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  1. #1
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    Dave's Hairy Monster.

    Day One.

    The Omnivore needed to head north for more educatin', but wanted to get one last glimpse of the landscape he plans to call home before excusing himself for a year. He asked if I had an idea on how we might immerse ourselves into said landscape, see a few sights, and maybe camp a few nights under the stars.

    An idea? Yeah, I had an idea.

    Packs loaded, chains lubed, weather websites perused and tires aired up, we rolled out--and straight to a pharmacy. I didn't catch exactly what it was that ailed him--he mumbled something about 'atrocious gas' and 'hairy palms' as he ambled off inside.


    We stowed some emergency calories in our bellies and on the bikes, then saddled up and followed Dave's GPS track through and out of town.


    For those that haven't gotten on the GPS program yet, I gotta tell ya it has really evolutionized touring. You can still opt to take maps and cue sheets if you like, but they've become largely superfluous (not to mention much slower and more cumbersome) once you're accustomed to your GPS unit. A glance at the screen every few minutes tells you if you're off the designated route, and intermittent waypoints (created, in most cases, by the route's mastermind) point out confusing intersections, good potential campsites, and, most importantly, water sources. While I refuse to allow a cell phone to bring unwanted chaos to my life, I'm no luddite. GPS is not perfect but the pluses far outweigh the minuses and touring is infinitely improved by it.

    Dave's route wound us immediately south into Arizona for the better part of the afternoon. Scenery included oodles of red dirt, oceans of red and buff colored rock, a deep, dark blue sky, and many spiny things. For company we had each other and the wind.




    TO decided that the trail wasn't entertaining enough, opting to add some excitement with the first of (what seemed like) 70 or 80 flats.


    The coolness of the day meant that we hadn't used much water, but Coyote Spring looked too appetizing to skip. The hundreds of bees surrounding it would seem to agree.


    That same coolness also lent a certain flavor to the low desert: In my mind it felt much higher. Dunno exactly why.


    A stinger of a climb up the Honeymoon trail awaited us near suppertime. TO flatted again just as we started ascending, leaving me free to grind the lower stretches and plod the upper stuff at my preferred slothlike pace.


    Riding together up top, we roller coastered almost due north toward familiar ground. Although the trails of Gooseberry Mesa are not a part of the route (blasphemy!), just sensing their proximity put a little extra pep in my step.


    The golden hour found us cruising the swoopy sweetiousness of the J.E.M. singletrack as a waxing 3/4 moon floated ghostly over Zion.








    We rolled into Virgin at dark, topping off our water and onion ring stores at the one-horse tourist trap up the road. The steepness of the ensuing Smith Mesa climb was nearly negated by the perfect-for-climbing-in-the-dark temps and the more-than-adequate-for-riding illumination of the moon. Atop Smith Mesa we called it a night, unfurled our sleeping gear, and passed out.

    This was day 1 of 6. Stay tuned--much more to come.

    MC
    Last edited by mikesee; 10-25-2009 at 10:47 AM.

  2. #2
    MTB B'dos
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    MC, you definitely live the life Great post, excellent pics, thanks for sharing.
    One day your life will flash before your eyes, will it be worth watching??
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  3. #3
    Expert Crasher
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    Great post! What's your Lenz setup? 4" Leviathan?
    Happiness depends more on the inward disposition of mind than on outward circumstances. Benjamin Franklin

  4. #4
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    Mike, I like your more-subtle-than-usual post processing on these. Looks like a fantastic adventure! Keep 'em coming!

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by dinoadventures
    Mike, I like your more-subtle-than-usual post processing on these. Looks like a fantastic adventure! Keep 'em coming!
    Thanks, I think, for the compliment?

    Perhaps it was the light and scenery that was more subtle? I didn't really do anything different--a little cropping, an occasional sepia filter, and an even more occasional tweak of exposure. Or maybe my monitor settings have changed?

    Dunno.

    MC

  6. #6
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    Day Two.

    The wind continued unfettered all through the wee hours, but we scarcely noticed through the fatigue of our first day out. In short, sleep was very, very good.

    Up and rolling shortly after sunup gave us superdelicious warm light to ride in, and through, on our way north.




    A good chunk of the day was spent riding near to and inside of Zion National Park. You can't "see" Zion from any road, but still--this kind of preview didn't suck.


    Because of strict no-bikes-on-trail rules in the park, as well as all of the private land surrounding it, we spent the lion's share of the day riding dirt and paved roads. We knew that Dave had agonized over where and how to send the route, and figured that the options must have been slim indeed. We had to get north somehow to tie into the alpine trails that we hoped would follow, so we enjoyed the views and tolerated the roads.








    The higher we climbed the more the wind prevailed, and the more evidence of full-time wind existed.


    TO seemed not to mind the soul-crushing roads quite as much as I did. Truth be told he nailed it on the head when he said, "You have an exceptionally low tolerance for 'em". I guess I just don't understand why anyone would choose to ride a mountain bike somewhere that a car can be driven. So limiting, so uninspiring, so lacking in challenge and, more importantly, fun. A seaweed fueled break, complete with micro-nap, gave me the gumption to get back on the bike and unwind more not-so-skinny.


    Kolob Reservoir provided another welcome respite, as well as water to get us through the rest of the day.


    Above Kolob we climbed out of the red rock and into lava underlaid aspen groves.




    Not a single cloud blighted the sky all day. We looked *hard* for 'em, fearing the incessant wind would bring snow to end our trip early. Not one.


    Above Cedar City.


    The GPS track led us onto the "C" trail, and the best riding of the day immediately assaulted us. Wall ride!


    Arriving in town at sunset left us little choice but to stop for the night. The ensuing road climb up Cedar Canyon is narrow, twisty, and long, and people drive fast on it, none of which sounded appealing to us in the dark. We sprung for a forty-dollar room and indulged in a hot mexican meal at the burrito joint next door. Then, of course, some bad TV followed by blessed sleep.

    More to come.

    MC
    Last edited by mikesee; 10-25-2009 at 10:51 AM.

  7. #7
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    Great Stuff Mike thanks, Keep'em coming

  8. #8
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    Really, really nice photo work Mike!

  9. #9
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    Awesome. I love your pics of these long exploration rides. Thanks!

  10. #10
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    Inspirational, as always.

    As for converting others to the GPS, can I ask what you do about powering the damn things? On a six-day tour, mine would grind through--literally--handfulls of batteries, so it's never seemed a viable touring option for me.

    What's the work-around?

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Val Garou
    Inspirational, as always.

    As for converting others to the GPS, can I ask what you do about powering the damn things? On a six-day tour, mine would grind through--literally--handfulls of batteries, so it's never seemed a viable touring option for me.

    What's the work-around?
    Well, I wasn't so much trying to convert folks as give them a reason to look into it. I know very few people that own GPS, and of these few have any idea how to do anything other than power it up. I wish that I had learned sooner, and I suspect there are many others in that same boat.

    I had a battery issue with mine (it ate 'em like candy) until I turned off the compass feature. Batt life literally doubled just with that one change, and navigation was unchanged--you still follow the track just as you did before.

    To answer directly, on some trips (high summer) I use rechargeable NiMH AA's and at most I'll need one set every ~20 hours of GPS use. That's ~2 days of riding on many of these trips. In colder temps I use lithium AA's, which last 50-60 hours of ride time. So on this trip, we rode for ~6 days, and I swapped batts twice, and the last set is still in there with hours of use left. Hard to beat that.

    Cheers,

    MC

  12. #12
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    I have been using my Garmin for short rides and touring for about a year. The only time I don't use it is on road rides. When you're (seemingly) lost in the woods and it's getting dark fast, GPS is hard to beat. It has also saved me from a snowy night in the woods while deer hunting.

    Like MC, I use rechargables as well, with ~2100 mAhr battery life. I just keep some extras in reserve.
    Too many bikes, not enough time.

  13. #13
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    Great photos as always, Mike.

    Kosmo and I are looking forward to riding with you, tomorrow. I rode his Sultan today while he was on his Superfly 100, for 29.5 miles on Bookcliffs trails. (Sections near the lots were too crowded, but most was fine.) Good times. Tomorrow he'll be on the Sultan and I'll be on my frightfully slow 26er, but I expect you and he will be able to challenge each other if you see fit.
    This computer system is not intended for use in the operation of nuclear facilities. -Mac

  14. #14
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    fantastic photos. Please keep them coming.

  15. #15
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    Day Three.

    Waking up with Al, and learning that it was dang cold outside that motel room door!


    We dilly dallied until the sun was pretty high, then started working our way up the canyon.

    Locally we call it chamisa. Nomenclature aside, this stuff is hardy!


    The first ~90 minutes of our day looked a lot like this. Nice grade, nice temps, nice light.


    I *did* mention it was cold, right?


    Leaving pavement was a relief, made even better by turning quakies and tacky trail.


    This pic has everything--action, intensity, bling, mystery, and...

    ...Red Vines?


    Three days running the sky looked *exactly* like this. Not a single contrail, much less a cloud.


    Artsy fartsy leaf shot, cleverly disguising (flavoring?) the waters of Lundell spring.


    Now I'm not naming names here, but someone in this photo has a problem that over the counter meds haven't been able to solve. No report on whether the prescription stuff has worked any better...


    The number and attitude of these downed trees (and the ones visible ahead) suggested avalanche, but it was hard to see where the momentum came from. Aliens, perhaps?


    Most of the VRRT was easily rideable with great flow through gladed groves and open meadows.


    Trailwork happens. Thanks!


    Cold overnight temps gave way to purrrrrfect mid-day riding conditions. With the exception of a bit of lingering wind, a guy would be hard pressed to ask for better than what we got.


    I'd been toting my packable fly rod from the start, hoping to put it to use in providing a meal for us somewhere along the way. I envisioned stumbling onto a pile of spawning brookies once on Boulder Mountain, but that was several days away and here we were, today, with access to a lake fulla rainbows and no schedule to keep.


    TO was game to nap while I played with the fishies. I asked a few lakeside old codgers (you know the kind--sitting in their favorite lawn chair, 6-pack cooler on one side, tackle box on the other, line in the water with bobber bobbing, "I'd rather be fishing" or "Ask me about my grandchildren" or "John Deere" on their ball caps) if they'd had any luck ("Not really") and if so, what the fish were hitting.

    To a man the answer was a disgusted and confused (as if the answer were so obvious that even the local Democrats knew) "Powerbait".

    Shoulda known...

    We were back on the trail (skunked!) after 15 minutes spent untangling monofilament, courtesy of gusty winds. Didn't even *see* a fish...

    But the trail we rode back onto, 'twas veddy veddy nice.


    Ascending switchbacks, micro-tech sections, roots, rocks, and even an occasional downed tree to hop. Without a doubt the VRRT was some of the most fun and interesting riding we did.


    Some pretty OK views too.


    Almost full...


    Near the end of the VRRT we dismounted the bikes, walked a ways out into the woods, then set up camp. Tarps strung between trees, bags unstuffed and pads inflated, water heated, meals rehydrated and eaten, teeth brushed, et cetera. Then kindling was gathered, wood collected, and fire struck. After a time, aspen and spruce transformed into glowing embers. Conversation ebbed and flowed, problems solved, new ones discovered, then they too were solved. Ducking the smoke, leaning away from the heat of a newly added log, subconsciously moving closer as the pile burned down.


    Living, plain and simple.

    MC

  16. #16
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    Nice photos, as always.

    I'm not a GIS professional, but I play one at work. That, combined with my geology background has made me feel like an idiot with consumer-grade GPS. Most of that is being unfamilar with the software, and I haven't really rolled up my sleeves to learn it yet. I finally picked one up this year, partly for recording rides but mostly for river trips. Another part of it comes down to not liking to navigate from a matchbook-sized screen. I understand what you mean by seeing in a glance if you're on the track, though.
    "Back off, man. I'm a scientist." - Dr. Peter Venkman

    Riding in Helena? Everything you need to know, right here.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee
    Arriving in town at sunset left us little choice but to stop for the night. The ensuing road climb up Cedar Canyon is narrow, twisty, and long, and people drive fast on it, none of which sounded appealing to us in the dark. We sprung for a forty-dollar room and indulged in a hot mexican meal at the burrito joint next door. Then, of course, some bad TV followed by blessed sleep.

    More to come.

    MC
    You should have given me a holler Mike, I live within a couple of blocks from where you were staying.

  18. #18
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    Inspiring stuff - particularly over here in the muddy/wet uk! What length fork on the Inbred btw?

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by GreenLightGo
    Great post! What's your Lenz setup? 4" Leviathan?
    Yep, 4" Lev with a 120 Reba. Come to think of it, I don't think I have any pics of the complete build yet, despite having it for ~6+ weeks now.

    I'll try to rectify that later in the week.

    MC

  20. #20
    Harmonius Wrench
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee
    Yep, 4" Lev with a 120 Reba. Come to think of it, I don't think I have any pics of the complete build yet, despite having it for ~6+ weeks now.

    I'll try to rectify that later in the week.

    MC
    Must ber yer XC/racer boy bike what with that QR front fork there.

    Nice pics! Thanks for all the effort to post these.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Guitar Ted
    Must ber yer XC/racer boy bike what with that QR front fork there.
    There be strange things afoot with that fork, hence the QR. But you probably already guessed that...

    Def-o-netly the XC bike. 120/100, no thru-axles, custom bars and bags, friendly gears, etc... Pretty much tailor made for all day (or many days) in the alpine.

    Once I'm done with the TR I'll try to put together a BR with all the details.

    MC

  22. #22
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    Very nice mc. I really have to do some trips next year. Have all winter to plan.

    Another battery saver trick for the GPSr is to turn the screen/page to something like the Trip Data page. Only displaying numbers will help because the map page is always redrawing the whole page.

  23. #23
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    So is the Reba on the Inbred at 120?

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Clink
    So is the Reba on the Inbred at 120?
    Si.

  25. #25
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    Soooo is it run with lots of sag? Wondering how it affects steering as frame is set up for 100mm.

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