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Crested Butte 2005

July 1

The fifth annual Crested Butte Trip was the most complicated trip to plan so far. With eight people coming from three different states and some driving and some flying, timing and coordination was the key.

From LA, Eddy & Shanda make the 5 hour drive to Phoenix. In Phoenix, we take my 4Runner and gear and begin our journey. Unfortunately, a late Friday meeting for Eddy led us to a late start. We left Phoenix at 12am and drove north towards Flagstaff. On the way we could see the Northern Arizona brush fires all along I-17. At 3am, we arrived at Winslow, AZ and stay at a hotel.

From Chicago, Mike, Rex, John and Mark head west towards Colorado. This year the Chicago crew had a series of mishaps on their drive to and from Colorado. Within a few hours of leaving Chicago they were all fast asleep! The 4Runner decided that it’d like to drive on the shoulder and hit a mile marker. That led to a nice dent on the side of Mark’s 4Runner and bent rear rim on Rex’s bike.

July 2

Somewhere in Nebraska, Mark’s 4Runner decided that it didn’t want to go anymore. Apparently, the fuel gauge decided to fail and stay at 1/4 tank full so after hours of driving, the 4Runner ran out of gas. Luckily, the next exit was only one mile away. They pushed the car about 1/2 mile and then sent John to the gas station to get a can and some gas. Meanwhile, in Arizona, we were waking up and beginning our drive to Colorado. At the same time, Kevin was hopping on a plane from Chicago to Denver, where the Chicago crew would pick him up at around 4pm. Around 5pm, we arrived in Ouray, Colorado. Called, Switzerland of America, I had wanted to stop by here ever since I passed by it last year. We had dinner, took some pictures and headed for Crested Butte. In the meantime, the Chicago crew had picked up Kevin and were headed towards Crested Butte also. At about 8pm we all arrived in Gunnison at the same time and caravaned to CB. We got to the condo around 9pm in Mt. Crested Butte and had dinner. No camping tonight, as all the campsites were booked for July 4th weekend.

Town of Ouray

July 3

Sunday morning we ventured into town. We were suppose to meet a realtor to see some real estate in CB, CB south and Mt. CB. Our realtor was a no show, so we just walked into another realtor office. Prices in CB were really high, there were a couple new construction condos, condo conversions and lots available. After coming here for five straight years, we should have bought a property the first year we got here. There was a lottery for the Mountaineer condos, which started at $310,000 for a 445 square foot studio! Another possibility was buying a lot in CB south for around $225,000 and building a home on it. The Grand Lodge had condo conversions priced from $139,000 to $389,000. Those looked promising, but as a condotel, we weren’t sure what the cashflow would be like.

View from the condo

After lunch, we got ready for our first ride. It was Snodgrass, which is a relatively short ride from the condo. The ride was a nice acclimatization ride for us sea level people. Near the end of the ride, the clouds came and it began to rain and hail briefly. Some of us learned our lesson about rain and hail from 2002 so we immediately stopped and put on our arm and leg warmers and rain jackets. Those who weren’t present during 2002 continued to ride in the ride for a while without putting on more clothing and someone even didn’t bring a rain jacket!

Our group got split in the rush to get back to the condo. I was last with John and Eddy coming down the road, and unfortunately I had the keys to the condo! I believe it was Mike, Rex, Mark and Kevin who got to the condo first and had to wait outside. Eddy went ahead to catch up to Shanda and me and John were last. I’m not sure how long they waited in the rain until I got there, but Eddy had gone to the Resort Quest office to get another key to the condo by the time I got there.

July 4

This year our favorite trails were closed due to summer coming late. There was no 401, Dyke, 403 or even Teocalli. So we looked for some alternative trails and Hartman Rocks was suggested as a nice, but different type of riding. Hartman Rocks is located in Gunnison, CO which is a 30 minute drive from CB. The trails here were more like Moab and Fruita, but not as hot in summer.

As you can see, Hartman is alot different than the green mountains of Crested Butte. We didn’t have a good map of the trails so we just rode around and took trails as we came to them. After a few hours of riding we were sort of lost. Luckily, Mark had taken a picture of the trail map in the parking lot so we used the LCD screen on his camera as a map most of the way.

July 5

Today we decided to ride Monarch Crest. Some of us rode this trail last year but we never finished the complete trail. This time we were going to finish the whole trail, even if it was 25 miles. We reached the parking lot at 9:30 and dropped off the bikes and gear. Eddy and I took the 4runners to Salida to park them at our destination. We took the shuttle bus back to the parking lot. Monarch was certainly more enjoyable this time, riding in the summer, the warmth was better than snow.

In the early part of the trail, we came to a few large patches of snow. It was a very interesting descent, sliding down part of it. We took our time riding this trail which changed from above the tree line to forest to creek crossings. We had a couple flat tires, we stopped for lunch and before we knew it, it was 5:30pm and we came to a sign. It said we had 9 miles to go if we took the trail, or we could ride the road back to where our cars were parked. We figured we could easily do the 9 miles before it became dark since it should be mostly downhill. Of course, the trail wasn’t mostly downhill, it was a climb then a downhill then a climb.

At about 7pm the skies got dark and it got really windy. We got worried because we didn’t want to be on the mountain in the rain and the sun was beginning to set. Somehow, we got split into two groups, me, Kevin, Mike and Mark were first. Eddy, Shanda, Rex and John were behind us a few minutes. Some of our talkabouts were running low on batteries, we were low on water and I had the only flashlight.

This had the makings of a really bad night. Our main concern was just getting to the road before dark. We could not navigate the trails at night on bikes but we could walk them if we had to using the flashlight. Mike and I were going to go ahead and try to get to the car before dark, the plan was to get the car (which had another flashlight) and come back up the trail if we had to. So we lightened our packs, gave Mark the food and flashlight and headed off. Mark was going to wait for the second group to catch up. Fortunately, they were only 10 minutes behind.

Me and Mike came to a fork in the trail and according to my odometer we had gone 7 miles. That meant we had 2 to go! But the sign at the fork said 3 more miles! We broke out our trail book and it said that after the sign was a lung busting climb! Damn the sign, 1 mile is alot when you’re racing against the sun. Ok time to reset the odometer and start pedalling again. Ok, that book officially sucks, there was no lung busting climb, it was downhill. When we came to a hill, it wasn’t that bad, I don’t know who wrote that book but it was way off on this trail. Hmm, at the 3 mile point I still didn’t see any road, those signs are really off. At 8pm we got to the end of the trail. I check the odometer and we had gone another 4.5 miles! Mike, Kevin and I were finally at the road. I had the keys to my 4runner, but Mark had the keys to the other one.

At this point we were on a major road but still 5 miles from the cars. The good thing is that it was all downhill to the car so I took the road down, actually passing some cars on the road at 40 mph. I grabbed the car and came back to the trailhead. By that time Eddy, Shanda and Mark had reached the road. It was 8:30pm and pretty dark (look at the pics!). So this was our longest ever ride, 10 hours and 31 miles (36 if you include the downhill road ride). So the reward for a long ride? Pizza Hut of course!

July 6

After our long ride, we decided to rest on the next day. So on our rest day we actually set up camp at Lake Irwin cause we had already paid for and reserved a campsite. We also spent some time at a couple realtor offices looking at some potential home building land in CB South and around town. The properties in this small town have been appreciating so fast. In fact, one subdivision had a price increase of $50,000 on lots over the July 4th holiday weekend. The total amount of time we spend there was probably 12 hours. We actually took time and did some fishing and camping. Unfortunately, the one night we decided to sleep in the tents was really cold and Rex forgot his sleeping bag in the back of my SUV which Eddy had taken back to the condo. So Rex put on some warm clothes and slept in Mark’s SUV.  Later in the morning after a cold cold night he found out that one of Mark’s windows was slightly open all night.

July 7

Time for some easy downhill riding on Mt. Crested Butte. We bought some lift tickets to take us up the mountain. There were plenty of trails to choose from. Trails were marked like ski trails, beginner green circle, medium blue square and difficult black diamond. After a few hours of downhilling we went to the lower loop trails for a leisure ride.

July 8

So ends our 2005 CB trip with a quick breakfast and we parted to drive our separate ways home. The Chicago crew decided to go west towards Lake Irwin and then up towards I-70. However, I-70 was closed for at least an hour and they had to get to the Denver airport to drop Kevin off. So looking at the map they chose to take some local roads instead of waiting. As you can see from the pictures below, the local roads weren’t the best choice. Kevin missed his flight but did catch a later one on standby.

Lots of pictures here (some repeats from above)

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Mountain Biking in Sedona 2004

This was just a 4 hour day trip to Sedona.  I brought my bike and just rode the Bell Rock Pathway trail around Bell Rock. (This picture was not re-touched)  Sedona really does look unreal.

Here are just a few pictures from mountain biking in Sedona for a day.

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Crested Butte 2004

September 3rd
Could it be? More biking trips this year? And to all our favorite places. Moab, Fruita, Sun Valley and now, back to Crested Butte again! Now we’re getting even more complicated in the trip planning, in the past it was one start, one destination and one return point. But now, we have people coming from all parts of the country. The trip was possible because I’m now living in Phoenix, AZ and my SUV can hold alot of bikes. Nine, if I get that four bike hitch rack. So here is the plan, I go to California and pick up Eddy and Shanda’s bikes and bring them back to Phoenix. Eddy and Shanda fly to Denver from California on Friday night. Mike and Kevin fly to Denver from Chicago. They would rent a car and drive to Salida, CO on Friday night. I drive from Phoenix to Salida, CO on Friday morning meeting them there at 11pm. For the most part, this part of the trip went as planned. I got to the hotel at 11pm, the Denver riders arrived at 12am.

September 4th
Leaving Salida at 10am, we arrive in Crested Butte at 11:30am. We try to get our rental bikes from the Alpineer, but although we had reservations, they had already rented out our reserved bikes. Fortunately, they had other models that will be ready in an hour. So we leave and try to check in early into our condo. No luck there either so it’s off to town where they have a little street festival. We sit down for lunch and it starts to rain and rain alot. Did I mention it’s only 45 degrees outside? At 2pm we pick up our bikes and check into the condo. The forecast isn’t good, it’s suppose to rain all night. So there goes day one of riding.

September 5th
7am, we wake up and there’s snow on the roofs of the cars. It’s 37 degrees outside and we’re at 8,800 feet. Our plan was to ride Monarch Crest which is at 11,000+ feet. So we get on all our winter gear, the layers, arm & leg warmers, fleece, windbreakers and head up to Monarch Crest. There were at least twenty other bikers in the lot ready to ride. We shuttled one SUV to the end of the ride in Poncha Springs and left the other at the start.

The trail starts with a short climb on doubletrack, then there is a sign in book, a sign and a narrow singletrack signalling the beginning or the Monarch Crest Trail. This trail goes along the Continental Divide and climbs as high as 12,000 feet. The trees are all covered with snow and the ground with frost. This is our first ride in this type of weather. We can see the clouds as they are so low that we’ll eventually be riding in them. At the top all we saw was a big cloud!

We think that due to the weather, we didn’t get the great great views of the mountains. But nevertheless, the views were great, but different that what we expected. The trail was about 10 miles and consisted of mainly easy climbing and a short downhill on single track. The last two miles was downhill doubletrack with alot of jumps. We ended at the Marshall Pass and decided which way to get back to our car at Poncha Springs. We took the easy way back, 8 miles on a dirt road going downhill and then 5 miles by highway. The total ride was 30 miles.

More helmet camera video captures. Monarch Crest Trail

September 6th
Back to the 401 trail again. This will be the third time I’ve ridden it and the third time I’ve videotaped it. How can you go wrong riding this trail? So far, it’s the best trail I’ve ever ridden. We check out of the condo (It’s a short trip) and head for Gothic. We park the rented 4runner at the bottom of the trail and take my 4runner to the top. Today, it’s sunny and about 55 degrees. Certainly a huge change from yesterday. This is the latest in the year I’ve ridden this trail and the for the first time, there was no snow blocking the road. I guess we could have drove all the way to the trailhead. Each year, the trail seems to get shorter. The climb didn’t take long at all and soon we were at the top taking pictures and ready for the downhill. The trail was slightly modified at the top this time. Instead of a long straight climb, there were a series of switchbacks making the climb longer, but less steep.

So here are allot more pictures of the 401 trail.  Almost any picture you take on this trail will look good.  I made sure I got alot of video capture pictures because I noticed that in the past years we never had any pictures of the downhill. That’s because we usually just blast through it without stopping. This picture is my favorite.

More helmet camera video captures of 401 trail

One slight problem in this ride though. When we finished the trail, *someone* left the keys for our shuttle ride in the car at the top of the 401, so instead of driving back to the top to get our car, *someone* had to ride to the top and drive the car back. After that little mishap we headed back to town, did a little shopping, ate at Teocalli Tamale and left Crested Butte.

I headed west towards Durango while the others headed to Denver. The drive west on US-50 to Montrose, CO was beautiful. However, going through Ouray towards Silverton was a bit scary. The scenic drive on US-550 is not so scenic at night with no shoulders or guardrails. I got to Durango at about 9:30pm and the others got to Denver at 11pm.

September 7th
I left Durango at 9am and made it back to Phoenix by 4pm for my softball game. The others caught their early planes and were back home or back to work by noon.

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Sun Valley 2004

singletr2-lg.jpg

July 16th

Twelve people, two start points, one destination. Instead of Crested Butte, we headed to Ketchum, Idaho to see what the fuss about its singletrack was all about. From Chicago, a group of nine left at 10:30pm CDT in two SUV’s and from California a group of three (including me) left at 9pm PST. From California, the drive was four hours to Primm, Nevada where we stopped at Buffalo Bill’s, played Texas Hold’em for three hours, slept for seven, woke up and continued the drive at about 11am. In the meantime, the Chicago caravan drove straight through the night and were in Wyoming at this time. About eight hours later, we all met up in Ogden, Utah, a small city just north of Salt Lake City where we spent the night.

Now with the complete caravan of three SUV’s and 11 bikes, we were ready to head to Ketchum. Getting five bikes and front wheels on the rack was like putting together a puzzle, the bikes had to be in the correct order or the handlebars, seats and pedals would get in the way. Near the end of the trip, the guys had gotten the bike racking time down to ten minutes from twenty.

July 17th

The drive to Ketchum was a short 250 miles. We encountered alot of rain on the way there and unfortunately it was still raining when we arrived. We had a campsite reserved at the Easley Campground, about 15 miles north of Ketchum and we also had a 2 bedroom condo in town. Due to the rain, we stayed in the condo for the night. The weather forecast wasn’t looking too good, thunderstorms for the next two days and even if it ended, we thought the trails would be muddy and unrideable.

July 18th

How about a quick warmup ride?  In any attempt to get in a ride before the forecasted storms, we choose to do the Chocolate Gulch loop. We went to Formula Sports to pick up the Klein that Kevin rented.  The shop said that it should be a good day, the dirt should be the equivalent of fresh powder during winter.  The ‘Good Dirt’ book listed the loop at 3.8 miles so we estimated an hour for the ride. We parked at the trailhead at the end of Chocolate Gulch road and began to unpack the bikes and gear.  At this time we had our first mechanical problem as Mike’s rear tire was severely untrue. Later we discovered that one of the spokes was loose.  However, since the ride was short and easy Mike still rode the trail.  The trail began with a climb which was supposed to be 2 miles, but it seemed to feel longer.  Near the top we met two hikers coming the other way so we stop and let them pass. Of course, I was busy taking pictures of the mountains and failed to notice that one of the hikers was Eugene Levy of American Pie fame. I guess that satisfied our Hollywood star search goal while in Ketchum. Once at the top we took more pictures of the mountains and prepared for the downhill.  The downhill was fairly rocky and technical at the start but it became a smooth rolling trail descending into a meadow.  The downhill ended at the junction of Oregon Gulch and Fox Creek.

Helmet camera video captures. Below is the Chocolate Gulch ride.

Making a left at the junction we rode about a 1/2 mile when we met a hiker who told us we were going the wrong way on a one-way trail. . The easy thing to do would be to check the map, however due to a miscommunication we had left both copies of the map in the cars!

So we headed back to the junction again to see if we missed other intersections or read the sign wrong. Nope, we didn’t. According to the GPS and the vague memory map in my head, we were suppose to head left, but I did also remember that the Fox Creek trail was suppose to be ridden the other way. Well, going right meant doing the Fox Creek Loop which was 6.6 miles. And with the impending rain forecast, we wouldn’t be able to finish the loop in time. This one hour ride was beginning to seem longer… So me and Paul head left again and find out that we were indeed going the correct way. We found the North Fork Loop and began to ride back. The next fork in the trail was a hard right switchback continuing the North Fork trail, however we were headed back to the car so we radioed everyone to go straight, “Don’t do the switchback”.

After relaxing at the cars and waiting for the others to get back, we heard that Mike apparently “did” the switchback and kept going. John was calling out on the talkabout for him to turn around.  Paul and I headed back out on the trail to find them both as they both weren’t responding to our shouts on theradio.  About a mile in, Mike finally responded that he was at the North Fork / Fox Creek trail sign.  Apparently, Eddy had used his talkabout earlier and turned it off when he gave it back so Mike did not hear us telling him not to do the switchback, nor did he hear John calling him.  As for John, he had his radio on 2-5 and everyone else had it on 2-0, so we were able to hear him transmit but he couldn’t hear any of us. Also, during the extended ride on the North Fork, Mike had missed a log bridge and took a nasty fall into the creek.In the end we all got back to the car, about 3 hours later. If this seems like its alot to write for a 3.8 mile ride, well that’s because my bike computer was reading well over 6 miles (not including the wrong way and the north fork).  The truth was confirmed when we dropped off Mike’s bike tire at the bike shop, on their map, Chocolate Gulch was 6.6 miles.  Hopefully, this is correct in version two of the book, “Good Dirt II”.  The rain never came.  After lounging at the condo for a few hours, we went to the campsite and set up the tents.  We got the fire started and then it finally rained.

July 19th

Let’s try a shuttle ride, it should be easy if we drive to the top and then just coast downhill. At least that’s what it looked like on paper, look at the elevation profile below. The Poison Flat Trail was the name of today’s ride. So the plan was to have the people not riding today drive us to the top, then they take the cars and go to town and pick us up in a few hours, let’s say 3 hours. So we figure 4 miles of climbing and 9 miles of downhill, 3 hours easily! From the start, as soon as the cars left there was a fork in the road, well it was a 50-50 choice and naturally we chose the wrong one. We took the right road and rode about 1 mile in where there was suppose to be a another fork and a stream-crossing. Well, we didn’t find one so it was back to the start and the left fork. (Time elapsed – 20 min) This time about a mile up there was a fork and a stream-crossing. But, the sign that was supposed to be there wasn’t. I know,let’s check the GPS… Hmmm, the GPS is out of batteries so it didn’t map that last mile we rode. Since it was me and Paul up front as we are the map and GPS guys, I say let’s tell them that this is the right way anyway. Oh yeah, gimme your batteries from your talkabout since the GPS is more important now.

Helmet camera video captures from Poison Flat Trail

About 1 mile later, going up an exposed hill, JJ loses traction while climbing and tips over on the down slope side of the hill. Paul and I watch JJ’s bike go tumbling down the hill about forty feet. Luckily, the drop wasn’t too far and the bike was fine. Even more lucky was that JJ was able to unclip and not fall down with it. (Time elapsed – 1 hr)

At 2.4 miles, finally a sign! Warm Springs Trail #199, just like the book says. Now at least we know we are on the right trail. (Time elapsed – 1.5 hrs)

Ok, if the top is at 4.3 miles and we are at 3.1 miles, and we are at 7000′ and the top is 7900′ we got a huge climb coming! The climb did start gradually but it eventually turned into a steep, rocky climb which we all pushed over bikes up. A quick check of the GPS showed us only at 7600′ at the top. Maybe the book was wrong, we’re at the top, it’s time to take pictures. (Time elapsed -2.0 hrs)

After the pictures we began to head downhill but then we ended up in an open meadow, we look up and see the trail going up and up again!! e book wasn’t wrong. After some more climbing and push bike we are at the top, there’s no doubt now, the trail sign is there, the mileage is correct and the GPS says 7905′. (Time elapsed – 3 hrs) Now begins the 9 mile downhill! It starts with a semi-smooth cruise through beginning with a huge open meadow. Later on, it got more technical and rocky which resulted in an Eddy endo. The downhill wasn’t particularly fast but it felt long and we ended up at another trail head. Did I mention the 12 streaming crossings? Ok, it wasn’t exactly 9 miles, to be exact, it was 2.3 miles. So now we were at that 6.6 mile point of a 13.2 mile ride. Time check… 3.5 hrs, Mike, Christine and Jong have been waiting at the pick up point for 1/2 hour already and we’re just halfway! Well, we better pick up the pace. At this point we split up into a couple groups and rode at whatever speed we were comfortable with.

The trail from here was a steady downhill, but not one that you could do without pushing a pedal. It was a rocky singletrack with many stream crossings and semi-technical portions. Paul, Kevin and I got to the campsite at the end of the trail at about the 4 hr 40 minute point. The cars weren’t there so we rode down to the road intersection to find Mike waiting for about 2 hours. Eddy and Shanda were close behind within 10 minutes. The rest of the group pedalled in about 40 minutes later. So the total trip time was 5.5 hrs. It seems like we have one unscheduled 5+ hour ride on every trip.

July 20th

Let’s try the ridgeline. Yesterday’s ride was pretty good, but we spent about 6 miles riding along a creek bed with no views. So we went to the bike shops to see what they recommended. One shop recommended Adam’s Gulch and another Imperial Gulch. What sealed the deal was that Imperial Gulch was mainly on a ridgeline. Who cares that it was 10 miles and more climbing than yesterday! Plus the bike store guy said it was easier than Poison Flat Trail.

The ride began with a very gradual climb up some hilltops and eventually into the trees. It was a very uneventful climb which became a long long climb. At the 5 mile mark we reach a junction and take a break. The trail here has been widen by a bulldozer by the land owner. We can also hear animals in the distance, at first it was just once in a while but now it sounds like a whole bunch of them. Goats or sheep is our guess. After riding about 1/2 on the bulldozer trail, we finally hit the top and see the flock that have been making all that noise. We also figure out why the trail has so much crap, literally everywhere. A little more riding and we reach the very top where it looks like singletrack heaven!

This seemingly endless downhill took us from the high meadows, into the trees and through streams. With huge smiles on our faces with stopped a top another summit.

One slight mishap occurred when Kevin fell into the tall grass and he stood up quickly just as Rex was about to pass him by. This suprised Rex and caused him to fall off his bike. See the frame by frame below (click on the framesto see the video). The rest of the downhill was uneventful as we came to another junction at a fenceline, From there we took a left and made another climb and ended with another great downhill back towards the parking lot.

July 21st

The ultimate ride! Fisher Creek, according to the reviews online, bike magazines and book was the ultimate ride.  Located about 50 miles north of Ketchum, it was going to be a long haul to get there.  The fact that it was an 18 mile loop and based on our track record we figured probably 6 hours to complete it.  We thought about shuttling the trail to cut off some mileage but in the end we managed to ride the entire loop.

We drove up Fisher Creek road until we came to an open gate and parked our cars on the side. From there, it was a 5 mile steady climb until we came to a steep rocky road. This was the main climb for the trail and soon we were at the summit and the trailhead at 8100′.

From here began the first downhill. It was a little over a mile, narrow, fast downhill that had exposure on one side at all times.loop. This downhill ended at Warm Springs Creek. From here it was an easy 2 mile climb to the second downhill. Now this was the main downhill of this ride. At over 3 miles, containing switchbacks, thin singletrack, banked turns, meadows, bridges, this trail had everything. The video from this entire downhill is posted and is over 12 minutes long.

Helmet camera video captures from Fisher Creek Trail

We were grinning ear to ear at the end of this downhill. Little did we know that there was one more left. After another climb the trail began going downhill, we were expecting a summit to stop and regroup but we quickly realized that is wasn’t coming. Unprepared for this, I taped this whole downhill with my lens cap on! While this third downhill was good also, the 3 mile bobsled ride from before is clearly the downhill of the whole trip.

Once we made it down to the parking lot near Obsidian, it was a quick 2 mile ride up the highway and another 2 mile ride up the dirt road to car. Amazingly, we completed the longest loop in the shortest time, 2 hours 47 minutes.

July 22nd

It sucks to go home. Well that was it, another riding vacation ending. By 10am we packed up camped, checked out the condo and headed to town for a big breakfast at The Kneadery. After another hour of shopping, we began the journey back to our respective states.

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Las Vegas Nevada 2004

I never thought that within 20 minutes of the Vegas strip that there would be singletrack. But when you run out of money you need to find cheaper ways to spend time in Vegas and what better way than mountain biking! After downloading some maps of the trails around Vegas we headed there for a short vacation over Memorial Day weekend.

We stayed overnight in Primm and then headed straight for the trails the next morning. Suprisingly, there weren’t many riders on the trails for a holiday Saturday afternoon. Cottonwood Loop is a 14 mile loop that is listed as a beginner to intermediate. We parked at the first parking area and rode up the gravel rode to the second parking area and entered into the single track. We rode this course clockwise. Unfortunately, this direction gave us a gradual climb for many miles (which would have been a great downhill going the other way).


You can barely see the city of Vegas in the background

The trail was mostly packed singletrack with easy slopes during the climbs. The most technical portion was a series of rocky switchbacks descending from the red rocks. Other than that, the trail was just smooth riding. We didn’t see any wild horses, burros, snakes or scorpions. We completed the loop in around three hours and headed towards the hotel.

Open desert riding

Shanda on the singletrack

I wish I could write more and say we rode Bootleg or Red Rocks the next day, but spent most of the next day playing Hold’em at Luxor.

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Mountain biking in Orange County, CA

These are just some pictures and videos of mountain biking while in Orange County, CA. Eddy lives right next door to Whiting Ranch. We just ride from his house to the trailhead. We can do a quick after work loop in an hour or ride a little further to get a nicer workout.

These pictures are from Whiting Ranch, which is just outside the doorstep of Eddy’s house.

Crystal Cove State Park (El Moro) is about 20 minutes away from Eddy’s house. From the trail you can see the ocean and there’s some pretty nice singletrack here.

Crystal Cove State Park Video

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Fruita and Moab 2004

March 25th

This trip was the smallest so far as it was just me and Paul going. It’s alot easier to plan with such a small group (if you can call it a group). In fact, we didn’t have any plans, we just knew we were leaving on Thursday night at around 9pm and heading to Denver. I had traded in the Forester for a 99′ 4-Runner this year.

A week before the trip, our beloved Illini actually made it to the Sweet Sixteen and was facing Duke Friday night. We thought it would be nice if we could meet up with Lisa, an Illini alum also, in Denver and watch the game. That meant driving alot faster than we had planned, so we left Chicago around 8pm on Thursday.  At around 1am, we stopped at a rest stop about an hour east of Dubuque, Iowa. There were a handful of other cars and a dozen 18-wheelers parked along the side of the rest stop road also. It was raining, but the weather was quite warm. We cracked the windows open and those little window deflectors worked perfectly to keep the rain out and let the air in.

March 26th

7am, we woke up and noticed that we were the only vehicle left from the night before. Everyone else must have got an early start. This was going to be a long driving day, so we were on our way by 7:30. After a long, uneventful drive through Iowa, Nebraska and NE Colorado, we finally arrived in Denver around 5pm. Denver rush hour was mild and we found Lisa’s apartment by 6pm. With an hour to spare, we arrived at the ESPN Zone in downtown Denver and waited for a seat in the big screen room. After watching Xavier upset Texas, our name was called and we were seated. But when Deron missed his first shot badly wide left, I knew it wasn’t going to be their game. As you all know, our beloved Illini lost to the Dukies. Disheartened, we went home and got a good night’s sleep.

March 27th

We decided to stay in Denver for the day. We took a stroll through downtown Denver and visited the Red Rocks theater, did a little hiking and took pictures. As Saturday came to a close, Paul and I were trying to decide where to go next, Fruita or Moab. We decided to try to hit Moab early before the Jeep Jamboree week arrivals started to come in. So on Sunday morning, we headed out to Moab.

March 28th

We arrived at Moab around 3:10pm. Well, not acutally Moab but at an interection of 128 and Entrada Bluffs road. This road led to an off-road trail called ‘Top of the World’. This trail is rated a 3 on most 4×4 sites, meaning that four-wheel drive and a little drive daring was required. Having never driven this before, being a single vehicle, we weren’t quite sure if the 4runner was up to the task.

The dirt road was fairly smooth and we quickly covered its 5 miles to the Top of the World sign. From there, we slowly began to drive the trail. After about 1/2 mile in, we decided to park it and continue up the trail with our bikes. We were racing with sunset, which we figured was 6:00pm. There’s nothing worse than riding downhill in twilight with no lights. So, it was 4pm and we had about 5 miles with 2500 ft of climbing. So 5 miles in 1.5 hours and half hour to ride down, no problem right? Well, doing a long steep climb against time was not the best idea as a first ride on a vacation. At 5pm, we had gone alittle over a mile, so we decided to turn around and head back to the car. We reached town around 6pm and got a room at the Aarchway Inn and then headed to Pasta Joe’s for dinner.

March 29th

8am, time to get the gear and head out to the trails. Today it was Two Tortoise (again) and Day Canyon. Last year, we tried to do this ride and ended up doing Bull Canyon, only to find the trail on the way back. This time we would ride it the correct way and then head to Day Canyon and maybe to Dry Fork depending on how we felt. After passing the Gooney bird we made a left towards the Gold Bar Rim trail and parked. We could see Two Tortoise in the distance and we headed out towards it. A minute later we found ourselves lost in a small canyon that had no exits. After searching for a possible trail we decided to head back towards the car. There we found the problem, I guess we misread the sign that pointed our way. Instead of saying “Gold Rim”, it said “dead end”. We encountered a few off-roading Jeeps and watched them attempt to climb large boulders. Two tortoise was as we remembered it from last year, alot of ledges, decently marked trail and downhill to start. Once we arrived before the Two Tortoise rock, it was uphill back to the road. Of course, we did lose the trail a few times, as usual.

After exiting the Two Tortoise trail, we headed for Day Canyon. We encountered the dreaded sand, rocky trails and sandy hills. At some point everything looked too familiar, we realized that we went the wrong way. We were in Bull Canyon again!! That’s the second time we rode this trail on accident. After finding our way back, we made it to the Day Canyon overlook and had lunch. After lunch, we had a quick ride back the way we came to our car.

March 30th

We drove to Arches National Park and found out that the campground was full. So it was back to Aarchway Inn. We had to go get a campsite before we rode today. By 11am we had a site in Arches National Park, had our tent set up and ate breakfast. The trail today was Amasa Back. It was a 10 mile out and back so we figured it would be a fairly quick ride. The first drop at Amasa back is a left turn with exposure on the right. It was also rocky and sandy. After that, it was a fairly ridable, uphill climb. The Amasa back trail doesn’t really get you onto Amasa back which is a sandstone pennisula surrounded by the Colorado river on three sides. The trail takes you to the southwestern edge of it where the trail ends and becomes a large area of slickrock. We could not find any cairns to mark the way to the western edge. So we freerode and walked westward.

Eventually, when we couldn’t go west anymore, we ended up at the cliff edge and had lunch. Luckily, I had my Garmin GPS and had marked a waypoint when the singletrack ended. We used the GPS alot to find our way back to the trail and rode back to the car.

March 31st

Our plan was to head to Fruita today. Since we were at Arches National Park, we decided to go see some arches, and we saw many in our one hour short hike.

Fruita was about a 2 hour drive. Our first stop was the Colorado welcome center to find a place to stay. We camped at the Colorado River National Park. This is a fairly new park with all new amenities. It is also very close to town, in fact you could see the McDonald’s sign from the campsite. The next stop was the Over the Edge bike shop to get a map of the trails. After getting a map we decided to do the Book Cliffs area which consisted of Chutes n Ladders, Joe’s Ridge, Kessel Run and other various loops. The next day we would hit the Loma area which had Horsethief Bench, Mary’s Loop and Rustler’s.

April 1st

The Bookcliffs area is about 10 miles north of Fruita. The singletrack here is very smooth and narrow. We parked at the first parking area and rode Prime Cut Trail up to Chutes & Ladders. Prime Cut trail is a very nicely cut winding singletrack. Chutes & Ladders consisted of a climb and then downhill and a clumb and then downhill, hence its name. However, the last half of it was a steady winding singletrack through the gently rolling plains. Truly great riding, except that cows get the right of way and sometimes they don’t want to move. The last half of it was so fun, we rode Chutes & Ladders twice.

Next we rode Kessel Run up to Joe’s Ridge. Kessel Run has you weaving up and down constantly as you ride a small stream
bed. Joe’s Ridge is the ultimate top of the world experience. The trail rides the ridge line with drop-offs on both the left and right side.

The amazing thing about Fruita is that we did four trails that were all within a few miles of each other. All four trails were different and all four trails were the same in some way. Just an endless variety of trails here. Unfortunately, it was overcast this day and the smooth singletrack meant that we hardly stopped, which also meant no still camera pictures to post. The only pictures I have are from my helmet camera. Below is the top of Joe’s Ridge.

April 2nd

Our final day of riding and we were going to do the Loma area trails. The trails here consist of big loops with great views of the Colorado river. The terrain is closer to Moab, with rocks and ledges and double track. Rustler’s loop is considered a warm-up loop before going onto Mary’s Loop. Within Mary’s Loop is the entrance/exit of Horsethief Bench.

Rustler’s was truly a warm-up loop as it was a great easy ride without difficult climbs or technical portions. Mary’s Loop consisted of alot of double track in the beginning. Throughout the entire ride, the Colorado is too your left. Horsethief bench has a nasty drop in that is very technical and rocky. We did not see anyone attempt to ride this down this day. Once down onto Horsethief, we rode it clockwise and were able to stop and take pictures of the great views it had to offer.

After Horsethief, we continued and completed Mary’s Loop. Now it was time to head back to Denver.

April 3rd & 4th

In Denver, we stayed with Lisa again and somehow convinced her to see ‘Hellboy’. After a relaxing Saturday we left Denver at 9am on Sunday morning. Arriving in Chicago at 2am Monday morning. Our 2004 Fruita & Moab trip was complete.

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Crested Butte 2003

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July 4th
This year we had seven people coming on the trip. A couple of late decisions led to us searching for campsites to reserve on the 4th of July and the day after. After going through a dozen campsites on ReserveUSA.com we finally came across two that had space available.

The third annual trip to Crested Butte began later than usual. At 1:30am, we had the Subaru and the 4Runner packed with 2 tents, 7 bikes and the rest of the gear. The main difference this year was that we had top carriers and hitched bike racks so we had alot of space in the trucks for stuff. Unfortunately, we didn’t know that until we finished packing so we didn’t bring our chairs, fishing poles and extras.

At 7pm we arrived at our first campsite, Painted Rocks near Woodland Park, Colorado. After setting up camp we had our first camping dinner, Pizza Hut. The campsite was nothing spectacular, its main landmark were the large red rocks jutting from the ground, hence the painted rocks name.


July 5th
The next morning it was off to Monarch Park campground, This campground was just a stop before our final destination. Home of the famous Monarch Crest trail, this was the only campground with spots available this night on our route. We did not ride this trail because we didn’t want to start the trip on a 30 mile one way trail. This year there wasn’t a fire ban so we were able to build campfires which of course led to grilled everything. Our first real camp dinner consisted of steaks marinaded in mesquite. After the steaks we had some apples which we grilled also with various flavors. Ask Mark about the mesquite green apples.

This year we got more storage on top.

July 6th
The next morning we headed to our final destination, Lost Lake campground, about 18 miles west of Crested Butte. This campground didn’t accept reservations so we were trying to arrive early to get a site.

Luckily, there were two sites available when we got there. This campground was much better than Lake Irwin. The only drawback was that it was10 miles west of Irwin and it was 10 miles of winding dirt road. This site had bike trails leading around the lake and also a waterfall on the other side.

The camp host also warned us of a bear and cub that had been seen across the lake in the early morning. We went to town to shower, get groceries and eat at Cucinas. The campground at night was incredible, we had a ¾ moon that lit up the lake and mountains and the temperature was warm enough to sleep without a sleeping bag. I never thought that there would be a night where I couldn’t fall asleep because the moon was too bright.

July 7th
Finally, it was time to ride! The first trail of the year would be the Dyke Trail. We figured this would be a good break in trail as most of us had already ridden this a few times. We had our first mechanical problem here. JJ’s chain broke during a short uphill. We had 3 chain tools but no spare chains so we had to do a temp. fix. This was the first time we all used a chain tool. The trails this year were very dry, kicking up alot of dust as we flew through it.

Also on this trail, I unveiled the new helmet cam here. This helmet cam consisted of a Canon Elura 50 and an X-Jaket shell bolted to a new helmet. The video from this should be much better as it uses the camcorder lens (plus a wide angle adapter) and has digital image stabilization. Click on the video links to see the video.

During our nighttime dinner we had a mini adventure. One of our neighboring camps could not find their 6 year old boy. It was 9:00pm and getting dark and they were frantically searching the woods yelling his name. We split up into teams of two with radios and flashlights and began walking through the trails in the woods. Let me just say that nighttime hiking with flashlights is pretty scary. Of course, we’re pretty deep into the woods and Mark says to me, “Hey, remember about the bear and the cub.” They eventually found the boy. He had heard everyone yelling his name and got scared. So he snuck back into camp and hid in their tent.

July 8th

For the second ride, it was the 401 trail again. Again, it started with a long climb on the road to the trailhead and then a long climb to the top. On the road we had our second chain break. This time it was on Paul’s bike. Then at the very top, we had our third chain break, on my bike. My chain broke in two places but luckily, we were at the top of the trail so we temporarily fixed it and continued onto the downhill. We got very good at fixing chains. The weather was great for the 401. There was not a cloud in site, it was sunny and about 75 degrees. Since we were sick of washing dishes, we decided that the rest of the vacation, we would eat food that would minimize washing. So that meant hotdogs and hamburgers on paper plates, grilled over the campfire. At the top, we did tried our first ‘Matrix style’ photos in an attempt to show everyone else what the scenery was like.

July 9th
We had originally planned to do Teocalli Ridge today, but some wanted an easier trail to relax and rest. Initially, me and JJ were going to ride Teocalli ourselves, but the long road to the trailhead and the fact that we forgot to bring a bike pump dashed our plans. So we returned to Strand Hill where everyone else was planning to ride. Unfortunately, 100 feet into the ride, my chain broke again. This time we saw that my derailleur hanger was bent and cracked so it was the end of riding for my bike. The rest of the guys rode Strand Hill, while me and Mark headed back into town to shower and eat. Strand Hill was described to me as a mini 401 trail. Again, a long climb, but wellworth it for the downhill.

July 10th
We were thinking about riding Deer Creek today, but the drive to the trailhead on a dusty 4WD road at 5mph did not sound appealing. We stopped in at the Alpineer to ask if the 403 trail was open, and it was! Driving to the trailhead of the 403 was an adventure in itself. It was a long upward climb avoided rutted, holes and other SUVs. The top of the trailhead was almost 11,000ft. John and Rex weren’t riding so they would pick us up at the bottom of the trail. According to the maps, the 403 should have been all downhill from here, but it turned out to be uphill until about 11,400ft. At this point, we had a great view of the mountains. We rested, took some pictures and then went onward to the downhill. This trail wasn’t as long as the 401, and it mostly went through the trees, but it was a very fun trail to ride. It wasn’t too steep or too technical, it felt just about right.

July 11th

Well it was time to pack up the tents and leave for home. This trip seemed pretty long. Maybe it was the seven straight nights of camping, but we were ready to head home. But first, we had to stop and eat at the chinese restaurant in Eagle, CO. We have stopped here on the way back the last two times, and they actually remembered us! On Saturday morning we arrived home and only another 355 days until we go back!

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Moab Utah 2003

March 29th

7am, I wake up at Mark’s house with half of the gear already packed in the Subaru turned Toyota roof rack. We’re already late since we were suppose to leave at 6am. Like last year, this only had four participants, myself, Mark, Mike and Paul. Mark and Paul were last minute additions and sporting their new full suspension bikes. So after packing the remaining things Mark and I set out to pick up Mike and Paul. The plan was different this year because although we had four guys, we only had three drivers. So we attempted to pack lightly to enable us to place a full length sleeping bag in the back. Our packing attempt was successful and we only used up 1/2 of the cargo area in the 4runner. We learned last year that while putting 4 bikes on a 4 bike hitch and driving it 1200 miles, that bike parts will bounce on bumps and sway with the wind. Unfortunately, we also learned that 4 bikes next to each other bouncing for 1200 miles will scratch each other and put deep gouges in the frame, tubes, shocks and headsets!

So this year, we were prepared! We purchased 12 ft of pipe insulation from Home Depot and wrapped all metal parts touching each other with them. Then we bungied the bikes together so they bounced around as a unit. It was a success as no bikes were scratched from transporting them, during riding however is another story. So for the first 12 hours, Mike drove from Chicago to Nebraska. Mark took over and our first real memorable event of the trip came at around 12am. This is when we realized that we were almost out of gas. The yellow fuel light came on as we were on a stretch of I-70 just west of Denver. This stretch has no towns, let alone gas stations! To preserve the gas, we coasted through downhills and gently pushed uphill. Finally, after minutes of blackness in the surroundings with no exits and only snow, we saw our savior sign, “NEXT EXIT – GAS – LODGING”. I don’t remember what town it was but we just filled up gas and got a hotel room next door for the night.

March 30th

The next morning it was my turn to drive. Although my driving duration was short, I had the honor of driving through a snowstorm on the curvy hilly highways of Colorado. What is amazing is that one hour later when we were out of the mountains, it was sunny and warm! We finally reached Moab at about 4pm and decided to camp at the Arches National Park. The campground here is spectacular! There are 53 campsites, all either have a great view or are embedded in between huge rocks to give that arches feel. When we arrived at the site and we looking for a campsite we noticed these two guys waving at us so we waved back. On the way back through the campground, they were waving again, walking towards us and gave us the peace sign. They looked puzzled when we drove by. So we just called them the ‘gay’ guys since we had no idea what they wanted. After we found our campsite, which was about 3 sites away from the ‘gay’ guys, we began to set up the tent. It was then that Mark noticed another 4runner, same year and same color, with a roof rack on top and four bikes on a hitch rack. This 4runner was identical to ours. I guess these are the guys that the ‘gay’ guys thought we were! Now that explains it, we hope. I would love to add a picture of our campsite here but the truth is that in camping here for four nights, we do not have a single picture of the campsite, an arch or the view! You can see a glimpse of it in the video below.

March 31st

All I can say was, it was a cold night!! The low was mid 30’s. We woke up and cooked breakfast and began reading through the Mountain Bike Moab book by Lee Bridgers to determine what trail to ride. After our fiasco from last year (Crested Butte Dyke Trail) we decided to do a trail marked as easy. This trail was called the Hurrah Pass, an 18 mile out and back on 4WD road. The Hurrah Pass trail ends at a pennisula overlooking the canyon that we just rode up. We rested and had lunch here and enjoyed the mostly downhill ride back to the truck. There wasn’t really much to this ride, two creek crossings, a spring, some petroglyphs and a really good tan! Afterwards we got back to the campsite and had mac and cheese for dinner.

April 1st

(Side note: a new addition to my tech-geek collection of toys is the Garmin Rino 120. This is a combination FRS radio and GPS receiver. It also has the ability to store 8mb of USGS map data and record tons of trip data). Ride number two was suppose to be Two Tortoise Rock. To get to the trail head we had to drive the truck up the side of a canyon and down into the canyon. This ride itself was adventurous as the 4WD road was a single car width only and any slip would have given us a quick 200 ft trip. We parked and began to ride on a 4WD road. This trail consisted of a very sandy 4WD road and some rocky spots. It wasn’t all very fun. As we rode uphill we were awaiting the rewarding downhill ride later. After one and a half hours we had only gone four miles! Eventually we ended up in a canyon and the trail suddenly ended! That wasn’t right because we were suppose to be riding a loop. This is when the Rino 120 helped us. Looking at the track that the GPS drew, it did not look similar to the trail on the map.

For a moment, we were lost. But then flipping a page forward revealed that we had inadvertently rode the Bull Canyon trail instead of Two Tortoise! Luckily we only had to backtrack two miles to get to the intersection on the map. The two tortoise trail is an absolutely great trail!

Beginning from the top of a hill, we could see two tortoise rock in the middle of the picture below and the trail leading off to the right. At this point we guessed the rock was about 1.5 miles away. From here, the trail was almost completely downhill. It was a rough 4WD road and filled with rock ledges and drop offs. It took us only a few minutes and we were right under two tortoise rock.From there it was more ledges and some rock stairs and then a steep uphill back to the car. Since we were tired we decided not to cook and just go to a restaurant for dinner. We went to Poplar Place for some pizza. When we got back to the campsite, the tent looked funny. Yup, it was blown down by the wind slightly. A few stakes were pulled out and we just had to put them back in. One of the tent poles was actually bent by the wind!!

April 2nd The ride today is called Prichet Canyon to Hunter Canyon Rim. Listed as an 11.7 mile loop with an .8 mile portage at the end, it sounded easy enough. We were thinking of riding Two Tortoise again if we got back early! The first part of this ride was just sand and sand. It wasn’t very fun but as usual we were climbing first and downhilling second. It was very windy today with gusts up to 45 mph. Don’t want to be on a ledge when that happens. This ride basically starts out riding in Prichet Canyon. Then eventually you climb up the canyon and end up riding on the rim of Hunter Canyon. This portion of the ride had awesome views, especially looking down into the canyon while on the edges. What we didn’t know was that the 0.8 mile portage was greatly understated in the guide book. In fact, after we completed this we went back and reread the guide which says, “The portage at the end of this ride is a real headache and I hesistate to describe it in any detail for fear I’ll just confuse you more… Don’t get frustrated and just jump. Realize that the last bit is simply up to you. Have faith.” How did we not catch that when we picked this trail? The portage is really hard to describe, but here are some quotes during the portage…”There’s no way this is a 4×4 trail. Let’s check the book. Oh yeah this is the singletrack at the end” “This is the portage part right?”. “Where’s the trail?” “Try to find the caims (markers left by others to show the way, usually three rocks piled on top of each other)” “Hey there’s the road where our car is parked! (pointing down into the canyon) “According to my GPS that road is 900 feet below us!” “How do we get down there!” “I guess we keep walking along side of the canyon” “Guys this is a dead end, go back and look for another trail” “How far down is that? Do you think we can jump down that?” “I wonder if my bike will break if I toss it down there and then jump”. Two hours later and an incredible hiking with bikes journey we reach the road. We’re not done yet, there’s still a two mile uphill ride and to top it off my rear derailleur is broken so I end up walking my bike back to the truck. 4.5 hours later we’re back to the truck. Time to cook? No, it’s restaurant time again! Tonight it’s Pasta Jay’s for some carb reloading.  The video has some scenes of us carrying our bikes along the edge of the canyon.

At about 9pm when we got back to the tent, we found out the wind had blown it down again. This time the tent poles completely snapped and three stakes were pulled out of the ground and there was sand in our sleeping bags and clothes and it was 40 degrees! It took us about 30 minutes to jury rig the tent back up and to empty our sleeping bags of sand. It was so close to being hotel time! After getting the tent back up we tried to go to sleep but the tent flapping all night and the fear of collapse kept us awake all night.

April 3rd

Our last day of riding and we saved the most famous trail for last. It was finally time to do Slickrock again. We attempted to complete this trail last year in July but it was just too hot. This year, the weather was cloudy, high in the 50’s. We already decided that we had enough camping so we packed up our stuff and checked into the AArchway Inn before the ride. The slickrock trail is about 13 miles roundtrip. I don’t know how to describe it except that you basically and riding on very sticky (in

bicycle tire terms) rock, going up and down incredible angles and not losing traction.

This trail was crowded, meaning you actually see other riders, alot of them, we bumped into a few tour groups and probably saw about 50 riders on this trail. In contrast, we saw 4 on Hurrah Pass, none on Two Tortoise and 5 on Prichet Canyon. There is a point of this trail that is just back luck for us, last year Mark got the flat tire coming back and this year Paul got chain suck at the exact same place! Then there’s the incident that gave the nickname ‘nipple boy’ to someone. I won’t say who, but ask one of us about it!After completing the trail it was time to look forward to the nice hotel room, warm shower and nice bed! Dinner tonight was at Eddy McStiff’s. (When only cooked dinner twice on this camping trip).

April 4th

The last day is souvenir day where we get the stickers, the t-shirts and whatever else to remind us of the trip. By 1:30pm we were on the road, stopping to take a picture of the highway sign and then the 1200 mile ride home. One final stop in Eagle where we ate at the best Chinese restaurant in a small town along the side of the highway in Colorado. 23 hours later, we were back in Chicago.

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Crested Butte 2002


July 3rd

This annual trip turned out to be a little different than last year. By the morning of the 3rd, the crew dwindled down to 4. Since John was in Vegas, he would fly to Denver and we would pick him up from there. This left us with 3 drivers and 1 SUV to get us to Colorado. The first mishap was when Mark forgot to put the pin in the bike hitch rack. After driving a few minutes, he noticed his bike wasn’t there and later found it dragging on the ground.

Luckily, at the time, his bike was the only one on the rack. The only damage was a bent rear wheel. Once we got the bikes on the rack and made sure the pin was in, it was off to Colorado. We left at 10pm with Mike driving the first leg.

July 4th

By 2am we were in Iowa and I took over the piloting from 2am to 4:30pm. It was during this time, I told Mark that his truck can only go up to 100mph on downhills due to the drag imposed by the big green monster on the roof. I think we covered 200 miles during that time, but only got 12 mpg. Mark took over the driving from 4:30-6:00. We arrived at Mountain Park campground around 2pm. At this time we found out that there was a statewide fireban in Colorado. Oh well, looks like no campfires for the entire trip. We also found out that we had electricity at our campsite! The bathroom was also very very clean. In fact, this was the neatest campsite I’ve ever been to. We set up our tent and then it started raining, so we took a 3 hour nap in the afternoon. At 6pm, it was time to drive to Denver to pick up John from the airport. Denver was about 1.5 hours away. The trip was uneventful and ended up with us eating at Chili’s around 11pm in Fort Collins. We reached our campsite at 12am.

July 5th

It was a quick 2 hour drive to Rocky Mountain National Park. Since I had originally planned for a group of 10, I had reserved a small group campsite suitable for 15. Well, guess what, we had so much room at this campsite! The only thing about camping at RMNP, is the threat of bears and mountain lions. We couldn’t leave out any food at anytime. You couldn’t even wash dishes or brush your teeth without dumping the water into a drain. There was a specified wash sink that actually flushed and a bunch of steel chests to store your food. We actually didn’t see any bears. We had the luxury of camping near a group a people who must have been on some religious retreat, we just called them, the cult. We had to endure bugles, trumpets, guitars and singing in circles. However, to help drown out the sound we had Paul Oakenfold and Mark’s truck speakers (until the ranger told us to turn it down).

July 6th

In the morning we took the drive throught RMNP to see the sights. With our handy Etrex GPS we were able to see what altitude we were at. I think our highest elevation was 12,100 ft. We also passed the Continental Divide and the headwater of the Colorado River. Then it was the long drive to Rifle, CO. Along the way, we stopped off at a roadside store to purchase some jerky and one of those small bears carved out of wood. (Note: according to the guy selling me the bear, he had a recording deal and was headed to Cali, I had him sign the bear just in case! So be on the lookout for Aslan!).

While looking at the map of Colorado and the location of Rifle, we noticed it was pretty close to the Utah border. A quick calculation revealed that we were 180 miles from Moab, so we decide what the fuck, let’s go. We don’t need to see the stinkin waterfalls in Rifle. Click here to go to the Moab 2002 webpage.

July 7th

Finally after 4 days, we arrive again at Crested Butte. This time without reservations we were worried about finding a campsite at Lake Irwin. But, we quickly found out that with the fire ban, camping just isn’t very popular in Colorado right now. Only about half the campsite was full, so we had our pick.

July 8th

Our first ride would be the Dyke Trail. At about 10am, we headed to the trailhead. The ride was just as I remembered it. The fast downhill portion which quickly toppled a few riders in the first 200 feet. I guess the terrain is alot different than Slickrock. After 30 minutes of riding we came to the infamous log and branch of 2001, where Paul did his flying endo. We stopped to take pictures and recreate the scene. All the climbs and pushbikes were all worth to arrive at the promise land of continuous downhill. Judging from last year, it took us 20 minutes to complete this. This year, with my helmet camera and GPS, I would be able to map it to find out exactly how long it is. The downhill was a little more technical than I remembered it. We did stop a brief moment after a crash, but we all arrived unscathed. By my calculations, It took us 9 minutes and was 1.3 miles. I guess that means we averaged 8.7 miles an hour.. We must have ridden very slow last year!

Going back to camp, we decided to take the trail instead of the road. Most trail maps show the Dyke trail as a 21 mile loop. So by my calculations, the Dyke trail was only 6 miles, so the road back must be 15 miles. (We later found out it is only 8 miles). While riding back uphill, the skys turned gray and it began to rain and hail. No problem since we all had raingear, we just put it on and waited for it to pass. We eventually found out that it wasn’t a passing storm and we couldn’t wait it out. The trail became muddy and the stream crossing were worse.

During the voyage back, one of our riders (I won’t say who) became cold and couldn’t make it. We think he had hypothermia and went into shock. At this time we sat under a large tree and covered him with our rain ponchos and sent someone to get help. About an hour later a doctor came running down the trail and he brought dry warm clothes and helped the person walk the rest of the trail.

Me and the others carried his stuff and bike back and to our suprise as we crested the hill to the trailhead we saw about 15 people and 5 vehicles there with our friend talking to the EMTs. We made it into the Crested Butte News. So we ended up back at camp around 8:00pm. It was a long day so we decided to go to town and shower and get dinner. Unfortunately, after the shower all restaurants were closed, it was around 11pm. On the way back we picked up two people who’s jeep was wasn’t working and drove them to a yurt beyond Irwin Lodge. Mark’s truck go a real off-road workout as the road was pretty much full of holes and off camber. At midnight we finally got back to camp and we were too tired to make dinner so we skipped it.

July 9th

Well this was suppose to be a scheduled ride day to Snodgrass or 403 but because of the ordeal from yesterday we decided to take a rest day.

We went to town and found our soon to be favorite lunch spot – Cucina’s. This is a deli style restaurant that caters to people biking and hiking. Most of the stuff they sell can be packed in a backpack and brought on a day trip. The macaroni and cheese was our favorite, topped off with Creme Brulee’ (What a great post ride meal!). One interesting note was the owner asked Mike if one of us was the guy who had hypothermia yesterday. News sure travels in a small town!

After lunch we decided to scope out our future trails. We drove to Mt. Crested Butte pass the Snodgrass trailhead and to Gothic. We were going to the Trail 401 beginning but found out the road was impassable due to the annual block of snow that is usually melted by now. So we parked and took a walk to Emerald Lake.

We never did see the beginning of the trailhead, we turned around because the weather began to look bad. On the way back to the end of 401 we got to do some more off-roading in Mark’s truck. Then it was off to an afternoon matinee of MIB II.
July 10th

Time to get on our bikes again. Today it’s the Snodgrass trail, which is considered an easy ride. We drove to past Mt. Crested Butte and parked at the eastern trailhead. This trail is on private property and is closed for grazing during the Spring and Fall. The beginning of the trail is a long uphill climb. Once near the top you have two choices, to either go all the way to the top of Snodgrass Mountain or to ride down the west side of it. We chose to ride west. This trail is not very technical and offers smooth riding down the west side. Once at the end of the trail you take the dirt road back to Mt. Crested Butte town. This is a nice long downhill where you relax before the climb through town on the main road. This whole loop took us just under two hours so we were done by noon.  It was Cucina time again for lunch and then back to the threater for a matinee of Minority Report.

July 11th

Today was our final ride for the trip and we decided to take the ‘famous’ 401 trail. We drove to the same place as the day before and parked the truck. We walked the bikes over the snowpatch and to the beginning of the 401. From there on, it was an uphill ride to the top which was over 11,000 ft. Eventually we reached the beginning of the downhill. The uphill trek took us 1 hour and 40 minutes. The downhill was definitely worth it. The ride has everything, long cross country in the wildflowers, switchbacks, rocky sections, wooded areas and a short creek crossing at the end. This is the best trail I have ever ridden. Click here to see a 3-D Google Earth view of the 401 trail. We were at the mid-point of the 401, we heard the rest of the trail wasn’t that great but three of us would ride it while one went back to get the truck. Mike rode back uphill to get the truck, and we began the rest of the trail. By the time Mike brought the truck back to us, we were only halfway through the second half so we cut it short and came back to the road at the next branch.

Once back in town, it was back to Cucinas for lunch and back to camp (We ran out of movies to go watch). Back at camp we learned that part of the site would be closed due to sick trees in the area. We would have to move camp to another site, so we decided to pack up and leave.

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