Eric had familial permission to take off and ride for a few days.
"I haven't had a riding roadtrip in 12 years. Make it worth my while."
In the ~month leading up to his arrival, we discussed whether or not to camp, where to camp if we did, options for 'weather days', and who/how many would comprise the right size group. In the end he flew solo, and it was an easy choice on where to take him first: Loma.
The Kokopelli trailhead is home to some fun and (f)rightfully popular trails, but the ones that see the most traffic were not our target for the day. Last time I rode with Eric was on his home trails, and, not knowing the lay of the land, I asked (begged is more like it) him to start me off easy, slowly working up to the harder stuff through the day. By his own admission he took me straight to the steepest and hardest stuff, humbling me repeatedly before I ever had a chance to find my feet.
I may be getting older and slower, but my memory hasn't faded with like speed: I returned the favor by starting him straight up Moore Fun.
Shown above is the 'easy' part of the crux--the roll out and manual off. Not pictured is the biggish up to get on, nor the off-angle and off-camber gap you have to cross to get to the off. He smoothed it on his third try. Impressive--especially for a guy that hasn't ridden outside of AZ in over a decade.
Moving up the ridge and working on some of the harder, lower to the ground finesse lines.
Dohp. Go back and try again…
Little Miss Manual took the day off work to join us.
Sessioning is the name of the game--if you don't make a move, you go back and try again until you do, or until you bleed enough to get a mulligan.
Past the first summit, arcing turns on a rare-for-Moore section of speedy and ~smooth singletrack.
Heading for the harder half. Ruby/Horsethief section of the Colorado River below. It'd be hard and wrong to describe the weather we had as anything other than exceptional: bright blue skies, mid-60* temps, and never more than a puff of a breeze.
Somehow, despite the fact that we've spent hours of our lives at this very spot, we don't (that I'm aware of) have a name for this switchback. It is, in my opinion, much harder than it appears at first blush. Essentially you have to make a ~160* turn in the space of one bike length, and just as you're finishing that turn you have to wheelie across a small gap, onto a ledge, then power your back wheel up behind it. All this on ball bearings over hardpack.
Jeny smoothed it on her first (and second!) tries, while both Eric and I failed on our first two efforts. Eric looked harder and declared that he was just going to hop his wheel around instead of riding through it as Jeny had done. To which both Jeny and I called BS. Local rules = if it can be ridden clean, then hopping doesn't count. Or, put more simply, hopping is cheating.
Eric's response? "mutter grumble, grumble mutter". Or something like that...
And then, having seen how little skill is required is to hop it, he agreed: "That is cheating".
He went on to clean it a few times--once on his bike, and once on mine.
The video cuts out (above) just as he's saying something about 'good enough for proof of concept'. He'd wanted to see if he could take a different line on my (super short chainstay) bike than he did on his own. Rather than put words into his mouth, I'll let him comment on that if he cares to.
One last try to really smooth it out:
Then Jeny went back and, after several missed efforts, got it a third time.
Moving up the ridge, almost to the top, with a couple of successive tough/odd ledge moves that Eric made quick work of.
Unfortunately, no pics of the descent of the W side of Moore--we were having too much chunky fun to stop.
Low down on Moore Jay joined the group, and continued with us up the Mack Ridge climb.
Nice views, and a gorgeous day, from on top.
Here's a small drop/alt line on the way down Mack. It looks bigger than it rides.
Eric, standing at the lip: "No way dude, that's a five footer--too big for me".
Eric, standing below it: "Oh. It's only about three feet".
Eric has the endearing and sometimes alarming habit of emoting *loudly* as he rides. The content of his emotion is largely unfiltered--apparently bypassing his cerebral cortex entirely en route from brain stem to mouth.
Jay smoothing the same line.
Eric on my bike, landing a bit easier on a slightly different spot.
Working down through the chunky bits of 'the new part' of Mack.
Did I mention it was a perfect day?!
Where Mack meets Lions we flipped it, climbing back up Mack. This section of trail is but a few years old, and most often gets ridden down. We like it just fine that way, but prefer to challenge ourselves by going back up it.
It is steep and tight and chunky, and there are several 'sequences' that range from tough to diabolical to not-yet-doable.
Jay on a tough one.
Jeny in her preferred state: Smiling and sessioning.
Although she's cleaned every part of this sequence at various times in the past, today was the first time she put it all together from bottom to top, no hops and no dabs. Her comment when watching the gif below: "It looks like nothing!"
As Jay can attest, it is *not* a nothing move. I've only seen it cleaned sans hops a small handful of times.
Eric got it on his 5th or 6th effort, emoting even before he was done.
The crux sequence of Mack is near the top, where the trail gets pinned against the wall but just before it pops through the capstone. We must have spent 30+ minutes here trying to put it all together.
Jeny on the first hard corner, and the one that gave she and I the most trouble.
Eric didn't get it right away, but soon cracked the code and could clean this corner almost at will before getting stuffed by the last, hardest move.
Back for another go:
This gif shows the first corner, which is way steeper and chunkier than the pics show, and which represents only 1/4 of the overall sequence.
Eric wasn't able to clean it bottom to top, but ultimately he *did* clean the top step--a move I hadn't seen done before.
Bolstered by that success, he joined Jeny and I back at the bottom and tried, twice, to make a clean go of the whole sequence.
You can hear here (tender ears alert!) how that went for him.
Still super impressive to make as many of the moves as he did.
Working our way back through the flowy bits of Mack.
One last kick before you top out and commence the fast, chunky, fun ride down.
We opted to blaze down the road and ride Mary's backwards en route to the Horsethief drop in.
Meanwhile, the light went from good to 'shazam'!
Like so many others, Eric had heard about and seen video of this spot, and wanted to give it a go. Perhaps it was the length and lateness of the day, but by the time he made it to the final stuffy crux he'd seen all he needed to see.
Always good to save something for next time...
Stay tuned--two more days to go!