Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Bikes & Dinosaurs? Really?

Well, only connected in a very distant way. The wife & I did a quick overnight over the Memorial Day weekend. Wanted something that would not be too crowded, was not TOO long of a drive, and "different". So we ended up heading to the "Largest Dinosaur Track-site in North America". Located in Colorado, just south of the scenic, thriving tourist trap of La junta.

La- What?? you say?? Seriously, there is SOMETHING to see on the South East plains of Colorado. Maybe not the end all attraction of the world, but something lurks out there in the grasslands.
Picketwire Canyon is a strange little canyon, dropped below the TABLETOP flatness that is eastern Colorado. Below the flat nothingness is a relative oasis of Pinyon trees in the canyon of the Purgatoire River. Deep history of Ancient "Picketwire People" along with very early Spanish influence, and it being a shortcut on the Santa Fe trail leaves a lot of weird history in the mix with the dino tracks.
The Canyon has limited motorized access, so hiking, horses and bikes are the only ways in. With no horses, and not wanting to hike an 11 mile round trip, we elected to use the bikes. A STEEP, loose drop down into the canyon, then a nice, smooth double track spin past some old cabins, pictographs and of course, like everywhere in Southern Colorado, the remains of an old spanish church.

The Dino tracks were pretty cool. Unlike most of the tracks I've seen (mostly in Utah.…). These were not isolated prints, but tracks extending for almost hundreds of feet, wandering about in singles & pairs. Big Brontosaurus tracks, too, not little things.
While this was really not the vacation of a lifetime, it turned into a cool little getaway. OK, it was not really THAT scenic, and driving out there is only interesting in that "good god, there is NOTHING out here" kind of way, but it was indeed "different". Just one more example of the MANY kinds of things we have here in Colorado to experience.
It's summer.
Get out there.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Behind the Gates

One of the many reasons to love this time of year is that the gates are still closed. Some of the best riding in the "lesser-known" areas of the front range is located behind some Forest Service gates on various 4 wheel-drive roads. Our friends in the U.S. Forest Service usually don't open these gates till Memorial Day. For a few weeks, the areas behind those gates are both Snow and Redneck-free, making for a great time to wander areas that otherwise start feeling more like Kabul than the Colorado mountains, given the internal combustion & firepower usually on display.

Today, I was unable to dredge up any accomplices, so went and did a solo ride, getting off the beaten path, and behind those gates. Seems like the monsoon rains of last week were more like monsoon snows at anything over about 7500 feet, as I ran into more snow and wet than I expected after 2 warm & windy days. Ended up cutting my ride a bit short to not ride in the snow & mud, but was a great day out.

Course, the best part was being here at all, since the Rapture & Judgement Day was supposed to be yesterday. While we spent what was to be our last evening before the end of the world at a Roller Derby Bout, it seems that MAYBE, Just MAYBE the whole thing was bullshit, and the guy spouting it was just a quack (or a scheister... hard to tell the difference sometimes....). Turns out Mr. Camping was originally from the Bubble. Explains a LOT.

And, since we sinners are still here, and can't entertain ourselves with suffering along the end days, nor watch the chosen ascend, I'll leave you with the full Vernal video "production" for all of our worldly entertainment. Audio ON.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

That was close....

Turns out I was very lucky to have gotten our little MTB trip to Vernal in when I did, since the world is going to end on May 21st. At least I got in some good single track riding in before the end times come. It's been hard to come back and go to work and all that other "normal" stuff. Course with the Rapture upon us, I have sold everything, Quit my job, told off my boss, and run all my credit cards to the max. Seems like the thing to do at the end of the world, Right?

As promised, a few more pictures & tidbits from the Greater Vernal Metroplex here. Parts of the greater Vernal-Rangely area have not quite yet seen the economic benefit of the natural gas boom that seems to be fueling the area right now.
Seems to be a high level of local popularity in poking holes in the ground in them there parts. They love their drilling up there. (and who doesn't??)
Besides the Drilling, there are some nice camping to be had. Again, not the mind-bending scenery of other areas behind the Zion Curtain, but quite nice.
Course, we managed to get there at the tail end of the latest effort by winter to prevent any kind of spring to be had. What's a little camping out with temps in the teens at night and a ride in the snow, when you are a hard man of cross, anyway?
But then the weather perked up, and we began to sample the wares of the area. Turns out, when mountain bikers build trails FOR Mountain bikes, you pretty much end up with some really fun trails to ride. Good mix of fun, FAST twisty-bit desert trails, to techie, ledgy stuff, to even some nice slick-rock are all available.

They have named the trial in fairly amusing ways out there. While "More Hoes" MAY have been named for the mangled tools needed to build it, "More Pimps" seems to say the names may have alternate meaning. It was on "More Pimps" we began to see the local custom of "decorating" trails, something I've really not seen anywhere else. From Kokopelli sculptures on ridge lines in the middle of nowhere, to multiple Bowling Balls half buried trail side miles out, to bike windmills, There is quite a bit of "art" spread out in the area. "More Pimps" had a whole lot of Vegas "hooker cards" decorating the bushes and rock crevices along the route. Trailheads were easy to verify, and nasty drops tended to be "marked".
Some spots were more"creative" than others with what was going on in the rocks....
In General, a really good place to ride. "Different" than the usual vibe of Moab or Fruita, or even Gooseberry or Red Canyon. Feels like a hidden, secret place, even if it's really not that secret. The boys had a great time.
We were protected by Sean's Cock the entire time, so no bad Ju-Ju befell the group. Though he did let his Cock loose a BIT too much at times.... (And Many thanks to Sean B. and his Cock for all the pics here...)
Now if it will stop raining and snowing here, MAYBE we can get back to riding some of the local goodies. So far, it's been JUST enough to get a tease of the good stuff. Maybe soon. I guess it BETTER be soon, as we are all running out of time.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Yep, Vernal

Nothing to see here folks. Move along.......

OK, turns out there really MAY be some good mountain biking in Vernal, Utah. In spite of some "iffy" weather for the first day, we had a ripping time in a very unexpected corner of Utah.
First off, there really IS a 30 foot high pink dinosaur at the edge of town. And one with cute eyelashes to boot.
Decent camping in the red rocks north of town, conveniently located adjacent to the trailhead for 4 trails. Kinda handy. The scenery is not as mind-blowing as Moab, or even parts of Fruita, but still worked out OK for us. Someone even brought a beer-drinking cock. It was always getting loose.

Have a bit of a conflict about saying ANYTHING about Vernal and riding. The riding is VERY much like Fruita 15+ years ago. No one around, fun, ripping and NARROW trails built FOR bikes. We saw 10 other riders TOTAL (counting parking lots..) in 4 days of riding, and only 3 of those actually on the trails. 6-8 inch wide trails, snaking around the desert, with the odd bits of rocky technical goodness thrown in. Part of me wants to just say "nothing to see here, folks... Move Along". The Local bike community there is still trying to attract riders, and is INCREDIBLY friendly. Troy at Altitude Cycle goes out of his way to orient visitors, help send you to the good rides, and fill you in on the latest goodies. A strange and refreshing change from the Front Range, and most "destination" riding areas. I've never had the local shop owner give me his cell phone number since the shop would be closed the next 2 days, "in case we had any questions". Even had a "monster", semi alpine, downhill shuttle run to send your buds to their death on

I want to see their riding scene thrive there, but am not sure more of the "swarm" of spring/fall visitors will be a good thing in the end, given what seems to happen to places like Fruita. Anyway, all my paranoia aside, had a GREAT 5 days out there, LOVED the trails, and would have NO qualms about a repeat visit.

Worked pretty well as a "spring training camp" for me. I managed to ride myself into complete meltdown in those few days. Fixed my lack of spring riding all at once.

Should have more pics and some seat/bar cam video later, but till then, some comic relief from the trip. Those NARROW trails seem to have a bit of a "soft shoulder" at times.... Enjoy