Saturday, April 12, 2008

Joe's Ridge and Kessel Run

I finally got a chance to tweak some of the video that we took in Fruita (shot with a GoPro Helmet HERO). I really have no idea what I'm doing with QuickTime, but I was able to cut out a minute of useless video and I was able to add Dio in to the soundtrack, so Damn it, that's a good enough start for me. This video is about six minutes long, so enjoy (more to come).

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Fruita, Colorado

Yep, my buddy Rob Bousquet and I had "guy's trip" to Colorado for some early season singlespeed abuse. (I've got lots of links in the text below, so be sure to use 'em!)

Day 1: April 1st got an EARLY start for us. Our flight was at 6:00am, which meant leaving Rob’s house by about 4:00am which meant getting up at a little after 3:00am. Who’s idea was this? Anyway, we made it to the airport by about 5:00am, checked in, and had an uneventful four-hour flight to Dallas. After an hour layover, we had another uneventful flight to Montrose, CO. By the time we had landed—only about noon local time, we had been up for 11 hours. Oy. We grabbed the rental (Dodge Durango), and made the 90 minute drive to Fruita, stopping for food along the way. After a quick check-in at the hotel (Comfort Inn), we made our way over to Over the Edge Sports to grab our bikes. At this point, I was starting to feel the day’s toll of traveling, but we assembled our bikes with vigor. Rob had some difficulties with his brakes, and I found that my rear tire had a huge gash in it, so it took way longer than it should have. We finally ended up on a trail by about 5:00pm Colorado time, or about 7:00pm our time (after being up for about 16 hours with only about 4hrs sleep). Yeah. Our goal was a short ride on Mary’s Loop and Horse Thief Bench (See the ride here). About 15 minutes into the ride I stopped to wait for Rob (something he would be doing for me on the climbs later in the trip). He finally rounded the turn with multiple bruises and abrasions on his legs and elbows. Yep, that how the trip started. Anyway, we rode just under 13 miles of some of the area’s best singletrack and made it back to the Comfort Inn for sleep, but not before hitting a local spot—the Hot Tomato Café for some killer pizza and great beer on tap. We chatted with a couple from San Francisco (Sam and Colleen), who were also in town for some riding.

Day 2: Our plan (mostly Rob’s plan) was to do an epic ride in the morning, grab some lunch, and then do another epic ride in the afternoon. We fulfilled that goal, although not exactly on epic proportions. Our first ride was in the legendary Book Cliffs area at 18 Road. We climbed up a short trail called Prime Cut, then crossed over to Joe’s Ridge—an awesome downhill ridgeline rollercoaster ride—to Kessel Run—a mellow downhill course that’s essentially a two mile slalom run. From there, we ended back at the starting point, went back up Prime Cut and then descended on Chutes & Ladders. A good time was had by all, and I got some great video (or so I thought).

We rolled back in to town for lunch, and then headed to an area called Rabbit Valley for a long, windy, sandy ride that turned out not quite as planned. I got a flat, we got lost, and all in all, we spent way too much time surfing through sand. Later, while talking to many locals, the overall feeling was that there was no surprise that we got lost. Hmmmm, thanks.

The Hot Tomato Café was having $2 drafts (yeah, more New Belgium 1554 please), and more of their “hot pie.” Our new friends, Sam and Colleen were there and we shared a LOUD table (right next to the band), for food and biking tales.

Sadly, that evening’s pizza, or what I like to call “meatzza” reared it’s ugly head about midnight, forcing me up and out of bed to find a truck stop stocked with Maalox and/or Tums. I thought I would perhaps vomit, something that’s occurred only two other times in my memory. My superior GI tract prevailed, with the help of antacids, and I was able to get at least “some” sleep.

Day 3: Our plan for this day was to find one longer, but perhaps more mellow ride. It’s still quite early in the season for us, and we had been doing plenty of climbing on our singlespeeds. Rob found a trail just over the border in Utah, that advertised about 650ft of climbing over about 20 miles (7 miles out, a 7 mile loop, and 7 miles back). It sounded perfect. We used our trail book, written by local trail builder, Troy Rarick, but he forgot the first rule of any trail guide—getting people to the trail head. With no directions in the book, and no signs anywhere along the road, we made full use of our 4x4 Durango, ultimately relying on the map, some compass readings, and a little luck.

The trail, known as the Overlook Trail, started off great. It was mostly smooth, flowing singletrack, with enough rocks and obstacles to keep it interesting. The scenery was impressive, and the miles rolled by. There were no signs along the trail, but we were able to stick to the plan, and finally at about 9 miles, we stopped for lunch on the Arch Loop. Fully refueled, we proceeded to finish the loop and get back on the same trail that we took in. Something changed though because as soon as we started off, we were confronted with deep sand and rocky transitions, forcing us to do lots of walking. And that great trail out? It was so fun because it was slightly downhill—a fact that was brutally revealed when we were working our asses off to get back to the car. In the end, it was a long, dusty, hard ride that wiped us out. The total on the GPS? About 20 miles and just under 3,200 feet of climbing. Oy! Did I mention that it’s EARLY season for us, and that we’re on singlespeeds?

Day 4: With fried legs from our previous three days of riding—57 miles with 8947 feet of climbing—we were looking for a mellow day. I had accidentally deleted my video footage of Joe’s Ridge (one of the area’s prime attractions), so we opted to re-do Prime Cut to Joe’s to Kessel. That would give us just over 5 miles of riding and a little more than 711ft of up and down. I got video, I got photos, and I was done. By calling it a day at that, we were able to take our time disassembling and packing our bikes, and supporting the local economy.

And speaking of the local economy, Over The Edge Sports (OTE) was the only local shop that I knew of, and they were the shop that allowed us to ship our bikes out AND store our cases while we were in town. I thought that was pretty cool but the overall “feeling” I got from the shop was “we’re the cool shop in town, we’re locals, and you owe us for riding our trails.” One guy even told us to try a certain trail because of one of the hard climbs, and that if we could do it on our singlespeeds, he’d buy us beers, but if we couldn’t we’d owe him a beer. Huh?

A stone’s throw away we found another bike shop, Single Tracks, and they couldn’t have been more helpful. Chris, the owner, spent lots of time talking about trails and local conditions, and he was super friendly. A perfect comparison between the two shops is this: when we got our boxes, OTE said we could put our bikes together outside on the sidewalk next to the shop. When we were taking our bikes apart, Single Tracks let us use a work stand, their hose, and any tools we needed in a side work area. I know where I’ll be going back next time.

I’m trying to get some more video from the trip, and I’ll be posting that soon, but you can check out all of the photos here.