Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Time for Desert?

It's been a long, cold, windy, and snowy winter here on the Front Range of Colorado, as well as most of the Midwest.  Trying to get ramped up for race season is difficult when nice riding days are few and far between and trails are non-existent.  Luckily, one of the perks of living in CO is that you're never more than a half days' drive to amazing riding destinations with warmer temps.  Usually this means traveling into the Utah desert.

In the middle of February every year there is a gathering of like-minded folks down in St. George, Utah, called Camp Lynda.  It is hosted by Lynda Wallenfels, professional mountain bike coach with more racing accolades to her name than most of us could dream of.  It is simply a way to get together with other riders/racers and put in 3 days of solid riding.  Choose your own speed, weaponry, and distance each day.  For me and the rest of the Colorado faithful, it was an amazing weekend of high quality training on superb desert trails in warm weather.  Just what we needed to get the system up and running again!

I headed down in the bright green Sprinter van with Jeff and Karen, loaded down with bikes and gear. 

Thursday cruise on the Pivot Mach 6. Photo courtesy of Jeff Kerkove
I brought along the 92Fifty' Pivot Mach 6 demo bike just to play around on, and play I would!  The first day was the longest distance-wise.  I rode my Felt Nine 1 through 60 miles, almost all of which was desert singletrack.  Day 2 we rode the True Grit Epic course, which is about 50 miles.  I chose the Mach 6 for this day, just to play with and see how it could keep up with all these fast dudes on their XC bikes, pushing an XC pace.  Turns out that a bike with 160mm of travel and 27.5 wheels can keep up with the best of them!  I was amazed by how well it pedaled, and that it never felt like a "big-bike" until the trail turned down.  I was able to clear sections of trail with ease that I wouldn't have on my XC bike, yet push the pace all day, finishing with 55 miles of pure singletrack!  Day 3 was a trip out to Hurricane to ride the IMBA Epics Hurricane Rim trail loop.  In leiu of how well the Mach 6 did the day before, and also because I wanted to get the best training in possible while on this trip, I decided to give it another go for the 2nd day in a row.  Pushing a big heavy bike around for big days in the saddle is one of my favorite ways to train!  The loop on day 3 involved one of the most fun sections of trail that you'll ever ride; the JEM trail.  You climb out to it on awesome flowing singletrack, then descend JEM all the way to the Hurricane Rim overlooking the Virgin River.  It is the same trail that I rode 12 times in one day at 25 Hours of Frog Hollow, and still never got tired of.  The Mach 6 was truly at mach-speed carving the perfectly crafted butter smooth trails.  Me and Kyle Stamp decided to have another go after we finished the first 25-mile loop, while our friend Ben Jones hit the road for the drive back to Socal.  Instead of doing the entire loop, which involved the rugged rim trail, we just blasted another round of JEM, then headed back to the highway for an easy exit.  We still logged 46 miles and 4 hours of ride time.  That makes an even 100 miles in two days on the Mach 6!!  If I could only own one bike (and racing wasn't a priority) it would have to be the Mach 6.  A bike that changes everything.

Waterfall chunk.  Photo courtesy of Jeff Kerkove

Photo courtesy of Jeff Kerkove

All in all, it was an amazing weekend of riding and goofing off in the desert with friends.  None of us wanted to leave the warm weather of southern Utah, but had to considering work and taint rash.  We logged about 170 miles of trail riding in 4 days.  Not too bad for early season training.

After an itch starts, you gotta keep scratching it, right?  Only about 10 days after returning from Camp Lynda me and the 92Fifty' crew were headed out again for a 3-day riding binge in Moab.  We would get there Friday afternoon, and leave Sunday.  At least that was the plan.  Me and Kyle Taylor had to make a little addendum, being the addicts that we are.  The highlights of these 3 days were the newly crafted Hymasa singletrack, which allows you to climb up Amasa Back on beautifully flowing singletrack instead of the old 4X4 road, and the also-new Captain Ahab trail.  On Sunday Jeff (the event coordinator) finally showed up.  It was the most beautiful day yet, about 70F and sunny, and we were all high on life even after 2 days of hard riding.  Instead of taking off for home on Sunday, as Jon and Anthony would do, Kyle and I decided to hang back for another day of riding.  We hit the Loma trails near Fruita on Monday afternoon for another 2 hours of glory time!  4 days, ~160 miles, Vitamin D!

Loving my Norco and new Ergon GE1. Photo courtesy of Jeff Kerkove

Amasa Back overlook. Photo courtesy of Jeff Kerkove

After returning from Moab it was only another 10 days before the 92Fifty' crew will be back on the road again.  The 92Fifty' crew, Ergon folks, and other racing/singletrack deprived souls will be headed to St. George on March 15 for the NUE Series opener True Grit Epic.  Cheers.

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