Saturday, April 24, 2010


The trip report.  Your reporters are Rick,  Jonathan,  & myself......

Day 1 - Arrive in Hurricane (pronounced,  of course "her-kkin"...).   scope out the greater Hurricane metro-plex,  stop by the local bike shop,  meet up with Jonathan.   Then headed up to Gooseberry Mesa to lay claim to a campsite.

Ride - Gooseberry Mesa,  looped "Cattle Grate" to "God's Skateboard Park" to "South Rim" to "Hidden Canyon".   Gooseberry is  literally a maze of trails on the flat mesa top,  with lots of quick power climbs up & over slickrock knobs.  Lots of fun,  with great flow.  I would rate it far higher in fun factor than most of the Moab slickrock stuff (SlickRock or Bartlett Wash).

Rick on the Hidden Canyon Loop

Day 2 - Go for the "big loop"

Ride - Hurricane bench loop.  "Hurricane Hill" to "Goulds Rim" to "J.E.M." to "Hurricane Rim".  a 21 mile grin-fest on the "flats" above town.   Sweet,  rolling desert singletrack,  well marked and a hoot to ride.  "J.E.M." is just a SWEET downhill giggle maker of a trail.  Lots of good views from the Goulds and Hurricane Rim trails.  The view down into the dark,  volcanic Virgin River Gorge form Hurricane Rim is worth he whole ride by itself.

Jonathan & Rick on the J.E.M. whoop-de-dos

J.E.M. trail from Dale Riley on Vimeo.

Day 3 - Get us some Guacamole

Ride(s) - "Guacamole trail" and more Gooseberry.   "Guacamole" is probably in a tie for my favorite of the rides we did there.  Nice mix of dirt and slickrock in an otherworldly setting of burnt-out Junipers,  rolling around under a cool cinder cone and the Zion cliffs.  These rides show up with less than 200 feet of elevation gain on the GPS,  but have SO much quick power up & over the knobs,  they can be quite "taxing" on those early-season legs.   Mostly moderate technical moves on the slickrock,  but plenty  of bonus moves around,  if you needed to get a bit more wild.

Zion Cliffs from "Guacamole"

Went back for a second helping on Gooseberry Mesa for the afternoon.   "North Rim" to the end of the mesa,  then "South Rim" back to "Hidden Canyon" for that afternoon sampler.  "South Rim" has some pretty interesting moves on the rock,  and gets RIGHT up to the rim,  quite exposed in places.  You can really feel the void right by your bars on this ride.

A little "Rim Shot" from Gooseberry

Day 4 - Little Creek Mesa and a third helping of Gooseberry pie.

Little Creek Mesa is the other ride I think is tied for my overall favorite down there.  VERY remote feeling ride,  great rim shots,  and once again,  great flow.  All except for Rick breaking a spoke on a Mavic Crossmax,  it was an amazing ride.  For the afternoon Jonathan & I dumped Rick & his broken bike at camp with a beer (or 2...)  for solace,  then hit one more loop at Gooseberry.   "windmill" was living up to it's namesake that afternoon,  and finished up on "slickrock 101".   That wind was harkening a change in the weather,  which till then had been stellar.

Jonathan on the edge at Little Creek Mesa

That evening,  the wind went nuts,  and then by 3:00 AM,  the skies had opened up,  and we got a lovely lightning show to top off the pouring rain & hail.   Got up and TRIED to make a run for it before the clay dirt road turned completely to soup.   Sadly,  a rental 2wd minivan had gotten out before us,  and was stuck in the middle of the now 6" deep mud on a little hill.  Some pushing from a few of us,  along with throwing the tire chains out in front of the minivan managed to get them up to the top of the hill,  where we could jump by them and finish our run for the pavement.  After what seemed like miles of complete "pucker" driving to stay out of the ditch,  with the Stability/Traction control on the new truck beeping and complaining for what seemed like half of that drive,  we managed to get to the pavement without getting stuck and made a run for Hurricane and a warm,  dry breakfast place.

Sadly,  the only other weather we saw for the next 4 days was rain & snow.  Drove back via Zion & Mt. Carmel Junction.  Ended in a driving blizzard for a couple of hours in the "Dixie" hills up into Panguitch (So much for "spring"....).  Had hoped to make a run for Fruita,  beat the rain and get a couple of rides in there on the way back,  but the rain followed us to Fruita and then all the way back home as it turns out.

The Gooseberry/Hurricane area lived up to it's reputation,  and maybe a bit beyond.  Great riding in a "compact and easily accessed area,  and with very few riders.  We saw ONE other rider on a 21 mile loop,  and I think we only saw 15-20 other riders TOTAL for the 4 days,  some from a LONG way off.  Still has an "undiscovered" feel to the area.  Bummed we got chased off by the rain,  and could not get a little Fruita for dessert out of the trip,  but mud is mud.

Fruita in the fall?  Vernal?   Hmmm......

Friday, April 23, 2010


Must be Springtime in Colorado.

This hurts.  4 days of GLORIOUS riding in the warm,  DRY desert.  4 great days to remember how to ride a mountain bike,  rail some dirt,  hang out in the desert.  Then since Wednesday AM till now,  it seems that all there is is damp.   Back early from the trip due to the wet,  not at work today,  but it's HAMMERING down rain here all day so far.  The same rain (and snow..) has followed me across 2 states now,  with hardly a glimpse of sun since Tuesday night.  Already sick of it.  Been cleaning & sorting wet,  muddy camping gear & trucks off and on since yesterday afternoon,  thinking that I want to go ride more.    Well,  I guess THAT won't happen anytime REAL soon.  

Must be the Karmic payback I have to pay for those 4 great days.

Back to cleaning red mud.

The trip report & some of the pictures will follow soon.   Stay dry.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Escape From Gooseberry

Back on the grid.   Chased out of S.W. Utah by a dandy storm overnight.  BARELY got off Gooseberry Mesa after a LOT of rain.   Slipped,  Slid & tested the new truck today,  White knuckle drive on the clay mud road after the rain.  Had to push a 2wd rental minivan up a half mile hill to clear the road.  POURED rain starting at 3:00 AM on Gooseberry.   Sitting in a Super-8 in Fruita now,  listening to the same rain pounding down outside.  So much for the backup plan to sneak in a couple of rides here.

4 GREAT days of riding were had,  all human powered.

The Rim Shots were great.

Weather & camping were great (at least until last night...)

Gotta love that slickrock.  been a while sice I got to play on the rocks.

Likely back home early,  since I don't see the 18 Road rides mixing well with lots of rain.  Trip getting cut a bit short,  but been a great trip.  More to follow.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Degrees of Seperation

You want to skate ski,  but.....

No snow.

SO,  you get roller skis,  but....

It's snowing outside??

JUST how many degrees of separation form a root sport CAN you have??

(In fairness, these get used to do Lactic Threshold testing on the Nordic guys.... who are really the aerobic monsters of the universe. It is getting a bit "removed" after a while.)

Thursday, April 15, 2010


Truck mostly packed.  Semi-luxury base camp in the back.  Short work day tomorrow,  and a couple of us are headed for Utah.  Full week down in the Hurricane/Gooseberry area.    Camping,  riding,  maybe a few beers in the evening.   Been too long.  A little Fruita hit on the way back??

Westbound tomorrow afternoon.  Psyched is NOT even close to the mood.   Maybe an update or 2 later in the week,  but I do like to go totally "Off the Grid" out in the desert if I can,  so one never knows......

Either way,  there is some slickrock & dirt that is in need of shredding.  I aim to meet that need.   

Friday, April 9, 2010

THAT day

Today turned out to be THAT day. 

Each spring,  I seem to have that one ride that just says "Oh, Yea,  THIS is why I ride".   Couple of the HPM guys and I bailed out of work for a long lunch today,  hitting up the Picture Rock trail in Lyons (now that it finally dried out...).   Not sure if it was skipping out of work on a nice spring day,  or just that first "good" MTB ride of the year,  but no matter,  it was THAT ride that re-stoked the fire.

Early spring & winter rides carry an air of "drudgery" on them for me.  Maybe it's some lingering burnout from 'cross season,  maybe the fact that riding in the cold is not fun,  or maybe just being stuck on the road so much that makes it feel like work,  but it can become more of a "chore" than a joy.  Today,  it was like a cacoon cracking open.  a great trail,  even if it seems old & "too" familiar later in the year, 

good people,  fresh still tacky spring dirt and the riding is suddenly good again.  Like the appearance now of green grass & spring flowers,  the fun comes back out of hibernation.  Strange,  this years re-awaking ride I even felt like poop.  Got to go to a Nuggets game last night,  in the "vendor-provided suite" mode (ah,  to be one of the "elite" on a REGULAR basis...).  This led to many hours of steady beer consumption,  over the top eating behavior,  and staying out WAY past my bedtime,  which at my age and station in life,  leads to general hangover & poop-feeling mode.  Today,  even that did not matter.   My lack of time on anything resembling a trail showed in such pathetic driving that I thought I might need some remedial help.   ALMOST to the point that this video might have seemed helpful,  did not matter.  The searing pain in my legs left over from yesterday's final weight day in the gym,  did not matter. 

It was just THAT ride.    God that felt good.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Kick in the....

Seems as if each Spring,  I get the same subtle little kick in the butt.  Something that lets me know " hey,  you have a bike in the garage"  (OK,  OK,  maybe something more like what "normal" people would call a PILE of bikes....) and "maybe you should ride it".     Ah,  spring in Colorado.  To Dirty for powder,  and too snowy for dirt.  

Once in the deep dark past,  I would have already had my "base" miles in,  and been hitting up things like the Boulder-Roubaix for "fun" this time of year.   But that was long ago,  before I realized that riding road bikes makes baby Jesus cry.     My recent return to "competitive" cycling via the sick and twisted world that is cross had me briefly thinking I should do a dirt road race this spring.  Well,  at least up till my rational brain realized I had not turned a pedal in any kind of anger since mid-December,  and all those rodies I've been making fun of driving back from skiing in snowstorms were out "training" in that snow,  and are probably able to drop me before I could get clipped in right now.  Guess I'll stick to watching one of my old guy heros do it on the web instead.

So,  back to that "kick"......
Back earlier this week,  I signed up for an "endurance" mountain bike race.  Something made me decide that 111K of off road racing would be fun this summer.  I had heard great things about the Laramie Enduro for years from many of my friends,  and decided to join the party.  So,  since I had the required equipment for endurance racing (A VERY high speed internet connection,  and the ability to sign up for races at very specific times...),   I leveraged my training from Nationals and braved the sign up scrum at high noon an April 1st. (Hmmm,  the date alone might be a hint...).   800 people end up signing up for 400 slots in 10 minutes.  Who ever knew that extended self-torture was quite so popular?

Well,  after feeling like I was trying to get Hannah Montana tickets,  instead of signing up to race my bike,   I suddenly realized that I was on the hook for a LONG race later this summer,  and maybe it was time to start riding a bit.   That kick led me to think that if I want to ride 70+ miles in July,  maybe a 50 miler in May would be a "good Idea".  So THEN I signed up for the "Front Range Sensory Depravation,  many laps about a suburban park in the goatheds" race,  otherwise known as the Front Range 50.  I had done that race 2 years ago,  with almost no training, and as it turns out,  a load of "Bad Blood" on board.  While I vaguely remember that experience as being not really that much fun,  apparently,  it did not scar me enough to prevent my mouse finger from clicking willy-nilly away.

So,  there you have it.  Jump straight from skiing a bit,  hanging out at home or in establishments that brew & sell malted grain beverages,  right to 2 ugly races.  Seem to have messed up my spring with 2 clicks of a mouse.   What have I done?  Better start riding.  Might even have to make someone cry a bit,  what with only 34 days to get ready for 50 miles.

Sanity was saved from all that angst today by getting the tandem out.  Heil ranch was actually pretty nice.  almost tacky,  and not too muddy.  at least you can MTB in the howling wind,  without wanting to kill anyone for no reason.  ALso hear that Picture Rock is almost dry,  so maybe I can do my long rides on dirt.  hope we're done with the wet front range snow for the sake of my mental well-being.

Here we go.  should be "fun"