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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Soon…

Plane tickets purchased. I’ve got a date with @BloomingtonCycle. While you’re on their Twitter, drop them a congrats for making the cover of Bicycle Retailer! I’m also thinking about my old team mates at the 2017 Bloomington Crit tomorrow. Smile lots, keep the rubber side down.

Soon…

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Singletrack in Sin City – Cottonwood Trails in Las Vegas

I’ve been to Vegas a number of times over the last ten years and I always left wishing I would have ridden in the mountains outside of town. This weekend my wife and I celebrated six wonderful years of marriage. My wife wanted me to get out to the singletrack for a ride this trip to check off that wish list item. I’m a lucky man.

While in Bloomington Cycle & Fitness last weekend talking about our plans for Vegas and mentioning I wanted to ride mountain bikes one day I was pleasantly surprised with a hand written plan for a great time. Turns out one of the mechanics that’s started since I moved was a mechanic in Vegas and knows the lay of the land. I contacted McGhies bike shop and rentals for a guided tour through Cottonwood Trails. We rode twenty miles of the 100 miles available in Vegas.

The folks at McGhies and Rich who was my tour guide were great. Rich turns out is one of the local fast guys. I was looking over Strava time as we drove back to the Vegas strip and I started talking to Rich about the quickest times through some sections and he smiled and nodded his head. Turns out the KOM’s in question are his.

The trails were loose covered hard rock for the most part. Good fun stuff. The tech at Cottonwood was fun and it sounds like there are options for much bigger tech if you’re looking for that.

The Trek Fuel EX7 29er I rode was nice. It pedaled well and the geometry was pretty solid. It’s hard to gauge a bike from one ride but it seemed solid. The KS dropper post was much appreciated. I wouldn’t want to ride for the day without one.

I underestimated the heat. I thought coming from Dallas, Texas I’d be just fine. The biggest difference out here was the sun and heat are unescapable. There’s not a tree around every corner providing shade. We lucked out with some cloud cover for the last hour of the ride which was much appreciated. The lesson I was reminded of is listen to the locals. I requested a later start time of 8:00 am and was kindly informed that starting earlier was recommended. I looked at Rich about an hour and a half into the ride and said he was right about starting earlier.

After we finished the ride at the McGhies bike shop trailside, we chatted for a bit. Neat little rental shop in a great location.

Overall, I’d highly recommend Cottonwood trails for a place to ride while in Las Vegas. McGhies bike shop and guided tours were great, the accommodation from the guided tour was top-notch. The guided tour was money very well spent over just renting a bike. They picked me up and dropped me off at the hotel on the strip. No questioning which way to take at a trail intersection. Just mile after mile of expertly navigated trails. It was a great experience and something I’ve wanted to do for a number of years.

Ride Data

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Today On A Bike

This week’s been a bit tough for me with a kidney stone, something I deal with once a year or so. I didn’t get a lot of miles in this week because of that but I did manage this relaxing ride at Northshore and a group road ride earlier this week. It was my first time riding my fatbike there. It’s a rough ride on a rigid bike even if it’s got fat tires. Sadly, my titanium fatbike probably doesn’t have a long life with me looking forward. I love it but I don’t think I’ll ride it enough to justify keeping it. I think a hardtail or another Epic would get a lot more use in my normal mountain biking down here in Texas.

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