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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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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Spring Knoxville MTB Trip

I joined some friends for a spring mountain bike trip this weekend in Knoxville Tennessee. We largely rode the Urban Wilderness trails. It was a fun trip to see some good friends I’ve not seen in a bit. I slept in my Element part of the way from Texas to Tennessee on the drive up to our Air BNB house rental. My element and Ibis are as dependable as ever.

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2016 Lake Tahoe Trip

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The highlight every year cycling for me are the big group trips. Winning a race is amazing, but doesn’t come anywhere close to a great trip. Time spent with special people who feel like family, amazing locations, and shared experiences that will last a lifetime are as good as it gets for me. This year, we traveled to Lake Tahoe, California. The week we spent was perfect, great weather, amazing trails, smiles shared on the porch around meals, I could go on and on…

A lot of the amazing downs are captured in the video at the bottom of this post. Check that out, I’m pretty proud of it.

Day One, Cold Water Downhill – Garmin Data

After unpacking our bikes and building them up, I joined a good friend for an out and back to get our tires into some Lake Tahoe downhill action. The trail’s surface was made up of sandy granite dust, dirt, and rock. The elevation wasn’t as bad as trips to high mountain areas but rides starting around 6,500′ and climbing to above 9,500′ on some days did remind you where you were.

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Day Two, Armstrong Pass to Corral Downhill – Garmin Data

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My loved Ibis HD3 and I were in real harmony this trip. It’s dialed in to what I wanted in a trail bike almost to my idea of perfection. I love the one by eleven drivetrain. The 28 tooth chain ring paired with the 42 tooth cog allowed for easy work up any pitch and the 10 tooth cog allowed me to pedal as fast as I dared. The brakes were great, the tires were great, I’m really happy with the bike.

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My good friend Matt riding his Ibis HD3 much better than I can, making fun work of the terrain. It’s really fun to ride behind him until he disappears riding away from me. His bike skills as well as his character are equally impressive, and I look up to both traits, even if his signing is pretty bad on the climbs. Spending time with him and his family make these trips a great experience.

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Day Three, Star Lake Loop – Garmin Data

This was our big ride of the week, climbing over 3,800′ to Freel Pass at 9,535′. The last 1,000′ were pretty steep and tough. The views were great up there though.

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On the descent, we passed by Star Lake, a real beauty tucked away in the mountains that my iPhone picture doesn’t do justice.

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Day Four, Family Beach Time

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Day Five, Mr. Toads Wild Ride – Garmin Data

Mr. Toads Wild Ride is probably my favorite downhill I’ve ever ridden. It’s really good. The top section has tech far bigger than I feel comfortable riding but it soon fades into tech right at or slightly above my comfort level, making for great fun. The trail didn’t let up like many of the downhills I’ve ridden. Mr. Toads Wild Ride felt like the tech, speed, and fun were turned up the entire down. I loved it.

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Day Six, Armstrong Pass to Corral Downhill Revisited – Garmin Data

We revisited the Corral Downhill on day six, it didn’t disappoint the second time, great trail.

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Day Six, Flume Trail – Garmin Data

Flume Trail was one I wanted to ride after hearing about it, so I doubled up on my last day to catch it. The ride had a 1,400′ sandy climb up and down on the out and back route I rode. There wasn’t any real tech and once on Flume Trail, there was no real climbing or descending, but the views of Lake Tahoe were second to none. The beauty of the ride for me is only rivaled by 401 in Crested Butte, CO.

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Beyond the amazing riding, this vacation was perfectly rounded for me personally. There was a great balance of family time, resting away from work, hanging out with friends, and cycling. It was a great recharge, and a reminder of what cycling trips mean to me.

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Here’s a video I put together of some of the downhill awesomeness. The climbs were definitely worth it. The video is a bit shakey in parts and there’s the occasional annoying Camelbak chest strap in the view. I’m still learning and to be fair, tech is bumpy :)

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2016 Giant City Trip

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This weekend I joined my teammates in southern Illinois for four days of road riding. It’s my fourth year going to annual trip, and it seems to get better every year. The weather was beautiful all weekend with temps ranging from mid 50º’s in the morning and mid 70º’s in the afternoon. The rain stayed away every ride and the winds were manageable.

The roads around Makanda Illinois are great for road riding. Lot’s of elevation to go up and down, what feels like turns and hills every quarter-mile or less make it a roller coaster all weekend.

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The breakfast every morning at the lodge is one of my favorites. Hearing about moves from the previous days rides, tales exaggerated, or stories of shenanigans from the previous night are the perfect complement to the good food.

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Our lodge was great this year and served as the hangout most evenings including the second annual wine tasting party, a favorite of the weekend. The breathalyzer that shows up every year adds some excitement to the evening.

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Friday’s ride had a little extra gasoline added to the fire with the help of eight of us representing our Illinois State Champion jersey’s, something that seems to draw out more fun fierce riding.

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My weekends riding totals tallied to 211.9 miles ridden, 14,101 feet of elevation climbed, in just under 12 hours pedaling. I love cycling trips, I love this team, I love this yearly thing I get to be involved with. It’s the type of weekend for me that I know I’m living in one of those moments that you’ll look back on and tell stories and smile about.

Day 1 Ride Data
Day 2 Ride Data
Day 3 Ride Data
Day 4 Ride Data

2015’s Giant City Trip
2014’s Giant City Trip

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