Two hours until our midnight start and then 18 hours worth of laps. A pre-ride of the course yielded this map!
Highline Lake – 18 Hours Of Fruita (End)
Total Distance: 11.47 km (7.1 mi)
Total Time: 51:37
Moving Time: 44:50
Average Speed: 13.62 km/h (8.5 mi/h)
Average Moving Speed: 15.35 km/h (9.5 mi/h)
Max Speed: 37.41 km/h (23.2 mi/h)
Min Elevation: 1413 m (4635 ft)
Max Elevation: 1465 m (4808 ft)
Elevation Gain: 151 m (494 ft)
Max Grade: 3 %
Min Grade: -8 %
Recorded: Fri May 07 17:21:46 MDT 2010
Activity type: mountain biking
After a week in the mountain biking mecca of Fruita, CO, Tim and I are feeling like we’re home. We setup camp at the base of the Book Cliffs on Thursday and stayed inside for the first two days while a winter storm brushed past us. We felt lucky that we only had a few snow squalls compared to the several feet that fell north of us in Salt Lake and Jackson. Wolste joined us by Friday and it seemed like the weather may change for the weekend.
By the time Saturday rolled around, it was chilly but clear and Wolste and Tim decided to take the 30 miles Edge Loop up and around the Book Cliffs. They left at noon, assuring me they’d be back in about 4 hours. After their ride we planned to go into town and join the Fat Tire Festival fun that evening.
I spent the afternoon riding closer to camp, climbing Chutes and Ladders and joining up with another group of ladies for the ride. I got back to the car thinking that I’d be just in time to meet Tim and Wolste after their big loop. 4 o’clock turned to 5 and then 5 moved to 6 and I started getting really worried. By 7:30 I was googling how to reach Search and Rescue and debating whether I should wait until after dark to call or not. It was right about then when two mud covered riders rode back into camp.
Tim and Wolste had had a great first 12 miles before running into the mud bog. It looked like it should be short so they hoisted their bikes over their shoulders and started to walk. 6 miles later, caked in heavy clay, they were finally able to climb back on and ride out the rest of the trail. By the time they rolled into camp, they were exhausted and ready for dinner and then bed.
We missed the Fat Tire celebrations this year but that was the most appreciated meal we’ve ever had.
Our next few days were full of work, rides and finally sunshine. By Monday we’d settled into the best camp at the Book Cliffs and started to gather more Jacksonites. This weekend 8 ladies of JH are racing together in the Fruita 18 Hour Race and folks were starting to move south. First Jaclyn and Kurt joined us and then BJ and Lisa pulled into camp.
We hadn’t seen BJ and Lisa for 18 months and stories flowed. BJ brought a helmet cam ( the Go Pro Hero) with him and he shot some amazing footage of bike rides over the following days. Below is Tim riding one of the hairiest rides in the Book Cliffs, the steep, exposed Zippity Doo Da Trail. (Music is inspired by the camera’s classic name).
Tonight we have all moved to Highline State Park in preparation for the race that starts Friday night. We now have 6 of the ladies here with two more in transit. Tim is riding the race in a two man team with his old college buddy Geoff from William and Mary, who is driving down from Boise with his girlfriend Sarah. Tomorrow the excitement starts at midnight. We’ll have pictures on Sunday!
There’s nothing quite like waking up in the middle of the glowing red desert at sunrise. Saturday was a perfect day in Monument Valley and even though we were due in Moab early afternoon, we couldn’t resist taking a quick bike ride before we left. We rode down the 4 wheeled drive descent into the canyon and pedaled around the huge rock monoliths for a lap (me) or two (Tim) before packing up Frank and hitting the road again.
By 2 pm, we’d reached Moab and met up with Jimmie Shell in the parking lot of City Market. Moab was rocking. This town knows how to market itself, and every weekend throughout the spring is a hot rod rally, Jeep safari or Hummer extravaganza. This weekend was the Classic Car Show and every make and model of American vehicle from the 50’s to the 70’s paraded up the streets.
We decided to escape the mayhem of town and camp at one our favorite outposts on Willow Springs Road, 6 miles from town. This BLM tract of land is a great spot for free, spacious camping with great views of Arches National Park in the distance. We wound up and down all the 4 wheel drive roads until we finally found a spot tucked away in a wash. Here we settled in with burgers and margaritas and made ourselves at home for a night by the campfire.
Sunday was cool but sunny morning and we got our bikes ready. We were headed to Porcupine Rim, one of Moab’s most acclaimed bike trails. With 5 miles of uphill and 10 miles of technical downhill, it’s a local favorite. We started riding at noon and by 2 had reached the top. I was feeling pretty nervous about the next 10 miles of rocky drops and steep pitches that I remembered from my rides 10 years earlier. Tim and Jimmie were fabulous though. They stuck with me for the entire downhill, showing me the best lines and how to drop the foot high ledges without shooting over my handlebars. For me, the ride is still scary, but at least it wasn’t terrifying…which in the scheme of things is a huge improvement.
Monday and Tuesday were work days, but thanks to the Wilson Booster, we were able to get strong cell service to stay put in our sandy site on Willow Creek. Monday evening fellow Jacksonites, Wolste and Hillary, joined our camp and we celebrated their arrival with spaghetti and horseshoes.
By Wednesday, our blue skies came to an end. We’d watched a huge storm approach from the Pacific and our red sand campsite was about to turn into a wet mucky mess. We packed up and turned back to town for the work day. We found the Wake and Bake Coffee Shop who put up with us all day. Jimmie drove home and Tim and I spent the evening cleaning Frank, washing clothes and shopping for the next few days, while Wolste drove East for a new and less messy campsite.
It was a good thing too. This morning we woke up to the unusual April sight of snow in the desert. Fortunately we were on good hard packed ground and easily left with Frank to our final destination for the week, Fruita CO. Here we’ll stay for the next few weeks, biking, working and biking…as soon as the snow stops!
Tim and I wanted HOT and after 3 months of travel through semitropical climes, we finally found it in Arizona. With temperatures in the low to mid 80’s every day, we are staying put for a while.
First we dropped in on Tucson where we spent a day with my brother Brett and his wife Peg. We barbecued (delicious high point), watched the WVU Mountaineers suffer a crushing defeat in the hands of Duke in the Final Four (ugly, hair tearing out, gnashing of teeth low point), and then bounced back with a late night sharing baby pictures, new music and great stories (much redeeming high point). After an Easter Cowboy Omelet the next morning, Tim and I continued on to Scottsdale to see Ann and Scott.
We always look forward to our visits with Ann and Scott and whenever we get together it’s like no time has passed. They have rented a beautiful house in Scottsdale and Tim and I easily settled into a routine of working, breakfast all together catching up, more work (preferably in the sunshine by the pool), a bike ride exploring the miles of desert trails just a mile out the door, and then a yummy family dinner. After so much travel, it is like coming home.
After a week relaxing, we decided to explore the nearby McDowell Mountain Regional Park. Just on the other side of the mountains from Scottsdale, McDowell is a beautiful, even lush, desert environment. Twenty foot cactuses dot the hills and this spring, the flowers are in full bloom. We were unprepared for the exotic pollen that hung in the air and our allergies let us know. But regardless of our runny noses, we managed to enjoy every moment of the miles of single track bike trails that wind up and down over desert washes.
Known for it’s sweet singletrack biking and unusually large population of Diamond Back Rattlesnakes, McDowell is place to both enjoy and be very vigilant. So far we’ve seen 3 rattlesnakes of various shapes and sizes. When I asked the Park Ranger if there was any chance that the 3 foot long tan snake I’d seen sunning in front of the ladies restroom door wasn’t poisonous, she assured me that it probably was.
“great…” I said.
“It’s okay”, she said, “we have very low incidents of snake bites despite being one of the largest pockets of rattlesnakes in America. And the good news,” she added cheerfully, “is that we have very few scorpions!”
Thank goodness for small favors…
So we ride and work and ride and make sure the doors are shut at night. It’s good living here in gorgeous AZ.
We met a fellow mountain biker this week who collects Geodes. Chris had been a jeweler for many years and now explores the desert for these rare finds which contain prisms of crystals. If you know just where to go, you can sift through the identical round brown nondescript rocks for the perfect candidates. Once you’ve found 10 likely choices, only one may be filled with purple and white crystals. Meanwhile the untrained eye would never see the possibility of such a discovery in the barren desert.
This is how Tim and I felt about Las Cruces. We picked the dusty New Mexico town for our first night, simply for convenience. We knew we didn’t want to stay in El Paso and this would put us a little closer to our destination of Arizona. A bit more research showed there were a few mountain bike trails so we thought we might stay a day or two. Five days later, we know we’re coming back.
Las Cruces had everything we needed: well tended bike trails, warm sunny days, and some of the friendliest people we’ve met to date. Everywhere we went, people stopped to chat and offer suggestions about their favorite things to do. From bike trails to Mexican restaurants we learned about the best the area had to offer. The mountain biking community is small but very welcoming. While we camped and worked by the bike trailhead, folks would pop by the van and chat. The thing that struck us the most is that everyone seemed genuinely happy to be doing what they were doing, where they were doing it. We feel like we’ve discovered a geode.
Our favorite spot was definitely the Dona Ana’s. While I recovered from bronchitus, Tim explored the 30 miles of rolling trails that wove through the hills. Our days started with bike rides and breakfast, moved to work and then topped with an evening biking excursion. When required for extra bandwidth, a Starbucks was about 10 minutes away. One night was spent in a particularly nice KOA inside of town, where we showered, laundered, and generally cleaned up our act. Tim spent our final morning exploring new trails with local riders, Chris and Tim G and came back even more psyched about the area. I wasn’t sure he’d leave.
It was the peaceful break that we’ve needed after our Austin adventure. Now we’re back in the desert swing, biking, warm and heading West. Next stop is Arizona!