A-Man’s 29er Hammock Ramble…

10 07 2012

A-Man on the move…

Aaron writes:

With all the adventures Vik & Scott have had bike packing I felt that it was high time that I figured out what all the fuss was about. Originally we had planned to get out together but various and conflicting schedules torpedoed our designs for a tour.  Now I was left with a loaded bike but no companions and no place to ride to. Still being keen to camp, and loaded with awesome equipment, I struck out for a nearby summit.

Taking a break along the way…

To provide some companionship, my colleague from work, Grant volunteered to ride to the summit with me and also shoot some photos. Grant has significant photography experience and produced some excellent photos from my humble Nikon. The two of us also happened to be riding on decked-out Moots titanium 29” wheeled machines from two different schools of thought. My bike, loaned to me by Tim Unger (my generous employer) was a MootoXYBB with front and rear (pivotless) suspension. Grant was riding his fully rigid MootoX. The difference in bikes could not have been more pronounced but we still cranked along the trails together and enjoyed the beautiful woods of the West Coast.

Loving those 29er wagon wheels in the forest…

The area that I chose to go camping is accessed by a multi-usage trail system that is open to both hikers and bikers. Typical of Vancouver Island, I saw neither all day. While you are allowed to ride and hike these trails (lets call it “Hill-X”), camping is a no-no. Guerrilla stealth camping was my other trip objective so I wasn’t concerned by this technicality, who was going to see me anyway? Compared to the fire roads & jeep tracks that Vik and Scott have ridden before, my route was way, way gnarlier. Steep single-track climbs, tight corners through the trees, and rock gardens made for a hardcore effort. If I can make it through this fully loaded I should be able to survive anything else. So was my thinking anyways.

Moots loaded for a bikepack…

Because I am new to bike packing (BP), I scrolled over and reviewed some articles on Vik’s blog to gain an idea of how to pack my steed. Besides experience, the other deficit I was working against was a lack of equipment. I possess no bike bags at all but was adamant that I not use a backpack. It is my belief that the bike is the beast and therefore it carries the burden. To my rescue flew my friends, I brought my bike to Scott (founder of Porcelain Rocket), he looked over my bike, thanks again Tim, and dug out an older model seatbag, as-well-as a barbag and small frame bag. The frame bag fit very well for not being designed for the Moots at all. During the ride I was still able to access my bottles and food was always within reach.

Seatbag…

Taking some cues from Vik I loaded the Moots as follows:

Seat Bag           

  • First-Aid kit
  • Fire kit, toiletries
  • clothes (thermo layer, spare socks,toque, & gloves)
  • Dinner food stuffs, & two beers
  • Lashed on top is a canteen & on the bottom is my rain jacket.

Frame bag…

Frame Bag            

  • Pump + tools & spare tube
  • Big bag of assorted candies & Clif bars

Bar bag…

Bar Bag           

  • Main compartment = sleeping bag & Hennessey hammock.

Auxiliary front bag (white) contained:

  • more energy bars & shot-blocks
  • camera & tiny tripod
  • phone
  • compass
  • headlamp
  • leatherman
  • Lashed between the two bags was a ¾ length sleeping pad
  • Secured on the outside was my camp axe & big knife

 

Cockpit view of bar bag…

For visibility I mounted battery lights on the bars and on the rear so that if it got dark on me I wouldn’t be in a bind. After a mild pavement ride out of town Grant and I reached the trailhead and the real riding commenced. Weighted against the roughness of the trail I was pleasantly surprised on how the bike handled. With no prior experience the positives of a 29” wheel were obvious. Riding out was done at a fast clip and many sections of trails were devoured by my big wheels.

Old and new wagon wheels…

After trying various techniques and watching my riding partner, Grant, I settled on the “Monster Truck” method. Every time a rough patch of roots or rocks came along I headed for the smoothest possible line and let the wheels flow over the terrain. Just attack the trail and float over. Climbs required a decent cadence to maintain momentum but if you kept on top of the gear then getting up at speed was a virtual guarantee. Another element that was an immense help was the titanium frame with the YBB addition. For those who don’t know “YBB” is Moots’ patented soft-tail design that adds a small amount of give in the rear frame triangle. Besides smoothing out the rough stuff, I detected that the frame actually gave me a bit of extra spring to spin up the hills. By compressing and extending in sync with my pedal strokes the frame assisted my efforts with a little extra forward nudging. No doubt the titanium’s flex characteristics also contributed. When Moots makes a bike in 650B with a YBB my wallet’s going to start to twitch. {editor’s note – Moots does full custom bikes A-Man so you can have your 650B Moots dream machine anytime you like… ;) }

Titanium bikepacking goodness…

Previously whenever I went on a bike camping trip I would utilize my racks and panniers to carry my gear. Adding these parts brought the weight up of my bike significantly, increased the complexity, and widened my trail profile. In contrast, bike bags are far lighter than a rack/pannier combo, much quieter over rough terrain, and I could slip through narrow obstacles at speed with ease. The added benefit of these bags is it keeps your amount of gear to minimum, which helps in keeping the weight down. I’ll never completely get rid of my racks or panniers but the next time I ride into the woods I hope to be using a compliment of Scott’s fine bags. Racks and panniers will still be used on my town bikes for getting groceries or running errands.

Top of the World…

After a brief rest at the summit, accompanied by some cold beers, Grant rode off down the trail whilst I remained to set up my camp. Many times I found a good spacing of trees that were the right thickness for the hammock webbing straps but they were all too close to the trail. Now camping is not allowed in this park and I didn’t want any hassles from the authorities or other militant park users so I hiked the Moots deep into the woods. Close to the edge of a cliff I found my little Shangri-La.

Time to hang out…

Close to the cliff edge so the view would be amazing, good Arbutus stands to support my hammock, and best of all, totally hidden from the main trail. Because I was a hammock newbie it took me a try or two to get the set-up correct. Luckily the instructions are printed on the stuff sack for the hammock. My knot skills did not include the type that’s recommended for tying off but I had an ace up my sleeve.  Because I was within cell range I pulled up YouTube and searched for instructions on tying the knots. Armed with my newfound knowledge I made short work of the set-up and was swinging in no time. Technology is at a very high level of usefulness these days. Total set-up time from un-bagging to stuffing in the sleeping pad and bag was just over 15 minutes. More experienced hammock campers are way faster than that.

Chillaxing with a view…

After setting up it was time to relax and explore my little slice of paradise. A small clearing near camp ended at a steep drop off but was clear of trees and offered a dense panorama of the Malahat Hwy., precipitous hills overflowing with trees, and a beautiful view of the beginning of the Saanich Inlet. I ate my dinner sandwich sitting on an arbutus branch overlooking this domain. After battling my way to the summit and then running around to find a spot to set up I was on low ebb. With the retreating rays I to retreated into my shelter to read a little with my headlamp before drifting way from consciousness.

Killer slug…

I must have been comfortable because when I finally awoke it was after 7am! The sun was up and the canopy was full of bird song. Squirrels roamed through camp but largely ignored me. After about two hours of dawdling about I forced myself to break camp and head for nearby civilization. On the way out I was having a bit too much fun on the single-track and managed to get quite lost.

Lost, but having a great time!

The one thing I can virtually guarantee when I go riding is that I’ll inevitably lose my way. Finally I emerged from the woods and commenced the paved/gravel stages that would bring me home. Because I was so close to home I decided to continue riding north, rather than south-east to my door, and hook up with the Lochside Trail for some gravel action. Another delightful section was the Saanich Centennial Trail, which breaks off in a couple of directions of various names. I took several sections before linking up to the Lochside and rambling home. After about 7hrs of riding and approximately 70-80kms I was home to rest.

A rocky road…

From the comfort of my favorite chair I was able to reflect on what worked for me, what I liked, and what didn’t do it for me:

Pros:            

  • Bags are lighter than racks & panniers
  • Much quieter than panniers being rattled around on racks
  •  Easier access to food and other items while riding
  •  Handling is much less affected with bags
  •  Forces you to pack smartly = no unnecessary stuff
  •  Bicycle profile remains narrow = good for tight trail sections & aerodynamics
  •   Versatile = Seat & Bar bags will mount on any bike
  • Hammocks pack very small & is self contained, no poles or extra parts, very comfortable to sleep in & great ventilation

Light is right…

Cons:           

  • Main frame bag is a custom fit & may not fit other frames as well
  • Storage is limited (but ultimately is that a con? Decide for yourself)
  • Points of access can be limited
  • A hammock requires two specific things to set-up, tree spacing & thickness of stock webbing straps (I saw many more spots where I could have just dropped a tent down)
  • Cramped for space & not possible to bring some gear inside with you to keep out of the elements

One of the best parts of a tour – the delicious meal at the end…





Aaron’s Sedona Fat Tire Bike Shop Thoughts…

8 06 2012

Looking out from the Bike and Bean…

Aaron writes:

Sedona, AZ was an awesome sensory blending experience and I’ll write up my impressions of the trails/territory in another installment. Primarily I’d like to mention the humble huts that make your riding experience all the more enjoyable, and in the case of a major mechanical, possible. Vik and I went to several different shops to see what the scene was like. The Bike & Bean is essential if you want great espressos, americanos, or just a regular coffee while you ogle the merchandise or solicit the staff for some trail advise. At Over The Edge you’ll find some good riding gear, friendly staff, cool bikes, and more good suggestions of where to ride. Absolute Bikes is fairly large and well stocked with the usual casual, friendly folks.

Interior of the Bike and Bean…

And then there’s The Fat Tire Bike Shop. I realize there are more bike shops in Sedona but I only had so much time. The Fat Tire Bike Shop (TFTBS), owned and skillfully operated by one Dave Cichan is a famous institution in mountain bike circles. I’ve had the pleasure to be employed by the industry that I love for over 12 years and I’ve never come across a shop that is like this one. If it were the only shop that I ever worked at then I’d be starting out at the top of the heap. Those of you reading this likely read other entries of Vik’s and have read his write-ups about TFTBS so I won’t get all deep in history. Rather I’ll relate my experiences and observations as a TFTBS first timer.

The Fat Tire Bike Shop – Sedona AZ…

Always affable, and possessing a nonchalant professionalism, Dave will invariably take the time and ask the right questions to make your cycling experience more enjoyable and the service will leave you moderately stunned. At least that’s how I felt for a bit when I first walked in the door with Vik. I believe that it was back in 2009 that Vik last visited TFTBS. Immediately Dave recognized him and offered greetings to the both of us. After intros I felt like one of the tribe. Besides Dave the other thing I noticed right away was the absence of piles of merchandise. This is not to say Dave isn’t well stocked, he has everything he needs & likely what you’ll need as well. Rather than find out what you think you want & then try and push whatever he has that’s related on you, Dave will ask intelligent questions and then offer up a bull’s eye suggestion.

Dave and Aaron talk shop…

Many people came in the shop over the times I was there and invariably they were dealt with in a professional manner. Myself included. My poor bike took a great deal of thrashing and the door to TFTBS was always open. My rear tire wore out, the rear brake pads got contaminated, and my Rock Shox Motion Control damper started to leak. All theses issues were dealt with immediately with the greatest speed and assistance possible. Not just allotted to me, Vik and any other who wandered through the door were treated the same. Often I marveled at how this was possible, Dave puts in a lot of long days at TFTBS.

Inside the Fat Tire Bike Shop…

The worst issue I had, the leaking damper seal turned into one of the most satisfying experiences I had at Dave’s. The stock part wasn’t on hand but Dave put in a call on the red phone to Rock Shox HQ and had one shipped out immediately. On morning of our last day of riding we went over to TFTBS to see if the part was in. Through no fault of Dave’s it was not in yet. Rather than leave it at that, Dave dove into some drawers and managed to find what I needed.

Rock Shox upgrade…

Apparently what I needed was a gleaming, titanium/carbon fibre Motion Control unit of the BlackBox persuasion. That of you who don’t know, BlackBox is Rock Shox’s ultra high-end, factory only kind of goodness that us mere mortals can only slobber over. Before I could rub the dazzle from my eyes Dave had my Kona in the stand and was draining the factory oil.

Dave and Aaron working on his fork…

Fresh oil at a different viscosity ( Dave’s recommendation ) and the new damper was in. “How much?” I asked and his response was “go ride it and see how it works for you”. Again, not your usual shop experience where stepping out the door without first leaving collateral is akin to going #2 without wiping after, it’s frowned upon. After what felt like a reversed payment agreement was reached Vik and I hit the trails.

Aaron testing his fork out…

Immediately I noticed the small bump compression sensitivity was vastly improved over the original, plastic damper and the fresh oil made for very smooth operating suspension. Even though I was physically beat after all the days of riding I was still excited to be riding in fantastic Sedona and having had the pleasure of dealing with Dave Cichan. As far as I’m concerned you couldn’t do yourself and your bike a bigger favour than going down to TFTBS for the very best that Sedona bike shops can offer. Be forewarned that TFTBS is a time vortex in the most wonderful way possible. Huge thanks to Dave for making a sweet holiday all the more excellent.

Dave working it at the Fat Tire Bike Shop…





A-Man on the Move to Edmonton…

22 05 2012

A-Man going off in Sedona…

When I moved to Victoria a couple years ago Aaron was on of the first locals I met and started hanging out with. He’s been a constant bike buddy on numerous missions around the island and a few beyond the shores of The Rock. Sadly it seems our bro-mance is coming to an end as A-Man finds that his path leaves our island paradise and crosses the Rocky Mountains to the frozen wastelands of Northern Alberta.

Yes it’s true he’s moving to Edmonton!

Why would a dedicated mountain biker leave a beautiful island with a 12 month/yr dirt season and such low trail usage you are lucky to see another rider when you are on the shred? We could analyze the situation for days and not truly understand what drives a man to such foolishness…..;-) So let me leave you with this nugget: A-Man rides eastward for love.

I know there are a few blog readers from Edmonton so I would ask that you show A-Man around when he arrives in town this summer. He’s a good guy and handy with a multi-tool. He’s been looking at getting a Pugsley to make the most of the city’s 8 month/year snow biking season…=-) So if you live in Edmonton please leave a comment on this post and I’ll steer A-Man to them.





Galbraith Mountain – Bellingham WA…

21 05 2012

The pay off at Galbraith Mountain…

I had to drop off a couple SUPs at Kite Paddle Surf Bellingham last week. The ferry ride is long and expensive so I wanted to make the most of the day and invited A-Man along to do some mountain biking. He researched Galbraith Mountain and figured it was a good bet for us. We grabbed a trail map at REI and hit the trails.

Confirming where we would meet the ambulance!

They’ve got a large trail network to explore accessed by some well groomed logging roads. The whole place is private timberland so parts of it get logged every year. If trails are closed for logging ride somewhere else.

What goes down must first climb up…

After a long climb we plotted a fun dirt route back down. The riding was top notch reminding us a lot of Hartland, but with more elevation to play with and much smoother trails. The trails even broke out into the sunshine so we could get a solar recharge and enjoy some great views.

A-Man enjoying the grind up the main fire road…

We only had 3hrs to spend riding before our return ferry called us back to Canada. That was enough time to confirm this was a great riding option reasonably close to home. The cost/hassle of the ferry means I wouldn’t make the trip for a day of riding, but it would be a worthwhile weekend jaunt or an addition to a trip that passed through the area.

Finally we get some sweet singletrack…

Some Galbraith Mountain links:

Plus we had sunshine!

Excellent WMBC trail map we got at REI…

Proof I was there as well!….;)

A-Man pondering our location…

My bike waiting for me to stop gasping for air…

Trails were similar to Hartland except way way smoother…

….and we had some killer views when the trails broke into the sunshine…

Memories of BC…

The area is actively logged so pay attention to warning signs…

Close up of the section we rode…

The riding was awesome…we’ll be back…=-)





Victoria Populaire – 70K!

26 03 2012

Team 20" at the end of the ride...

Sharon and I rode the 50K route at the BC Randonneurs Victoria Populaire Sunday. Add in ~20kms riding to/from the event and we rode farther than ever before on the tandem. Sharon also rode her longest ever distance on a bicycle. Obviously 70kms is not going to impress folks that ride 1200km events, but considering Sharon didn’t ride a bike when I met her this is a great achievement. Even better Sharon’s talking about riding the 100km route on our own this spring. Our distance riding progress may be slow, but it’s steady…=-)

50K Route Map - click for bigger version...

We met up with Aaron and Laura at the start. They were riding Dahon folding bikes so we were all rolling on 20″ wheels. We were joined by Brian and Mike on their big wheel bikes. The day was sunny and there were something like ~140 riders joining us on the course. The organizers did a great job staffing the controls and the route was well chosen for pleasant cycling.

Rider organizer Dave M giving the troops last minute instructions...

We let the majority of riders start in front of us so we could enjoy a relaxed pace around the course. I had my gps running as well as the course cue sheets. Between the two we managed a first ever zero bonus KM event by staying on course the whole time!

The intrepid members of our 50K posse at control #2...

The tandem proved comfortable for this distance and we had no issues cranking up even the steeper climbs on the course. I’m more and more impressed with our Raspberry Rocket on every new adventure. Thanks Bike Friday!

Sharon taking a breather along the route and enjoying the views...

Thanks to the BC Randonneurs for putting on a great ride for those riders not quite ready for a 200K brevet. Thanks also to Aaron, Laura, Sharon, Brian and Mike for riding with us…=-)

Mr.Lazy happy they have cookies at the control!

Victoria Populaire 2012 photos:





Chuck Wagon Trail – Sedona, AZ…

8 03 2012

Enjoying the last ride...

For our last mountain bike ride in Sedona we wanted to do something fun and easy to be kind to our tired legs.

A-Man seeing red...

We headed to the west end of Sedona and rolled north up Chuck Wagon Trail.

Climbing my last slickrock....

By Sedona standards Chuck Wagon offered us some twisty buff singletrack without a ton of climbing.

Thin red line...

I decided to ride my 29er hardtail on the last day. It was fun to be on a different bike for a change of pace, but I would choose a long travel full suspension bike for riding in the Sedona area every time.

The end of our time in Sedona was bittersweet...

Making it to the end of Chuck Wagon we returned south on Gunslinger Trail which was fast and curvy.

A few last drops...

It was a bit sad to wrap up the riding in Sedona, but all good things must come to an end. We had a great time and got to see a lot of the primo trails in the area. At the same time we left many amazing trails unridden. I think I would need a solid month in Sedona to feel like I had explored the area fully.

Hmmm….that sounds like a plan…=-)





The Hogs Trails – Sedona, AZ…

6 03 2012

Taking in an awesome view of Sedona from Hog Heaven Trail…

Our 2nd last day or riding in Sedona arrived Sunday and we wanted to continue to explore some of the best trails of the area.

A-Man climbs away from Chicken Point…

We saddled up at the Courthouse Vista Parking Lot and cranked north to Little Horse Trail. Riding up Little Horse Trail to Chicken Point isn’t as much fun as going the other way, but sometimes you have to pay to play!

Handy Hogs Trail map we got at the Bike and Bean…

Once at Chicken Point we started north on Broken Arrow Trail just for a bit until we hit the hard left we needed to get onto the start of Hog Heaven Trail.

We have slick rocks at home, but no slickrock!

Hog Heaven was a ton of fun and was filled with lots of exposure which seems to a trait of most of the newly developed unofficial trails here in Sedona.

Riding on a ledge…

I managed to launch myself off the bike to the right into space. Luckily a tree caught me and I didn’t tumble down a cliff to my death!

A-Man takes in the views at a rest stop…

The benefit of riding on the edge of a rock face high above the ground is that there are spectacular views whenever you have time to look around!

A-Man coming into a hard right drop on Hog Heaven Trail…

Hog Heaven fed us onto Hog Wash Trail which took us toward Broken Arrow Trail.

A-Man enjoying the hog wild experience…

The ride ended with Mystic Trail south to the Bell Rock Pathway and Little Horse to Llama Trails to the truck.

Some handy trees to catch a falling mountain biker…

There are more Hogs Trails we didn’t get to on this ride: Hogtail, Pig Tail and Hogalicious. So many trails so little time!

A-Man climbs up Hog Heaven Trail…





Secret Trails – Sedona, AZ…

5 03 2012

Getting down to business!

A-Man and I had unfinished business with the Teacup Trail. Having recovered from his Red Rock Body Slam the previous day we went back to Coffee Pot Rock and pushed our exploration of Tea Cup Trail further than ever before!

Staying on the high ground...

Teacup Trail was even more fun now that we knew its twists and turns.

A-Man carves up the switchbacks...

At the end of Teacup Trail we rolled north up to the seven sacred pools and Soldier’s Pass.

Why I don't let A-Man navigate...

Uncharacteristically we didn’t get lost.

I love slickrock!

The trails were all top notch Sedona singletrack. Lots of flow with and ear to ear grins.

A-Man dips his wheels in a sacred pool...

The sacred pools had some water from the snow earlier in the week.

Cranking left...

Eventually we reached the end of the bike legal section of the Soldier’s Pass Trail.

A-Man rolls into the shade...

Being good MTBers we didn’t ride any further.

Thumbs up for Sedona...

Rolling back southwards we were aiming for the giant sink hole.

A-Man on the edge...

The sink hole was pretty hard to miss. You definitely don’t want to ride over the edge here.

A-Man rolls some chunk...

From the sink hole we headed east on Jordan Trail.

I've got a secret...

We turned south onto one of the secret trail network. We’d tell you which one and how to find it, but we’d have to kill you…=-)

A-Man on fire...

To be honest we don’t know which trail we were on. We just followed the blue markers and had an awesome time.

Heading for home...

Our mystery trail dumped us off on Highway 89A and we took the paved trail back to the truck at Coffee Pot Rock. Another great ride in Sedona. You gotta love it!

Follow the A-Man...





Teacup Trail – Sedona, AZ…

3 03 2012

Feeling excited for some coffee at Coffee Pot Rock...

I wanted to check out my suspension and bike fit adjustments on a faster trail than our slow march around the uber techy Airport Loop Trail. So we headed to the Coffee Pot Rock area of West Sedona and rumbled down Teacup Trail.

Several fun loops in this area...

There are a few trails in this area that offer a lot of options and loop possibilities.

Follow the cairns to stay on track...

Teacup Trail was the fast flowy Sedona trail we know and love – with just enough rocky technical challenge to make it interesting without getting silly.

Where to now?

I was pretty happy with the suspension setup that Dave from the Fat Tire Bike Shop dialed in for me. My bike carved nicely around the tight twisty corners like it was glued to the ground. I rotated my bars forward to get my weight slightly more over the front wheel so I had a more aggressive climbing position. In the long run I’ll get a 10mm longer stem and rotate the bars back towards me a bit. I’ll probably also move the saddle 10mm forward to see how I like that.

The fine art of bike fit! – fun, fun, fun…=-)

A-Man rolls back towards the trailhead...

Heading back to the parking lot we unintentionally explored a whole network of smaller trails that are in this area, but aren’t marked on any map we have. When navigating in Sedona just look up to orientate yourself using the local landmarks and retrace your tire tracks back to the last time you were sure you were on the right trail.

Wait for me!





Airport Loop Trail – Sedona, AZ…

2 03 2012

Riding in dangerous territory...

I had a lot of work that needed my attention in the AM on Thursday so we got a late start on the trail and decided to ride the Airport Loop Trail because it was near our hotel and had spectacular views.

A quick derailleur tune...

The start of this ride is a popular viewpoint and a fair number of hikers complete the circuit around Airport Mesa. My derailleur needed some love right at the start, but happily I was travelling with a professional bike mechanic so Aaron tweaked it for me.

Don't fall to the left!

Airport Loop Trail is definitely the most technically demanding trail we have ridden so far. Not only is it narrow and rough, but there is a serious drop off if you screw up. We ended up walking quite a few sections and I had one nearly deadly bail where I thought I was going for a long fall! The exposure on Highline Trail is tame by comparison.

A-Man climbing like an angry squirrel...

We rode around the mesa clockwise and I would probably recommend that direction for the best flow – although it will be hard either way.

The straight and narrow...

The second half of the trail was slightly downhill which meant that if I was able to pick a decent line and finesse the bike I could ride most of it. I definitely smiled more as I got closer to the end of the trail.

Top down view...

To be honest I wouldn’t suggest you take your mountain bike on this ride. I think it makes a better hike than a ride. You’ll get the same killer views and you won’t complete the trail much slower on foot!

Black tie riding...

Even though it wasn’t my favourite trail in Sedona so far it’s hard to complain too much about being out in the sunshine riding your mountain bike in such pretty country.

The eye of the cactus!

We are not big into video, but here is a little A-Man action sequence.





Highline Trail – Sedona, AZ…

1 03 2012

Jumping for joy...

The locals here in Sedona all seem to be talking about Highline Trail so we figured it was time to check it out ourselves.

A-Man getting a leg up...

We started out with a couple espressos at the Bike and Bean bike/coffee shop.

Trying to stay lost...

Climbing aboard our fine mountain bikes we rolled up Slim Shady Trail.

Staying grounded...

We took a couple exploratory missions down side trails, but eventually we found the start of Highline Trail.

There was some hike a bike...

We had to climb & push our bikes up some steep slopes at first.

A-Man rumbles down the trail...

The quality of the trail was high and justified all the buzz we had heard.

Up, up and away...

Highline features a lot of narrow exposed trail.

Desert flora...

It’s hard enough and exposed enough I wouldn’t recommend it for riders with an over active sense of self-preservation.

Getting high...

For the most part Highline was solidly intermediate in difficulty without getting too gnarly.

A-Man channels the Thunder Chicken...

The most dangerous parts of the ride were the amazingly beautiful views that were seriously distracting.

Consulting the map...

Although we got confused a few times we managed not to get lost.

Prepared for take off...

The ride just went on and on until our faces hurt from all the smiling.

A-Man rolling down some tasty slickrock...

Eventually we dropped down towards Baldwin Trail, but the fun wasn’t over.

Living on the edge...

Due to the rain/snow earlier this week the trail was uber tacky making us feel like heros.

Good to the last drop...

Once we got onto Baldwin Trail we let our guard down a bit as we assumed  it would be an easy cruise back to the start.

About to carve some bermy singletrack...

The ride back started off easy and curvy, but then the rocky tech came back.

A-Man went ahead to scout out the route...

Aaron volunteered to go ahead and conduct some ninja styles recon.

Waiting patiently...

I eventually got bored and found A-Man doing some horizontal scouting.

Switchback...

Our easy pedal home got rough and then turned vertical for a good long way towards the start of Templeton Trail.

A-Man, Deb and Brenda our helpful guides...

We had passed two nice ladies on Highline and Baldwin Trails then ran into them again at the start of Templeton Trail. They suggest we try Easy Breezy headed south rather that Templeton and offered to guide us. How could we refuse? It was really fun to ride in a small posse for a change. We cruised down the very enjoyable Easy Breezy Trail then took Slim Shady back to the truck.

A-Man giving 'er...

All in all Highline Trail was a great day in the saddle. It lived up to our considerable expectations. We’ll definitely be back and would highly recommend it to any intermediate mountain bikers without a fear of heights!

Here are a couple videos of Highline Trail from Mountain Bike USA to give you a sense of the action.





Submarine Rock Loop – Sedona, AZ…

28 02 2012

Can you dig it?

Monday was our first full day in town so we wanted to get in a longer ride. The Submarine Rock Loop is a classic Sedona ride that was just enough gnar with a lot of fun curves to carve plus some slickrock to play on.

Taking the high road...

It was a cool and windy day.  So windy my bike fell over twice!

A-Man sampling some slickrock...

Starting out on Broken Arrow Trail we enjoyed some amazing singletrack that led to a small area of slickrock.

Testing out my brakes...

I felt a lot stronger than Sunday and didn’t have to gasp for air quite as pathetically.

Deep in the trees...

The quality of the trail started high and just kept getting better.

A-Man dropping off the Submarine...

Hard to believe, but we didn’t see any other mountain bikers until the we ran across a solo Ibis pilot at the end of the ride.

There were some pedestrians to contend with though...

The slickrock parts of the trail were popular with the Pink Jeep and 4×4 crowd.

Pink Jeep...

The Pink Jeep tourists seemed amazed anyone could ride a bike off road for more than a mile or two.

Icy cold beer hits the spot in the middle of a long desert ride...

Some friendly 4×4 guys gave us a couple icy cold beers – which were most appreciated.

Rolling down some chunk....

We spent a lot of time exploring all the side trails and variations we could find.

Are we lost?

We even managed to get a tiny bit lost on a closed trail until we realized the level of difficulty seemed over the top for a popular Sedona Trail. At least we got a taste of the riding back at home for a few minutes.

Wheel's eye view...

With a map and a look around at the many striking landmarks it’s pretty hard to stay lost biking around Sedona.

I don't need no stinking rear suspension...

A-Man showed off his skills muscling his Kona hardtail over all manner big chunky rocks.

Okay I don't fly like a butterfly...

My hand is still sore from the bikepacking crash 2 weeks ago so I kept my ego in check and rode conservatively.

Rock and roll....

No point taking any chances.

I could do this all day...

I figure a few days of easy riding and I should be able to rip it up at the end of the trip.

A-Man is enjoying his first full day of Sedona riding...

After Broken Arrow Trail [including a few detours] we hit Little Horse Trail and then rode Llama Trail again for good measure.

A-Man feeling all panoramic...

By the time we were on Llama Trail we were pretty tired, but when the singletrack unfolds in such a fun way around every curve there is no way to stop pedalling.

Where is Lazy?

After Llama we spun north on the Bell Rock Pathway to Mystic Trail.

Where did we park the truck?

By the 4hr mark we were hungry, tired and ready to see the truck…sadly there were a few more miles left.

Keeping my spirits high...

All good things must end and so did our ride. After Mystic Trail we still had another mile or two of pavement, but that was fast and painless. We were definitely happy to load up our bikes and head into town in search of food.

Done like dinner...

This trail loop is just amazing. So many miles of consistently awesome singletrack with stunning scenery in every direction and virtually zero mountain bike traffic to share the trails with. It really doesn’t get much better than this…or does it?….=-)~

My Nomad waiting to be blown over by the wind...





Llama Trail – Sedona, AZ…

27 02 2012

It's good to be back!

After a long, long, long drive we rolled into Sedona Sunday morning in time to have a delicious espresso at the Bike and Bean.  Not only do they have great coffee they are also the local Santa Cruz dealer. So I was able to get the spare derailleur hanger for my Nomad that was proving so elusive to source in Victoria.

Just follow this wiggly line...

We had a few hours to kill before we could checked in to our hotel. A fun shakedown ride was in order.

A-Man ready to ride....

We cranked across the highway to the Bell Rock Path and rolled north to Little Horse Trail. This isn’t hard riding, but Aaron and I are both fighting off colds not to mention our pitiful sea level lung capacities so there was some huffing and puffing.

Aaron staying legal...

It was a warm and sunny day with glorious singletrack spiced up just enough with rocky technical sections. It only takes 5 minutes of riding to remind you why the crazy long road trip was more than worth it.

Blue sky mine...

Little Horse Trail took us to a super fun ride down Llama Trail back towards the Bike and Bean. Fast curvy singletrack with bermed corners and traction galore. Pretty much the exact opposite of riding around Victoria!

Dusty...

I’m happy to report that all my technical suffering at the Hartland MTB Park has paid off with some displays of skill on the grippy rock steps and drops Sedona threw at us.





Sedona 2012…

18 02 2012

Red Rocks - Rock!

I was totally bummed when I couldn’t go down to Moab last fall and mountain bike. I have a special relationship with the desert that puts a huge smile on my face every time I roll my tires across its dry rocky trails. However, life does place obstacles in our path that can’t be denied sometimes. That said I am nothing if not persistent! So I’ll be down in Sedona from about 26 Feb through 6 March. If any blog readers are in the area and want to hook up for a ride and some beers just drop me a line. Aaron “A-Man” Mankowske will be accompanying me to get his fine Kona Explosif all dusty…=-)

Sorry for the lack of advanced notice, but I didn’t want to be talking about the trip until it was pretty solid. I don’t want to be that Blogger that’s all keyboard and no riding….;-)

Hopefully I can make it down to Moab this fall since Burning Man is a bust for us. I want to ride the Whole Enchilada real bad!

BTW – if anyone knows of cheap accommodation in Sedona that’s got solid WiFi let me know.





A-Man Urban Mobility Style…

11 02 2012

Looking good & being mobile!

The Bridgestone Knickerbocker Hombre:

  • Cap – Walz Organic Cotton
  • Jacket – Sombrio Wingman. Stuffs into it’s own pocket, pit vents & large hood
  • Shirt – Thick cotton, made by the Gap, purchased at a used clothing store
  • Undershirt – Sugoi merino base layer (don’t buy one, this one sucks.)
  • Knickers – Ibex commuter wool. Love it, warm & comfy & has been holding up extremely well. Go buy one now & rejoice.
  • Gloves – Knog “Moose Knuckle” winter glove. Leather palms, padded & large terry-cloth sections on thumbs ( left hand for snot, right hand for sweat, don’t mix ‘em up, trust me I know.)
  • Socks – Point6 Merino Wool. Slightly thicker for winter, thin low cuff ones in the summer. Nice & toasty with no funk.
  • Shoes – Timberland, reg. street shoes, nothing fancy.

It's not all about the bike..;-)

If you want to see the whole A-Man photo shoot click here.

Aaron standing up for Folder Power!

Small Wheels Big Smile:

  • Cap – Walz cotton
  • Vest – Gore Bike Wear. Windstopper front w/ mesh back panel. One of the best clothing purchases I’ve ever made. Inconspicuous & rolls up very small. Two front zip pockets.
  • Sweater – Chrome Cobra Merino ( I like wool, can you tell?)
  • Jersey – Adidas polo type. Crazy soft, wicks well & looks pretty dashing.
  • Knickers – Ibex, what can I say? I wear these everywhere.
  • Socks – Point6
  • Shoes – Tsubo Tacoma, reg. street shoes, no cleat bolts (for clipped riding I use either my Specialized TR Elites , Diadora Cayman ( which are well over 10 years old & still going strong), & for mtn. riding on a pair of Shimano AM50s.

A-Man Fast Getaway Styles...

Unrelated music video…

A-man feeling Victorian...

Sensitive Cyclist:

  • Cap – Walz cotton
  • Jacket – Sombrio Habitat
  • Shirt – Billabong Slim fit, cotton
  • Knickers – Swrve Mid-weight , wind & water resistant, cotton.
  • Gloves – Knog again
  • Socks – Still more wool
  • Shoes – Timbers again
  • Beard – All natural

The A-Mansion...

Another audio intermission…

A-Man Code Red...

A-Man Speaks:

“As you can no doubt see, I don’t subscribe to the “pylon” school of cycling dress. Being seen is important and I take measures to ensure a prudent amount of visibility is established. There gets to be a point of redundancy, I believe, where any more puke yellow/green & reflective strips no longer offers proportionate security. Like most I’m a little vain and take pride/satisfaction in my appearance.

Ultimately it’s the ride/destination that determines what I’ll be wearing. If it’s for errands or social calls then I’ll be wearing more incognito type clothing. Weather is the other major decider, I don’t like to be a rain blasted, shivering mass when I finally arrive or a fountain of sweat. My internal furnace tends to run pretty warm so I have to factor that in on longer rides, layers/pieces that are easily adjusted are best to regulate temperature. How the items function can have a great impact on your ability to control your comfort when riding/hiking, snowboarding etc. Is there provisions for ventilation, water resistant & breathable vs. water proof & not breathable, material construction, type of seams/stitching, etc. It can be a fine balance between just right, Franklin-esque frozen, or jungle rot funkiness. Everyone needs to figure this for themselves and it can take a while to get sorted.”

Speed and Beauty...





650B Dirt Dawgs…

30 01 2012

My Boulder Bicycle 650B rando rig...

Training might be too strong a word for our first road ride of 2012, but when you are as lazy as we are you need to count every pedal stroke. I was stoked that pulling my Boulder Bicycle All Road down from its winter slumber hanging from the wall of my office didn’t reveal much work needed to get her operational. Some air in the tires and dead batteries in the taillight & bike computer were the only items that needed attention. I like a bike that doesn’t need a ton of maintenance.

Pre-ride shenanigans...

Taking a photo break...

Aaron's new Bridgestone rando beast...

You can always spot the rolling pumpkin...

A few more tweaks...

eVent jacket and wool keep me comfy and dry...

Aaron coming...

A lot of the ride was slick gravel or mud - perfect 650B terrain...

Aaron going...

Hanging with our good friend...