Today On A Bike

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After returning from our Moab cycling trip, I still wanted to ride more rock and tech. The closest rock I knew about was in St. Louis at Chubb and Greensfelder. Group adventures on trips like this are more fun I think. I posted a feeler on my local MTB club’s Facebook and was happy to find ten or so others wanted to join in. The trip was great, and I think a few of us really needed a day of fall awesomeness in the woods with others.2015-11-07 12.35.26

The trails were fun. The fallen leaves slowed the pace as the rocks were hidden and corners were a mystery of grip.2015-11-07 12.43.27

Chubb trail’s staircase or whatever you want to call it was still cool to look at and mess around on. I really wanted to do the drop, but couldn’t bring myself to do it. Maybe next year. I did roll the feature on the side a few times.2015-11-07 12.02.43

After we finished both rides we smiled, soaked in the warm November sunshine, and enjoyed a beer before leaving to get food and head home.2015-11-07 16.26.51 2015-11-07 16.24.24

My first road trip with my (new to me) STI. It did well, more fun to drive than Element but not as functional.2015-11-07 16.51.13

Another great fall trip complete. Another memory in what has been an interesting year for me and bikes. Group adventures like this are good for my soul, a reset of perspective and energy. They are what I tend to remember most fondly. Good times with amazing people not focused on work or troubles, but rather enjoying the moment, the opportunity to get away and enjoy the outdoors with like-minded people.

I’m looking forward to watching Mother Nature’s color palette change from burnt oranges of fall sunsets and fall leaves to the cool and still blues of winter. Lots of winter snowy riding ahead.

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2015 Moab Utah Trip

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What an amazing trip… My family and I joined some great friends for just over a week in Moab, Utah. The company, trails, and weather were terrific. I checked off The Whole Enchilada and Slickrock, two of my bucket list trails in addition to others. The terrain was unlike anything I’ve ever ridden before.

The trip started with my luck of never losing any luggage on trips coming to an end…

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All of my riding gear was in the bag so I was in bad shape for the planned week of riding. Relief came in the middle of the night when the powers that be located my bag and had it delivered to our good friends lovely home.

Day One, Moab Brand Trails – Garmin Data

We drove into Moab with about an hour and a half of sun burning through the ridges on the range. The perfect setting for my first ride in Moab.

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Looking across the desert to the La Sal Mountains where The Whole Enchilada lays waiting for us later in the trip.

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I have a handful of rides that rise above the rest to be my favorite memories. That first ride in Moab made the list, and I knew it pretty early into the ride. The warm glow of the sun setting on the desert range, the great friends I was sharing the experience with, and my long waited first ride in Moab. It was great.

After our first ride, we made our way to Moab Flats, our sleeping arrangements for the trip.

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Photo from moabflats.com

I was blown away at how nice everything was here. Everything was excellent from the beautiful flats, to the small details that made it feel like you were staying at someone’s really nice home. There was a locked storage setup for bikes including a bicycle stand and hose for cleaning. There was a secure patio area with hot tub, grill, and very nice outdoor seating. It was one of the nicest places I’ve ever spent time in. If you are in the area, I would highly recommend staying here.

Day Two, The Whole Enchilada – Garmin Data

This was the it, the trail that has been at the top of my want to ride list since I’ve had a list. I’ve waited years, heard a lot of hype, and was finally ready to clip in and discover it for myself. We finished the hour-long shuttle up to the Burro Pass trailhead before sunrise and prepared for the ride in the brisk fall high elevation temperatures. The warmer desert temps were very nice as we descended. The trailhead is at 10,300 feet elevation and you then climb Burro Pass at 11,200 feet elevation. At the top of Burro Pass, you have 8,000 feet of descent to look forward to.

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Climbing Burro Pass2015-10-17 07.59.30 2015-10-17 08.28.08 2015-10-17 08.00.36

The descent off of Burro Pass was great single track filled with steep rocky sections and lots of switchbacks. One of the neatest things I took away from riding The Whole Enchilada was how great it was to experience the different kinds of environment. We started in the Pine trees, transitioned into Aspen trees, and then into the desert.

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My talented friend riding the entrance to LPS from UPS.

Overall The Whole Enchilada was really great. I underestimated the difficulty of the ride, and came home pretty tired that day. I’m not as fit as I was earlier in the season. The constant rocks, drops, and moves you have to make took their toll on me by the end of our almost five-hour ride. It was an amazing experience and I enjoyed it immensely.

Day Three, Amasa Back, Hymasa, Pothole, Rock Stacker, Captain Ahab – Garmin Data

The Amasa Back, Hymasa, Pothole, Rock Stacker, Captain Ahab loop we did was a lot of fun. It had great vistas, flowy sections, great downhills, and features that ranged from small to much bigger than anything I’d ride.

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My talented friend riding the qualifier for Rockstacker and a drop towards the end of the Captain Ahab descent.

Day Four, Slickrock – Garmin Data

Moab was tough on bikes, lots of rocks that would like to leave a character building mark or slowly eat your tires with the sandpaper like surface. I needed to have a rotor trued after a few days of riding. I know a guy that is an avid rider and works at Moab Cyclery, so I swung by. They had my bike back to perfect in no time with their walk up service.

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Slickrock was the other check box for me on the trip. It’s such a famous trail that seems to make so many of the “Must Ride Trail” lists. My experience was different from I thought it would be. I expected to find trail that involved up and down moves, like ledges. What I found was none of that, but steep rock faces, both up and down. I was shocked at how steep some of the faces you climb and go down were. I swear some of the angles the trail goes up are beyond 60%. My fear of heights stopped me from trying some of the longer climbs where if you didn’t make the whole climb you’d be rolling down rock for a while. Overall, it was great, unlike anything I’d ever seen before.

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Day Five, Family Zoo Time

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Day Six, 7-Up – Garmin Data

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7-Up was a fun trail with equal parts sand and rock. We ran into a pretty decent weather front and bailed to head back to the truck.

We ended the week with a return trip to Amasa Back, Hymasa, and Captain Ahab. That ride was sans camera, just to take it all in with no distractions. We rode up through the canyon a little after sunrise, La Sal mountain range in the background looking back at us. A fitting end to the trip. A great time with great people. I’m really glad I have the opportunity to do these trips with my friends and family.

And just like that, another great trip transitioning into great memories.

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2015 Sufferfest Colorado Trip

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This past weekend I joined some good friends on a yearly gathering for high elevation mountain biking in Crested Butte and surrounding areas. The trip is jokingly named Sufferfest because of the long climbs at high elevation, normally between 9,000 feet and 12,000 feet. The rides get bigger as the trip goes on ending in the Kenosha to Breckenridge ride which covers about 5,000 feet of climbing in just over 30 miles. We spend four days riding famous trails over the holiday weekend. Spending time with great people, lots of climbing, lots of technical fun descents, and the beauty of Colorado.

My freshly reassembled Ibis HD3 out of the bike bag ready to hit some Colorado trails

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Day One, Dr. Park Trail – Garmin Data

The climb to the top of Dr. Park starts on a dirt road evolving into double track, and lastly single track. The creek crossing at about the half way point is cold from the melting snow but such a great aspect of the ride for me, it’s just part of the experience.

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The descent of Dr. Park starts with some technical rocks, moving on to a flow and pump section that begs for you to let go of any brakes and feel the wind in your face. The last section of the down is more arid and has larger rocks. There are some great switchbacks to drop you the last few hundred feet of the ride.

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Day Two, Hartman Rocks Trail – Garmin Data

The Hartman Rocks trail was a day of change to ride dry trail as Crested Butte had a lot of rainfall on day one. The terrain was exposed to the sky, full of smaller climbs and descents, usually with exposed large rock structures.

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Day Three, Monarch Crest Trail – Garmin Data

Riding Monarch Crest is a big day. The ride starts above 11,000 feet elevation climbs up from there. This ride beat me up last year, and I was nervous about it going into this trip. This year there were clouds on the mountain that we climbed up and through. It was a pretty neat experience.

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As the day went on the sky’s cleared and we were treated to the great views that Monarch has to offer. The trail’s climbs, descents, and views make it an all time favorite which I was able to enjoy this year without bonking. To be fair, we did bail out before the Rainbows section this year.

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In between all of these great rides were good times spent around a campfire or eating at a local restaurant. At night, we were often treated to endless stars.

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Day Four, Kenosha To Breckenridge Trail – Garmin Data

The big ride, this one had me nervous. We cross three mountain passes climbing almost 5,000 feet over the course of the 32 mile ride. The first pass we climb is Georgia Pass, a 12,000 foot peak. The climb is filled to the brim with rocks and roots making every foot of the climb work. You get above tree line at around 11,300 feet on this ride, a rewarding experience.

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The descent on the backside of Georgia Pass is filled with technical rock sections and switchbacks.

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The second climb is steep and mean, but once crested, the hardest parts of the ride were conquered. I was in a happy place once I started down the second descent. I knew I was going to finish the ride, and my goal for the trip, to ride every mile.

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The ride ends with a handful of tight switchbacks arriving in Breckenridge. Last year when I watched friends from the sideline make that final descent, I had big aspirations of being able to finish the ride in the future. This year, I did. I ended the weekend with 12,500 feet climbed at high elevation. Every switchback of the last descent felt like a victory lap of personal accomplishment. I was in a happy, but tired place.

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And with that last switchback, the trip was over. Bikes packed, planes boarded, and headed back to Illinois as I type this. Colorado is a special place and I feel privileged to have experienced a small piece of it with such good people. Another great cycling trip transitioned from great times to great memories.

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Today On A Bike

2014-09-24 17.11.48-2The fall is always a weird time for me and cycling. I am usually a little burnt out from the MTB and road season that started back in January. After racing the Chequamegon fat 40 a few weeks ago, I’ve spent less time on a bike in an effort to not burn myself out. Today’s cross practice was a lot of fun and re-energized me a bit for the season!

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2014 Sufferfest Colorado Trip

Crested Butte Paradise Valley PinkThis past weekend I joined some great friends for a Colorado mountain bike trip. We spent time in Crested Butte and other surrounding areas. The trip was filled with high mountain rides, great company, and beautiful views. The climbs were long and the descents a combination of awesome and challenging!

Reno Flag Bear Deadman Trail – Garmin Data
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2014-08-29 13.57.56-2 2014-08-29 15.02.26 2014-08-29 14.49.30 2014-08-29 16.07.52Our Condo in Crested Butte was great!
2014-08-30 07.45.08Dr. Park Trail – Garmin Data
This year I rode all the way from the bottom to the top. The climb starts on tarmac, turns into a dirt road, then double track, and lastly single track.
2014-08-30 11.14.19This creek crossing is where we started riding up last year after taking a shuttle. It was really cool to be there again.
2014-08-30 11.35.45 2014-08-30 12.31.49 After the climb to the top you transverse through some woods until the decent starts.
2014-08-30 13.25.44 2014-08-30 13.42.11The last section of Dr. Park is more arid and filled with fun switchbacks and tech.
2014-08-30 14.06.07 2014-08-30 14.12.06After riding that night I joined a friend to take some pictures in the mountains. The first and last picture of this post come from setups like this.
2014-08-30 19.48.12Monarch Crest Trail – Garmin Data
The Monarch Crest ride was amazing and brutal. The ride starts at over 11,000 feet of elevation and was just under 30 miles and 3,300 feet of climbing. The ride was filled with riding above the treeline and technical descents. I found new meaning to the word bonking on this ride.
2014-08-31 11.02.56 2014-08-31 10.57.50 2014-08-31 11.00.08The views were stunning!
2014-08-31 11.11.23 2014-08-31 11.26.49The descents were really fun!
2014-08-31 12.30.11-4I found myself in trouble during a quick wiggle during a fast section and I donated a touch of blood to Colorado.
2014-08-31 13.21.41Kenosha To Georgia Pass – Garmin Data
This was the last and biggest ride of the trip. I took a bail out after descending Georgia Pass. The climb up to Georgia Pass was the biggest climb I’ve ever done and the descent was the most technical and hardest trail I’ve ever seen.

We grabbed lunch on the top of a rock half way up to Georgia Pass.
2014-09-01 11.10.30The view from Georgia Pass was vast and impressive!
2014-09-01 12.35.47The descent (at least the parts I didn’t walk) were great!
2014-09-01 11.57.39-4 2014-09-01 03.50.05-3The trip was tough and really enjoyable! I can’t wait to go back to Colorado!
Crested Butte Paradise Valley Purple

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