Scott arranged for Louis to meet us out at the 50 Year Trail. Although 'the 50' itself is the main access point for what we rode on this day, very few of the pics you see are the actual 50YT. Louis and crew have found (which is different from 'built', and you'll soon see how) numerous "B lines" adjacent to the main trail, so that you can leave the trail to execute a move (usually on rock) and then immediately get shot right back onto the main trail post haste.
Why belabor this point? These days we have a nationwide superabundance of roadbuilding trail nazis that frown upon any such leaving of the main trail tread. In a select few places, under certain circumstances, I can understand and appreciate this viewpoint. But 'the 50' is not one of those places. Adjacent-to-the-trail moves have existed here for many years, been ridden by hundreds and hundreds of riders, and continue to be in far, far better condition than the (often heavily eroded) main trail. 'The 50' aside, my experience has been that "B lines" always add exponentially more flavor to a trail, and if done properly they take *nothing* away. Something to think about for the nazis and rogue builders alike.
Anyhoo, we headed down the trail with only a general idea of where/when Louis might meet us. Scott ticked out a nice tempo up front, deftly swooping and carving through the hordes of cholla lining and leaning into the trail.
Collectively the 5 of us enjoyed a swoopy early ~mile on the 50 while gradually ascending away from the parking lot. And then, somehow, we were 6. Louis not only found us on-the-fly but insinuated himself into the middle of the group without anyone really noticing when. This was my first inkling of Louis' ninja powers. After a perfunctory regroup Louis jumped on the front of the train and powered off toward the good stuff.
It didn't take us long to find said 'good stuff', and from then on we spent the rest of the day immersed in it.
Getting the idea yet?!
Stunning desert scenery, uber warm and contrastical light, and one of the world's most competent and enthusiastic rock monkeys showing us around his backyard masterpiece. As good as it gets, except if you're Scott, at which point manned, geocached pizza ovens would also be a part of the day.
Anyone paying attention would note that there are already several pictures posted, but none yet of the ninja himself.
Duh?! Ninjas move too fast to be photographed!
I keed, kinda. Louis rode out front and didn't stop until he had completed a move or sequence. Then he'd drop the bike and walk back to give necessary beta, with the result that while we collectively shot hundreds of neato pics of ourselves, Louis ended up in very few of them.
Except this one. We were able to coerce him to climb back up and float this manual, even though he'd already smoothed it his first time down.
Glad he indulged us--it's one of my favorite shots from the week.
Skippy and Scott were all grins.
Let's face it--who wasn't grinning?! And who wouldn't be? All day long I felt like I'd fallen off the candy cart and rolled into the chocolate factory.
Paula tagged along to watch us silly boys playing with our silly toys, and even got inspired to ride a few things that, before today, were maybe a wee bit out of her comfort zone.
Louis pointing the way from the chocolate factory to the vanilla river.
Louis: "...and over there is where pure peanut butter oozes forth from the rock..."
Scott: "You said there would be pizza."
Skippy nails a never-before-attempted alternate entrance to a psick steep slab roller.
Skippy's forte is more to use speed and momentum (and his lobotomy switch) to carry him through the moves he prefers. Like this one.
Considering that, he was WAY out of his comfort zone through most of this day, where slow speed and precision are favored over all else. Still, I caught him grooving and grinning after several moves, and it was obvious that he had, to some extent, caught the sickness.
Scott showed his usual calm proficiency at every move that he attempted.
And he flat torched us on the climbs between the techy bits. Again, as usual.
And Greg? When he wasn't hooting and hollering while railing turns like this one, he was busy hiking and climbing (sans belay) to get the best angles, lighting, and composition for pics.
Greg *hiked* more than we rode on this day, and the results (his stellar shots) are the fruits of that labor. But he rode a lot of really cool lines too.
Another rare one of Louis, 2/3rds of the way through a techy, chunky sequence that he alone smoothed top-to-bottom.
Getting on toward evening.
The ninja put himself back into 'blur' mode for this shot.
Probably one of the most heady yet fun moves anywhere out there. Or anywhere, period. An easy up entrance straight to this concave roller. You have to be there to appreciate this one, especially as each successive rider comes over the top and rolls most of the way down on their front wheel. I think I did this one 5 times, giggling harder on each one. Thanks to Scott for the pic.
After that it was high speed twisty singletrack for the rest of the evening.
The previous three days, and especially today, had squeezed every last iota of adrenaline out of our systems--to the point that Skippy was heard asking Paula if she carried an EpiPen.
'Twas nice to wind it down with some high-speed low-consequence zipping.
Back to the cars, heave the bikes in, then enjoy the cloud pyrotechnics as we beeline for the local burrito joint.
If I say that I've had a better single day of chunk riding in the last 5 years, I lie.
And still two days to go...