Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Epic singletrack

If you're a truly passionate mountain biker, you really owe it to yourself to hit the epic singletrack opportunities in Colorado and Utah at least once in your life. It's an unforgettable experience.

In 2007, my buddy Matt Thompson and I packed two hardtails in his truck and spent a week chasing some of the best singletrack that North America has to offer. We started in the Front Range outside Denver, headed over to Crested Butte, and hit Fruita on the way to Moab.

Fruita and Moab are of course stellar--but the hidden gem in my opinion is Buffalo Creek near Pine, Colorado.

This was some of the best alpine singletrack I've ever ridden: perfectly buff trails, grip that only a tire salesman could dream of, stunning scenery, and brilliant flow.

At one point we got caught in a flash thunderstorm as we began a long, technical descent. It was one of the craziest downhills I've ever ridden, hardly able to see through the pouring rain as I skated furiously down a narrow singletrack flooded with a torrent of rainwater.

Crossing the Continental Divide brought us to the real South Park and an epic ride that started at 10,000' and only went up.

Coming down that trail I bagged an aspen at full speed and fragged my wheel. Dumb move. Fortunately I narrowly missed impaling myself horror-movie-like on a projecting stump when I face planted.

The historic town of South Park is well worth a visit while you're in the area.

And fortunately there are natural hot springs and other great sights along the way.

Crested Butte turned out to be Crested Bust. Perfect conditions on the evening we arrived, but the next day brought 15 cm of snow. So much for hitting the 401. That's for another trip. So we headed south to Gunnison where rain prevailed, and pushed on to Fruita. Ahhh... nice weather--finally!

While searching for a wheel repair in Fruita we met with Greg from DT Swiss who hooked me up with a free new rim and some other goodies for Matt. (Thanks, Greg!) The next day Greg took us for a classic loop and totally schooled both of us on his singlespeed. Turns out the sandbagger is a champion 24hr specialist and he knows every trick in the book. I was totally bagged from elevation fatigue, but even if I'd been in better shape I think Greg would've pwned us handily.

The cherry on the cake was riding Moab's Porcupine Rim in the full 50km loop right from town. Matt and I had done the ride together many years ago, but this time we were on better bikes and in much better shape. That was the fastest I'd ever ridden such technical terrain on a hardtail, just flying off stairsteps and ledges. We totally smoked groups of riders who were on full sussers. It was a truly Zen experience for both of us, and actually kind of frightening if I think about it. The thing is, on this type of terrain you really don't have time to think--you just have to DO.

That week most of our rides started in the 7000' range and went up. As I look at these pictures again, I often wonder why I don't live there, or even visit more often to benefit from all that brilliant terrain and altitude riding. Point is, you gotta take these opportunities in life to have the adventures you dream about. Maybe it's because you can't have it anytime that makes it so special.

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