Sunday, July 31, 2011

Three One One.

Early last summer Greg and I took the "Dixie 311" bait on offer from Dave Harris. Which is to say that we couldn't resist the idea he'd been dangling before us: A 300+ mile bikepacking loop on little used trail, in SW Utah, with super scenery and allegedly even better riding.

The riding the first few days was excellent--over the top of the Markagunt, up, across, around, and down the Paunsagunt, then a hot lap of the Thunder Mountain trail had us in excellent spirits as we tanked up on water and climbed past sunset toward the Sevier Plateau.

We quickly discovered the reason that no one rides there: A scorcher of a forest fire laid waste to tens of thousands of acres, and in the wake of that fire there isn't much left to ride. Trails still exist on the ground but they're covered by hundreds upon thousands of downed trees. No way through there but to carry (and occasionally drag) bikes and get comfortable with a 1mph pace. For days.

The Tushar Mountains had far fewer downed trees, but the trails Dave routed us onto were mostly too steep to enjoy. With much exertion many of them could be slaved up, but when you crested the top expecting (and, after awhile, demanding) a fun descent as 'payoff', you'd be repeatedly disappointed by even less rideable descents. That's right--hike-a-bike up earned you hike-a-bike back down. Unlike Dave, we aren't superstar high-horsepower riders, so we didn't expect to be able to ride all of the climbs. But the downhill hike-a-bike had us scratching our heads in wonder.

Highlights of the trip were stunning weather (only one t-storm in 7+ days out), stunninger flowers, crystal clear creeks to fish in and drink from, burning turns on Thunder Mountain, blasting through skunk cabbage, aspens, and bluebells on the Virgin River Rim, bacon, sausage, and ice cream in Circleville, and a week of camping under the stars.

See for yourself:

Thanks to Dave for the motivation, inspiration, and map work to get us out the door. Thanks to Greg for being such a great bikepacking companion: His spirits are always appropriate to the mood of the day and the trail. He also has a keen sense for when nap time approacheth--usually where tiny rivulets course through lush alpine meadows. Worked for me. Greg's words and images from the trip are here.

Nice to see Lee and Joan out there a bit too--thanks for dinner!

Thanks for checkin' in.


What could this mean?

Mon, Aug 08 
Flights: PENAIR, KS 0245 
From: ANCHORAGE, AK (ANC) Departs: 10:00am 
To: COLD BAY, AK (CDB) Arrives: 12:30pm 
Class: Economy 
Seat(s): CURIAK/MR MIKE - 04F 
Status: Confirmed 
Meal: Smoking: No 
Aircraft: SAAB 340 TURBOPROP Distance (in Miles): 0619 
Duration: 2hour(s) and 30minute(s) 
Please verify flight times prior to departure

In a nut, it means my thoughts have lately been dominated by bikes, boats, bugs, bears, and cold freaking rain.

And by "thoughts" I mean the awake kind and the sleeping ones too.

Stay tuned...


Friday, July 29, 2011


A few days ago, while paddling the Death Canal with Greg, he accused me of '...Resting on my Yakutat laurels...' with respect to updating this space.

I couldn't be sure I'd heard him correctly--his mumblings often get lost in the depths of his leaky boat as it sloooshes down the waterways.

If that is indeed what he said, he's way off the mark. I have NOT been resting--there's just far too much to be done, and not nearly enough time to do it. For me, summertime life becomes an exercise in managing sleep deprivation while putting out the most important fires as they flare up. Triage, in a word. Sleep can happen, but probably won't, sometime this fall.

In reality, he was probably talking about defoliating Mongolian poodles. Again.

Here's a hint at how I've spent a few days out of this month.

If you consider yourself a mountain biker, and if you haven't ridden a bike park in the last year, you really need to look in the mirror and ask yourself why not. Aside from the thrill-a-minute nature of the riding that is evolving within these parks, it is so easy, so fast, and yes, so fun to up your skill level in the span of a few hours. Need to learn to get comfy with speed? Check. Wanna learn to boost smooth airs to tranny? Double check. Have a hankerin' to get your chunk mojo on, or a compulsion to slay some berms? Check, check, check.

I realize that bike parks aren't everywhere, and getting to one might take some doing. It certainly takes commitment and time for us to spend any time there, but that time is ALWAYS enjoyed, and I consider it an investment of sorts--in my skills, my safety (the rest of the year, due to skills acquired) but mostly in my sanity. A day in the park shrink-wraps a permagrin onto my face for the next week+. If only I could get there more often...

Special thanks to Skippy and LaLa for the continued grins and giggles each day out. Braaap!

Anyhoo, enjoy, and thanks for checkin' in.



Monday, July 4, 2011

Bikerafting Alaska's Lost Coast.

Long before I'd finished the video below, I knew that I needed to do more than just compile said video. I knew that I needed to do a full-blown writeup with explanatory images appended. Too many stories to be told, none of them properly tellable in video form.

And I will. I'll probably do a full-on gear-geek-out (what worked, what didn't, why, and what I'm changing for the next one...) too.

But not now. Summer is short, much to be done while it lingers.
. . .

We successfully traversed from Yakutat to Gustavus. In Roman's words:

225 miles total.
135 miles riding every sort of beach sediment you can imagine.
65 miles paddling lakes, rivers, streams, ponds, sloughs, oceans, bays, fiords -- we used our boats 25 times.
25 miles of mostly stumblef*cking.

We averaged 3.3 mph on bike (including rest breaks), 0.6 mph stumblef*cking on the boulders or f*cksticked bear trails, and 2.3 mph on the paddling stretches. That's with the fat bikes on board.
. . .

Please, please take the time to sit back and relax with this one. I feel strongly that it is worth watching in it's entirety, perhaps more than once, and not just on your iphone while commuting. Sooooo much crammed into that 10 minutes--watch it twice and you'll get twice as much out of it.

Thanks much for checking in.



Friday, July 1, 2011

Off the hook.

That's where the phone has been, and will remain, until I finish sorting the pics from an amazing trip.

Eric got the jump on the rest of us and has already posted some words and pics HERE.

Ditto Roman.

I expect Doom will do the same. When he wakes up.

Oh so much more to come...

Good weekend,