3 days to play.
Eric had familial permission to take off and ride for a few days.
"I haven't had a riding roadtrip in 12 years. Make it worth my while."
In the ~month leading up to his arrival, we discussed whether or not to camp, where to camp if we did, options for 'weather days', and who/how many would comprise the right size group. In the end he flew solo, and it was an easy choice on where to take him first: Loma.
The Kokopelli trailhead is home to some fun and (f)rightfully popular trails, but the ones that see the most traffic were not our target for the day. Last time I rode with Eric was on his home trails, and, not knowing the lay of the land, I asked (begged is more like it) him to start me off easy, slowly working up to the harder stuff through the day. By his own admission he took me straight to the steepest and hardest stuff, humbling me repeatedly before I ever had a chance to find my feet.
I may be getting older and slower, but my memory hasn't faded with like speed: I returned the favor by starting him straight up Moore Fun.
Shown above is the 'easy' part of the crux--the roll out and manual off. Not pictured is the biggish up to get on, nor the off-angle and off-camber gap you have to cross to get to the off. He smoothed it on his third try. Impressive--especially for a guy that hasn't ridden outside of AZ in over a decade.
Moving up the ridge and working on some of the harder, lower to the ground finesse lines.
Dohp. Go back and try again…
Little Miss Manual took the day off work to join us.
Sessioning is the name of the game--if you don't make a move, you go back and try again until you do, or until you bleed enough to get a mulligan.
Past the first summit, arcing turns on a rare-for-Moore section of speedy and ~smooth singletrack.
Heading for the harder half. *Ruby/Horsethief section of the Colorado River below. It'd be hard and wrong to describe the weather we had as anything other than exceptional: bright blue skies, mid-60* temps, and never more than a puff of a breeze.
Somehow, despite the fact that we've spent hours of our lives at this very spot, we don't (that I'm aware of) have a name for this switchback. It is, in my opinion, much harder than it appears at first blush. Essentially you have to make a ~160* turn in the space of one bike length, and just as you're finishing that turn you have to wheelie across a small gap, onto a ledge, then power your back wheel up behind it. All this on ball bearings over hardpack.
Jeny smoothed it on her first (and second!) tries, while both Eric and I failed on our first two efforts. Eric looked harder and declared that he was just going to hop his wheel around instead of riding through it as Jeny had done. To which both Jeny and I called BS. Local rules = if it can be ridden clean, then hopping doesn't count. Or, put more simply, hopping is cheating.
Eric's response? "mutter grumble, grumble mutter". Or something like that...
And then, having seen how little skill is required is to hop it, he agreed: "That is cheating".
He went on to clean it a few times--once on his bike, and once on mine.
The video cuts out (above) just as he's saying something about 'good enough for proof of concept'. He'd wanted to see if he could take a different line on my (super short chainstay
) bike than he did on his own. Rather than put words into his mouth, I'll let him comment on that if he cares to.
One last try to really smooth it out:
Then Jeny went back and, after several missed efforts, got it a third time.
Moving up the ridge, almost to the top, with a couple of successive tough/odd ledge moves that Eric made quick work of.
Unfortunately, no pics of the descent of the W side of Moore--we were having too much chunky fun to stop.
Low down on Moore Jay joined the group, and continued with us up the Mack Ridge climb.
Nice views, and a gorgeous day, from on top.
Here's a small drop/alt line on the way down Mack. It looks bigger than it rides.
Eric, standing at the lip: "No way dude, that's a five footer--too big for me".
Eric, standing below it: "Oh. It's only about three feet".
Eric has the endearing and sometimes alarming habit of emoting *loudly* as he rides. The content of his emotion is largely unfiltered--apparently bypassing his cerebral cortex entirely en route from brain stem to mouth.
Jay smoothing the same line.
Eric on my bike, landing a bit easier on a slightly different spot.
Working down through the chunky bits of 'the new part' of Mack.
Did I mention it was a perfect day?!
Where Mack meets Lions we flipped it, climbing back up Mack. This section of trail is but a few years old, and most often gets ridden down. We like it just fine that way, but prefer to challenge ourselves by going back up it.
It is steep and tight and chunky, and there are several 'sequences' that range from tough to diabolical to not-yet-doable.
Jay on a tough one.
Jeny in her preferred state: Smiling and sessioning.
Although she's cleaned every part of this sequence at various times in the past, today was the first time she put it all together from bottom to top, no hops and no dabs. Her comment when watching the gif below: "It looks like nothing!"
As Jay can attest, it is *not* a nothing move. I've only seen it cleaned sans hops a small handful of times.
Eric got it on his 5th or 6th effort, emoting even before he was done.
The crux sequence of Mack is near the top, where the trail gets pinned against the wall but just before it pops through the capstone. We must have spent 30+ minutes here trying to put it all together.
Jeny on the first hard corner, and the one that gave she and I the most trouble.
Eric didn't get it right away, but soon cracked the code and could clean this corner almost at will before getting stuffed by the last, hardest move.
Back for another go:
This gif shows the first corner, which is way steeper and chunkier than the pics show, and which represents only 1/4 of the overall sequence.
Eric wasn't able to clean it bottom to top, but ultimately he *did* clean the top step--a move I hadn't seen done before.
Bolstered by that success, he joined Jeny and I back at the bottom and tried, twice, to make a clean go of the whole sequence.
You can hear here (tender ears alert!) how that went for him.
Still super impressive to make as many of the moves as he did.
Working our way back through the flowy bits of Mack.
One last kick before you top out and commence the fast, chunky, fun ride down.
We opted to blaze down the road and ride Mary's backwards en route to the Horsethief drop in.
Meanwhile, the light went from good to 'shazam'!
Like so many others, Eric had heard about and seen video of this spot, and wanted to give it a go. Perhaps it was the length and lateness of the day, but by the time he made it to the final stuffy crux he'd seen all he needed to see.
Always good to save something for next time...
Stay tuned--two more days to go!
Epic thread! We need more like this!
"An inconvenience is an adventure wrongly considered." G.K. Chesterton
I am glad you don't have a video of all the F bombs thrown that day. It would make an epic mix though...
Originally Posted by buddhak
3 days to play.
I needed a break. It has been a stressful year and I just needed some time on a bike. Talked it over with the wife and she said: how about this weekend? Done.
I emailed Mike and asked if I could follow his wheel around for a few days in a part of the world I had never visited. I am running so fast right now, I had no time to research rides, get maps, etc. I wanted/needed a local guide, but I preferred a local guide who understood how/what I like to ride. I am not God's gift to mountain biking, but I do have certain super powers: primarily cleaning technical climbs, and covering tech terrain at slow speeds on my bike. I am an extremely competent technical rider, but beyond that...sorta slow and prone to blow up on longer climbs, and longer rides.
I had my concerns about this trip. Sure, my technical skills were solid, that was all I had. My past year involved very few rides longer than two hours, usually rode once maybe twice a week. My rides were not the climbing sufferfests of the past either. Essentially, I am relatively out of shape compared to my past self.
I expressed these concerns to Mike and he said: "no problem, we will take our time and session stuff. You'll be fine."
My usual home rides are constantly on the clock, crammed into a busy schedule and ridden fast and furiously, throwing the bike into the van before diving back into the schedule. I was looking forward to not being on the clock.
I started to get sick on Tuesday, finished work Wednesday, packing quickly that night, randomly throwing way too much stuff in the van, and took off Thursday am. A long day of driving got me to Moab where I stopped to warm up the legs for an hour or so on the Klondike bluffs area. Rough, and somewhat random trails, but I liked it. Bonus was seeing Dino tracks.
Following this, I finished off the drive to GJ, had a burrito (what a treat to walk into a food facility with just me all by myself: order food, eat food, and leave!) I then crashed on Mike's couch only to wake up at 2am hacking and coughing, at which point I moved to my sleeping bag in the van until the am.
Originally Posted by buddhak
Man I feel like I was there!! Great stuff!
Live to Fish, now Love to Ride
Definitely lacking the words to describe the day...no really, nothing qualifies! Fantastic views, inspiring riding, a generous tour guide and miles of smiles.
As usual, the pics do no justice to the punishing techy riding required, but I am still grinning ear to ear as I relive the day through them.
Good stuff guys. The Moore Fun/Mack ridge stuff looks like a hoot. Right up my alley. I have" ridden" Moore Fun East to West but I don't remember half those moves. We were on the clock and didn't get a chance to session much, so probably pushed many of them. Gotta get back there.
Hoping there's a Three Days to Play v.2 at some point (sooner than ten years). Really sorry I missed this one. Thanks for the invite.
Looking forward to days 2 and 3.
I live about 20 min away... Mike is even closer; I'd say you have a good chance of it...even more if Eric can manage a couple days.
Originally Posted by KRob
FWIW...had a blast riding with Eric, Mike & Jeny...high quality skills abound.
Awesome work, looking forward to seeing the rest.
Love that trail. Oh, and marry me Jeny.
I have been trying to think how to put into words one of the top five riding days of my life, and I just cant do it adequately, so I will just run stream of consciousness here.
Awoke Friday after hacking all night, and shared some awesome French Press, Italian roast coffee (thanks Jeny!), with some sort of massive egg and sausage meal. Suitably stuffed, we drove to the Kokopelli trailhead. I was nervous. I was riding with some extremely strong, lifelong riders, and wondered if I could hang.
Mike hit me right away with the Entrance Exam Move above. It left me jittery. It is a scary move with some consequences for failure, and the run in is pretty dang awkward. I have ridden with Mike two times in the past and each time he has pushed me to up my game, but not pushed too far. I looked a couple times and gave it a go. With committment, it was butter except for a pinged rear rim. No flat, so I let it go and didn't add air.
Up we climbed up Moore Fun. I did zero planning on this trip. I didn't care. I didn't want to think, I wanted to ride. There is enough planning, leading, thinking, guiding when I am at home. I just....wanted....to....ride....without....thinkin g. Still, I have always heard of Moore Fun and is seemed a trail that appealed to my strengths, so I was glad Mike chose it. The climb reminded me a bit of Goat Camp in Phoenix, but a little more challenging. Not as hard or steep as the start of National Trail though.
I was quickly spit off the back, but everyone waited, and if I caught Mike and Jeny it was because they were sessioning some obstacle with their silly "no hopping" rules.
I had a great time. The weather was perfect. The views were amazing. The company was fun and challenging. The climb passed quickly and I got a call from Jay that he was heading toward us from the end of the trail.
Mikesee, JNCarpenter, and Enel. Three somewhat opinionated old timey 29inch board folks riding together...The end of the world as we know it. I had never met Jay and only know Mike through email, the boards, a couple rides, and a surgery. it was super fun to put personalities on the online presence, and the day was just getting going.
Mike and Jeny spit us both off the climb up Mack ridge, but again, we gathered around various tech stuff to session. The views...the views! Pics do no justice at all although Mike gives you a taste.
Then we started the climb back up Mack. This is getting long into the ride for a dude with my somewhat limited endurance....screw it, I'm going for it...and I did. Significant memories include eventually cleaning everything on the climb, but the insane four part crux move. All told, the group must have hurled themselves at that demon 50 times or more. I managed to get to within inches of the goal four times, only to by blocked by the last insane rock step up. Extremely loud F Bombs were plentiful.
I appreciate Mike giving me the opportunity to do a few drops as my local terrain does not afford much opportunity. I am decidedly uncomfortable in the air, but decided to sack up for the most part, and go into things at least pretending to be confident.
I really enjoyed myself toodling along Mary's enjoying the lower light and the views. Our final obstacle was the drop in to Horsethief I have heard/read about this section of technical trail for years and have wanted to try my hand at it. Going it, I was borderline wasted with fatigue. We looked at everything and I took a few runs at it. Currently there are two crux moves. I was able to get past the upper one a couple times, but could not find the courage to trust my bike off the second one. 30 inch roll into what looked like wheel stopping rubble. Eventually, I decided enough and walked it. This is a hobby dammit. Neither the mind (nor the body) were there.
We rolled back to the car on various and extremely fun, bermy, smooth trails just at twilight hit, and I was buzzed beyond belief. I left it all on the trail. Honestly, I climbed out of my mind, I was extremely on with the tech climbs this day.
We all had a nice dinner, and hit bed for the next day....again I hacked and coughed all night.
Originally Posted by buddhak
3 days to play.
Wow great shots Jeny! I want some of those. All with a phone!?
Originally Posted by buddhak
no, not with a phone. i had a small camera
why is this thread posted in 2 forums? it's kinda a hassle toggling back & forth, guess i will though as it's worth it. much envy over here of the awesome wilderness you guys get to play in
click on a picture she took. the stats will show, including the camera used
Originally Posted by Enel
oh, &, mighty fine riding
Originally Posted by buddhak
Originally Posted by buddhak
Despite waking late and getting out the door even later, we motored out to the Swell and were on our bikes directly. Clear skies, warm temps, light breezes--another perfect weather day on tap. Had I been offered the opportunity I don't know how I would have improved on the conditions we were gifted.
A little over an hour of constantly devolving dirt road riding delivers you to the start of the rock on Five Miles of Hell. Eric yo-yo'ed off the back for most of this, clearly having trouble getting his motor started. We were all tired from our chunkfest the previous day.
92% of the laps I've done on this trail have been counterclockwise. The one time I rode it clockwise I had such an intense gravity squall of a day that not only did I think the direction felt wrong, I was pretty sure I never wanted to come back.
But that was many, many years ago, and those I rode with that day were convinced that clockwise just rode better. Today seemed like the long overdue day to try it again.
Since we'd just ridden here a few weeks ago, with similar weather, identical bikes, and identical trail conditions, we had a near-perfect opportunity to determine if one or the other route really had an advantage.
Side note: Here more than anywhere else I find myself continually scrambling to the top of any errant knob or knoll for a better photographic perspective. I typically do this somewhat unconsciously, climbing and looking and looking and climbing until I find the scene that really grabs me. Then I twiddle a few dials, press a few buttons, and squeeze off a few rounds as my secondary subjects come into view. As they pass through the frame and continue on up the trail, I find myself not just alone but perched precariously in a place that brings my acute acrophobia to the fore. After a few intense, sweaty moments of sewing-machine-leg assisted downclimbing, I hop on the bike, motor to catch up, and not long later find myself doing it again…
I've not yet ridden here during (nor immediately after) rain or snow, and as such have no clear grasp of what happens to the traction in those circumstances. When merely sunny or cloudy, rubber grabs *this* rock like few other places I've ridden.
Pretty sure no one has ever fatbiked this trail. Pretty sure it can't be done.
Are we clinging tenaciously?
Eric spent the bulk of the day off the front, alone with his demons. Jeny and I sessioned as much as we thought prudent given the lateness of our start. As the ride progressed we casually discussed different sections of the trail, both rock and sand, climb and descent, and agreed on how much more rideable they seemed when ridden clockwise.
I've maintained for years that no one, no human, could ever ride this entire trail clean. Clean meaning with zero dabs. And while the handwringers in the audience might spend hours debating what the true definitions of 'clean' and 'dabs' really are, I'm content to leave it open because regardless of the words one wraps around the effort it's just never gonna come close to happening. Not just because of the deep sand, but because of the grade and relentlessness of the rock.
As we neared familiar territory we backed entirely off the pace and savored every moment. Sometimes that meant silence and serene smiles, others it meant intense, repeated effort.
Combine the richness of the rock, the light, and the company with the overall vibe of the place, and I simply didn't want to be anywhere else.
We dawdled as long as we could, often riding less than 100 meters before planting feet and re-gawking at the cloud pyrotechnics constantly morphing above.
We found Eric reclined in his minivan as the last red rays were replaced by the oncoming chill of night.
for the 5 miles of Hell (Heaven) yet, these photos...are the best yet
Wow! Looks like an amazing time!
Looks like an impossibly difficult trail, and beautiful too.
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