This year, my parents decided to get away to somewhere warm and wonderful for Thanksgiving – Moab. We rented a house, and prepared to ride our faces off! Eric, Rob’s cousin joined us for some great times.
With my brother’s dog Nala in tow, we visited Corona Arch.
Where can you go bike loamy pine forest trails, rocky scrub brush trails, and chunderry slickrock all in the same continuous ride? Moab of course. And I don’t think we could have chosen a better weekend to do it. The fall colors were on fire, the river crossings were on point, and food never tasted so good.
Teaching mountain biking at Dartmouth was one of my most rewarding experiences. Giving other people the means to escape the craziness of a college campus in a constructive way that also encouraged them to pass the knowledge along was really empowering and fun. After college, biking every day in Jackson was great, but I really missed teaching skills and leading rides.
When we moved to Park City, I was excited when an opportunity to lead biking came up. White Pine Touring sponsors Thursday afternoon group rides, and I volunteered to lead the beginner group. If you are ever in Park City on a Thursday during bike season, join us! They are really fun rides.
My group was pretty damn good for beginners, and that was due in some part to the fact that the ride has been adopted by the Veteran’s group Continue Mission. I have never met a group of better people. Not only have many of them survived the injuries and shock of war, but they have made the best of returning home. Many of them know people who died overseas, but worse, many know people who have committed suicide after surviving war. I don’t feel like I can fully appreciate the depth of their experience, but I am glad that I can share the skill set to enjoy an endorphin charged, beautiful, and accessible sport.
“Do you think you are up for another ride?” Rob asked me this, but I could tell from his eyes that he wasn’t up for another ride that day. I know I sure wasn’t. We had ridden all of the trails on the mountain, including the new trails on Pony Express Ridge and Creekside – some of the best rides that I have done all year- but all I wanted to do was lie down and eat everything in sight. We settled for elk burgers and ice cream, but were eager to get back to the trails the next day.
It wasn’t like I hadn’t ridden in Steamboat before. Just last summer Rob and I rode a ton of trails, including the truly epic Divide Trail, where you get to end the trail at the base of the mountain for a cold beer. Before that, I had explored most of the in town trail network with my brother, ending each foray with a swim in in the Yampa River.
But Steamboat keeps upping the ante. There were miles of new trails on Howelsen and one more epic loop we wanted to check off the list. We managed the Howelsen lap the next day – the NPR (no pedaling required) downhill was fun and flowy with confidence inspiring tabletops and supportive berms, but saved the best for last.
Fish Creek falls is a special place. On river left, a bunch of epic winter sidecountry runs come down. For those powdery turns, you need to really know where you are going, else you end up at the top of a hundred foot cliff and a very expensive evacuation. The lower section of the falls itself is run at high water by only the most extreme kayakers. On river right is a hiking trail that happens to be open to bikers. I think that is the best way to describe it. In order to access the trail on a bike, Rob and I biked up the ski area, a serious endeavor, as the winding road had just had a new layer of soft gravel put down making most of the switchback impossible. Once at the top, we traversed along the Divide Trail, and took the turn towards the Falls Trail.
The trail started off innocently enough, if not a little overgrown, then a few technical sections started cropping up. Pretty soon the technical sections at the top seemed easy compared to the ones we were hitting now. Hikers started cropping up once we were in sight of the river, wondering how in the world bikers had managed to get up there. One exclaimed, “That takes balls!” as Rob rolled down another steep slab of chunder.
Towards the falls the exposure got a bit much for me, and I spent a lot of that section hike-a-biking, but the views were wondrous and easier to look at when I wasn’t giving my handlebars the death grip. The ride ended with a spin from town back home, and even though we were ending another Steamboat visit, we hadn’t even touched the new Buff Pass Trails. Just another reason to keep coming back!
Spring is a great time to get after trailwork. It is easy to see drainage issues, the ground hasn’t become summer cement and there aren’t any bugs! Last fall Rob and I did a bunch of work on the Skyline Trail in Jackson, and now that the snow has melted, it looks like we are going to have another go at it!
How do you get involved in trailwork, you ask? A lot of trailwork, you can do without any tools. See a stick on the trail that is waiting to eat someone’s derailleur? Throw it out of the way! If there is a small tree across the trail and you happen to own a silky saw (the best things ever) and carry it with you (I do in the spring), you can make easy work of it. For drainage and larger trees, it is best to find the facebook group that covers that section of trail and make a trailwork party out of a section. Everyone loves cold beers and getting their hands dirty making the biking world a better place. Plus the next time you shralp that section of trail, you will just know. Trust me.