits of dirt road connect Bull Run to the rest of the Mag 7 trails in Moab

Views from the Mag 7 trails are awesome!

Views from the Mag 7 trails are awesome!

Moab's Mag 7 trails

Moab’s Mag 7 trails

Climbing on the Mag 7 trails in Moab

Climbing on the Mag 7 trails in Moab

On our most recent trip we were finally able to check out some of the North Klondike area trails like Mega Steps, UFO and Dino Flow.  Similar in style to the Mag 7 trails, the North Klondike area trails also provided us with about 14 miles of riding – though that could have been doubled easily!

Riding the North Klondike Bluffs trails in Moab

Riding the North Klondike Bluffs trails in Moab

Riding the North Klondike Bluffs trails in Moab

Riding the North Klondike Bluffs trails in Moab

Riding the North Klondike Bluffs trails in Moab

Riding the North Klondike Bluffs trails in Moab

Westwater Mesa and Zion Curtain

Piecing together enough information about these two trails is difficult, so I’ve decided to compile it all in one place! I’ll add pictures soon, hopefully after we check out both of these ourselves.  I feel like as Grand Junction native bikers we should know about all the trails in the area and these two are ones we’ve never ridden.

Zion Curtain

Zion Curtain is out in Rabbit Valley, like Western Rim.  It is higher than the Western Rim trail and is longer too.  I’ve not heard many say it’s as fun as Western Rim, but I have to assume the views are spectacular. According to the no-longer-updated GJMountain Biking website:

[Zion Curtain is an] Aerobic cross country ride for the junkie who’s ridden most of the Grand Valley and beyond. The moto single track takes you to “Zion’s Curtain” then two ridge overlooks and a pinion graveyard. There’s a fine rolling downhill to bittercreek valley.

STARTING POINT: I -70 to rabbit valley exit. Turn north (right)  then take gravel road west over ridge. Take the first left and go to the I-70 underpass.

Ride Description: Start at underpass and go 0.5 miles to well defined ST on left.  Cross over DT and go into cool canyon then up the wash. Climb steep hill then pedal to Zion Curtain fence at 3 miles. Although this is the true Utah-Colorado boarder, symbolically this is the end of the promised land to some. Up steadily to the first rabbit valley view (6.8 miles). Nice place to see Castle rocks, Parallel 2 trail and Eastern/Western rims.  Head west on wide tract near the ridge line to the fire licked pinion graveyard. Travel uphill to 2nd viewpoint into bittercreek. Roll the downhill until you get to a short steep loose pitch. If packed it might be slide-able. Roll the next section cursing the motocross developers for not staying high and making a cutoff to the DT. Weave your way to a 2nd wash in bittercreek then hike uphill (waypoint 5). At the Kokopelli intersection turn right. FYI 1 mile west on the Kokopelli is the start of the Overlook trail at bittercreek campground. Instead cruise northward to the 1st DT on your right that goes uphill ( point7). More climbing then downhill on loose gravel passing the ST beginning.  Here’s a screenshot of the Copmoba map I found of the area:  To download the map, click the link below the image.

map of Zion Curtain, Westwater Mesa and Western Rim

map of Zion Curtain, Westwater Mesa and Western Rim

Rabbit Valley 2-27-14

Most say it’s best to do this ride clockwise.  For more information and reviews, visit the Singletracks.com Zion Curtain page.

Westwater Mesa:

I thought this trail was more like 30 miles long, but according to Singletracks.com it’s only 23.  Here’s their description of the trail:

Scenic trails that mostly follow the Colorado River canyon rim. Singletrack is used by motorcycles, but is surprisingly solid. There are a few junctions along the way that can be confusing, but it you stay along the rim until the back side of the lollipop then you should be fine. However, I recommend getting the regional guidebook to keep you straight. This trail can connect with the Western Rim trail via the Western Rim Connector (see guidebook). A good, solid, scenic ride with mileage and some technical areas.

To get to this ride, drive west on I-70 to the Westwater Mesa exit.  The trailhead is there (somewhere).  More info to come!