Alabama Spring MTB Trip

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One of the best parts of spring in terms of cycling is the excitement to get outside and ride. Some of my friends and I put a spring mountain bike trip together to Alabama over the winter to get in some warm dry trail time. This past weekend we enjoyed the fruits of our planning. We spent three days riding Oak Mountain and Coldwater Mountain trail systems with great weather, it was a lot of fun. I loved the mix of real deal flow and rock tech. Hanging out with friends both on the trail and off was a relaxing and great time. My Ibis has never felt better, I love the one by drivetrain.

Day one was a shorter 10 mile ride racing the weather to get in a loop at Oak Mountain.

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We stopped by Good People Brewery for a post ride drink after day one before dinner at an old train station that’s been transformed into a really neat restaurant.

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The house we rented for the weekend was an older home with a great porch to hang out on and soak in some southern sunshine.

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The second day was a full loop at Coldwater Mountain.

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Day three was a return to Oak Mountain for a full day of riding.2016-03-26 17.45.19 2016-03-26 17.13.04

The Boulder Ridge trail at Oak Mountain was one of my favorites of the trip. Here’s a short video of me rolling through some tech shot by a good friend.

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The trip was a great bonus to the spring so far. It feels like we all added a great trip into our year super early. We enjoyed some tech and flow not found at home, southern hospitality, and sunshine. My favorite trails of the trip were Boulder Ridge, a traversing large rock filled tech trail I could spend hours on finding new lines up and down larger rocks than my car and Thunder trail at Oak Mountain. Thunder trail was easily the most flowly trail I’ve ever ridden. It had deep cut berms on every turn, sixty foot rolling ravines and more six-foot rollers you could pump or jump than you can count. The combination of those two trails alone was worth the trip. I’ll be happy to add the spring MTB trip into a yearly event, it was a reenergizing and relaxing time spent with good people on good trails.

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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

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This weekend I joined some friends and club members for a Kettle Moraine mountain bike day trip. It was a lot of fun with great weather, good friends, and good trails. The type of summer ride that summers are measured by in terms of riding.

It was also my first ride on my new Ibis HD3. I was excited to see how it fared against the hype I’ve read for what feels like a year. Before we set off, we stopped by La Grange General Store, a neat homey place with sandwiches, beer selection to appeal to bikers, and a bike shop. You should swing by there if you ride Kettle.

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After deciding what groups were going to ride together based on desired distance and effort, I hit start on my Garmin.

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The trails were neat. I rode the blue loop on fatbikes during winter a while back, but this was my first time on dirt there. The trails were a largely dirt based single track with rock and sand sprinkled throughout. There were a handful of fun downs to get a feel for how the Ibis handled some chop. I’ve never felt plushness and control like how this bike eats up rock gardens and drops. It track straight as an arrow with the help of the Rock Shox Pike, through axles on both ends, and the 41mm wide Derby rims. Comfort and precision would be the simple explanation of how I feel about its downhill personality. The bike also climbs better than my expectations, which were quite high. The bike pedals unbelievably well. I was chasing purpose-built cross-country race machines and having no trouble keeping pace. Wow, no other words.

After we finished the John Muir trails, we rode the connector to the Emma Carlin trail system. It had more tech, but the trials seemed to not give equal amounts of payback for the climbs. I enjoyed the John Muir and Connector trails more, but both were good. We took a break at the turn around point before riding back to the trailhead to end the ride.

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As if the day wasn’t awesome enough, our transportation to and from was a good friends new Sprinter. Talk about the perfect travel MTB vehicle.

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It was one of those days that makes a summer. Good times, good people, and smiles.

Ride Data

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2015 Giant City Trip

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Spring brings a lot great things. Warm weather, color to a bland pallet of nature, group rides grow in size, and for some good friends and I, our spring trip to Shawnee National Forest area of Illinois to enjoy four days on road bikes. This is my third year joining the trip and I seem to enjoy every year more-so than the previous.

I enjoy the scenery and the memorable times with friends and teammates more than ever. Either one would be worth the trip alone. The riding is good, the people are good, the smiles are real. The relaxing among common minded folk is great. This trip perfectly encapsulates what I love about cycling.

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The colors of spring are great…

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The lodging at Giant City Lodge are great. It makes the team building and social aspects of the weekend better. I’ve stayed in the smaller two bed cabins every year. I smile when I walk into that little yellow tinted slice of a time before, antenna television set included.

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The riding was good this year. The weather was in the 50º’s and 60ºs F. The sun shined some days, the raindrops were few and far between. I ended the four-day trip with 202.3 miles ridden and 14,239 feet climbed according to the little black Garmin box…

The weekend’s non riding was on par with the great rides. Wine tasting party, Sculpin Grapefruit IPA’s discovered, a breathalyzer provided more than a few smiles, and a number of amazing quotes and memories.

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2016’s return trip is already a thing to look forward to. Until then, time to enjoy some sunshine and rides with good friends.

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

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