Thursday, April 16, 2015

Inspiration lies thereabouts.

In the smile of a dog, reflected leaves in a rippled pool, the twinkle of a lover's eye.










In wood on rock, disneyland in the desert, learning to trust the downstream lean.











In faith in friction, dependence on gravity, trust that rubber will stick to rock. 

















In remembrance of puppybreath, light diffused through petals, the scent of rain on a spring sidewalk.







We don't always know from whence inspiration will come.







We just know that it does.




Wednesday, April 8, 2015

It can, and it is.

5 years ago I wrote this:

If you consider yourself a mountain biker, and if you haven't ridden a bike park in the last year, you really need to look in the mirror and ask yourself why not. Aside from the thrill-a-minute nature of the riding that is evolving within these parks, it is so easy, so fast, and yes, so fun to up your skill level in the span of a few hours. 

Fast forward to 2015 and the nearby town of Montrose went and blew everyone's minds with the progressive decision to approve, finance, and build a whitewater park on the Uncompahgre River.




Along with Greg and Skippy, I've made the ~hour drive down there thrice already this month.






And I swear I've learned more about boat control in those few hours than in the past 4 years combined.

See?




The water we're playing on (ahem, in) would be in the Uncompahgre River regardless, drawn from two different reservoirs and being delivered to irrigate this arid valley.  Quite an enlightened move for this little crossroads town to think so far ahead.




By contrast, our home of Grand Junction has both the Colorado and Gunnison Rivers coursing through, with guaranteed (and much larger) flows year-round, a huge outdoor-minded community, and a substantially larger tax base.  And they won't even talk about this kind of thing.  "It can't work" is the basic gist of how that monologue has gone.

Note to Grand Junction:  It can work.  It is working.  

Greg summed up our thoughts best, in a mock letter that he added to each time he slid back into the eddy to catch his breath:

"Dear Grand Junction: I'm moving."

Friday, April 3, 2015

Mind melt.

It's been 80 degrees in Colorado.  For weeks.

In March.

The appropriate response seems to be:



Real snow never happened.  The little bits that did come are distant memories, ephemeral moments much like the wildflower season that has just begun and is likely almost over.  Or the runoff that'll sputter out just as it gets going.




Meanwhile, as we inch closer to a hot, dusty, desiccated summer, the temps *now* are nice, and the spring winds have not yet kicked in full force.

Which means it's time to ride.




We aren't the only ones who've noticed: Our backyard loops are inundated with crowds.  




Hard to blame folks for wanting to ride here.  The particular blend of terrain, light, and weather are after all why many (raises hand) settled here to begin with.  But the sheer numbers of people loving these trails to death now is hard to understand.  And still the local bike shops and trail advocacy entities beckon and entice more and more to come.  

Two words: Cash cow.

Four more: When is enough, enough?  

How much like the Front Range do we need to become before more than the current not-vocal-enough minority stands up and demands that we stop the insanity?




A heady question that few are asking and no one is answering.




So each weekend as the crowds stream in from east and west, we quietly ease out of town to our last remaining private stashes.  Places where we can still ride all day and see, hear, only the sounds of our own tires and voices.  Peaceful places with not-yet-sanitized trails, without signs pointing the way to the obvious.  Without bags, and piles, of dogshit proliferating like some new form of well-watered flora.










Access to many of these places is, thankfully, guarded by private land.  It won't always be that way, so we savor it now while the singletrack is still single and there is no 'scene' at the trailhead.  Because there is no trailhead.







Wear.




Dab.




Doink.




Daniels.




Detritus.




Dirt Wizard!




What we love about riding is not necessarily the riding.  It is some intangible, inexplicable combination of being outside, being able to move across the dirt and beneath the sky, in ways that we've learned and are still learning, and will hopefully always be refining.  It is like some primitive dance that we discover anew each time we participate.  In the movement is the magic.







Crowds do nothing to enhance the experience, nor does a trail that becomes easier (through legislation or ad hoc sanitization) every time you visit it.

We hold these truths to be self evident, but we are not the demographic that They are listening to.  All evidence that I've been able to see, sense, or discern points to the fact that They are aware of us, but they'd prefer if we just kept quiet and eventually went away.

That way they can get a McDonalds, Starbucks, and Conoco at every trailhead, and maybe even a S'leven at a few of the major trail junctions.

Someone's gotta pay to keep sanitizing these trails.  They aren't going to pave themselves.




Meanwhile, we'll keep heading to the hinterlands to do our thing.







As long as dirt and rock and sun and sky still exist, we'll continue to carve our wending, narrow, often non-sensically challenging routes into the earth for some future race to discover and wonder at.






Someone needs to.






Sunday, March 22, 2015

Transitioning.

“Life is a garden, not a road. 

We enter and exit through the same gate. 

Wandering, where we go matters less 

than what we notice.”


― Kurt Vonnegut



Our winter was but a shadow of it's normal self, but it was winter.  Impatient humans that we are, before one season's ended we're ready for the next.

So it was that we drove away from our own little slice of heaven and headed for the Sonoran desert.




We had reason to both celebrate and take some time off, and given a choice Jeny's first (and 2nd, and 3rd) preference would always be to bikepack.




I'd ridden a handful of trails in the desert north of Oracle, but had never been able to complete the loop that Scott raves about.  We set that as our primary goal for this trip.




Into the Box.




Secondary goals included catching up on some rest, and sleep, and being outside somewhere wild and beautiful each day.




I failed miserably on the sleep part (as I almost always do) but the rest was easy given where and when we were.







The elusive Area 52.
















Although we poked around the edges of A52 a fair bit while searching for the route, and the exit, we felt that we had scarcely scratched the surface of the riding to be done on this formation.










More miles of shandy jeep roads than I care to cover in a day led us to a few miles of wash bashing and then, finally, onto Ripsey.

Greg had been here a week earlier and had forewarned us that the poppies were 'out', and we were ecstatic to arrive with afternoon light and some gas left in the tanks.













The entire climb of Ripsey is challenging, with a few exclamation-point switchbacks to keep you honest.










Honey light and sumptuous breezes kept us in the saddle longer than maybe we'd planned to ride that night.  It was hard to stop, so sweet were the views and temps around every next corner.













Eventually we carved out a little home amidst the succulent sentinels and slept the sleep of the exhausted.







Somehow the flora and illumination the next morning were even sweeter than the night before.










Mid-day temps sent us down to the Gila River to re-up on water, and then, laden heavily, we began the climb into the Gila Canyons in earnest.




Largely mellow grades prevail and the tread is wide and non-technical enough to allow you to take in the unfolding grandeur.  Occasionally, a steep stinger would require that we burn a match or two to stay on the bikes.







Difficult to put this climb into context with words.  It just keeps going and going, not merely up but *in* to the heart of the canyon system.  And I'm not sure you can get a sense for how expansive this system is from anywhere other than on the ground, slowly crawling your way up it.







Just shy of sunset, tired, sore, sunburnt and recharged, we closed the loop back where it had begun 3 days previous.




Pre-production Surly 29+ tires were my choice for the trip, and proved far more comfortable and adept than expected or even hoped for.  So much so that I started, and finished, a drawing for a chassis to better exploit them while climbing away from the Gila River.  Stay tuned on that.

My bike looks lightly loaded, and in truth it was if you discount the 5 liters of water in the frame bag.    Double secret punishment training, or something like that...




Thanks for checking in.

MC