Monday, May 26, 2008

Spring into summer.

Although it's been on my mind for weeks now, I have no choice but to punt the denial and finally accept that I'm not going to write anything more about the AK experience this spring. Being outside in 60+ degree temps every day is not conducive to recreating the mindset needed to accurately write about the events that happened up north. Once the temps drop and the precip starts to fly this fall, I'll have an easier time getting back into character and writing more about it.

'Nuff said.

Back here in reality there's no denying that I'm having a bit of burnout on the local trails. Part of it is that I've ridden them so much in the decade+ that I've lived here that I need a break, or something new. Another not insignificant part is that the local sphincter police/trail nazis have been hard at work sanitizing the trails we do have and obliterating (with extreme prejudice) anything new/fun/challenging/interesting that pops up. Lastly, this area has become a tourist attraction because of the trails we have, and as such the trails are inundated with people from Friday morning til ~Sunday night. If you're like me and you ride to get away from people/syphillization, this is a sub-optimal turn of events.

Rather than dwelling on it I've simply been getting off the beaten path and doing some 'sploring lately. Generally I'll try to connect two known routes with an unknown scratch on the map, but sometimes I'll just go out and follow cow trails to see if our bovine neighbors have created anything worthwhile lately. Then when I get home I download the GPS track and overlay it onto aerial and topo maps to see if anything jumps out at me.

Yesterday something jumped out at me.

So today I took L and Trix to see.

Mostly mellow grades with some fun dipsy doodling through the sage.

Oh, and there were one or two flowers if you looked in just the right spots.

A long, long time ago I wouldn't have had the patience for a ride like this. Not much speed, no banked turns, no big climbs, no techy chunk and no blazing descents.

I must be getting old because I really enjoyed the mellow pace and the vibe of just being out there, and (at times) cursed the girls for riding so damn fast--I couldn't compose/snap the pics fast enough.

In this case, I'm thinking the change is for the better.

An old friends' mom used to tell us that if we were bored we were boring. Meaning simply that we needed to rustle up the gumption to entertain ourselves. My of-late burnout has reminded me that if you keep going to the places you always go, chances are you're going to keep seeing what you've always seen. The rides today and yesterday have rekindled a desire to explore and find new stuff. No good reason to be bored in a backyard with this much open space.

Stay tuned...


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Fred Tour

Snuck out for a quick two-dayer with Fred. Great to get out in it, doubly great to be able to refine gear a bit more. Fred's fitness is coming around fast (no pun) as evidenced by the fact that he was out ahead the whole damn time, as well as by the fact that I had a hard time getting out of bed at 9 AM this morning.

Fred putting in a little extra oomph to keep it flowing.

Paintbrush glow while Fred earns the climb.

Great flowers and a brief break with impending doom on the horizon.

A 4 hour spring shower (with snowline just ~1000' above us) meant a severe revision of our route plans. Wet clay in this region is simply impassable, prompting a 30-mile stretch of abandoned hwy to get to a c-store. Much consumption ensued.

We didn't leave the c-store until close to midnight, and were tired/sleepy enough to stop and drop just about any time. Cold evening temps prompted us to ride a few miles before bivying, just to get our core temps back up.

Acute right turn comin' up. Hard to see the vague trail in the dark, so navigation by GPS was often necessary.

Rise and shine.

Damp trails early on caused some delay while we scraped mud or searched out detours.

The one thing that pics rarely convey is wind. Throughout the day I'd estimate we were bucking an average ~20mph headwind, with rare lulls and frequent ridgeline gusts of 30+. As we crested this ridge (and every one thereafter) we were met with a blast to the face.

To put the day in perspective, a 'normal' mid-May ride in this region would feature ~90 degree temps, lots of sand, past-prime wildflowers and cheat grass going to seed. We never took off the leg warmers, drank less than half of what we thought we would, and the flowers seemed like they were still on the upswing.

Nice flow through here.

The previous day's rain packed most of the washes down real good.

Some were moister than others, and this one was pretty heavy on alkali soup.

Some were simply impassable.

Moto-installed trails in this region have many things in common. Among them are ridicu-steep hills that no human could pedal up. The spines they ascend/descend are aesthetically pleasing for sure.

Not thirsty at the moment, thankyouverymuch.

Clouds boil as Fred crests another pusher.

'Ow' is the best word for the constant steep spines.

Claret cups brightened the landscape, as did paintbrush, flax, phlox, chamisa, globe mallow, and 62 others whose names I never remember.

Go that way.

Now come this way.


Again I say yay.

Neither of us ever cried uncle, neither did we complain at the brief bits of flat ranch road that connected the steep singletrack.

You are here.

Fred's a spiny fella.

Hauling the mail as the day winds to a close.

Our route connected one of the most popular regional routes (first day) with one of the least popular (second day). We saw a few motos, a ~dozen or so bikers and a few vehicles on the first. And the second? A few sheep and a man atop a horse, cresting a ridge a long way off.

Some trails are so fun and well put together that I can't wait to get back out on them. Others? Not so much. I doubt I'll ride this one again (at least not in it's entirety) but I'll never forget it either.