Saturday, June 20, 2009

Roughly 100,000 words.

Two mandatory warnings: The text in this post is superfluous, and there are 90+ pics. Continue at your own risk...

Every few years (more often if you're less set-in-your-ways than I am) you'll have an experience that falls outside the reasonable range of expectation. Meaning simply that what you expected and what you got did not match up.

That happened last week, and I'm still reeling a bit from it. I'm simply unsure of how to even begin processing all of the new sense data that was gathered. That uncertainty is a good, rare thing (for me) these days, as I've gotten into a bit of a rut with work and riding and a refresher was in order.

I'll spend months sorting and categorizing the experiences in my mind, but there's no need to wait to share the visuals.

Loading up the car, listening to a book, and just letting the countryside unfold as I creep closer to my destination has become a favorite form of therapy.

I'll do it if I have to, but covering ground at night (whether afoot, by bike, or even in a car) just cuts across my grain of late. How can I learn about a place if I cannot receive visual sense data from it?

(Yes, I had a lot of time to think on this last trip, and have been in major geek out mode ever since...)

So once the light fades from the sky I'll find a place to circle the wagon and then settle in til sunup. Cook a simple meal, read a different book, simply 'be' horizontal.

Waking, a short walk is in order before anything else. Checking in on the local residents, you might say.

Early morning light...

...and some of the things you see when wandering around engulfed by it.

Whom would *you* expect to see while crossing Coyote Wash?

Oo. Don't forget your galoshes.

Death. And then, life.

This one flat stopped me in my tracks. Just stunning.

Not so much the former as the latter.

Aspirin, ibuprofen, morphine, and gin have all been known to cure what ails ya. For me, nothing is more restorative than time spent on alpine skinny trail with likeminded souls.


Dave and Chad were a hoot to ride, camp, and generally hang out with.

If you're in their company and *not* laughing, you need to pull the ipod outta your ears and pay attention!

One of the no-longer top secret details of my new uber frame pack: The Mike & Ike department.

DH nearly leapt outta his shoes when he saw it, and LW dug her hand in there too. It's not like a gal can ever have enough red 40 in her diet...

Back to the grind.

We finished the day off with an ice cream binge, campfire tales, stargazing, then blessed sleep outdoors, if not actually down in the dirt.

The ensuing day, more time spent with Dave and Chad meant more laughs and good vibes.

The overall theme of the day was relaxation, though it got strenuous later on...

Brief detour on the way out to camp.

At camp.

Cathedral-esque grove along the Rainbow Rim.

Big grins on this trail--swoopy, flowy, fast and carvy.

Favorite memory (of many!) from this day involved chasing Dave at high speed down a narrow tunnel of trail, both sides lined with blooming cliffrose. The always exciting game of cat-and-mouse was elevated substantially as he'd brush and bash his way through the blooms and my nostrils would be filled with it as I motored along behind...

Hard to beat finishing a fun ride as the golden hour fades into night.

Another campfire to wind down with, then blessed sleep.

The view from camp at sunrise:

Hard to wrap your brain around that ^ view.

Almost 9 years have passed since I last rode this canyon. That's about 8 too long. Dave acted as very patient and informative guide.

Although the pic fell far short of my hopes, I love the contrast of colors and landscapes in just a few square feet. Red to green, swamp on rock.

Such a striking backdrop for some really fun non-tech riding.

Dave hammered out the hills on his single tallish gear. I felt obliged to follow suit, and remained shiftless on all but one climb throughout the day. I take back what I said earlier about alpine skinny being the most restorative thing I know--desert skinny aboard SS's comes darn close.

Did I mention the swoopdiddlyiciousness of this trail system?

Unseasonably cool June temps were a treat all through this day. Though the temps have crept high enough that going back this weekend won't happen, some version of this trip needs to take place in the fall.

Who's in?



  1. Looks like you made a good choice to stay North.

  2. Holy thanks for sharing - amazing pics!

  3. Did you ever think of putting together a compliation of your best photos and publishing them in some big glossy book?

    You have some serious photographic talent.

  4. Thanks, needed that and, I need to get out on my own 'refresher.'

  5. damn. just damn.
    nice work.

  6. MC,
    Your photos getting better & better!!!!!!!!

  7. Mike, Absolutely awesome! I truly need to get out there and ride sometime soon.

    Thanks again for sharing.

  8. Beauty pics :-)

    So did you guys go all the way to the top of the tower?

    It's quite the climb...

  9. Great to meet you face to face finally. I see you ended up where I rode on the way down. Until next time...Steve

  10. We went all the way up. Mike seemed a bit gripped up there.

  11. mc, i've come to expect nothing less than amazing pic's on here, but sweet f-ing sh!t, some of those shots seem too "perfect" to be real. i'm just getting the biking bug back for the first time since pulling the plug on the gdr last year, thus looking at these pic's has me just about drooling on my computer... might just have to think about joining you in the fall.

    btw, shoot me an email if you get a chance ( i had a question for you and i don't think i have your email.

  12. Mike, I've been a long follower of your exploits and web diary. Love the photos and the stories they tell.

    I get a few days in Colorado this Sept and hope to create similar moments in time. Any tips for not to be missed places? I'll be on a tight budget, camping, cooking, and riding, hopefully with a new puppy in tow.


    ps. I have a licorice hidy hole in my Epic Designs frame bag. Eric does great work.

  13. These shots are amazing! I'm headed out on a trip to Peru in the near future and am looking to pick up a great point and shoot..which I have to assume is what you're using because lugging around a SLR on long mountain bike adventures just doesn't seem very feasible. If you don't mind, what camera are you using, and how much post-processing, if any are you doing?



  14. Thad--Crested Butte and Durango. World class riding, free (and easy) camping nearby in the nat'l forest.

    Aimee--Canon SX200IS. Only downfall to it is a proprietary battery, but they're cheap (like $5) on ebay. I do limited post processing--usually just add a bit of saturation (in lieu of the polarizing filter I would use if I had one for this unit). I also have a Canon SD2000IS that I like very much. Plus is that it uses AA's. Only downfalls are lower quality (relative to the SX200 above) video, and much less zoom capability.

    Both are great. If pressed to choose just one, in winter I'd pick the 2000 (for ability to use AA lithiums) and in warmer months I'd use the 200.


  15. "Like minded souls"

    Amen to that. Great riding with you MC.

  16. ...'linked' over from drunkcyclist...

    ...thank you...awesome fotos of an incredibly beautiful place to ride...looks like it would even be doable on a cyclo-cross rig (my favorite way to roll through the landscape)...

  17. linked as well from DC.

    Wow. Just wow.

  18. glad I happened upon this blog. Nice photos.