Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Vegas Baby!


I just got back from a long weekend in Sin City and was able to squeeze in a couple hot desert rides. While my buddies were dodging raindrops back East, I was baking (literally) in the hot Nevada sun. Who ever coined the phrase "but, it's a dry heat" should be bitch slapped. 104 degrees is HOT, I don't care if it's dry or wet!

My first ride was in Bootleg Canyon, Boulder City NV on Saturday. This was my second time to Bootleg and it was just as good as the first. I hit the all of the same stuff this go-round as on my first, but, I also added a new loop on the advice of the Outlaw, who had been there the week before. This new loop included the IMBA, POW, Par None trails done counterclockwise. I also threw in a short section of trail at the bottom of POW that goes down to an additional parking lot right off the highway. This loop has good flow and nothing too technical, just a fun section of trail that is a great warm up for some of the other, more challenging climbs to come. By far, the best portion of this loop was POW and its fast, flowing decent into the valley. All that grin inducing altitude loss comes at a price, of course, and Par None made climbing in the hot desert sun as enjoyable as a climb in the hot desert sun can be. Par None meets back up with IMBA and that meets up with Mother and West Leg. I took West Leg up the valley and to the trails I rode last year. This longer, harder loop consists of climbing West Leg to the inner circle of Caldera, up Boy Scout, down Skyline and Girl Scout to the pavilion. For the sake of economy you can see my report of these trails here. After a short break I did a quick loop on the Middle and Lower Lake View trails. The Middle Lake View trail is a fun, somewhat flowing trail that has a nice decent into the Lower trail. The Lower winds its way back towards the p-lot and pavilion. Just like last year, Bootleg Canyon did not disappoint.

Sunday was to be my easy day with a nice guided tour through Cottonwood Valley. I was out in Vegas for the ICSC conference and a couple co-workers wanted to do a little biking. A week before we left a number of our clients expressed some interest and before I knew it, we had a full blown noobie tour with 9 total riders, 4 of which actually rode mountain bikes. The rest of our crew was a collection of roadies, runners and a swimmer....I think. This was going to be interesting! The tour company, Escape Adventures, is run out of Las Vegas Cyclery and is a top notch, eco friendly outfit. Our driver/guide, Scott, picked us up in front of the hotel in a big 'ol veggie oil burning van loaded with a bunch of nice Santa Cruz Blur XC's. That's right, I said it burned veggie oil. Used vegetable oil taken from local Chinese restaurants, filtered once and burned instead of diesel oil. The only downside, I was hungry for wontons by the time we got to the trail head. Scott and I unload the bikes, start getting everyone situated with gear when another guide, Jared, un-expectantly arrives.......in his own veggie oil modified truck. These guys are rock stars! Jared offers to take a group of people out for some slightly more technical terrain if anyone is interested. A few of us happily raise our hands and we decide to keep the group together for a little while then break off into two groups after everyone got comfortable on their bikes. Our two rookie ladies were doing great and getting the hang of shifting gears and body weight around. The loose soil proved to be the hardest challenge for them as well as most of the other riders. The heat was another factor and we pounded down water like air. After a nice swoopy decent, the trail leveled out and the group had a chance to test out shifting for some slight elevation gain. The trail leveled out again and merged into a large intersection. It was here the second guide, Jared, asked if anyone wanted to try some more technical riding. The stuff we were on up to that point was fun, not very challenging, but fast and had nice flow. 4 of us decided to split off and follow Jared through the desert and some pretty nice terrain. I should also add that Cottonwood is much nicer than Bootleg in terms of appearance. Bootleg is just hot, covered with sun baked rock and has very little in the way flora....or fauna. Cottonwood is still in the desert, however, there where cacti everywhere and most were in a rare 4 year bloom cycle. There were also a number of other blooming desert flowers and shrubs. The rock was also a lot nicer in that there were small formations and striations of color. The valley lies between two ridges and the trails go all over the valley floor and up onto the mountain ridges. One of the best trails we rode was called "Black Velvet". The trail was in the shadow of a big wall climbing route that is its namesake. Apparently "Black Velvet", the climbing route, is one of the best big wall climbs in Nevada. It was quite an impressive sight. The trail was equally as impressive. Very twisty and rocky with numerous tight turns and short steep climbs. Throw the soft, sandy soil into the mix and you really have to bring your "A game" to the ride. One of our riders taco'd a rim that we promptly fixed. Another guy hit a rock square on, pinch flatted and went OTB into a cactus. The spines were removed the next day during a massage, apparently. Black Velvet led into a couple other nice trails that had their own unique character. At one of the intersections, we saw the other group and knew they were headed back to the van. We took a short, but sweet little downhill that had small banked turns and a few rolling jumps. It was a nice way to end a hot ride in the desert. The other guys in my group were cooked and I don't think they could have handled any more technical trail. We had a short and mellow climb back to the lot and our tour van. We promptly broke open the remaining water bottles and waited for the casual group to return. They were back in the lot about 10 minutes later and tales of everyone's adventures ensued. Apparently we have an annual event now. Check out the pics here.

Did I mention our guide, Jared, was on a 63 pound Specialized Demo 9 wearing sport sandals with flat pedals? He was a freggin' animal. We were talking story throughout the whole ride about different races we’ve done or places we've ridden. This guy is quite possibly the craziest person I've ever met.....and I mean that in the best possible way. He once converted his Demo 9 into a single speed so he could race the 24 hours of Old Pueblo. The geared class was full and they only had solo single speed slots left. Imagine, a 63 pound single speed......for 24 hours, solo. Freaking animal!! Jared and Scott, we'll see you guys next year. Thanks for the ride.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Just the tip

video
This is but a small sample of the rocky goodness from this weekend. I neglected to shoot video on the really good stuff, so, this will have to do. Who knows, maybe Wednesday.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Big Wheels keep on rollin'

About a week ago I picked up a Reba for the donk. Tim from The Bike Site got it from Misty who got it from her demo fleet. This little beauty may have had a couple owners, but, she is in great shape and has found a home on my Spot. I bought the fork with the intention of using it once in a while for some longer endurance races. You know, where the big wheels and a bit of squish would go a long way in keeping my old bones happy. Well, after yesterdays ride, I think I may be a total 29er convert. Frank, Tim (different Tim) and I got in a nice 20 miles in the watershed Sunday morning. TimD came down from State College and rode my 26 inch bike, Frank rode his DISS and I was rolling on the newly squished out 29er. The combination of big hoops and silky smooth travel ate up all the rocks the shed threw at me. Just a few minutes on the new setup saw me smiling ear to ear. I smoothly cleaned things that are a 50/50 proposition on my smaller wheeled bike. I can't wait to get some more time in the saddle. I guess the 24 hours of Big Bear will give me that extra time and then some.