Winter Texas MTB Tour

I joined one of my best friends this past week for a tour of some of Texas’s MTB offerings. We rode some trails in Austin and then headed to Palo Duro Canyon. It was a fun week of car camping and riding some tech in mostly sunshine.

We started in Austin Texas riding at Pace Bend. It was a neat place with some rocky riding. It’s nice to be able to start and end rides from your campsite. There’s about 13 miles of trail that weaves around the peninsula that varies from windy rocky fun to smoother dirt and flow.

Our second day in Austin we opted to explore the city because it was cold and rained some. We spent some time with a friend who moved to Austin a handful of years ago. We then checked out Mt. Bonnell, the Graffiti Wall before they tear it down next month, the S.R.V. memorial statue, and finished the day with some local pizza and brewery stops. We also dropped by Mellow Johnny’s Bike Shop. It’s a shop with some heritage and association with Lance Armstrong. It’s got some historic bikes and yellow jerseys inside. Form your opinions on him but the shop and seeing some of his stuff was neat from a historic perspective.

The other trail we rode in Austin was Reveille Trails. I had a great time riding this trail system. It’s got some unique rocky terrain that I really enjoyed. It was also a sunny and beautiful day.

We ended the trip by driving to Palo Duro Canyon, a really neat rather large canyon in Texas. We had great weather there in the 70º’s. The riding varied from windy smooth ribbons of fun to off your bike tech. I really liked this place and will be back.

I rode my 2018 Epic for the trip and it was great. I like that bike a lot so far. This trip did however add to me thinking I want to put a dropper post on it. I’m also thinking of a slightly more aggressive and larger volume front tire.

My Element was a great car camper vessel for the trip. With a flat flooring and full-sized air mattress and a sleeping bag, its comfortable when it’s time to rest. I made window covers last year for the non tinted windows for privacy. I can charge my laptop and things. I’ve got a cooler. Life is alright on the road in that little weird all wheel drive car.

It was a fun trip with lots of good moments. 70º’s and rocky mountain biking with a great friend is an alright way to spend a few vacation days in February. Next year we’re planning on going to Big Bend for the Texas Mountain Bike festival in February. That should be rad.

It’s about that time of the year for me to start shaving my legs and joining road bike rides. That with a weekly mountain bike ride should balance to a good year. Good times ahead.

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Today On A Bike

Hairy legs, no fitness, and smiles in the sunshine. I rode Northshore Sunday and had a good time. Early season feels. It’s still a little weird to be riding in shorts and a jersey in January but 65º and sunny is easy to get used to.

It’s fun to see how trails weather over winter, some lines becoming easier, some harder. Erosion, moved rocks, downed trees. It’s like getting to talk to a good friend after not seeing them for a while.

The Epic continues to be a great bike. I enjoy it. The ability to carry two bottles and all the needed things like tubes on the bike are freeing. No pockets full of stuff. Jump on the bike and have a great time. The tires do surprisingly well in the rocks. I’m considering a stealth dropper post though.

I’m figuring out what weekly rides I want to start attending. I think I’m going to aim for the Tuesday and Thursday Pop Rides, but opt for the B group to avoid the recklessness and unnecessary risk from measuring egos in dangerous ways on a group ride. I know I want to also ride the Wednesday McKinney Velo ride too, I like that ride a lot. Great people and great country roads.

Mid February I’m joining one of my best friends who is coming from Illinois on a Southern tour for a few days. We may check out Arkansas, and in Texas area Dallas, Austin, and Big Bend for the mountain bike festival. The plans are loose but I’m sure we’ll have a good time. I hope we have good weather.

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Today On A Bike

I went out for a quick ride around the Southern loop of Northshore yesterday. The weather has been really nice this week. It was 80º and 70º the last couple of days, I think that’s above the norm down here but I’m still acclimatizing to Texas winters.

Looking ahead to the winter, I hope to ride once a week and explore a few locations via two-day (or so) car camping trips around TX and OK. I’m planning on going to Big Bend TX MTB festival in February with a good buddy. That should be a fun trip.

I hope you’re having a safe and relaxing fall. Thanks for reading.

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2017 Moab Utah Trip

Incredible times, amazing views, exceptionally great people…

I’m writing this above the clouds flying home to Texas thinking about how fortunate I am to have my life’s path intersect with this amazing group of people. People who share genuine and incredible times in beautiful places all centered around a simple two-wheel thing with pedals.

Five days ago I set off to Moab Utah for a riding trip. Now, five days later, I’m a little sore in the legs from big rides and in the face from smiling so much. The trip was centered on a bucket list and hard ride, WRIAD. White Rim In A Day is a 100 mile mountain bike ride around White Rim that has 7,000 feet of climbing. I was nervous about it.

Our first ride of the trip was to ride as much of Porcupine Rim as possible. Our group split into two, with the folks who had not done The Whole Enchilada before going all the way up to Burro Pass and the rest of us starting one section below that at Hazard County to avoid the snow and ice. I’m super happy anytime I’m on a ride where someone checks off a bucket list trail. Seeing the tired smiles after someone’s first The Whole Enchilada is great in its own right.

My Ibis HD3 felt the best it ever has as we started down Hazard County. Dialed, plush, and stable.  Photo by Randy

Porcupine Rim has so many great sections of terrain and endless levels of drops and tech from moderate to high. I was riding drops between three or four feet pretty comfortably but skipped bigger than that. The biggest stuff I rode I didn’t get pictures of because it comes up quick, manage the terrain, and then continue to rocket down the 20 plus miles of rocky down.

Moments like this are not lost on me. Incredible.

I opted out of the second ride day of the trip to rest up and prepare for the big ride the following day. I relaxed in downtown Moab at our lodging, Purple Sage. It’s the kind of place that makes you stop and appreciate all of the thought out execution and care that went into making it special. USB chargers on night stands, really comfortable, secure bike locker and bike stand, on site laundry, peaceful outdoor seating to talk about the beauty of Moab or exaggerate the height of the drop you rode down earlier, all appreciated. I highly recommend both Moab Flats and Purple Sage for your Moab lodging needs. Both are excellent!

The third riding day was WRIAD. We aimed to start the ride at 6:30, before sunrise. We all shuffled in cold dark morning mountain air, double checking our mental notes and attending to our own pre big ride rituals. Eight people set off on the adventure. Five WRIAD first timers.

In the special moments when the sun rose over the La Sal mountains it set the canvas for a perfect and big day.

We rode the route backwards compared to how it’s often ridden. We rode down Mineral Bottom road and ended our 100 miles with a soul checking climb up Shafer road.

The early ride to get to the winding mountain side Mineral Bottom road was flat and open. Time to think about the ride and scope of what was ahead.

After descending down into the canyons, the views for the rest of the day were utterly beautiful. Awe inspiring. Ever expanding. Special.

WRIAD is a big ride, I think most people take 10 plus hours to finish it in one day. It can be extra challenging to manage carrying that much water, food, extra clothing options for when the temperatures and weather shift. We had amazing friends provide the SAG truck and drive it behind us all day at distance. Not a small feat considering single lane passes more than a thousand feet above death with no guard rails, some serious other off-road terrain, taking a weekend away from life to help a bunch of semi crazy people do something they set their mind to. If anything went wrong, needed food or water, or if you had to call it and early day for any reason, you could stop and the truck full of supplies and smiling people were there. Beth and Nick, thank you for largely making our WRIAD ride possible. Really.

White Rim itself was great. Riding along it for largely the whole day was special. I think it’s more beautiful than the Grand Canyon based on the variety in colors and both negative and positive elevation terrain.

Mile after mile…

100 miles on a mountain bike is a long ride, much more than riding a century on the road. I felt pretty good all day. I was very active in my hydration and food intake. I started to tire around mile 85 but had legs to finish.

Checking off miles one at a time…

Around mile 95 the sun set. A special thing to ride during twilight in beautiful scenery and also to have for the fist time ever, seen both a sunrise and a sunset in the same ride.

The trouble is we had five miles left, and three of which are a brutal thousand foot climb out up switchbacks with lots of exposure. The type of falls where if it happen, it wouldn’t send you to the hospital but rather the grave.

With about two miles and 800 plus feet left in the climb it was pitch black to my eyes. Only the moon and stars to light the way. The kind of dark where you can put your hand six inches in front of your face and not see it. Scary to be honest, knowing a fall to your death was less than 15 feet away and you can’t see. I don’t think I was ever in any real danger but I wasn’t prepared to take any extra chances.

My phone, typically tasked to take these pictures shifted to a more serious task, keep me safe. I pushed and rode up the last two miles with my phone in my hand using it as a flashlight. We didn’t plan to be out there as long as it took us or we would have brought proper riding lights. WRIAD being a big ride with eight people is hard to have all possible events planned and accounted for.

When I saw the vehicles we pedaled away from 13 hours and 33 minutes before I was happy to have completed the ride. It was dark, 41º F. We were tired and soaking in the achievement realized. I couldn’t have done it without the SAG vehicle and people around me all day.

A great trip, truly special. WRIAD, my number one bucket list ride checked off, another ride down Porcupine Rim possibly the best trail on Earth in the books, great memories, great people.

Related: 2015 Moab Utah Trip

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Moab Packing

I packed for the Moab trip tonight. I fly out Wednesday earlier than people should be awake for a three-day riding trip. I’m 50% excited to ride some Moab tech and 50% nervous for White Rim In A Day (WRIAD). I’m having some significant fitness doubt at the moment.

My only other Moab trip was great, a ton of fun. Hoping for as many smiles this trip.

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Today On A Bike

Today I did a little exploring at Isle du Bois Trail. Since moving to Dallas I’ve stuck to riding Northshore, but I want to start exploring other options in the Dallas area. At the advise of a friend, Isle du Bois was my first place to venture out to.

I didn’t get a long ride in at Isle du Bois today so I’m not ready to speak holistically about the trail system, but I can speak about the parts I did ride. It was more slow chunky tech than Northshore. More elevation, more loose rocks, more half-sunken boulders, more sand, more challenge. Less flow, less dirt, less sustained speed.

Summer is winding down and I’m finding my first end of summer very rad in Texas. One of the things that’s felt weird adjusting to was the correlation between temperature and decreasing daylight. Back in Illinois, when road rides started getting cut short to avoid dark I was used to the temperatures getting chilly. Early cross season weather. Sweater weather. Down here in Dallas, it’s still 80º plus but the sun still sets early. It’s weird what your brain gets used to without you knowing it.

I’m trying to be more consistent with content. I appreciate you reading and if you have feedback, I’d love to hear it. Follow on Twitter or subscribe via email.

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New Bike Day! 2018 S-Works Epic XX1 Eagle

My family and I flew back to Bloomington Illinois this weekend to visit friends and family as well as pick up my new 2018 S-Works Epic XX1 Eagle from @BloomingtonCycle . #newBikeDay fun!

After flying back to warm Dallas Texas Sunday I took some pictures at Northshore Trail on Labor Day with the help of my family. After the pictures and some family time, I took the Epic for its first ride. It’s great and really light at 22.09 lbs with Shimano XTR pedals on. I’ll write a full review after I have more saddle time with it. For now, here’s my first impressions.

The drivetrain was the biggest decision for the bike. I choose the build with Sram XX1 Eagle, a one chainring by twelve gears in the back with a crazy 500% gear spread (10 tooth smallest cog and 50 tooth biggest cog) that should allow for scaling most buildings. The drivetrain shifted perfect all day and the crankset was everything I could ask for out of a crankset. My one gripe so far with the drivetrain is I can’t grab two gears harder on the shifter in one finger pull as I cold with Shimano but that’s a tiny tiny downside.

The Sram Level Ultimate brakes were good on the first ride. I come from a long background of using Shimano XTR brakes so I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. I also don’t want to speak too much about brake performance and feel from a ride where I was beeding them in.

The new Roval Control SL wheels seemed flawless. The new Fast Trak tires now with Gripton as the road tires have had for a while were great. A good cross-country race tire with a lot of linear grip. They also held up through the thick tire eating rocks at Northshore just fine.

The brains in the front and rear suspension are one of the defining characteristics of the Epic. As this is my second Epic I have a lot of experience and familiarity. Again, I’ve only had one twenty-mile ride on the new Epic but it seems to react smoother and quicker. The brains opening and closing without me knowing. The platform seems very solid when I want it to be and completely open when I need it to be.

There are lots on the newly redesigned 2018 Epic that are technical improvements, one of which is the improved rear shock and fluid path to the brain over the rear axle. The fluid now takes a more straight line approach involving the fluid moving directly through the shock extension eliminating extra parts and turbulence causing turns for the fluid to encounter. Win win. Pretty rad engineering.

The saddle is a carbon railed S-Works Phenom which is light, comfortable, and feels like home every time I sit on them. The newly redesigned seat post looks great and shaves weight over the older version.

I’m a sucker for internally routed cables. It adds a lot of cleanliness to a bike in my opinion. I love the routing on the new Epic. I hope they are easy for mechanics to work on.

I love Bloomington Cycle & Fitness and the owners Caryn and Scott. They are better people than I deserve. I feel like I talk about them a lot on this blog but it’s because they constantly make me feel great. It’s still my local bike shop, just 789 miles further away now. Thank you’s can fall short in life sometimes and this is one of those cases. Much love.

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