Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Old dogs, new tricks.

I met Greg at a slideshow almost 20 years ago.  And then, a few weeks later, bumped into him on a trail, near an overlook.  We've been riding together with some consistency ever since.

He's funny, irreverent, inquisitive, and well read.  He's a good listener and quick thinker, which prompts me to talk more than I normally would, but I always regret doing that because when I'm flapping my gums I can't hear what he has to say.  I always learn something from what Greg has to say.

He's deep into his 50's, though the only way you'd know that is if you got close enough to hear his knees creaking as he pedals.  Not too many people can stay that close, and it's been years since I counted myself among them.

He reached out with an idea a few days ago.  The ride he pitched was a variation on one I'd done ~15 years ago, but with a new (fresh cut singletrack) twist.  With blue skies and heavenly temps in the forecast, I couldn't find a reason to say no.

Because we're surrounded by a diverse regional landscape infused with rich, deep colors, we joke about our immediate backyard appearing largely beige.  It's funny because it's true: dead grasses, sediments and sandstones all take on some aspect of that unassuming hue.  This time of year we're lucky that there are some accents to offset the monotony.

We ascend a mostly dry arroyo, thankful for plump tires that make easy work of the sand pits.  Mudstones and siltstones, often rimed with alkali, provide visual delight as well as technical challenges where they've collapsed into the wash.

Differential erosion, and a few other things, keep us rapt even as we ascend steeply.

Wash riding has a certain appeal to us.  Or at least to me.  I love 'reading and running' -- or at least attempting to -- on the fly, just trying to piece together traction and rideable lines without stopping to scout.  Greg's a bit better at it than I and I'm happy to follow his lines until he gets stuffed -- which is rare -- and then I peel off and try my hand.

Hours of engaging play -- plus a lot of work -- deliver us up to the rim, where the technical challenges vanish, replaced by fine dust and big views.

A light layer of haze adds an atmospheric quality to the panorama, but isn't thick enough to obscure views deep into Utah.

Lacking camping gear, e-motors, or a desire to flog ourselves mercilessly to exit through a beaten-to-death trail network, our ride out is the reverse of the way we've come.

Any day spent outside turns out to be a pretty good day.  The cherry-on-top singletrack turned out to be a disappointment to both of us, but we've come to expect that so in reality it wasn't much of a letdown.  The scenery within the canyon was a delight -- by far the highlight of the day -- but still we joke while descending that the best part of the ride was the steep grunt of a fire road climb to gain the ridgeline.

This time of year these guys oughta learn to keep their heads down or they're not gonna have 'em much longer.

We roll back through the canyon as the light gets yet richer, flashing lines -- with the help of gravity -- that stymied us on the way up.

Thanks for checkin' in.

1 comment:

  1. Great photos. Any hints about where this is? I can't quite put my finger on it, but looks very familiar.