Thursday, October 9, 2008

Another summer, another ride w/ Andy...

Andy and I have been travelling together to ride for 15 years now and it has always been an adventure. In the mid-'90s, we both rode for a local frame builder named Richie Matthews and began travelling to national BMX races on the east coast with one another. Anything could happen. Late night encounters w/ southern state troopers; ingesting half-eaten sandwiches and drinks and buffet barging after spending our last dollars on entry fees; chatting up locals (girls AND guys) in hopes of scoring a warm, dry place to sleep, be it a bed, a shed, or a pile of laundry; and even hitching a ride home from Florida in what I am convinced was a stolen car (and crashing it in Virginia) after breaking my collar bone; had all become the norm on tour. Over the years, the bikes changed as well as the riding and many faces, but old habits die hard. On a long weekend in 2001, 5 of us set out on a mid-atlantic mountain bike mini tour where rain and a lack of fuel had us spending the night under an 18 wheeler on the West Virginia border. Should I expect anything less this year as the 2 of us and Bruce embark once again from Moab to Durango?

Just so you know, Bruce is the voice of reason and has hotels and shuttles lined up on both end of the trip. Upon arrival in Durango, we indulged in the largest (and possibly most disgusting) pizza I have ever taken part in and picked up sandwiches (possibly the best ever) for the next day's lunch. Andy formed burritos from the left over pizza ;one of which hit me in the back in the middle of the night getting pizza everywhere with the insuing comotion almost getting us kicked out of the hotel, and the other getting duct taped to the top of a water bottle which was already strapped to his top tube. We wont even get into the what happened on the plane.

Pizza burrito-mobile...



The morning was chilly and the 3 of had mixed feelings as we looked up at the snow capped peaks and ominous clouds which obscured others, but it was set. Our shuttle was to pick us up at 9:30 and drive us to Little Molas Lake where we would take the CT to Bolam Pass and crash for the night. The first few miles rolled by pretty quickly and I was constantly too hot or too cold, but as we continued on, ignoring the warnings from the skies as well as hikers, the weather took a turn for the worse at right around our half way point for the day. Snow covered the ground and a wintery mix began to fall. We descended for several miles which gave way to steep climbing and eventually hiking. The lot of us were cold and wet, yet Bruce still found time to stop and film things along the way. The filming would eventually give way to heckling in days to come, but this day we focussed on getting to our hut for the evening.

Looking questionable...



Pretty things along the way...



This one gave me fits last year...



Summitting...



At around dusk, Andy strolled in to find the 2 couples (unaware we were coming) we would be sharing our hut w/ for the evening. He was dressed in shorts, knee warmers, short sleeves and arm warmers w/ a balaklava on his head, and excused himself as he wrapped his arms around the stove pipe trying to warm himself. They put on tea for us and we all introduced ourselves and told stories of our travels. They poked fun at how we would be wearing the same clothes all week and it was interesting to see how little we carry compared to some. Note: there was alot of clothes changing going on in the huts but NONE of it was on our side of it. Apparently, this group also neglected to print out the 12 pages of detailed directions but we passed ours along. That night, we fell asleep to the sound of sleet peppering the tin roof. At one point I woke up to use the head and to my relief the sound of sleet had stopped. I went out in just my droors to find several inches of snow on the ground and it still falling hard. There was some late night thunder snow that shook the hut. We hung out for an extra day as nobody would be coming in that day and let the other group do their thing. This would also give a day for East Fork and Groundhog Stock trails a chance to dry out.

A pond, a mountain and a snow covered hut...




...



One of our hutmates departing...



After a lazy day around the hut, we made our way down to the East Fork Trail which is chock full of tricky stream crossings. We ran into a group of about 8 at one of the crossings ferrying bikes across. Bruce put on his booties and fairy'd his way across as well. Andy and I decided to cool off our tootsies. At the hut we found a very nice note from the ladies we shared the hut with.

Leaving Bolam Pass with the Sneffles Mountains in view...





Another crossing...



Andy on Groundhog Stock w/ Bruce taking the easier, softer way...



On our way to Dry Creek basin, we chose to try going to SW side of Lone Cone as opposed to the NE, which kept us further in the woods and on more primitve roads. We took RT 534E which is a steep double track and eventually ended up at a fence. The road continued past the fence which is rumored to be private property which the state has an easement on. This gets fast and takes you through the aspens before dumping you on 40J about 2 miles from Miramount Res. Upon arrival at our hut, we found more notes from our form hut companions and a shirt/ rag which got put to use.

Andy amounst the aspens...



Ladder freestyle at DCB...



I woke up in Dry Creek Basin to a barrage of woodchips courtesy of Andy and put on the puma tank top before heading out to ride Gas Roads, Lookout Mines and Mexico Mines on our way to Wedding Bell.

Bruce w/ blown out jersey pockets while Andy throws up gang signs. Yes, there is a pack underneath all of that stuff....



Bruce on Gas Roads...



Andy risks life and limb for a better look at a rickety mining structure. Glad he is wearing his helmet...



On our way to Paradox Valley, I came across your discarded tube and co2 cartridge. May you live down the street from the projects and have the litter of 1000 McDonald's bags cover your lawn. "I'm lovin' it!" The tube did get patched and put to use the next day. Somehow, I came home with more good tubes than I left and had 2 flats. We rode Davis Mesa, Ketchump Trail and Paradox trail where we got chased by 3 dogs coyote style, with one in the back as others run ahead to intercept. A little heel nibbling but still no need for the gun or bear spray I chose to leave behind.

Andy and Bruce on Davis Mesa...



Andy clicked this one of me on Ketchump, puffy cheeked and dressed in someone's chain cleaning rag...



Sunset in Paradox Valley...



I woke up in that miserable little hut in Paradox Valley to a dowsing of sugar and garlic powder which just added to the funk factor. We departed at 11:30 AM in hopes of beating the heat. Actually, we are just slackers and it takes us that long to get it together, but it paid off as clouds had been piling up in the LaSals all day, and eventhough we cooked on the climb up Carpenter Ridge, things had cooled off quite a bit by the time we got to Buckeye Res. Another lazy night in the hut before we headed into Moab and the end of our journey.

We rode Moonlight Meadows to Schuman's to Hazzard to Kokopelli to ---/LPS to Porc Rim.

The boys in the aspens on Schuman's...



Andy in the burn zone on Kokopelli...



Bruce on a rock...



Andy drops in on a trail that shall remain nameless...



In Moab, Bruce caught a flight out the next morning, Andy hitched a ride w/ his bike to Interbike and I bummed around town for 5 days, hanging out with the great folks I met there, both local and passing through, riding in the mornings and relaxing w/ a strawberry shake in the evenings. And that is how I spent my summer vacation.


R.I.P. Richie

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Homeward Bound...

Finally I sorted through all of the photos from my travels and am sharing some that are my faves for one reason or another.
This shot (mtb-canuck photo) is from my final ride in sunny California and really captures the overall attitude early on. Things went down hill that day, literally, but all in all a great ride. The write up and carnage report... [url]http://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.php?t=382457[/url]



I packed all I could in the car and left the Califonia sun behind me...



The sunset along the way...



Sunrise in the high desert...





Some folks climbing Amasa Back...



A squadron of riders drops down toward pothole arch...



After only one day of riding, I felt the call of the road.

While out for a hike, I enjoy a frosty bud...



Back in Maryland, I enjoyed a nice 35 miler on a saturday afternoon through Gambrill and the Shed. I heard rumors buzzing of something happening the next day and at 11:30 that night, Ricky informs me of some single speed gathering. "14 miles, lots of stops, goofin' and kegs." It sounded mellow and fun. I showed up early in jeans and a hoody, not to mention quite sore from the previous day, to find out it was actually a race. Write up and links here... [url]http://www.singlespeedoutlaw.com/issue5/blog.shtml[/url] Great event by the way!

Washedup Wear in full effect (steve photo)...



House party...



Chris had by far the coolest bike there. Fixie ripping with punk points in hand...



See you next time.

A Year to Live...

A Year Live...
With just 2 weeks left in my Califonia daze, I thought I would share the story (abbreviated) of how I ended up on the west coast. It all started in hotel in Paris in early '06 when I recieved a phone call from my longtime riding buddy/ travelling companion, Andy. Andy and I had all but fallen out of touch with one another several years prior when I relocated to New York City for a change of pace, but that night Andy called to see if I would be intersted in doing some riding for 10 days in Colorado and Utah. I was curious to say the least, but hadnt touched my mountain bike in over 2 years. Not to worry, the trip was not until July leaving plenty of time to get fit. When I returned home from Europe and got some time off, I went back to Maryland, dusted off my bike, and returned to the trails I once knew.

A couple of months later, my job took me to Tokyo, where I would find myself staring out my 31st floor window of the Conrad hotel into the Emperor's Garden below. Something happened in that room; an epiphany or whetever you chose to call it, where I realized the dream job I had put so much into did not hold the answers. When I returned to New York I gave notice at my job and apartment and began preparations to move to Northern California. My trip to Colorado and Utah only reinforced my decision to change my life and my girlfriend was anxious to get back home (Sacramento) to see friends and family.

I headed to Maryland to store some belongings and say goodbye to loved ones before heading west. I left my parents' house around noon on September 21 to get one last ride in at Schaffer Farm with Andy. After the ride, I loaded Andy's bike next to mine and headed west for Interbike. It was strange to think the next time I would see my friend would be in 3 days and around 2500 miles at the Las Vegas airport to attend I-bike before heading up to Moab for some riding. After 11 days, 4400 miles, 5 flats and one broken chain, I arrived in the place I would call home for the next year, Sacramento.

Since my arrival just over a year ago, I have been working 3-4 days a week in a local bike shop and have been lucky enough to hook up with some great folks from forum 67 to show me some of the finest trails Northern California has to offer. i thought I would share some personal favorites from my trusty little Canon.

This guy was beet red and out of water at the TOP of Porc rim. I gave him a swig of mine during a conversation that went like this...
"Am I a pu$$y if I take the road down?"
"Better to be a pu$$y than dead." Please dont be "that guy."



Somewhere west of SLC...



"The Lonliest Highway in America..."



Overlooking one my local haunts, the Auburn Ravine...



Grouse Ridge...



Steve powers through a stream crossing...




Along the Tahoe Rim Trail...



Poseur shot on the Flume Trail...



The train climbing early on in the Spooner to Toads ride...



Jim negotiates a technical section...



About 30 seconds before my freehub body exploded on Spooner to Toads...



Desert self portrait...



Andy on our San Juan Huts trip '07...



Christmas at Skyline...



A frosty bridge over the S. Yuba...



Gary high above the S. Yuba...



Northern exposure along the S. Yuba...



Another Marylander, Ricky, at Rockville...



Far from home...