Saturday, November 24, 2007

Moore please.

There's a trail near Loma called Moore Fun. It's a short trail--maybe ~4 miles from end to end. It runs roughly east to west, and can be ridden in either direction. It consists, basically, of a two-level climb to a false summit, followed by a false flat to the other summit. Then a two-level descent to the other end.

The above is 100% true and can be verified by anyone that's ever ridden it.

It also tells you precisely nothing about the trail.

And the fact is that words can't do it justice. I could call it a 'tech trail' and light bulbs would go on over a few heads, but tech means different things to different people, so it's still not enough. If it means anything, when friends or industry types come to town and want to be shown something technical, very, very few of them are thankful when I take them there. Typically they're only thankful to be done with it.

The climbing is steep, rocky, ledgy, and often off camber. The rock is usually dusted with baby powder, and the hardpack is always coated with kitty litter. While climbing, you're frequently along edges where you can't help but to notice consequences for blowing the line. Big consequences. There are stopper rocks in all the wrong places (wrong if you want flow, right if you like chunk), followed by mandatory burst moves where zero momentum can be brought in.
This trail has been eating my lunch since it opened in the late '90's. I've had some great days on it, coming very, very close to cleaning every move. I've had some brutal rides out there too, crashing, bleeding, breaking bike parts and limping home happy that it wasn't worse. And the reality on Moore Fun is that no matter how good of a tech rider you are, the good days and the bad ones are never far apart.

Take yesterday for example. I started from the east and had made it to the top of the first summit without a single dab. First time that's ever happened. I didn't dwell on it, but I couldn't help but to notice it: zero dabs. From the first summit to the second is less than 1/2 mile. I dabbed three times in that distance, then once more on the way down the other side. Dammit. At the west end of the trail I decided (based on waning daylight) to simply turn around and climb back over. Essentially, I wanted another shot at it.
On the way back up I stopped counting after 6 dabs. I went to pieces, basically.

FWIW, one of my neighbors refers to this trail as "Moore Walking". If you're a beginning or low intermediate rider without significant confidence in your skills, that's what you'll mostly do on MF--walk.

Dabs are just expected on this trail--they simply mark the spots where concentration has lapsed. It's interesting to note that ~75% of the time you're riding this trail the Interstate is visible immediately below you. Because of the focus required to simply stay on the bike, very, very few people ever notice the highway is even there.

I'm a terrible tech rider so dabs are just a given for me. But even when I've ridden with (or near, as the case may be) superstar riders on this trail, it is a bit heartening to see that they sometimes/often dab as well. I don't wish the dabs upon them (well, not *all* of them...), rather, I try to watch their lines, their timing, and the way that they burst or deliver the power to get up onto, over, or off of certain moves. I try to sponge off of their ability to pull myself out of my intermediate rut.And it HAS helped. Over the past few years I've gotten several of the moves that stymied me for years before. But none of it is ever a given. The combination of the pitch and the trail alignment virtually guarantee that, should you ever be so lucky as to clean the whole trail, end to end, *once*, odds are that it'll be years upon years before it ever happens again.

If you're reading this, and you've cleaned Moore Fun, you are a superstar. Hats off. Betcha can't do it again!

One of the fascinating things, to me, about MF is the fact that there is no such thing as an 'ideal' bike for the trail. The amount of climbing points to a light bike, but the chunkiness and anti-flow of the climbing favor something heavier to keep you planted. The precision and nimbleness of a hardtail would seem to be a benefit, but if you've ever ridden it back to back on a HT and an FS (or switched mid-ride, as I've done), it is immediately apparent that the FS requires significantly less work to keep moving on the climbs, and is much smoother and gives much more traction on the descents. Still, the light weight and precision of a hardtail is hard to argue with out there--for some. The stopper rocks, ledges, chunks, and holes would seem to favor a 29" wheel, but the tightness of some of the moves and switchbacks seem to lend themselves to something smaller.

It is an awful trail on a singlespeed. Awful if you like riding, anyway.

Regardless of the bike chosen, I'm constantly wishing for a different setup on it. Climbing the steep techy pitches I pine for a longer wheelbase and a stretched out cockpit. Descending I want exactly the opposite. On the ups I wish I could drop my bars 2 inches to get more weight onto the front wheel. On the downs I want the bars 3 inches higher to lessen the chance of endos. A higher BB would be nice on the pedaling sections, to keep from smacking pedals or chainrings. When coasting, I always wish my BB were lower to keep from feeling so top-heavy.

In short, it is a brilliant trail. It favors no bike, no rider, no riding style. It forces you to work like few other trails around, and the currency that it uses to reward hard efforts is nothing more than personal satisfaction. That right there might be what I like most about it.

MC