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editor/publisher brian riepe publisher steve mabry managing editor caroline spaeth art director chris hanna creative editor james e. rickman roving artist gloria sharp copy editor trina ortega photographers writers Christina Buchanan Marty Caivano Steve Mabry Rob McPherson Erinn Morgan Matthew J Nelson Trina Ortega James E Rickman Justin Schmid Lizzy Scully Kurt Smith

Devon Balet Eddie Clark Richard Durnan Matt Hebard Anne Keller Shawn Lortie Sandra Mabry Rob McPherson Trina Ortega James E Rickman Scott DW Smith

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mountain flyer p.o. box 272 gunnison, co  81230 970.641.1804 send your letters to: cover photo: 2009 copyright Devon Balet Linden Carlson drops into Horsethief Mesa, Fruita, Colo. subscribe online at or mail subscription card to: mountain flyer magazine, p.o. box 272 gunnison, co  81230 Mountain Flyer magazine is published quarterly and is available nationwide through select Barnes & Noble, Borders and REI locations, as well as fine bike shops and coffee stores throughout the Rocky Mountain region. When you’re finished reading, pass it on! Nothing in this publication can be copied or reproduced without prior written permission of the publisher. All material and images is compiled from sources believed to be reliable, but published without responsibility for errors or omissions. Secret Agent Publishing assumes no responsibility for unsolicited manuscripts or images. But we’ll sure consider them.

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Editor’s Note Letters Ross Schnell – Profile by Marty Caivano Fly Over – News and Notes Wilderness – Love it or Hate it by Trina Ortega Riders Journal Durango to Moab by Matthew J. Nelson 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo by Brian Riepe Valley of the Sun by James E. Rickman Mob in the Mojave by Rob McPherson Frostbite Time Trial by Shawn Lortie Cult Cross by Eddie Clark Recipes – The Bar Issue by Christina Buchanan Paraphernalia – Gotta Have It Gear Paketa Rocket by Brian Riepe Rawland Askeladden by Brian Riepe Strong Monster-Cross by Kurt Smith Retül Bike Fit by Brian Riepe Community Pages When Worlds Collide by James E. Rickman


Ross Schnell


Riders Journal




Community Pages

Mountain Flyer Magazine (ISSN 1944-6101) April 2009 is published quarterly by Secret Agent Publishing, LLC, 309 South Main Street, Gunnison, Colo. Periodicals postage paid in Gunnison CO and additional mailing offices. Postmaster: Send address changes to Mountain Flyer, PO Box 272, Gunnison, CO 81230



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[editor’snote] Economy got you down? I’ve heard that liquor stores do well in bad economies and our local distributor of fine spirits wasn’t being bashful about it with their new street-side advertisement. The bold sign out front—austere black letters on a backlit white plastic board— simply stated: Economy got you down? We can help! When markets go belly up, tumblers go bottoms up. Booze is a cheap indulgence I guess—easy on the pocketbook but tough on the liver. Another indulgence that seams resilient in slow economies is sport, and in our current economically insecure times, bike shops should be hanging the same sign. Liquor numbs the mind and anesthetizes the spirit—allowing people to forget their problems. On the other hand, sport—for us it’s cycling— also helps us forget our problems but through a different, opposing effect: cycling heightens the senses and frees the spirit. That is what your local bike shop is really selling. That’s what Mountain Flyer is selling. The popularity of sport through economic turmoil is nothing new. Franklin Delano Roosevelt rode on the shirttails of baseball to carry the United States through the great depression, regularly referencing baseball in his speeches and attending games. FDR saw social interaction as a driving force for economic growth and felt that baseball brought people together. For a cyclist, pedaling is not a part of life they’re willing to give up. They’ll skip the new car purchase, sell the new 64-inch plasma boob tube, or eat ramen noodles for breakfast but they are not going to give up the ride. For competitive cyclists or recreational riders, races and events like tours or festivals offer that same social interaction and source of inspiration that FDR found in baseball. I was pretty worried in January. So was everyone else. Now it’s March and our sales and subscriptions are up and I’m feeling much better. Most of the bike shop owners I’ve spoken with are optimistic too. High-end bike sales may slip but parts and service needs should remain steady. The events I’ve been attending so far this year have had record attendance. Enthusiasm for our sport shows no sign of diminishing like the balance of many people’s 401k’s. 2009 is shaping up to be an exciting year for cycling in the Rockies. Lance Armstrong has officially announced he’ll be back to challenge Dave Wiens again at the Leadville 100. I’m sure he’s hungry for it and I’m sure Wiens will be ready. Thanks to SRAM and a ton of other sponsors who stepped up to keep an icon alive, the Tour of the Gila is set to be one of the best editions ever. We also have a new six-day off-road stage-race taking place in July—the Breck Epic—that is sure to be a great and inspiring event for participants and spectators. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to drink away your worries in the adrenalin-laced elixir of bike racing, and Mountain Flyer will be there, covering it all. So if the economy has got you down, keep riding your bike. It’s much easier on your liver. Like the sign says, we can help!



[yourletters] Editor:


Issue 11, Page 94. Come on!! Cactus grows vertically! Riders rest perpendicular to the slope! Don’t rotate your images to steepen terrain and add text “Riders...have a steep and loose climb.” Amateur and deceptive journalism. Otherwise a great mag. Nice choices for bike reviews.

While finally getting a chance to enjoy Issue number 10, I read Little Jimmy’s Travels “Mysteries of the Kaibab Crescent” and came across yet another slam of the GOP. What a waste of space in an otherwise well written and very interesting article. Can you please explain to me how taking a jab at Republicans and espousing that they will soon support burning people at the stake has anything to do with riding your mountain bike? It’s ignorant rhetoric like that that keeps this country divided. I am willing to bet that Mr. Rickman and I have more in common than he would like to admit. I am a member of IMBA, MORC and the BRC along with donating personal time to help with trail advocacy and construction. I have spent time lobbying my local and federal officials for trail conservation in states that I ride maybe once every five years, yet I am somehow a hate monger that promotes burning people at the stake. Perhaps Mr. Rickman would have better spent his time riding his bike and writing articles that inspire and promote this great sport than writing garbage about people he obviously knows very little about, and perhaps just maybe realize that some of us who are Republicans are subscribers and help to pay his salary. Just a thought. To Mr. Rickman, if you are ever in the great state of Minnesota, I would like to personally invite you out for a ride and just maybe you will realize that this country was founded on differing points of view, and that is part of what makes this country great. Debate of the issues is and always should be a welcome part of our society. Let’s leave the name-calling and the rhetoric to the children on the playground. Cheers and keep up the great work on 99 percent of your fine publication.

Brian Bell Fairbanks, Alaska Sent from his iPhone

Mr. Bell, As the art director of Mountain Flyer, I feel obligated to field a response to your expressed concern. I’m not sure exactly what kind of cactus you’re used to seeing up there on the frozen tundra of Fairbanks, but cacti, like you, me and Jenna Jameson, come in all different shapes and sizes with varying degrees of stubble. Your accusation does warrant an explanation. Through photography, certain features are emphasized and often distorted due to numerous factors, some of which include the angle of view at which the image is captured and the angle of view at which the photograph is viewed. This can be particularly noticeable in pictures taken with wide-angle lenses, like in this instance, thus giving the illusion that the cacti are growing crooked. Sleep well tonight knowing we didn’t rotate any images to make them appear steeper. I am glad you like Mountain Flyer and thanks for reading. –C. Hanna 16

Ryan M. Benson, PE Bloomington, Minn. I hope to take you up on that invitation to ride much sooner than you think. I’m betting that, politics aside, we’ll have a blast! See you soon. –J. Rickman

[yourletters] Editor: Congratulations on publishing what is easily the most relevant and enjoyable magazine of the Front Range mountain biking scene. Issue 10 was discovered by me at a local newsstand and I loved it! However, there was one comment I’d like to make to James Rickman about his otherwise great, entertaining and funny article, entitled “Little Jimmy’s Travels,” regarding the following line: “In the Old Days, that kind of Earthy talk could get you burned at the stake for Witchery, and if the modern Republicans have their way, such horrific spectacle may come back into vogue soon enough.” I think this kind of generalization not only speaks ill of Mr. Rickman but it shows that he is ill informed of current events. I could mention numerous worldwide examples of what happens to human rights when liberal politicians are calling the shots. I realize some Republicans are liberal but most are not. But let me just mention one example that I think will be relevant to your readership. Most of the green, environmentally motivated activists that are trying to take away your right to enjoy mountain biking on public lands with one fell swoop of sweeping legislation are of one political party and that isn’t the Republicans. Thanks again for a great magazine! Randy Last name withheld upon request Colorado Springs, Colo. Editor’s Note: Randy requested that we withhold his last name. He told us he believes his life is in danger because he is on Bill Clinton’s enemies list. No, we’re not making that up.

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by Marty Caivano Ross Schnell, a Grand Junction-based racer, is cleaning up in every kind of mountain bike racing.

If you never took German as a foreign language, you might not know the significance of Ross Schnell’s last name. It means “fast.” And so far, he’s not having any trouble living up to his name. Based in Grand Junction, Colo., the racer has made a name for himself by being fast not only at cross-country racing, but also at Super D, dual slalom and downhill. Some of “Rad” Ross’ recent career highlights include a fifthplace ranking in the 2008 U.S. National Mountain Bike XC Series, first-place and record holder at the 2008 All-Mountain World Championships in Downieville, Calif., and second-place in the 2008 U.S. National Championships in Super D. In college, he raced “super casually” for the Mesa State cycling team, winning national titles in cross-country (2001), dual slalom (2003) and the omnium (2003). In addition, he 18

Anne Keller

was a seven-time BMX Colorado State Champion in his youth. “I specialize in not being specialized,” Schnell said. And it’s turned out to be a boon from a sponsorship standpoint. After Trek/Volkswagen ended their partnership with him, Schnell’s main source of income dissolved. But because of his exposure in many disciplines, other companies stepped in to fill the void. “I have my own gig this year, which includes Trek, Oakley, Crank Brothers and SRAM,” Schnell said. “This year my support level has gone through the roof. I know that most sponsors are tightening their belts, but from my point of view, it’s better than ever.” Specifically, Crank Brothers supports him as their marquee wheelman. “My skill set kind of runs the gamut. This way, sponsors can support one rider who races a lot of different stuff as

Like his music performances, Schnell doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t go for formal bike training. Anne Keller


opposed to a whole team,” Schnell said. He credits the Downieville Classic for his shift away from pure cross-country racing. “Doing that race was a serendipitous discovery on my end. I had no idea what I was in for when I For Schnell, the faster the better when it comes to bikes. He also lives up to his high-speed name when he’s riding motorcycles and driving 100 mph go-carts.

Anne Keller


went there, but it definitely transformed my career,” he said. Since then he’s followed the lure of gravity to more and more all-mountain style events and now has his focus on the bigger Super D races, Megavalanche races (a downhill marathon-style event) and European enduro downhill races. “These events represent an absolute paradigm shift in mountain bike racing,” Schnell said. “These are real mountain bike races for real mountain bikers. People want to ride bikes that are fun—with five to six inches of travel—and enjoy being rewarded with events that test both fitness and skill.” It’s not that he’s turned his back on traditional crosscountry, but he sees the writing on the wall. “I’m still a fan of cross-country racing,” he said. “But all the people in the industry are telling me it’s not that advantageous to promote a cross-country racer, because no one buys crosscountry bikes anymore.” Schnell himself could attest to that. For several seasons, he swore to himself that he would follow the monk-like training plans that make many cross-country racers successful. But frequently, he would find himself doing epic mountain bike rides on his six-inch Trek Remedy instead. “Before Brian Head last year I spent a month on my Remedy, doing long trail rides, with no structure, no intervals,” Schnell said. “I won the Brian Head short track and almost won the cross-country.” He came in second behind Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski. He feels that the trend toward all-mountain bikes is well established at this point: “As far as racing formats, that’s new, but people have been buying five- and six-inch travel bikes for years. And now the technology is really catching up with that trend.” At 28 years old, Schnell has plenty of time to capitalize on the changing nature of mountain bike racing. And at the same time, he’s making sure life has variety. “I’ll never be the quintessential bike racer who does nothing but train and put their feet up all day,” Schnell said. Like his cross-country/Super D cohort Adam Craig, who “cross-trains” by kayaking and rally car driving, Schnell devotes whole days to riding motorcycles and driving shifter Karts, go-carts that reach speeds of 100-plus mph. “I like having fun. That’s where I thrive,” Schnell said. “When I pretend to get serious, I don’t tend to go as fast as when I just have fun.” Hence, he’s hatched a plan to buy his own Kart to keep at the track. “Doing this stuff has definitely held me back from a crosscountry standpoint,” he said. “But I’d rather have fun in life and have a good balance than give it all away to be the best.” Craig, who is Schnell’s close friend as well as competitor, puts it this way: “He has that ability to focus that comes with any successful athlete. But he’s also able to be relaxed and mellow when it’s important. He’s definitely okay with drinking more beer than the typical cross-country rider.” But even Craig, widely recognized as one of the best bike handlers on the circuit, wants to make one thing clear. “I think Ross is the best mountain biker in the country at being smooth and stylish on the trails,” Craig said. “Pretty much everyone should try to get a chance to ride behind that guy.”






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Indoor Velodrome Opens in Boulder BOULDER, Colo.—Boulder cyclists can now avoid the snowy winter blues and escape inside for some riding at the city’s first inside velodrome, which opened in January. Since its opening, the velodrome, the first indoor track in the state, has been attracting cyclists of all levels with its slate of races and classes open to the public. “It’s already busier than we anticipated. Support for us has been wonderful,” said Paul Wells, director of cycling and

to build. The track’s surfaces were made with new materials while most of the rafters and framing were crafted from recycled wood, thereby saving costs. Banked anywhere from 17 degrees to 45 degrees at the turns, Boulder’s velodrome was made for both expert and recreational cyclists and in its first two months attracted more than 430 cyclists. The velodrome is expected to do well in Boulder, a city known for its high number of cyclists. “We have to have one of the highest per capita of elite athletes, and we’ve had no cycling-specific venues until now,” said Colby Pearce, 14-time national track champion and BIC coach. “It’s absolutely awesome. Not only is it good for me personally, but it’s going to open so many people’s eyes to what track cycling is.” The facility is fast becoming not only a place for the countless professional cyclists like Pearce to train but also a “cultural hub for all things cycling in Boulder,” Wells said. Professional riders are already training together, and juniors come in on a regular basis. Plus, the facility will host competitions that are open to the public, offer classes for all ages and levels and provide a meeting place for group rides. Mountain bikers will get their piece of the velodrome pie, too. Near future plans include building an indoor mountain bike park located at the center of the track. Shawn Lortie “We are not necessarily trying to create racers; we’re manager of the Boulder Indoor Cycling facility. Wells owns the just trying to create healthy, active people,” Wells said. “Cycling facility with principal owner Rodrigo Garcia, Patrick Keane and is a way of life, and we hope that people learn that in here.” Peter Ambrose. “Boulder has been crying out for a velodrome The Velodrome is open from 6 a.m. to midnight every for decades.” day. Memberships are $25, and riders pay $9 per hour, which The 142-meter indoor track is one of just two dozen includes special brakeless Fuji bikes. Cyclists must be certified, velodromes in the United States and the second for the Rocky which takes from eight weeks for beginners to a few minutes Mountain state. Colorado Springs has an outdoor concrete for experts. Visit for more track. The velodrome, built by volunteers, cost about $300,000 information. –L. Scully

Last-Minute Amendment Mars Bike Bill DENVER, Colo.—A revised Bicycle Safety Bill recently passed the Colorado State Senate clarifying rules about riding two abreast and specifying that motorists must allow three feet of clearance when passing a bicyclist. In addition, the bipartisan bill SB 148 takes a strong stand on harassment of cyclists. Throwing an object at a cyclist would become a class two misdemeanor and driving towards a cyclist in a dangerous manner would bring a careless driving offense. That’s great news, but before the bill passed the House of Representatives on March 26—its last stop before reaching the Governor’s desk—a last-minute amendment was added to the bill making it illegal for bicycles to pass each other on state highways when the lane is less than 12 feet wide. “That’s just legislative maneuvering,” said Dan Grunig, Bicycle Colorado’s executive director, who has worked closely with lobbyists to get the bill passed. “It doesn’t make any sense, and we can still try to correct that language before it reaches the Governor’s desk. We still have a lot of work to do.” 22

Greg Brophy, R-Wray, sponsored the bill after a controversy erupted last spring with the Larimer County Sheriff’s Department. Cyclists who were riding two abreast on county roads began reporting that Larimer deputies were threatening them and telling them to “get out of the county or they would be ticketed.” Sheriff Jim Alderden defended his deputies, saying that they were enforcing the law correctly. “Alderden found an inconsistency in state law,” Brophy said about the two-abreast rule. “We wrote this bill to clear that up, and we decided to go ahead and fix some other issues while we were at it.” The bill must now return to the senate where the new amendments can be accepted or rejected. If rejected, it will go to a conference committee and the amendments may be changed. To follow the bill’s progress, visit –M. Caivano


SRAM, Community Bring Ailing Gila Monster Back to Life SILVER CITY, N.M.—“We were within one week of canceling the whole event,” said Jack Brennan, Tour of the Gila race director. Back in February Brennan was not feeling optimistic. Economic gloom and doom was threatening to break the infamous Tour of the Gila road race, a five-day stage race hosted on the brutal, steep and wind-torn roads surrounding remote Silver City, N.M. Twenty-two years in the running, the Tour of the Gila is both loved and feared by many cyclists for its difficulty, especially the final stage dubbed the Gila Monster, a 105mile stage with five substantial climbs. The race offers a rare opportunity for both professionals and amateur racers to experience a true stage race on U.S. soil. Despite the race’s popularity, 2009 sponsorship was running thin. So Brennan was forced to break the news that the race was in danger of being cancelled. Yet when the news of the trouble reached regional newspapers and national online sources for cycling news, the response was overwhelming. “Forty thousand dollars appeared within one week,” said Brennan. “Support from Silver City was incredible. It really showed us how important the race is for the community.” Perusing the list of sponsors on the official website tells an amazing story. Along with the Town of Silver City, many small

businesses, local doctors, construction companies and quite a few individual citizens are at the top of the list. Forty thousand dollars is a lot but falls far short of the budget required to host such a race. The budget is about $170,000, according to Brennan, with $70,000 for prizes and $22,000 for officials. The Tour of the Gila still badly needed a title sponsor. That’s when SRAM showed up. “SRAM contacted us,” said Brennan. “They basically called me at my house and said ‘Here’s some money.’ We had a short conversation that led to a three-year deal for SRAM to be the title sponsor.” SRAM’s involvement isn’t new to the race. SRAM has

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provided neutral support for the Tour of the Gila, along with many other races, for several years. “The Tour of the Gila has a cult following,” said David Zimberoff, global communications manager for SRAM Corporation. “We have very much liked being involved in the past. It’s sort of a diamond in the rough, a boutique challenger event, and SRAM is a challenger brand. It’s a great match for us.” With this shot of financial adrenalin, the Gila Monster is ready to roar. Already the registration roster is filling up. “With the cancellation of Tour of Georgia, we are seeing more high-caliber pro teams sign up than last year,” said Brennan. “The level of competition will be great.” The 2009 Tour of the Gila will kick off April 29 with the legendary Mogollon road race, a 94-mile stage that finishes with a 19 percent grade climb to the top of the Mogollon Plateau. For more information and online registration, visit –B. Riepe


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Not Just About Going Fast: Arizona Bike Group Gives Race Points for Trail Work PHOENIX, Ariz.—Since its founding in 1990, the Mountain Bike Association of Arizona has been synonymous with the state’s racing scene. Now it aims to create a similar legacy for trails advocacy. According to MBAA President Janet Kerby, advocacy is written into the organization’s bylaws, which call for trail maintenance, promote the rights of mountain bikers and educate the public on the benefits of multi-user trails, among other activities. Now the organization is doing more to promote advocacy and urge its members to get involved. For example, MBAA is offering racers points in the state racing series for performing trail maintenance and volunteering at races. Kerby is curious about how racers will react to the incentives.

“The first race of the season, everyone’s confused,” she said. “They’re still digesting it.” Racing, Kerby said, is a great way to expose cyclists to trail maintenance and advocacy. The organization also wants to lure those who might not even think of strapping a number plate to their bikes. MBAA is participating in events such as the Tour de Fat to add people to its email distribution list. The organization has now added more board members to focus on advocacy issues. Until recently, Michael Yares held the sole advocacy post, filling the Land and Trails position on the board. Yares recently left the board to move to California. His replacement, Stan Klonowski, is active in the Tempe Bicycle Action Group. The board is also adding Jon Shouse, who is active in southern Arizona advocacy. Their appointments show MBAA’s determination to link with other groups and spread its activities statewide. “MBAA always intended to be border-to-border,” Kerby said. Eventually, Kerby would like to get race teams involved in running the races and have MBAA oversee the points series. In the sport’s heyday, an outside promoter ran the races. If MBAA could free itself of the heavy lifting of the race series, it could handle more advocacy work. Since its inception, even with racing as its priority, MBAA has accomplished a great deal. The group and its members adopted and finished a 9-mile section of the Arizona Trail, provided start-up funds for a mountain bike patrol for South Mountain in Phoenix and helped preserve access at the Pima and Dynamite singletrack network. The group is also helping kids get involved in mountain biking. It established a $7,500

Arizona racers can boost their state race series standings by pitching in on trail work. MBAA

scholarship fund for members of Nova youth cycling, reducing their race entry fees to $10 and qualifying them to attend camps in Colorado Springs, Colo., and Flagstaff, Ariz. One upcoming project is helping the City of Phoenix create a new trail system, said Yares, who plans to stay involved even while living in California. He believes Phoenix needs a downhill area that could host gravity-oriented events. “Phoenix is too big a metro area not to have such amenities,” Yares said. –J. Schmid


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PRESCOTT, Ariz.—The Sixth Annual Whiskey Off-Road, set to kick off April 25, 2009, is adding a new twist to the nation’s mountain bike scene: free live music. The Whiskey Off-Road, now in its sixth year, is an endurance mountain bike event that takes riders through the 1.25-million-acre Prescott National Forest. The area boasts a seemingly endless system of well-maintained trails winding through shady Ponderosa stands and grassy meadows. “We can’t wait to introduce the music portion and send this thing into orbit,” said Todd Sadow, president of Epic Rides, Inc. “Our intent is to create an escape from the onset of summer heat with a day in the saddle and an evening on the courthouse lawn with great live music.” The concert will feature Phoenix headliner band Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers. In addition to—or in place of—riding their bikes, participants may choose to practice yoga with a local yogi before the sun sets and the party begins. Riders can enter three different ride mileages, from the 15 Proof Fun ride to the 25 and 50 Proof routes that will appeal to more ambitious participants. The “Proof” theme pays homage to the infamous Whiskey Row element of downtown Prescott, an entire city block of watering hole type of establishments. The community concert is open to the public and located next to Whiskey Row. All who attend are requested to bring two canned food items for donation to the Yavapai County Food Bank. “Our goal is to raise a literal ton of canned goods between the mountain bike event and community concert,” said Sadow. “We’re grateful to the community for its support and to the City of Prescott for its willingness to open up the downtown common area.” For more information visit –B. Riepe

Intrepid Trail Opens at Dead Horse Point MOAB, Utah—Fat tire riders seeking the soul-healing solitude, mind-blowing expansive canyon country views, and smileinducing trails Moab is famous for now have a new singletrack trail to satisfy their needs. After two years of planning and hard work by land managers, the new Intrepid Trail will officially open on May 4, 2009 at Dead Horse Point State Park. The Moab Trails Alliance, Trail Mix, IMBA, the American Conservation Experience volunteers and even a little monetary assistance from the Intrepid Mining Company, known for the potash mine located near Moab, contributed to the new trail. Careful consideration went into planning the trail’s 12-mile loop, which avoids cryptogamic soils that hold the desert soil in place, steers clear of potholes to protect access to water and minimizes impacts to wildlife like desert big horn sheep and the endangered Mexican spotted owl, which inhabits the high mesa tops northwest of Moab. The trail, designed for all types of riders wanting a scenic singletrack experience, starts at the Park’s visitors center and offers remote, laid-back peddling through piñon-juniper desert. Spectacular viewpoints on the trail overlook the Colorado River far below and were specifically chosen to take your breath away. The push for a trail began with the Park’s most recent resource management plan, where mountain bike trails were originally endorsed. “Our goal was to have a nice, easy-level trail that a lot of folks could do in a pretty spot, and all of Dead Horse Point is pretty,” said Utah State Parks Southeast Region Manager Tim

Courtesy Moab Travel Council

Riders exploring the new Intrepid Trail at Dead Horse Point State Park will be greeted by this spectacular view of the Colorado River.

Smith. The Intrepid Trail will be the first singletrack mountain bike route in Dead Horse Point State Park, and Park officials will be paying close attention to the visitor comments and impacts to Park resources. “If they see that this amenity has been beneficial, more mountain bike routes could be developed at a later date,” says Kim Schappert of the Moab Trails Alliance. “Concept work is underway right now to link Canyonlands National Park and Dead Horse Point State Park with a non-motorized route that traverses the Island in the Sky mesa top.” Moab trail advocates have been busy in recent years adding many miles of new singletrack trails, and they have many more plans in the future, which include completing the final segment of an epic loop dubbed the Whole Enchilada. For more information on the grand opening of the Intrepid Trail or any of Moab’s new trails, visit –B. Riepe

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The Mountain Biker Dilemma:

Wilderness Areas?

by Trina Ortega

The Hay Park singletrack route west of Aspen, Colo., is one of those rides that stops the body from functioning properly. Starting at 8,500 feet, the trail climbs a sandy wash speckled with cobbles then gives way to a bright corridor of spruce and aspen. As it skirts the Maroon BellsSnowmass Wilderness Area, it weaves its way up to the Hay Park Meadow, before opening up to the highlight of the ride: fields exploding with purple lupine that mirror the violet earth tones of the surrounding 14,000foot peaks. Breathing gets shallow, pupils dilate, senses overload. >>>>

Brian Riepe


No matter the season, no matter the day, I stop in that field and take several contented breaths. I could pass on happily up there. The coroner would report: “She died of extreme peacefulness—the fast singletrack, the colorful foliage, the sweeping views; it was all just too much of a good thing.…” I learned last fall that the trail could easily have been part of a recent proposal to protect additional portions of the land as wilderness. That’s capital-W wilderness, the officially designated-by-Congress type that excludes mountain bikes. Since I began mountain biking 20 years ago while studying Natural Resources Management at Colorado State University, I have struggled with this issue: I love undeveloped land, so why shouldn’t I fight to preserve more of it? How could I actually be against wilderness? Like me, many riders have values that bridge environmental stewardship and a passion for outdoor recreation. As with the Hay Park ride, the surrounding wilderness adds to the spectacular attributes of the journey. That is why I believe mountain bikers can and should promote land designations other than official wilderness—land designations that protect both the land and allow mountain biking access. Ours is a low-impact, human-powered sport, and bikers should not be excluded from riding in the backcountry. Mark Eller, communications director for the International Mountain Bicycling Association, concurs that mountain bikers can experience the bounty of the backcountry and ride with their heads high. “Mountain biking is a quiet, low-impact sport that is compatible with being in wild places. There is a difference between wild places and capital-W wilderness,” says Eller. “Why wouldn’t I want more wilderness? If we’re talking about lowercase wilderness, great—the more the better. If we’re talking about capital-W wilderness, then it’s exclusive of other recreational users.” In essence, mountain bikers and early 19th century wilderness activists, along with those who penned the Wilderness Act of 1964, loved wild lands for the same reasons: to escape civilization and the daily grind. “To us the enjoyment of solitude, complete independence, and the beauty of undefiled panoramas is absolutely essential to happiness,” wrote conservationist Bob Marshall, a cofounder of The Wilderness Society, which later lobbied for the passage of the Act. As written, the Wilderness Act allows foot traffic, horseback riding and canoeing in wilderness areas. But our chain-and-cogdriven contraptions fall under “mechanical transport” and are therefore excluded from entry. Ralph Swain, regional wilderness program manager for the U.S. Forest Service, explains that wilderness revolutionaries were not purposefully aiming to keep mountain bikes out. When the movement took foot, mountain bikes weren’t even on the scene. Those visionaries simply were acting on behalf of future generations, Swain says. Left: A rider on Trail 401 coasts on the edge of the Maroon Bells Wilderness’ south boundary. Like the trail treading the edge of the wilderness, mountain bikers balance delicately on the divisive issue of preferring undeveloped land for its riding possibilities or not supporting a wilderness designation because it doesn’t allow biking.

“The attempt was to set aside undeveloped land for Compromise requires all stakeholders to come to the table primitive recreation, and that to them was horseback riding, with acceptable solutions and maybe even readiness for a hiking, canoeing, non-mechanized recreation. The question little quid pro quo. Roaring Fork Mountain Bike Association, a really isn’t ‘Why not mountain bikes?’ It’s ‘How far do you take recently formed group based in the high-use areas surrounding technology?’” Aspen, has already hailed a win. Members worked with Forest The act originally preserved 54 areas comprising 9.1 million Service staff from the Aspen-Sopris Ranger District and Roaring acres under the wilderness designation. Today, the United Fork Outdoor Volunteers to re-route and mark a classic crossStates holds approximately 107 million acres of designated country ride called the Arbaney-Kittle Trail. wilderness, amounting The association to about 24 percent of is working on a valleyNo bikes allowed. Horsemen relax in the tranquility of the Maroon Bells the nation’s land. More wide master plan for Wilderness, which is flanked by mountain bike trails of Hay Park Trail to than half is in Alaska. the area from Glenwood the north and Trail 401 to the south. The interagency website Springs to Aspen; maps ( will highlight existing shows that the National trails and identify Park Service manages potential new trail the most wilderness development on BLM acreage, nearly 44 lands and local ski areas. million acres. One of the Of Forest Service association’s founders, land, 20 percent, or Len Zanni, says coming 36 million acres, is to the table as a cohesive designated wilderness. association has made a “That means 80 difference in working percent is open to with other organizations mountain biking,” says and public entities. Swain, a mountain biker “It’s more effective himself. “Mountain to have a group of Brian Riepe biking is welcome well-spoken advocates and accepted and a who understand the legitimate use of national forest lands.” landscape, both politically and geographically, serving as an IMBA is steadfast in its position on wilderness. The organized, legitimate voice for mountain bikers,” Zanni says. organization supports keeping existing protections in place. In seeking nonprofit status, the association expects to apply for Furthermore, when mountain bike use is properly recognized, grants and solicit donations to continue its work. IMBA supports new wilderness proposals. On some national Whether we’re in it to protect the land or get more biking trails, such as the Appalachian Trail, IMBA respects the opportunities, what it comes down to is that we all want lasting prohibition against bicycles. solutions. In the early 1980s, mountain biking was not a But IMBA’s Eller feels that there are “subtleties” on how to problem, but now with an estimated 40 million in force in the protect land; he advocates alternatives to official wilderness country, Eller says it’s too big of a sport and too influential to fly designation when considering new protections for a given tract. under the radar. “It shouldn’t be this one-size-fits-all approach,” Eller says. On one of my rides several years ago, I followed two “If people look at wilderness protection as the only way to girlfriends up a trail that zig-zagged through the sage on public protect the land, it’s obviously very difficult for mountain bikers land. When the trail approached a sagging barbed-wire fence to have any negotiating stance,” he says. “We want to make and a rusty, bullet-riddled “No Trespassing” sign, I questioned sure the lands stay protected but stay open to mountain bikes whether to go on. whenever appropriate.” As they humped their bikes over the wires, one justified, According to Eller, one of IMBA’s biggest hurdles has been “Oh, I know the person who built this trail. He wouldn’t have “convincing people that wilderness designation is not the only done it if it wasn’t OK.” way to protect the land.” And guess what? I followed. I was a little curious but Some of the alternative land protections IMBA champions mostly selfish. I wanted to ride. When I think back on it, I don’t are those of National Scenic Area, Recreation Area or National recall how sweet the trail was; I remember the anxiety I had Protection Areas, categories that both safeguard the land and that we’d get busted and felt distraught that I’d flexed on my preserve local mountain biking traditions. ethics. It was a lesson in how we should mind our manners. There are success stories in protecting land while also Swain of the Forest Service commends mountain bikers preserving bike access. Swain notes the James Peak Protection for playing by the rules in the shared domain of America’s Area near Boulder, Colo., and trails in the Boulder-White Cloud backcountry. Mountains in Idaho. Eller lists the Virginia Ridge and Valley “Every group must be responsible, and mountain bikers Act, which aims to protect 55,000 acres, with valued mountain have such a good name,” he says. “That etiquette is what’s biking routes preserved in a National Scenic Area. going to allow mountain biking to continue to be allowed.” 29

The IMBA ‘toolbox’

From the online IMBA publication “Bicycling and Wilderness: A Mountain Biker’s Guide to Wilderness Advocacy” Chapter 7 “Know Your Options” BOUNDARY ADJUSTMENTS Boundary negotiations are more likely to succeed where the land in question is at the edge and is a small percentage of the proposed wilderness. It is important to demonstrate that the area you hope to exclude includes a trail that is already popular for bicycling or holds the potential for a trail that will become important to biking. NON-WILDERNESS CORRIDORS This simple yet flexible option is a good choice when only one or a few important mountain biking routes are present, but those routes run through the middle of the proposed area. A nonwilderness corridor removes a minimal amount of land from wilderness designation. A corridor solution is straightforward and its intentions easily understood by all stakeholder groups. DIVERSE DESIGNATIONS Some examples of diverse designations include National Recreation Areas, National Conservation Areas, National Scenic Areas, and National Protection Areas and Special Management Areas. Another resource for information about various protected areas is ACCEPTABLE WILDERNESS Accepting part or all of a wilderness designation can often be a wise course of action where the proposed areas contain trails that are not suitable for bicycling. Often these places are remote and extremely rugged and sometimes have no trails whatsoever. CHERRY-STEMMED TRAILS Cherry-stemming, the process of cutting out a trail or road from surrounding wilderness, is a fairly common strategy for accommodating motorized interests in current wilderness bills. With a cherrystem, additional users can continue to access certain roads or trails even though they are now surrounded by wilderness. A cherry-stem works best on out-and-back trails to a campground, lake, scenic vista or some other landmark. For more tips and the full guide, log on to 30

Primitive trails like this unnamed singletrack near Montezuma, Colo., are just what many mountain bikers crave, but these trails are also at the most risk of losing due to new wilderness proposals. Promoting land designations other than wilderness could open up more trails while also preserving open space.


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Devon Balet



by Matthew J. Nelson


Danika Gilbert, Jack Bissell, Clark Wheeler and Matt Nelson absorb the high-country vibe on the Colorado Trail portion of the San Juan Hut Systemâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Durango-to-Moab alternate route. The hut system provides eight-person huts, ample food and singletrack maps. You do the rest.


group of five fat-tired adventurers left Molas Pass in the morning and within minutes we were deep in the heart of the San Juan Mountains. The blissful singletrack through alpine tundra was nothing less than breathtaking, both for its dramatic mountain scenery and challenging altitude. Having driven up from Tucson, Ariz., the day before, my lungs were struggling to keep up as we pedaled into the high country. Finally reaching Rolling Pass at 12,260 feet, I literally had to stop and smell the flowers.

Rich Durnan


Clark Wheeler descends the first leg of high-alpine singletrack from the 12,484-foot Rolling Pass, the highest point of the 215-mile mountain bike journey from Durango to Moab.

All along the way I caught whiffs of fragrant valerian and saw the purple faces of larkspur and monkshood and the fiery red blooms of Indian paintbrush. Here, high up in the alpine zone, only alpine forget-me-nots and mountain dryas survived. Dryas, a transarctic alpine flower, acts like a solarium, following the path of the sun during the day. It’s found around the world, but almost exclusively in the Arctic region. If there was a clear reminder that I wasn’t in the desert anymore, this was certainly it. On the backside of Rolling Pass we bounced through rock gardens where pikas and marmots scurried out of sight. Engineer Peak, with its dramatic rock bands and summer snowfields, towered like a Himalayan giant in the distance. It felt like we were pedaling into a mountaineering storybook. AND THIS WAS JUST THE BEGINNING. We had just covered the first 12 miles of a 215-mile mountain bike tour from Durango to Moab, Utah, as part of the San Juan Huts do-it-yourself adventure. Over the course of seven days, our plan was to ride through some of the most aweinspiring country accessible by mountain bike, and our tracks would rarely cross others’. Instead of lugging the 40-plus pounds of gear normally needed for a weeklong bike trip, we pedaled with little more than the clothes on our backs. Vehicle support and relying on hotels and restaurants was out of the question, as we were riding far off the beaten path. But every 30 miles or so, there was a hut hidden in the wilderness that would provide everything we needed. 36

Rich Durnan

HUT SWEET HUT After 20 long miles, we rode into a forested meadow to discover the Bolam Pass Hut, a subtle structure located just off the road that you probably wouldn’t even notice if you weren’t a tired and ravenous mountain biker. From the outside, the hut didn’t look like much—perhaps a Forest Service storage building —but with the turn of the San Juan Hut key, the doors opened to reveal much more. Our home for the night was a well-stocked cabin with just about everything you could hope for, including fresh food, coffee, ibuprofen and beer. Each hut has eight bunks, complete with mattresses and sleeping bags. There is a complete kitchen setup with a twoburner stove, pots, pans, plates and utensils. Propane lights provide enough lumens for a late-night card game or bike overhaul. A helpful User’s Guide in the hut gives you the dos, don’ts and helpful hints for a pleasant stay. Some of the huts have a menu planner, using ingredients found within every hut. In the middle of the one-room structure sits a small wood-burning stove—an absolute lifesaver in the early season or during inclement weather. Windows line nearly every wall of the hut and once unlocked reveal the gorgeous setting and provide much-appreciated ventilation. Members of our group rifled through nearly every corner of the hut, announcing the more deluxe items that we might need during our short stay: first-aid kit, Costco-size container of pain killers, cold beer and boxed wine. A hush fell over the hut as one of us opened the food cupboards and we stared at the small mountain of calories just waiting to be consumed: canned fruits, veggies and meat products of every variety;


With big country dreams, Danika Gilbert, Jack Bissell and Clark Wheeler, put their orienteering skills to task while navigating the route for the San Juan Hut Systems biking route.

Rich Durnan

fresh potatoes, onions and garlic; chips and salsa; cereal; dried fruit; energy bars; and so much more. A cooler in the middle of the hut contained some of the most precious items of all: butter, eggs, bacon and chocolate. Our rustic accommodations suddenly felt five-star. We settled into our new digs, snacking, sipping and laughing as we enjoyed all the comforts of home deep within this alpine wilderness. The San Juan Huts also have a composting toilet with inspiring views, and a composting bin for uneaten food scraps. Every effort has been made to keep the system sustainable and simple. Yes, there are recycling bins, too. The concept is pure brilliance and can be traced to one man: Ridgway local Joe Ryan. Mountain countries in Europe, South America and Africa have a backcountry hut system, and in 1983, while on a climbing and skiing trip in Canada, Joe and his buddy were inspired to develop their own hut system back home. In 1987, San Juan Hut Systems was born on the north slope of the Sneffels Range in the Uncompahgre National Forest, giving access to some of the best skiing in Colorado. Five huts were built along the historic Dallas Trail, connecting Telluride, Ridgway and Ouray. It was a backcountry skier’s dream come true, but unfortunately the forest manager required Joe to remove his huts at the end of each ski season. As if hauling structures to remote mountain locations wasn’t labor-intensive enough, he had to break them down, haul them out, then repeat the process every year. Somewhere between breaking axles on four-wheel-drive vehicles and sliding backward down mountain 38

slopes, the idea of a summertime hut-to-hut mountain bike system was developed. First came the Telluride to Moab ride, then the slightly more challenging and remote Durango to Moab route. Two-wheeled adventure in this part of the world hasn’t been the same since. OF MUD AND MEN Sunrise near the base of Hermosa Peak was a special treat, and none of us was eager to leave the comfort of our sleeping bags. Nature’s call encouraged some of us to get moving while others waited until coffee was brewing before pretending to be conscious. Bolam Pass is located at 11,411 feet elevation, the highest of the six huts, and mornings are especially chilly. After a hearty breakfast we saddled up for another day of adventure. Unanimously, we decided to diverge from the normal route and follow a more remote route toward our destination. Today, like most, there was an alternate route from hut to hut. Wanting to get in as much singletrack as possible, we opted for the East Fork Trail along the Dolores River. To get there, we blasted a few hundred feet back down to Celebration Lake, then warmed up on a rolling climb to the trailhead. Along the wide and well-worn road, Clark rolled up next to me. We enjoyed a bit of morning conversation, riding side by side, when all of a sudden he suddenly disappeared. One minute he was there, then in mid-sentence, he was gone, his rapid departure accompanied by a loud sucking noise. Clark had ridden straight into a mud pit, which enveloped his front wheel like a hungry subterranean monster. His over-the-bars dismount landed him right in the middle of the gooey mire,

Danika Gilbert and Clark Wheeler enjoy the hut life on Black Mesa, one of the stops along the multi-day mountain bike trip. The well-stocked huts, located every 30 or so miles along the trail, have just about everything you could hope for, including fresh food, coffee, ibuprofen and beer. Rich Durnan


where he stopped abruptly. a fine layer of frost. Normally, after a bike crash there is a certain protocol. I Today’s ride was easier than most, and I couldn’t have think it begins with something like, “Hey are you, okay?” But been happier. My legs and lungs were feeling the effects of the hysteria and hypoxia took over and I laughed until I almost Colorado high country, so a big downhill day was wonderful. stopped breathing. I slowed down, dumped my bike and Riding to the Dry Creek Basin Hut towards Miramonte collapsed to the ground, waiting for someone to rush to his aid. Reservoir, we lost about 4,000 feet over 42 miles. When he finally retrieved his bike from the mud hole, Dirt roads afforded us the opportunity to look around it made a loud sucking sound as the rear wheel exited. The and absorb our surroundings without bailing off the technical laughter continued. terrain. Lone Cone was the prominent peak of the day, a Once our wheels were on the trail I knew we were in for 12,613-foot extinct volcano that we saw from almost all sides. something special. The undulating path flowed as serenely The La Sal Mountains then came into view. On the other side of as the Dolores River itself, a waterway we would develop an those distant peaks was Moab, Utah, our destination still four intimate relationship with over the next week. The trail was days and 140 miles away. almost entirely downhill. Colorful alpine wildflowers appeared Miramonte Reservoir is a real oasis, and you’re likely in my peripheral vision but I was too focused on the highto spot bald eagles, Gunnison sage grouse and any number speed descent to attempt to identify them. At times the corn of shorebirds along its banks. It’s also very tempting to tear lilies grew so high that they smacked against my handlebars. The East Fork Trail followed a direct path northwest, and all morning the skyline was dominated by the Lizard Head’s prominent spire rising to 13,113 feet. We rolled up the final climb to the Black Mesa Hut, another rustic cabin hidden within the forest. It’s helpful to give the hut key to the fastest rider, let them unlock all the doors and windows and hook up the propane tanks to the stove and lights, and maybe even get some appetizers prepared. That way, when the rest of the group arrives there is nothing left to do but strip off the salty chamois and start relaxing. We delighted in reading the Hut register at the end of each day. Not much prose, just some entertaining anecdotes. Common story themes include getting lost and how riders Jack Bissell peers through the window of a Black Mesa Hut. The windows in all of the huts are sure to reveal gorgeous settings and provide much-appreciated ventilation. who chose the alternate route looked Rich Durnan beat up and came in hours behind the others. Breaking bike parts and fixing them with found objects off your clothes and jump in. But to use the reservoir you is another common story, proving how important attempting must already have a Colorado Wildlife Stamp. No stamp, no the hut-to-hut adventure requires a bike with no mechanical swimming. And there is nowhere to buy one out here in the issues. I’d even recommend an inspection by a professional middle of nowhere. You can bet that there are rangers within bike mechanic and replacing anything questionable before the binocular range, and considering there are mountain bikers trip. A major mechanical problem out here and the only viable riding through here almost every day, at just about the same alternative to trail running in cycling shoes while pushing a time, with the same degree of filth in their Lycra, rangers are on bike-turned-sled is to hike to the nearest highway and hitch a the lookout. It’s so tempting, but so not worth the ticket. ride. But highways are not often near, and the nearest bike shop After all that elevation loss, you approach the Dry Creek is likely in Moab. Basin Hut, a little green hut that looks like it fell out of the sky. Juniper trees dominate this Mars-like landscape, adorned with DESCENT INTO THE DESERT bright yellow sunflowers and dull green cactus. And for the first A black bear wandered by the Black Mesa Hut in the early time over the past three days, it was friggin’ hot. morning hours, no doubt drawn by cooking bacon. I watched it We sought refuge from the wind and heat inside the hut amble across the forested slope a few feet from the hut, hoping and found the room temperature Modelo Especial to be extra it didn’t carry off my pungent cycling shoes. The thought of especial. I was in the mood for chips and salsa, but since the riding barefoot with Egg Beater pedals for five days scared me chip supply had been wiped out I fried flour tortillas instead. to my feet. Luckily they were right where I left them, covered in Fresh garlic and onions added to the canned salsa, combined 40

You’ll plunge 900 vertical feet in less than a mile, down rocky steps and ledges, eventually spilling out onto Highway 90. Yes, pavement. It’s a strange feeling for sure. Anxious to get out of our clothes and into the water, we crossed a bridge over the Dolores River and followed signs toward the boat ramp. There we found the ideal swimming hole. Laying in the tepid Dolores and watching the red rocks rise above the lush green valley was pure heaven, pure relaxation…until a crayfish pinched my big toe. I leapt out of the water, then realized that I got off lucky. Since I had taken off my chamois to do a little skinnydipping, a pinch on the big toe was no Rich Durnan big deal. Talk of cold beverages motivated us to put our dirty cycling clothes back on and pedal one long mile back to the highway and up the road to The Bedrock Store. Right in the heart of downtown Bedrock, Colo. (population 211), is a piece of living history, and the 120-year-old Bedrock Store is just about as perfect a watering hole as you can imagine. Cold beverages, snacks, local artwork and friendly locals make it a place you’ll want to come back to. The temperature gauge showed 100 degrees in the shade, so there was no hurry to leave the comfort of the shady patio. We napped, swilled iced tea, ate ice cream and watched swallows nesting in the wooden rafters. Local dogs came and went, just like their owners. When we finally pedaled away from The Bedrock Store, the beauty of Paradox Valley overwhelmed me. Surrounded on all sides by dramatic blood-orange cliffs sits a lush green oasis, cut through the middle by the gray-blue Dolores River. The Dolores flows west to east, while the valley trends north to south. Hence, the paradox. Actually, there are a few paradoxes here, like the possibility of large-scale uranium mining operations coming to this quiet valley or the desalination plants that are being considered to save the water table. Or how corned beef hash and canned green beans wrapped inside a tortilla can taste so good at the end of a long ride. Creative cooks will do well on the hut-to-hut ride. After the fourth day you’ll have to expand your normal dietary range and consider combining foods that you might not have previously thought palatable. But trust me, you’ll like it. You’ll find the same basic food items within all the huts, and although I have never been in Joe Ryan’s home, I’m willing to bet his kitchen is stocked with the same ingredients found within the San Juan Huts. There is never any shortage of food, including protein rich breakfast and dinner options, and lots of trail snacks to sustain you along the way. And if you like Spam, well then you’ll be downright stoked.

This is definitely wishful thinking; there is no sag wagon on the Durango to Moab hut-to-hut bike route.

with warm beer and red dirt between my toes brought back memories of Chihuahua. It was hard to believe we were riding in alpine meadows earlier this morning. SAGE SURFING TO PARADOX Our fourth day is a tour of Colorado’s mining country, past and present. It’s a 30-mile rocky, sandy, highly adventurous route with many options for those interested in seeing all the good stuff. We took every alternate route possible, enjoying fast riding along doubletrack with wide-open views of the basins, anticlines and the La Sal Mountains in the distance. Among the stranger experiences was riding through the natural gas fields where futuristic looking pump stations sucked gas from far beneath the surface. The soundtrack to riding through this alien landscape was the low decibel drumbeats from the pumps. Just when you start to wonder what planet you’re on, a freshly built trail on ochre-red dirt carves through a piñon-juniper forest away from the ominous gas fields. Look closely at the ground and you might find potsherds. This is the land of sagebrush, and the fragrance permeated every memory of every mile. By the time we arrived at the Wedding Bell Hut, all of us had been out of water for the better part of an hour. This day’s ride had nowhere to refill along the way, no shade and many miles of dry, hot terrain. The Wedding Bell Hut is perched on the side of the cliffs, next to historic mining ruins. Far below is the Dolores River, and as inviting as it looks it would take all day to get down there, then all night to get back up. Instead, we drank warm beer and watched the cool blue ribbon from a distance, knowing that tomorrow we would splash in the river. The next day’s ride included a little bit of everything: solitude, challenge and civilization on road, trail, cliffside scramble and highway. It begins with a rollercoaster of ups and downs on old mining roads, with 2,000 feet of climbing. After that it’s flat and fast across Davis Mesa. You surf through fields of sagebrush that fill the air with their sweet aroma each time you brush against them. After a few miles, the road deteriorates and becomes a trail. Then the trail becomes a scrambling route that only a desert bighorn sheep can cruise down confidently.

CLIMBING BACK TO THE HIGH COUNTRY Another warm and beautiful morning in red rock country. The sand was soft underfoot and the scent of sage filled my 41

At 13,113 feet, Lizard Head Peak stands like a monolithic thumbs-up for the riders as they pass through a flower-filled meadow. 42

Rich Durnan


Bench surfing at the 120-year-old Bedrock Store in Paradox Valley, Utah, Danika Gilbert takes time out for a power nap. This is the only store and pavement you’ll see on this hut-to-hut trip.


Rich Durnan

consciousness before the sun even cracked the horizon. We started pedaling early to avoid getting cooked on the climb. And the climb, by the way, lasts all day. It begins with a gnarly four-mile grind out of Paradox Valley. It’s awesome, actually, and around each corner we rode through varying layers of rock strata. My advice is to get it over with quickly, but don’t forget to look over your shoulder at the valley below. It was hard to say goodbye to Paradox Valley, but the high mountains awaited us. At the top of the first climb I spotted yellow caution tape attached to a cattle guard, blowing like a prayer flag in the wind. We rode across it slowly, one by one, breathing and spitting like a drove of donkeys. After climbing out of the desert valley, we reentered the forest and soon discovered one of the highlights of the day: the Buckeye Reservoir. This tiny body of water is perfect for a midride dip and will refresh your legs as much as your spirit. Two miles later we crossed the Utah-Colorado state line. The La Sal Mountains looked closer than ever before and provided a gorgeous backdrop to the wild country that lay in front of our tires. Toward the end of the 25-mile day, the route gets steep, and it feels like the hardest climb of the week. The trail winds through brilliant groves of aspen trees whose creamy white sheaths were once used by natives and pioneers as a quinine substitute for its painkilling and feverreducing properties. I considered licking the bark of the trees myself as my legs and back stung from the uphill effort. The trail climbs straight to the Geyser Pass Hut, just below 10,000 feet. This is the last and most spectacular hut of them all. Nestled within an aspen grove near Geyser Creek with dramatic views of the La Sals right out the front door, I think every hut-to-hut rider agrees that this is the nicest place to spend the final night in the wilderness. And now that you’re back in the high country, the beer inside the hut is cold again.

aspens trembling in the breeze and wondered why would we ever want to leave. “How about descending 6,000 vertical feet down to Moab?” Rich quipped. Within minutes my helmet was on and we were rolling down the trail. As you get closer to Moab, the alternate routes are about as varied as you can imagine. The Mountain Meadows Trail is world class, rocky and rooty as hell but so much fun that you’ll want to do it again. Then it’s on to the Hazard County Trail. Expertly designed, lightning fast, Hazard County descends over Bald Mesa with jump options off the side of trail. Soon, the aspens faded and the red rock country of Moab appeared in the valley below. It was simply unbelievable. The fun on Hazard County was over all too soon but connected with Kokopelli’s Trail. For those of you who haven’t ridden Kokopelli’s Trail, it’s fast and fun, with singletrack spines that require balance, confidence and commitment at high speed. As you pop out onto Sand County Road toward Moab, the options only increase. If you have the legs for it, get on to the Porcupine Rim Trail, a Moab classic. The Slickrock Trail is a nice way to finish up, and is about as harsh a contrast from the morning’s alpine environment as you can possibly pedal in a single day. Cruising into Moab was bittersweet. It was nice to have finished the cross-country journey, but after pedaling for seven days through remote and awe-inspiring country, it’s difficult to plop your sore ass into a comfortable restaurant seat and order a big meal along with an ice-cold pint of beer. Well, not that difficult…but you know what I mean. I don’t think we sat in the air conditioning with microbrews in hand longer than two minutes before Jack asked, “So what do you know about the Telluride to Moab route?” We all smiled, knowing that the wheels that would take us on another San Juan Hut adventure had just started turning.

FROM ASPENS TO SLICKROCK The Geyser Pass Hut is so sweet that it’s easy to get a late start, soaking up all the quiet of the high country. I listened to

Matthew J. Nelson is an outdoor educator, trail builder and professional backcountry guide who lives off the grid in the mountains southwest of Tucson, Ariz.


[24 hours in the old pueblo]


Riders stream through the cacti and rock gardens of Solo Row, campsites designated on the racecourse for the convenience of the honorable solo riders.

ORACLE, Ariz., Feb. 14-15, 2009—RV envy is not something I thought I would ever experience, but lying in my sleeping bag—still wearing the chamois, tights, cycling shoes, jersey, sweat and dirt from my previous lap—at midnight, peaking out of the tiny hole in my cinched-up sleeping bag, I could see the warm glow of RVs lit up all around 24 Hour Town with their generators humming a comforting song. My Mountain Flyer teammates and I had traveled all the way down to Tucson, Ariz., in February to vie for the four-man singlespeed title at the annual 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo. None of us had many bike-miles in our ski legs but we were ready to throw down our best effort. Begrudging the RV crowd, I crawled out of the bag into the frosty night, put on my down jacket, ate some salted, boiled potatoes from a pot sitting on the cold camp stove and chased the spuds with some electrolyte/energy drink concoction. I tested my lights and smeared on a little more Chamois Butter. Still wearing the puffy jacket, I headed to the finish tent to wait for my rider, who would receive the jacket in exchange for the baton. Once riding, I regained my senses and decided I didn’t want a stinking, lumbering, gas-guzzling RV after all. Go RVing!, the ads exclaim, as if it’s a sport. Who needs ’em? They’re like the blood clots of the highway. At a 24-hour race, the night laps are the most fun, a bit surreal and always hard: following the tunnel of light, which 46

Brian Riepe

enhances your sense of focus on the trail, seeing the lights of other riders out in the distance and zigzagging through the cacti, coyotes and the occasional cow on course. The laps are never lonely; there’s always someone out there to chat with for a few moments until one passes the other. What I really like most, or what impresses me the most, about doing these races is seeing firsthand the feats of the solo riders and witnessing the experience, the glory and the defeat from within. Racing these events allows you to put into perspective just how remarkable the solo winners really are. As a singlespeed team, we cranked out 20 laps, finishing at 12:54 p.m. on Sunday. And we rode pretty damn fast. In perspective, the solo male winner Evan Plews rode 18 laps, finishing at 12:01 p.m. That means as a team we averaged 74-minute laps and Plews averaged 80-minute laps. Lynda Wallenfels raced solo on a singlespeed. She laid down 16 laps—one more than the next best female soloist— averaging 94-minute laps. That is just incredible. I guarantee that neither of these solo riders enjoyed the comfort of an RV that night. I was lucky enough to ride my fifth lap at sunrise. It was beautiful. I passed Wallenfels on that lap, then double-flatted on pie-sized Prickly Pear cactus with one-inch spikes, and she passed me right back. Man was she riding smooth for hour 18. –B. Riepe

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[24 hours in the old pueblo] Bringinâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; it home, Joel Fritz (Christian Cycling Club) leads Chris Gardner (Zumbala Man) into 24 Hour Town. Fritz won this lap but Zumbala Man came out ahead 20 hours later at the end of the race.

Brian Riepe




222 North Main Street Gunnison, Colorado 970.641.0285


[valley of the sun] CASA GRANDE, Ariz., Feb. 14-15, 2009 With a Saguaro cactus illuminated in the crisp morning air, the 17th Annual Valley of the Sun Stage Race lives up to its name as Category 4 men pick up the pace near the conclusion of the stage two road race, held in Casa Grande, Ariz. Colorado State University Rams cycling team member Adam Wisseman, second from right, picked up a 10-second time bonus for a second-fastest time in the King of the Mountain competition during the stage, helping Wisseman net a ninth-place finish overall by the end of the third stage.


[valley of the sun]

James E. Rickman


[valley of the sun] Carter Jones of Team Waste Management stays ahead of the pack during a prolonged breakaway in the Verrado Criterium, the third stage of the 17th Annual Valley of the Sun stage race. Jones captured a second-place finish in the Pro Men category of the Crit.

James E. Rickman

Early Race Season Heats Up in Phoenix CASA GRANDE, Ariz., Feb. 14-15, 2009—Just 11 days after the Groundhog prognosticated six more weeks of winter, 900 cyclists shook off their icy shackles and converged in Phoenix, Ariz., for the 17th Annual Valley of the Sun stage race—heralded as the beginning of road racing season in the lower Rockies. Overall men’s winner Jonathan Chodroff (Ouch/Maxxis) helped heat things up the first day by besting time-trial competitors by 45 seconds. Women’s overall winner Amanda Miller (Team Lip Smacker) finished second in the time trial, 14 seconds behind Ruth Clemence (Simple Green), who crashed during the daytwo road race and nixed her chances for victory. The series of crashes during the road races was a lucky break for Chodroff. The chaos forced race officials to declare a neutral finish for the event, allowing Chodroff to maintain the leader’s jersey. The final day’s criterium provided excitement in all stages. In the 40-minute-long Pro Women’s race, Evelyn Stevens 52

(CRCA/Radical Media) capitalized on an unorganized peloton and broke away. Shannon Koch (Metro Volkswagen) later joined her, and the duo raced furiously some half a minute ahead of the pack. Koch jumped ahead of Stevens in the final lap and nosed her out at the finish. During the last quarter of the Pro Men’s race, Carter Jones (Team Waste Management) broke away and rode well ahead of the pack at a hungry pace for several laps. The peloton eventually gobbled Jones back up, but it simply couldn’t contain him. With just one lap to go, Jones and Jose Garcia (Rock Racing) broke out again, with Garcia edging out Jones for the stage victory. Their heroics weren’t enough to snag top honors away from Chodroff, who rode comfortably in a safe position within the pack with Ouch/Maxxis teammates Bobby Lea and Roman Kilun. No doubt for Team Ouch, Chodroff’s Valley of the Sun victory seemed like an early spring. –J. Rickman

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[mob â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;n mojave] Ryon Reed of Moab, Utah, launches out of the starting gate into the jagged rock gardens of Bootleg Canyon.

Rob McPherson


Serious roster, serious competition BOULDER CITY, Nev., Feb. 18, 2009—It wasn’t a weekend for the faint of heart. It was a weekend of big name pros, no joke terrain and high stakes. In mid-February, Nevada’s Bootleg Canyon in played host to the 4th Annual Mob ’n Mojave, the first in an eight-race USA Cycling Gravity Series this year. For a season opener, racers came out of the gate hot. The roster read like a UCI World Cup, the course was unrelenting and the slightest mistake could cost you the race. Despite the numerous flat tires on the unforgiving igneous rock, race times were well under four minutes and ridiculously close. Dan Atherton’s winning time of 3:09:14 just beat out runner-up Gee Atherton and his time of 3:09:29. The entire finishing pro field of nearly 50 riders was within three minutes. Pro Jackie Harmony cleaned house with the women’s DH win and a podium finish in Super D, Slalom and Chainless races. The epic Super-D course was just as taxing on riders and bikes. The gnarly course had big, exposed areas of trail and demanded some committing moves on the upper half. The lower section was pure speed. Chewy Aiken of Sedona, Ariz., took the Men’s Pro gold with a time of 9:42:48 while Linden Lane of Flagstaff, Ariz., snagged the Women’s Pro victory. Harmony took the runner-up position. Dual Slalom action was fierce, too. And while the Men’s Pro division was fast with Mitch Ropelato wining in 29:52 seconds, it was the Women’s Pro class where the racers talked smack. I kept hearing Lisa Myklak was the one to beat in DH, and

[mob ‘n mojave] Conditions got loose before an overnight showering tacked it down again.

Rob McPherson

while she didn’t pull that off, she did manage a Slalom win with Rachel Bauer less than a second behind. Harmony was on the podium again with third. When the dust settled on the second day, the event included an exhibition race where competitors raced the same DH racecourse but without chains on their bikes. Not surprisingly, Harmony won the women’s Chainless in 4:06:44. Kevin Aiello took the men’s win with a time of 3:25:13, just 10 seconds slower than his chain-driven DH race run. Sometimes a season gets off to a slow start, but if the Bootleg competition is an indication of things to come, then the 2009 series should be good and hot. –R. McPherson


[frostbite time trial] This is time trialing: Grass, asphalt, wheels, sky and the evocative taste of your own pain. That is it.

Shawn Lortie

FORT COLLINS, Colo., Feb. 22, 2009—The French call it contre la montre or literally “against the watch” while others simply call it “the race of truth.” Call it what you want. The time trial— this one on a lonely road in northern Colorado—is an ultimate mental and physical test. Held northwest of Fort Collins, Colo., on the frontage road of Interstate 25, the 14-mile Frostbite Time Trial runs on an out-and-back course between exits 288 and 281. It’s a lonely place and the roads of Colorado’s north central plains are as unforgiving as a woman scorned; Cyclists are met with windswept asphalt, angry truckers, no trees and no real horizon to aim for—only the curvature of the earth and deceptively long rolling hills. High winds are common: crosswinds, headwinds, cold winds, but somehow never a tail wind. It makes for a nice place to run a time trial in early spring. The 263 riders who turned out to test themselves at 2009 Frostbite Time Trial got lucky. The weather was unseasonably 56

warm and the usual cold north wind coming out of Wyoming was miraculously not present. Riders were treated to uncommonly forgiving conditions for the typically unforgiving event. Alison Powers (unattached) at 26 minutes, 52 seconds and Kevin Nicol ( at 24 minutes, 19 seconds told the truth on March 7, posting the fastest times of the day. Worth noting, the junior riders turned out in force. Top finishers were Ellie Welshon (Black Sheep Junior Cycling), first Junior Woman 10-12 at 39 minutes, 46 seconds; Cade Bickmore (Flatiron Flyers), first Junior Male 10-12 at 36 minutes, 36 seconds; Ian Mcpherson (Flatiron Flyers), first Junior Male 13-14 at 34 minutes, 33 seconds; and Daniel Gregory (Front Rangers), first Junior Male 15-16 at 29 minutes, 3 seconds. Please visit for more information on the 2010 Frostbite Time Trial or for this year’s results. –B. Riepe

[frostbite time trial] Forrest Newman (Spike Shooter Cycling Team) lines up for his start. Twenty-nine minutes and 56 seconds later, he will place seventh in the Senior Men 35+ category.

Shawn Lortie


[frostbite time trial]

For a lonely time trialist, there is nothing but the occasional spectator, asphalt and the yellow line. Shawn Lortie

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[boulder velodrome] BOULDER, Colo., Jan. 13, 2009 Banking a tight line, a rider takes advantage of Boulder Coloradoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s new indoor velodrome.

Shawn Lortie


[boulder velodrome] BOULDER, Colo., Jan. 13, 2009 A rider pulls high up on the track, letting his teammates pull through during a Team Pursuit race at the new Boulder velodrome.

Shawn Lortie


[cult cross]

Beer Peddler Chad Melis (Dales Pale Ale/Spot Brand) shows great early-season form and wins the Men’s Open event at Cult Cross in Eagle, Colo.

Eddie Clark

Cult ’Cross 2009 Suffer in the Springtime as You Do in the Fall EAGLE, Colo., March, 15, 2009—Isn’t there some unspoken rule that all cyclocross-related debauchery must end with the turn of the New Year? Shouldn’t the cowbells be hung up to rest, silencing their ring until the chloroform vacates the aspen leaves, temperatures begin to plummet, the sun sets before the 5 o’clock news and fall begins? Cult ’Cross founder Larry Grossman doesn’t think so. He’s breaking tradition. The cyclocross event is hosted annually in March on the slightly frozen sagebrush-tundra in Eagle, Colo. “Cult ’Cross is for cyclocross freaks,” Grossman states on his blog. “That’s all of you. Come and suffer in the springtime as you do in the fall” And ’cross has its freaks. Over the two weekends in March, 62

a total of 63 riders competed for the overall Cult ’Cross title. Overall winners were Junior Men, Ian Mcpherson (Flat Iron Flyers); Senior Men 45+, Charlie Brown (Mountain Pedaler); Senior Men 65+, Loren Hettinger (Schwab); Senior Men 35+, David Overstreet (Spike Shooter); Singlespeed Men, Brian Hutchison (Subaru/Vista); Cat 4 Men, Andre Wagner (unattached); Cat 3 Men, Gregory Courtney (Mafia/PBR); Cat 4 Women, Sue Bardsley (unattached); Open Women, Megan Taylor (CoMotion Sports); Open Men, Darrin Cheek (Copper Mountain). Please visit for more information and other ‘cross related anecdotes or for full results. –B.Riepe

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[cult cross]

Brian Hutchinson (Subaru/Vista) clears a log at the March 2009 edition of Cult Cross, in Eagle, Colo. Hutchinson won the singlespeed category and later in the day took third in the Menâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Open event. 64

Eddie Clark


by Christina Buchanan

Christina Buchanan, Ph.D., is a visiting professor in exercise and sport science at Western State College, in Gunnison, Colo.


the bar issue It’s

definitely easy to get a little too excited this time of year during the first warm days of spring, whether it’s punishing ourselves on early mountain bike trips in the desert or hitting it with a bit too much enthusiasm on the road. Of course, it’s this kind of gusto that makes riding so much fun. We just need to make sure that as we overdo it, we have the fuel to get back to camp or return home with a little grace. This issue’s recipes are dedicated to portable food that not only provides lasting energy but also tastes good. All of these recipes can be tweaked to your tastes and preferences. I encourage you to experiment and make them your own. The first two recipes require some cooking; the last one is an excellent no-bake option. Good nutrition means good riding. As we start to head into longer, warmer days and hopefully longer rides, it’s important to stay well fueled to keep rolling down the trail and the road. Happy Spring and happy riding!


Super Protein Bar

This first recipe can be considered a protein bar. It’s loaded with protein, good-for-you unsaturated fats and complex carbohydrates. This is a good one to try if you like a protein bar when you’re on the trail or road. Or save it as a post-ride recovery bar to replenish your battered muscles.

Ingredients: 2-1/2 cups natural peanut butter 2 cups honey 2 cups protein powder (any flavor) 3 cups uncooked oatmeal 1/2 cup chopped nuts 1/2 cup dried fruit 1/4 cup wheat bran

It seems like the best recipes come from friends. I first tried these bars on a long cross-country ski up to the Friends Hut (a hut midway between Crested Butte and Aspen) with my friend Mindy. She and a friend of hers “invented” them. They are definitely delicious and unique. You can find the maya nut flour at most health food stores. You can substitute different extracts, use more or less chocolate or add dried fruit, if you prefer.


Directions: Using a double boiler,* heat the peanut butter and honey until they reach a smooth consistency. In a large bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients. Stir in the peanut butter-honey mixture until completely combined. Spread the batter into an ungreased 9x13 baking pan. Slice into 10–12 bars. You can make them any size you want. Wrap each bar in plastic wrap. *If you don’t have dedicated double boiler, simply fill one pot with some water and place another, slightly smaller pot with the ingredients you wish to melt inside it. Heat the water and, presto, the ingredients in the smaller pot melt without scorching.

Crunchy Multi-Grain Nut Bar This bar isn’t super sweet. That’s why it’s good. It’s got great crunch from the all the nuts; and the fruit and applesauce provide a light sweet flavor. It’s definitely more geared toward carbs while still providing some protein and unsaturated fats from the nuts.

Ingredients: 2 cups uncooked multi-grain cereal 1/2 cup dried fruit 1/2 cup chopped nuts 1/2 cup unsalted sunflower seeds 2/3 cup whole wheat flour 1/2 cup cocoa powder (optional) 1/4 cup wheat germ 3/4 tsp cinnamon

Mindy’s Butte Bars (Friend Bars)

1 tsp baking soda 1/8 tsp salt 1/2 cup vegetable oil 1/2 cup brown sugar 1 large egg 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce 2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups oats 2 cups roasted buckwheat 1 cup pumpkin seeds 2 Tbsp maya nut flour (key ingredient) 1 cup dark brown sugar 1 Tbsp cinnamon 1/2 cup cocoa powder 1 Tbsp vanilla extract 2 Tbsp mint extract 1 1/2 cup honey (add more for consistency if needed) 1 3-oz chocolate bar 1 1/2 cup cashew butter or peanut butter

Directions: Grind the first three ingredients in a food processor until soft, but not too long. Add the oat-buckwheat-pumpkin seed mix to the rest of the ingredients and mix by hand until well blended. Roll into long cylinders and slice into the length you want. Wrap each bar in plastic wrap.

Directions: Preheat oven to 350º F. Combine the cereal, dried fruit, nuts, sunflower seeds, flour, cocoa, wheat germ, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl, and mix thoroughly. In another bowl combine the vegetable oil, brown sugar and egg, and mix thoroughly. Add the applesauce and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients and stir until well blended. Spread the batter into a 9 x 13 greased baking pan. Bake 35–45 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool pan on a wire rack. Slice into approximately 10–12 bars. Wrap each bar in plastic wrap.


“On the trail, the Snyper strikes a great balance-it’s burly enough to drop off ledges and point through rock gardens without a worry, but at a little over 28 pounds soaking wet, it didn’t slow me down on the climbs.” Bike Magazine

“The optimized wheel path resists pedal kickback, and compression action feels nearly bottomless as the bike tracks and weaves with surefootedness through the woods, open fire roads and desert singletrack.” Mountain Bike Magazine

“This is a five-inch-travel trail bike that likes to get as radical climbing as it does descending. The Tomac Snyper 140 is a trail riding achievement and a bike that finally delivers on the Tomac promise.” Mountain Bike Action Magazine

“Tomac set out with the lofty goal of creating a bike that would pedal like a short travel cross-country bike, take hits like a long travel allmountain bike and float through the rough stuff like Muhammad Ali. They nailed it." Mountain Flyer Magazine

The Crestwood Snowmass Colorado 68

Official Summer Lodging of Tomac Bikes





Smoother, faster, longer As soon as I got my hands on a new Paketa Rocket, I headed for the chip ’n seal. Just northwest of Gunnison, Colo. a serene stretch of road winds up the Ohio Creek Valley towards the sharp ridges of the Anthracite Range. In the summer, the lush green valley floor is speckled with cattle, horses and llamas. Occasional bald eagles and Red-tailed hawks ride the air currents above the fields. The traffic is minimal, so it’s a favorite after-work road ride for many local cyclists. The Gunnison County Public Works Department has done its very best to wreck the experience through a semi-annual smearing of the tarmac with chip ’n seal—a wicked mix of tar and gravel meant to extend the life of the pavement while chat70

Price (as tested): $3,500 Ultegra kit Weight (as tested): 16.5 lbs.

tering the teeth of cyclists far and wide. However malicious the chip ’n seal may seem, it proved to be a great testing ground for the Paketa Rocket. Emphasizing the comparison, sections of chip ’n seal are inexplicably separated by nice, new velvety blacktop. I was particularly interested in the chip ’n seal pavement when I rode the magnesium-framed Paketa Rocket because magnesium is said to offer superior damping, the rate at which unforced vibration disappears—as much as 10 times greater than steel, titanium or aluminum. So why doesn’t everyone make bike frames from magnesium? Some of magnesium’s properties make it very desirable. In addition to its damping properties, magnesium is 34 percent lighter by volume than aluminum and 50 percent lighter than titanium. It resists fatigue, denting and buckling. However,

working with magnesium isn’t so easy. Paketa asserts to have spent four years of intensive research and lots of hard work on the drawing board and in the shop learning how to extrude, weld and fine-tune the perfect magnesium tube sets. Paketa’s proprietary tubing is a carefully chosen material consisting of 92 percent magnesium alloyed with other metals to achieve optimal mechanical properties for production and ride quality. On the textured chip ’n sealed stretches of the otherwise benevolent Ohio Creek road, the Rocket offered a conspicuously smooth ride compared with the scandium bike I’m used to riding. It’s tough to quantify such a thing as smoothness without strict comparisons but the numbers do speak for themselves. The real question is, “Are there any drawbacks to the magnesium?” I couldn’t identify any. It’s not particularly cost prohibitive at $1,950 for a frameset with an Easton EC90 carbon fork. The superior strength-to-weight ratio of magnesium allows a frame to be built as light as any top-tier race bike without sacrificing strength or ride qualities. In fact, it may be stronger than most. The welds and gussets are substantial for such a light frame, and the oversized tubes, coupled with great geometry, add to its stable handling characteristics. Notably, the Rocket we tested is a bit barebones in style. It’s missing a few key design features you’d find in other comparably priced race bikes like S-bend seatstays and chainstays and an integrated headset. These features aren’t just aesthetic; they offer better tire, shoe and crank clearance and better aerodynamics. I did, however, get a glimpse of a very recent frameset Paketa showed at the Moab Skinny Tire Festival with sexy curved chainstays, so Paketa has the capabilities. The double-butted, bi-ovalized aero downtube is a nice touch. What is lost in flashiness is certainly made up for in material performance and quality. The Paketa Rocket is especially responsive to accelerations, and the vibration damping qualities will reduce fatigue over long rides. It’s clearly built for the demands of competitive racing whether you like to dance up the climbs, sneak off on prolonged solo attacks or elbow your way through the final sprint. –B. Riepe 71



Full of surprises Intrinsic in the nature of children is they’re brutally honest. If you ask their opinion about something, they’ll tell you what they think. Ask any 10 year old if they like the casserole you made for dinner, if they don’t dig it, the simple answer will be yuuech! I think the same would hold true when it comes to a bike. With that in mind, when Rawland Cycles—a maker of versatile steel bicycles—asked Mountain Flyer to review the new Askeladden 24-inch rigid singlespeed, we decided we should go straight to an expert: 10-year-old Ashton from Crested Butte, Colo. Ashton has been riding Crested Butte’s finest singletrack 72

Price (as tested): $2,375 Weight : 23.25 lbs.

since he could say the words, so we were confident we’d get the straight and narrow. Rawland introduced the Askeladden in 2008 at the Interbike bike show in Las Vegas. The response from show attendees was overwhelmingly love at first sight. The bike is decked out with quality components like White Industries ENO cranks, Phil Wood hubs, Chris King headset and a Brooks saddle. It’s so cute you just wanna take it home and adopt it as your own. Despite the bike’s appeal, I had some doubt that the response was born more from nostalgia for its early days of mountain biking features (like the rigid lugged fork, custom bullhorn bars and long wheelbase) than from a belief that a child would appreciate the bike, especially a singlespeed.

‘THE BIKE IS VERY SHINY’ This comment seems superficial at first, but the Askeladden comes with a high quality finish that is noticeably rich and lustrous. It looks even better in person, and Ashton can probably tell the difference between a high quality finish and a lesser one. ‘THE BIKE RIDES REALLY SMOOTH’ You don’t find many kid’s mountain bikes made of lightweight steel. Aluminum is cheaper so it’s the standard material. The absorption qualities of steel could be even more noticeable when building such a small frameset so the smooth perception makes sense.

In Norwegian folklore, Askeladden is a somewhat mischievous lad who tends to succeed where others fail. He is a rugged freethinker who is capable of deep analytical thinking outside the proverbial box. He is capable of acting as a visionary. Judging from Ashton’s comments, the name seems a fitting label for this bike. Here’s what Ashton had to say:

‘THIS SINGLESPEED BIKE IS MORE FUN AND EASIER TO RIDE THAN A GEARED BIKE’ Those who don’t ride singlespeeds incorrectly perceive them as difficult to ride. I believe Ashton found it easy and fun because learning to use gears properly is difficult and frustrating. Being in the wrong gear for a technical section or short climb will make it impossible to ride. Fussing with gears can be a distraction from the trail and can interrupt your pedal stroke. With the Askeladden, Rawland Cycles honored Norwegian folklore with out-of-the-box thinking and created a wonderful and long-lasting 24-inch bike with timeless qualities and design features, a bike built so well that it could be enjoyed by generations of children. –B. Riepe

‘THE BRAKES ARE VERY SENSITIVE’ Many kid’s bikes come with grossly inadequate brakes. Nothing will scare off a new rider faster than the feeling you get when you pull on the brakes and nothing happens. Choosing Avid’s Single Digit V-brake-style stoppers was a good call, even though they have enough power to stop a full-sized person. Their adjustability and lever modulation action makes them controllable for a smaller rider. ‘THE SINGLESPEED GEAR IS REALLY GOOD FOR OUR MOUNTAINS’ Initially this surprised me. I thought the 32x18 gear would be too much for a 10 year old. That’s what I ride in the mountains. Perhaps it works out because kids don’t seem to like to spin in small gears. They’re always pushing a bigger gear than you’d think they should. But their strength-to-weight ratio is unbelievable so it could just feel right. ‘THE BROOKS SADDLE IS VERY COMFORTABLE’ Again, surprising. I love the look and feel of a Brooks saddle, but I didn’t think Ashton would appreciate it. These leather saddles take some breaking in and look retro. Kids don’t typically like retro; they like flash. But maybe when it comes to a saddle, kids are less susceptible to visual influence. And indeed, there are few saddles as comfortable as a genuine leather Brooks. ‘THE COLOR IS REALLY COOL’ Green is in. I agree. Good choice. 73

[strong frames] MONSTER-CROSS

Time to hit the dirt It’s a crystal clear 70-degree day in January, and I am making fast time down fire roads in the Patagonia Mountains of Arizona. My plan is to ride 17 miles of dirt road and then hook up with a sweet section of the Arizona trail. I’m juiced up because I am on a Strong Frames monster-cross, purposely built just for this kind of day. You may be asking yourself, what is a monster-cross? It’s a loosely defined category of bicycles that can be ridden on dirt roads just as well as paved roads, while still suitable for smooth singletrack. This type of bike features drop bars, room for larger tires up to 40 mm wide and beyond and geometries that are closer to road bikes than cyclocross bikes. The bike arrived with head and seat tube angles of 73 degrees along with an 74

Price (frame only): $1,650 Price (as tested): $4,010 Custom Fork: $500

80 mm bottom bracket drop that promised a road bike feel while still being ready for all types of dirt. A monster-cross is the ultimate multi-purpose bike. It can serve as your weekend road bike, everyday commuter, touring steed and a dirt road blaster, with an emphasis on dirt. Carl Strong has been building bikes in Bozeman, Mont., since 1993. During the last 16 years he has made bicycles for many other companies along with his Strong Frames brand. This long journey has returned full circle. Strong Frames is now a one-man shop with Carl doing all the fabricating and his wife Loretta handling the business end. What comes out of this shop can only be considered artwork. Every bike build starts with a custom fit document and detailed interview with Carl himself. He works hard to identify what you are looking for in your bike. This allows him to develop the right mix of materials and

geometry to build the perfect ride. My test bike arrived with a custom blend of True Temper and Columbus tubing painted a lustrous orange by Spectrum Powder Works. Carl built a custom fork that smooths out the smaller bumps while still being laterally stiff. Two water bottle mounts were spec’d along with fender mounts and eyelets for racks front and rear. The component selection is all top shelf and built up to handle the rigors that this bike is intended for. Shifting is handled by an Ultegra SL Compact drivetrain with 50/34 chainrings. When combined with a 12-27 cassette, the two-chainring setup provides ample gear ratios. The brakes are Paul’s touring cantilevers, beautifully finished brakes that offer strong braking and plenty of clearance for larger tires. The FSA OS 99 stem, Wing Pro bar and SL-K seat post deliver connection to the bike. The ever-sturdy and reliable XT hubs are laced with 36 spokes to Mavic’s 700 cc touring rim, the A719. This bike proved to be a fabulous tool for dirt roads and commuting so I opted to mount a touring oriented tire. Along came the opportunity to try some Continental TopContact’s and I jumped at it. This is Conti’s top of the line touring tire and comes in a variety of widths from 27 mm to 47 mm in a 700 cc. Regardless of the size chosen, all versions come with Vectran puncture protection and are handmade in Germany. I chose the 37 mm version to stay on the faster side. This tire proved itself over and over again as I used it to commute to town each day

along with long dirt road rides in and around my hometown of Durango, Colo. To make this bike an even stronger commuter, I added a set of Old Man Mountain racks and a rack bag from Deuter. It sure is great to put all the weight on the bike and revel in the freedom of unencumbered cycling. The rack and bag remained stable on my rides, and it was easy to forget they were back there carrying the load. So how’s the ride? After six months of riding paved and dirt roads, both doubletrack and singletrack, I am really pleased with this bike. The ride is compliant vertically and provides a great platform for dirt road riding. Meanwhile, bottom bracket flex is kept to a minimum and once on a trail I could feel the complete transfer of power from my legs to the dirt. Handling on this bike felt slower than my carbon race bike, but that’s to be expected on a bike meant to be ridden in difficult and dicey conditions. The stable handling allowed me to hold a line in the dirt, and when it was necessary to make a last-minute correction, the bike always came through. Everywhere I traveled people asked me about this bike. Maybe it was the gorgeous paint—orange is my favorite color after all—but the big surprise was to learn how many people are fans of Strong Frames and how well known the brand is. If you have been looking at all those winding backcountry roads but always felt tentative because you were not sure what kind of conditions you may encounter, then go with the Strong monster-cross and let your worries go. –K.Smith 75


$590–$750, complete kits |

The first feature of Lupine’s light systems that caught my eye is the company has gone to great lengths to make all of its lights and accessories interchangeable. “All of our lights are completely compatible, past, present and future,” says Bill Gentile of Gretna Bikes, the U.S. importer for Lupine lights. “You can interchange all of the lamp heads, all of the batteries and chargers and all of the mounting systems. The connectors are interchangeable and have remained the same for the seven years we have been importing Lupine.” That means if you have an older HID model, you can easily upgrade to a new LED lamp head without purchasing an entirely new system. Or you can adapt to new battery technology as it becomes available, which seems to be often. It’s a nice feature. Lupine offers three base lamp heads: the 12 watt Tesla, the 17 watt Wilma and the 23 watt Betty, which respectively dole out 700, 920 or 1,500 lumens at max power. Lupine also has 10 battery options, ranging from 0.7 amp-hours to 14.5 amphours. The middleweight Wilma is a great versatile light for cycling. Its golf ball size and 112 gram weight are reasonable for handlebar or helmet mounting, and its 920 lumen output makes it one of, if not the most, powerful 17 watt light available. The lights and accessories, even spare parts, are sold


à la carte or in complete kits set up for various uses. All those battery options give the Wilma run times of 13 hours with the 14.5 amp-hour water bottle model to 30 minutes with the nano-sized 0.7 amp-hour model—perfect for carrying as a spare to get you home. My first chance to run the Wilma on trail was at this year’s 24 hours in the Old Pueblo, racing on a four-person singlespeed team. With the 5 amp-hour battery and a handlebar mount, the light mounted quickly and easily with no tools. A simple but stout and stretchy rubber loop holds it firmly on the bar and makes for easy on-the-trail adjustments. The battery is so compact I was able to mount it on my stem and keep the cord length to a minimum. The 5 amp-hour battery gave me a 130-minute run time at full power so I was confident I’d get plenty of light power while out on the typical 75-minute night lap at The OP. My only concern was, with only one battery and a five-hour charge time, would the battery remain adequately charged after four night laps with less than four hours between each lap? The charging worked out fine, and I was impressed with the power of the light. The 920 lumens light up the trail like high beams. These durable new LED lights are amazing, and Lupine’s adaptability and quality make it a great choice for a high performance light system. The Wilma is packed with features like power controls, deep charging protection, voltage count and dimming controls that make it user friendly. It even has a reserve tank in case you get delirious and forget to keep track of your run time. Gretna Bikes sells direct from its website but encourages customers to check with their local shop first. –B. Riepe

sun valley bar:energy bars

first endurance:efs liquid shot

The tale of Sun Valley Bar begins with the sort of entrepreneurial spirit that has launched many successful endeavors in the outdoor sports world. Born initially from passion for sport, desire for health and simple lifestyle needs, the company started in the tiny Sun Valley, Idaho-based home kitchen of Sarah Walker. As an athlete and baker with a master’s degree in nutritional sciences, Walker wanted to make an energy bar to provide herself and her friends with a great tasting energy bar made from natural ingredients. Initially, Walker would make the bars in batches and leave them in a cooler outside her front door where her customers would pick up their order and leave a check. As demand grew, Walker eventually joined forces with friend Ann Scales—a 20-year veteran in natural, specialty foods catering—and the operation moved into a commercial kitchen. Drawing from their combined knowledge in nutrition and natural foods, they developed four flavors: Cranberry Almond, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Chocolate Chip, and Goji Lemon. The bars use natural sweeteners, fruits, grains, berries, nuts and seeds. Sun Valley Bars are moist, soft and easy to chew and digest. All the flavors are tasty. The combination of nuts, fruits and grains make them a satisfying snack during exercise. My favorites were the Cranberry Almond and the Goji Lemon, made with Goji berries—a berry valued throughout China and Tibet for its nutritional and restorative properties. –B. Riepe

Liquid shot gets its name because it contains no gelling agents, which is something you may find in a, well, a gel shot. That is key, according to First Endurance, because gelling agents can slow down your digestion and absorption. And if you’re slurping down one of these energy shots during competition, you want it in your bloodstream now. The liquid consistency makes it easier to swallow as well. EFS stands for Electrolyte Fuel System, and First Endurance offers one of the most advanced systems for racing nutrients available. The list of victories by First Endurance athletes at grand tours, Ironman triathlons, ultra-running races, even the Olympics, says a lot for the quality and innovations the company has achieved. One five-ounce EFS Liquid Shot—enough for several servings during a race—gives you 400 high quality calories, over 1,500 mg of electrolytes and 1,000 mg of amino acids. EFS Liquid Shot is available in handy resealable, refillable, fully recyclable, five-ounce flasks and in 30 ounce refill bottles. I like that. The flasks are easier to use on the fly and cause less waste, and the larger 30 ounce bottle is practical and economical. You can get EFS Liquid Shot in any flavor you like as long as it’s vanilla. My wife, who will only eat a certain vanilla beanflavored brand of energy gel during exercise, took one taste of Liquid Shot and ran off with my entire supply. –O. Mattox

$2/bar |

$5.99 (5oz), $29.95 (30oz) |


northwave:aerlite sbs carbon $259 |

The flashy, white, ultra-Euro-pro styling of these Northwave carbon-soled mountain bike shoes may or may not be your style, but if your first concern is performance and quality you should take a closer look. Northwave supplies shoes to some of the top mountain bike racers in the world. And from what I can tell, the company has used its experience to create a shoe fit for the task. When designing the Aerlite SBS Carbon, Northwave’s R&D department didn’t miss a trick from the shoe’s ventilation of the upper to the design and superb adjustability of the ratchet closure system to the foot-grabbing Y-shape of the heel. The Aerlite SBS Carbon shoes are nicely built with a rubber reinforced toe box and a natural rubber sole built around a stiff, carbon fiber base. These details help keep the weight of the shoe to a minimalist 15.25 ounces per shoe (with cleat) and give the shoes great power transfer to the pedals. The ratchet closure system allows for ample adjustability. The easy-touse mechanism has one button for full release and another to release one notch at a time. Two Velcro straps in front keep your foot snug without creating pressure points. The fit of the shoe is fantastic, although they seemed to be built for much wider feet than mine. The length was perfect, but I had a bit of lateral play in the toe so I decided to add a Sole custom heatmoldable footbed (see right) to help fill the extra volume. This addition resulted in perfect fit. The extra room turned out to be a good thing because it made room for the custom footbed and a better fit overall. These are the nicest mountain bike shoes I’ve ever owned; now all I need to do is get more dirt on them to mellow out that bright white glare. –B. Riepe


sole softec:custom footbeds $39.95 |

Several top athletes I know have preached to me about the greatness of custom footbeds. Until I tried these Sole beds, I didn’t really drink the Kool-Aid. Essentially, custom footbeds distribute your weight and align your joints, improve balance and power transfer and reduce foot fatigue. Enough said, right? The Sole Footbeds were easy to install. I trimmed them to size using the stock footbeds as a template, popped them in the oven for two minutes at 200 degrees then quickly tucked them into the shoes and wore them until the beds cooled again, forming perfectly to my foot. The difference in fit was shocking, I absolutely recommend giving Sol footbeds a try even if you don’t have any obvious fit problems. –B. Riepe

rudy project:noyz polar 3fx

rock ‘n’ roll lube:gold chain lube

$229.99 |

$7.99 (four ounce) |

One thing I’ve learned to count on with Rudy Project is the company will not sacrifice performance. The Noyz is a wraparound eye shield with all of Rudy’s trademark features that make them stand out as high performance eyewear. The Noyz frame is ultra-lightweight but has a high quality, solid feel. They fit soundly on your face due to fully adjustable temple tips and nosepiece, which is something I find to be a necessity to achieve proper fit and comfort. The earpieces are rubber-coated so they won’t slide around during exercise, and the open frame design with interchangeable lenses looks simple and clean and assures great visibility. Rudy is also known for its cutting-edge lens technology and offers a lot of options. For my usual winter sports mix of cycling and skiing, I chose the polarized Racing Red lens. The patented Polar 3FX polycarbonate lenses are created using extraordinarily high-pressure injection to maximize optical clarity. Polarization is achieved with a multi-layer polarizing film that provides distortion-free, polarized glare protection. The Racing Red lens, which seemed to have a slight yellow tint to it, allows 28 percent light transmission. This lens shade combined with the polarization pulled amazing definition out even in flat light and turned out to be a great choice for skiing or riding in variable light conditions from direct sunlight to moderately overcast skies. –B. Riepe

Because your bicycle rides on rubber tires, it is not grounded and that makes for a hell of a static electricity producer. As a result, when a bicycle rolls, it throws off negatively charged electrons. The dirt on the ground is positively charged and is pulled to the bike to balance the negative discharge. Any dirt that finds its way to your greasy chain will stick to it. That’s just a little scientific bicycle trivia from Mark Patterson, petroleum engineer, founder and inventor of Rock “N” Roll Lubrications. And so Patterson designed Rock “N” Roll Gold chain lube to clean, protect and lubricate your chain all at the same time. The lube works by penetrating into the inner workings of the chain and trapping dirt. With movement of the chain, the formula helps trapped dirt move to the surface where you can wipe it off, leaving a layer of lube in place to protect from future marauding dirt particles. The gold chain lube has low viscosity, is almost watery and runs on quickly so you can really coat the chain for the first applications. After squirting a generous amount on my chain, I found Rock “N” Roll’s claim to be true. I could see old dirt appearing at the surface. After several wipe downs and reapplications, my chain was much cleaner. The lubricating effect lasted for several rides without having to reapply another coat, and my chain stayed sparkly clean. It’s like a missile defense system for your chain. Rock “N” Roll sells a complete line of chain lubes, bearing grease and cleaning solutions. It’s all great stuff. Gold lube comes in four or 16 ounce bottles. –O. Mattox


retül bike fit:with carmichael training systems $250 | or Retü

Any cyclist from pro racers to bike commuters would agree that proper bike fit is essential for power optimization, injury prevention and, of course, simple enjoyment of the ride. But accurate, complete measurements are not easy to obtain. With that in mind, when I heard about the Retül system’s three-dimensional motion capture process, it attracted my curiosity. Recently, Mountain Flyer’s publisher Steve Mabry indulged himself in a new Scott Addict road bike. He wanted to start off right and getting a professional fit was on the agenda. To arrange for a consultation, he contacted Carmichael Training Systems in Colorado Springs, Colo., a Retül fit center. It was a perfect chance for me to check out the system so I tagged along. We met with fit specialist Kirk Nordgren. After getting some basic information from Steve on the type of riding he did, Kirk showed us the Retül system. The Retül system stands out because of its dynamic, threedimensional readings from sensors placed on the rider. The sensors then feed data into a highly specialized software program. The program collates the numbers in real time and illustrates the whole process for easy analysis. To begin, Kirk fixed a harness of wires connecting eight dime-sized tabs with infrared LEDs at key points on Steve’s body: one each at specific points on the side of foot (pedal axle), heel, ankle, knee, hip, shoulder, elbow and wrist. With the LEDs stuck firmly in place on Steve, Kirk set up a sensor array on a tripod about 10 feet away and instructed Steve to begin pedaling to warm up. And then the test began. As Steve pedaled, the LEDs sent out flashes of light 476 times per second, and the system took a full set of body measurements 29 times per second. The three sensors on the array read the flashes, triangulating the position of each LED to pinpoint the position in true 3D. The data were then fed to a computer. Retül’s software processes all of that data, synchro80

nizing the original eight data points stuck on Steve to create a 3D view of his riding. Kirk had Steve pedal easily for the first data set and then much harder—more like race pace—for the next set because riders tend to change their body positions during hard efforts. Each of Steve’s data set collections lasted around twenty seconds. The software immediately averaged the data collected over the time period and generated a report. The initial report illustrates 26 measurements. The system compiles an average range of angles and relative positions for all the LED points during the pedal stroke along with cadence and a tracing of the rider’s knee motion. Using this information, a skilled fitter like Kirk can analyze the data to fit the rider’s needs or problems. One of Steve’s key requests was to find optimum saddle position. We spent a lot of time tweaking his seat adjustment based on the angle and extension of his knee, ankle and hip motion. After multiple data samples and seat adjustments, Kirk was able to achieve the numbers he wanted within a set range that Retül and Carmichael have determined to be most desirable for safe ranges of motion and power optimization. Kirk also analyzed Steve’s general body position based on his armpit and forearm angles while he was on the bike. Based on these angles, Kirk recommended a 10 mm shorter stem. The whole fit test, including a final consultation and analysis of data off the bike, took nearly three hours. In many cases, it’s useful to return again after riding the bike for six to eight weeks to see if anything changes. The amount of data collected and Kirk’s knowledge of how to analyze it was impressive. Steve left with detailed printouts of the results and a complete analysis, including a diagram illustrating his bike’s proper measurements. After four winter months, several sessions on a magnetic trainer and a handful of local club rides, Steve commented, “So far so good. The bike fit feels just right. It’s comfortable and I feel like my pedal stroke is smooth. I’ve felt good on every ride. No knee pain or sore back, no numb fingers.” If a bike fit interests you, and it probably should, the Retül system and a skilled fitter like Kirk can provide you with extremely detailed and helpful results. –B. Riepe

chrome:cobra hoodie

$200 |

Made with 100 percent thick, fleecebacked Merino wool, this ultimate Cobra Hoodie has a slim fit and will keep you warm with its high collar and extra long sleeves with thumb loops. Designed with urban riding in mind, the Cobra Hoodie is cut low in the back, has zippered hand warmer pockets, a hidden key pocket in the wrist and a stealthy, full-width, pass-through cargo pocket in the back. It’s just the thing for riding to the local bar on cold nights or posturing at the local java house. –O. Mattox

ccp:riding pant ptw011 $185 |

CCP takes its distinct fashion from the cycling and rave party culture of Japan’s streets and blends it into uniquely styled garments built to be functional and possess industrial wearabilty. These heavily built 95 percent cotton, five percent polyurethane pants, which come with a reflective Velcro ankle closure to keep your pant leg out of your chainring, are perfect for bicycle commuting, parking lot stunts or alley cat racing—that’s fixie talk for run-ofthe-mill bandit, midnight fixed-gear bike races in your local urban jungle. These pants have got lots of pockets, too. –O. Mattox

keen:commuter sandal $115 |

SPD cleat compatibility, a durable rubber outsole, secure lacing system and fully protected toe box make this clever sandal ideal—and safe—for bicycle commuting to the casual office or informal dinner. Keen makes long-lasting, high quality shoes and conscientiously gives back to the world through various donation programs. With these sandals, you can ride where you need to go, click out of your pedals, get on with your life and feel pretty good about it. –O. Mattox 81

continental:race king 2.2

$57.95 | Weight: 480 grams | As I strolled the aisles of Interbike last fall trying to take in all the show has to offer, which is not easy in three days, an unassuming item in the Continental booth caught my eye: the new Race King Supersonic mountain bike tire. As part of Conti’s new tire line-up, the Race King Supersonic uses the company’s Black Chili tire compound. The low-profile, cross-country racer is made with synthetic and natural rubber compounds, which Continental says last 5 percent longer, grip 30 percent better and roll 26 percent faster than previous models. The tire is a great choice when speed and durability are your craving; just ask Topeak/Ergon rider Irina Kalentieva who rode the Race King prototypes to the podium at the 2007 UCI World Cup Championships. To save additional weight on the Supersonic model, Continental eliminated a portion of the tire commonly referred to as the breaker belt: an abrasion-resistant layer typically placed under the tread to reduce the likelihood of deep abrasions. If you’re looking for a more durable tire, Continental offers the Race King ProTection, which weighs 90 grams more but offers better abrasion resistance. I have ridden these tires for the last several months in the Rockies and down in Moab and even saddled them up mid-winter in Arizona for the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo. Through all of that, the Race King, with its low profile and smooth-rolling tread, has yet to show any signs of wear. Even in the loose, granite-ball-bearing soil of the Arizona desert, the Race King 2.2 provided reasonable traction for a World Cuptype speed racer. And on these tires, I rode with Team Mountain Flyer. We pulled off a win in the singlespeed category in the Old Pueblo and made it to the podium just like Irina (yeah, right). I appreciate Conti’s craftsmanship and attention to quality and very much like the Race King. The Race King Supersonic is available in standard, UST, 2.0 or 2.2 inch widths, and 26 or 29er diameters. Continental’s packaging says “Do it with German engineering.” I say “Gitty up.” –S. Mabry



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Aaron Teasdale




The Mother of Comfort ! 83

PurE funâ&#x20AC;Ś simple life.

Rob Strickland

Rob Strickland

Xavier Fane

Rob Strickland

This summer recharge in our bike friendly communities! Crested Butte, home to the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame is known for its great alpine single track riding. Hartman Rocks in Gunnison gives you a taste of granite slick rock and high quality buff single track that goes on for miles, and miles and miles...if you are looking for a weekend get away or a lifetime of trail riding see for yourself why we believe we are the mountain biking mecca.

Photos, video, information and FREE brochures at or call 877-369-7635 84


[communitypages] [communitypages]


moab utah Must Do • Porcupine Rim Trail: Long and demanding downhill with shuttle; incredible views of Castle Valley and Colorado River • Lower Porcupine Singletrack: Best singletrack in Moab, winds two miles along rim before joining Porcupine Rim

Moab: Not just for mountain bikers by Rob McPherson

Local Information Center • Moab Happenings • Local bike shops, trail maps and guidebooks Regional Cycling Calendar • March 27–29: Moab Muni Fest: Mountain unicycling festival, • Sept. 19: Moab Century Tour, • Oct. 10–11: Suzuki 24 Hour of Moab, Guidebooks and Trail Maps Available at local bike shops or online booksellers: • Mountain Biking Moab by Lee Bridgers •Moab North/South, Latitude 40 Maps •Mountain Biking Moab Pocket Guide by David Crowell Local Events • May 23–24: Moab Arts Festival, • June 4–5: Canyonlands PRCA Rodeo • Sept. 3–19: Moab Music Festival, • Sept. 23–27: Skydive Moab Festival, • Oct. 31: Annual Pumpkin Chuckin’ Festival, Local Attractions • Arches & Canyonlands National Parks • Dead Horse Point State Park • Spanish Valley Vineyards & Winery • Castle Creek Winery • Rock Art Tour,


The memo is out and it’s official: Moab, Utah, is now the Mecca for road riding. That’s right, no longer is this rugged land of red rocks and desert dwellers reserved for mountain bikers and off-roaders. With five full service shops, guiding outfits and improving roads, Moab offers the roadie an epic riding vacation. Over the years, road riding in Moab has become more prevalent. Mountain bikers started to bring road bikes on their cycling vacations and discovered the Utah city could be a road riding destination as well. Indeed, you can reach two National Parks, ride along the Colorado River, up into the La Sal Mountains or cruise town on the bike path with minimal traffic. While some of the road conditions aren’t the best in the West, Moab offers the roadie solitude and scenery second to none. SKINNY TIRE FESTIVAL The Skinny Tire Festival was created to imitate Moab’s earlier Fat Tire Festival. Skinny Tire Events now hosts three events through the year with the kick-off festival in March, a three-day event that celebrates [communitypages]

all tires skinny and gets away from the area’s fat tire mantra. This cancer research and awareness fundraiser has grown to include many different road rides from cush, scenic trips to epic burners with rider support and special services, all with rider support, meals and entertainment. New this year to the Skinny Tire roster is the Moonshadows in Moab night ride on June 6, 2009. Under a full moon, cyclists will ride the 313 Road to Dead Horse Point near Canyonlands Island in the Sky Park entrance. On the gradual climb of 1,700 feet, you’ll pass Monitor Merrimac and other classic Moab geology. The season wraps up with the autumn scorcher of the Moab Century Tour, a three-day event that gives the rider a taste of what the area offers, without lumping it all together in one epic day. During this event, you can ride Arches National Park, meander up River Road, Potash and enjoy other classic area rides. NATIONAL PARKS Moab is close to two of the nation’s most spectacular National Parks: Arches and Canyonlands. The Arches entrance is just a few miles of downtown Moab and

Matt Hebard

bicyclists pay $5 for a seven-day pass. One of the most visually stunning parks in the nation can also be one of the busiest. If you plan your ride on a weekday, shoulder season or early in the morning, you can be surprisingly alone among the more than 200 recognized natural arches in the park. The ride itself is about 44 miles out and back to town with close to 3,000 feet in elevation gain. Canyonlands National Park is actually divided into three districts, each with a distinctly different experience. The closest district to Moab is the Island in the Sky and its famous Dead Horse Point at the end of the 313 Road, a great, winding road leading to the park entrance about 46 miles from downtown Moab. Add to the ride by heading to Grand View Point and see the backdrop for many a movie set and the impressive views of this expansive park. Forty miles south of town Hwy. 211 to Newspaper Rock is an incredible ride with very little traffic and mellow, sustained climbs. Check out Newspaper Rock and return for a 70-mile out and back ride or ride to your heart’s content into the Needles District.

FROM TOWN For great rides immediately accessible from downtown, the “Portal” or Potash Road is a 40-mile out and back along the Colorado River with little climbing and great views along massive cliffs. The pavement terminates at Potash Mine where you can stroll down to the Colorado River for a snack before returning to Moab. If you’re looking for a big day, you may want to ride the La Sal Loop Road, a roughly 70-mile loop with huge climbs into the Manti-La Sal National Forest. Here the landscape shifts from red rocks and juniper to aspens and snowcaps. Expect 5,000 feet of climbing and scary fast descents on this ride. RIDER SUPPORT Moab shops have recognized the need for more specialized road support and have incorporated that into their plans. One of the newer shops in town, Uranium Bicycles, even rents high-end Pinarellos and Wilier bikes and has taken an decidedly roadie-friendly business approach. (continued on page 88)



The Moab Adventure


and Rolling.

A mind-blowing, spine-tingling, freewheeling adventure – that’s your Moab mountain biking tour. The red rocks of southern Utah await – along with your friendly and attentive Solfun tour guides. Get your legs pumping and heart thumping with: • • • • • •

Custom-planned tours All skill levels and interests Private or small groups Multi-sport options Great vacation value Call now to plan your trip

The only sad part is eventually you have to go back home …

800-940-8292 [communitypages]


(continued from page 87)

“There’s a lot of crossover between mountain and road riders,” said Marshall Hannum of Uranium. “We’re seeing more dedicated roadies who enjoy the diverse scenic rides of Moab.” Each shop in town has a rental fleet of well-maintained, quality bikes if you can’t bring your own or want to demo something different. Their quality maps and good mechanics help you plan your day and keep your machine running crisp. Or ship your bike directly to town and have your bike professionally assembled and tuned. A guided trip in Moab is a good way to ride with a partner if you’re traveling solo or just want a local who knows the best rides. Hiring a guide also makes sense when trying to figure out a shuttle or transportation or other logistics. Moab guides have basic medical training and travel with first aid. One of Moab’s guide services, Rim Tours, has a long history of operating daily road rides and handles everything from logistics to interpretive talks. “We accommodate road rides for just about any skill level and group size, even solo,” said Matt Hebberd, co-owner of Rim Tours. “Guided road rides are the best way to learn about the area through the guide’s interpretive knowledge. It’s way better than trying to figure out a guidebook.” Moab and Grand County have been working hard to make Moab an all-around cycling-friendly community with improved road surfaces, wider shoulders and non-motorized paths. Parts of a path along River Road, Hwy. 128, are now completed, making the ride to the La Sal Loop Road safer for cyclists. Additionally, a pedestrian bridge and bike path from town allow cyclists to ride off the highway. Future plans call for widening the motor bridge over the Colorado River and widening shoulders on Hwy. 191 north of town. Road riding in Moab is far from a secret but it’s definitely worth the visit— or revisit. As shops and services are catering more exclusively to the road cyclist, so are the local town services, events and road improvements. When planning your cycling adventure vacation this year, why not bring your skinny tire bike to Moab, too? 88




roaring fork valley colorado Must Do •Ride for the Pass (see Events below)

Kelley Cullen: A Star Biking Student by Trina Ortega

General Information • Aspen information, •Carbondale information, •Glenwood Springs information, Lodging Early 2009 Events See for more info • Catherine Store Time Trial, Carbondale, May 6 • Rio Grand MTB Time Trial, Jaffee Park, Aspen, May 13 • Ride for the Pass, Independence Pass, Aspen, May 16 • Aspen Criterium, Aspen, May 17 • Lower River TT, Woody Creek, May 20 • Smuggler Hill Climb TT, Aspen, June 3 • Snowmass Road Race, Snowmass, June 10 • Butterhack XC MTB race, Tiehack Ski Area, Aspen, June 17 • Frying Pan Road Race, Basalt, June 24 • Basalt Mtn MTB race, Basalt, July 1 • Government Trail XC race, Tiehack Ski Area, Aspen, July 8 • Snowmass Super-D MTB race, Snowmass, July 15 • Woody Creek Criterium, Woody Creek, July 22 • Smuggler-Hunter Creek XC MTB, Aspen, July 29 Local Club • Aspen Cycling Club, Advocacy • Roaring Fork Mountain Bike Association, Guidebooks • Mountain Biking the Roaring Fork Valley by Richard Compton Local Attractions • Glenwood Hot Springs Pool


Young minds are so easily influenced. Kelly Cullen schools her competitors in endurance races on the weekends and these kindergarteners in the classroom during the week. Trina Ortega

When she was 13, Kelley Cullen and two of her siblings were forced to take a year of accordion lessons to keep up their music studies when their piano teacher moved away. Cullen hated playing the accordion and the polkas that came with it. As a way to get back at their mom, the three Spokane, Wash., kids would sit on their piano bench creating as much “music” as they could. “The harder you pull it, the louder it is, the more obnoxious it is. So we’d sit on that piano bench and play it loud and obnoxious,” says the 28-year-old pro mountain bike racer and winner of last year’s Breckenridge 100. Cullen no longer hacks out the noise on the squeezebox, but she is grateful for her mom’s persistence that ultimately taught her the importance of setting goals and sticking with them. “It feels uncomfortable to be challenged,” she says, looking back at the experience. “The easiest thing to do would be to quit. I think as parents, you have to teach kids that quitting is not an option. Life’s not always easy. Kids need to be taught that, and kids need to be given opportunities to make commitments and stick to them.” Commitment is something that this [communitypages]

Western Colorado resident has embraced now that she’s an adult. For nine months out of the year, Cullen squeezes in early morning workouts before heading off to work as a full-time kindergarten teacher at St. Stephen’s Catholic School in Glenwood Springs. It’s not easy; she sometimes wishes she was a teacher’s assistant so she could have more time to train. And as sure as the spade-shaped aspen leaves turn gold in the fall, she can count on losing some training hours to the common cold when the snotty noses start to run at school. But Cullen is a realist and loves her job working with children, so she has to be a star student herself when it comes to following her training schedule. She has some support from her husband Josh (both riders for Rocky Mountain Racing in 2008). The two wake up at 4 a.m. before the sun everyday, rub the sleep from their weary eyes and ride. In the off-season, the two enhance their daily regimen with lifting, yoga and skiing the backcountry near their home in New Castle, Colo. When it comes to Cullen’s quick rise to the head of the class in women’s pro mountain biking, her hubby Josh, also her financier, mechanic and nutritionist,

School teacher and bike racer Cullen finds a little time to enjoy a classic fall day in the Colorado Rockies (left) but makes time to hammer the competition at races like the Breckenridge Fall Classic (right).

Josh Cullen

is only one piece of Cullen’s success; she does her homework and tests well on the bike. She competed in nearly a dozen races in 2008, regularly placing in the top five, is currently ranked 13th in USA Cycling standings and this year so far has sponsorships from Fox and Schwalbe. “I think the hardest part is the selfdiscipline, discipline in eating properly, sticking to a training plan, stretching, finishing a workout,” she says. The key according to Cullen? Start simple by setting small goals and building up from there. Set a goal to read about nutrition or injury prevention, she says. A quick browse through the Cullen library will turn up “The Mountain Biker’s Training Bible” by Joe Friel, “Sports Nutrition for Endurance Athletes” by Monique Ryan and “The Ultimate Ride” by Chris Carmichael, among others. There’s still more to Cullen’s success, though. She’s been a serious athlete more than half of her life. She began swimming competitively at age 9, and by the time she was 13, she had a training routine in place. While other kids were sitting in front of the boob tube after school and on weekends, Cullen would hit the pool to pull laps. She went on to swim

Josh Cullen

freestyle in high school, working out in the morning and again after school. In college and beyond, she ran crosscountry and began competing in road triathlons, including the Ironman World Championship in 2002. “I feel like I’ve been strong all this time. Years and years of rigid training schedules growing up, I feel, helped me build the mental discipline and ability to focus,” she says. That explains why she can pull off something like the 24 Hours of Moab solo in 2003 on the only bike she could afford: a 32-18 Redline singlespeed. She rode 12 laps and placed third, by the way. This technically strong rider has continued to make her mark. Among her top races in 2008 was the challenging Breckenridge 100, climbing the race’s more than 13,000 feet and coming in first among the women with a time of 10 hours, 8 minutes and 20 seconds, finishing eighth overall. Cullen’s final race of the year was the 12 Hours of Snowmass, where she continued to chalk up a top grade and clocked the fastest lap (53 minutes, 23 seconds) and the fastest average (one hour and 12 seconds) in the solo women’s group. It was a fun way to finish [communitypages]

the season, especially when Livestrong lead man and recent Aspen transplant Lance Armstrong entered the race and upped the caliber of riders. Plus, Cullen—on home turf for the Snowmass race—got to share her love of mountain biking with some of the youngsters who normally don’t get to see their teacher decked out in Lycra and racing garb. At about hour six, she was pedaling through the check-in zone and heard a high-pitched little voice yell out: “Hi, Miss Cullen!” It was one of her kindergarteners. At school two days later, Cullen beamed as the boy bragged to the other 5-year-olds about how he got to see the best mountain biker in the world. The bubble burst when he told everyone it was Armstrong. Cullen chuckles when she retells the story but, like the teacher she is, she declares that winning isn’t everything. “I think sports is one of those activities like music or the arts that teaches kids a lot of life lessons— responsibility, self-discipline, commitment, work ethic, attitude, selfcontrol,” she says. “I thought, ‘Good for them to see me out there.’ That’s the kind of role model I want to be.” 91

lyons colorado Must Do • New Wild Turkey Trail • Picture Rock Connector Trail to downtown Lyons (under construction as spring 2009)

The Lyons Outdoor Games:

Grassroots fun by Lizzy Scully

Local Information • Town of Lyons, 303.823.6622 Lyons Chamber of Commerce, Bike Shops • Redstone Cyclery, • Bitterbrush Cycles, Events • 9th Annual Lyons Fat Tire Fest, May 2009, Call Redstone Cyclery, 303.823.5810 • Lyons Outdoor Games, June 12-14, 2009, • Rockygrass, Lyons’ bluegrass festival, July 2009, • Boulder Mountain Bike Alliance (BMA) trail project, Little Raven Trail, July 2009, • BMA trail project, Brainard Lake area, Aug. 2009, Local Cycling Club Rides • Weekly Rides, Year-round Tuesday night rides from Redstone Cyclery at 6 p.m. then to Oskar Blues Brewery for bluegrass and dinner Local Attractions • Planet Bluegrass, • Lyons Classic Pinball, • Oskar Blues Brewery & Cajun Grill, Live music five days a week • Hall Ranch Open Space • Heil Valley Ranch Open Space • Rabbit Valley Open Space • Lion Gulch Trails • Fly Fishing, North & South St. Vrain River • South Creek Limited, Mike Clark, Custom Bamboo Flyrods, five-year waiting list


The dirt jumping competition at the Lyons Outdoor Games is a big spectator draw (above) and brings professional athletes from all over Colorado (right).

Home to some of the country’s most hardcore mountain bikers and extreme competitions and races, Colorado might intimidate aspiring riders. But the state has other events for the average rider looking for fun. The Lyons Outdoor Games is such an event. A three-day, competitive, multisport event in the tiny town northwest of Denver, the Games draws amateurs as well as professional athletes and is an excellent example of how a small town can make use of its grassroots efforts and outdoor resources to facilitate positive growth. Held each June, the Games include competitive events in short track, dirt jump, pump track, long-distance mountain biking and a bike rodeo, as well as kayaking and skateboarding. The event grew out of a one-day kayaking event celebrating the grand opening of a kayak play park in 2004. According to Arn Hayden, one of the early organizers of the Games, the first event was planned to raise money for the Lyons Parks and Recreation Department. The focus of the first couple of Games was to improve the quality of the existing [communitypages]

kayak competitions. But, says Hayden, “we always had biking on the map.” As the mountain biking community grew and involvement by locals and the owners of the two shops—Bitterbrush Cycles and Redstone Cyclery—increased, various mountain biking components were added. Mountain biking, says Bitterbrush owner Glenn Bell, is now as important to the Games as kayaking. Not only is it spectator friendly, which helps educate people about the various hybrid biking events, but it also “shows people from out of town how cool the outdoor activities are in Lyons.” “The Lyons Outdoor Games give us the chance to share the high quality bike riding that’s available directly from town—Hall Ranch, Bitterbrush, Antelope, and Picture Rock trails, among others,” adds Chad Melis of Oskar Blues, one of the event’s main sponsors. “The Front Range is a hot bed of cycling, and Lyons certainly plays a role in what makes it great.” Local volunteers in the town of less than 2,000 people have made a difference in the event’s success.

Eddie Clark

“Lyons has always been a community of volunteers,” says Lyons’ Director of Parks and Recreation Dave Cosgrove. “This event is a prime example of what can be accomplished with an organized, supportive group of volunteers.” He adds that Games are also special because many amazing local athletes participate. And now the Games are growing, drawing thousands of spectators, mountain bikers and kayakers from all over the region as well as dozens of sponsors. This growth, says Cosgrove, has translated into increased revenue for the town, more involvement by local individuals and businesses and more recognition of the town as an outdoor haven—it won Outside Magazine’s 2007 readers choice award for best towns. “Our goal was to make Lyons more of a recreation destination for those seeking excitement from activities such as those offered through the Lyons Outdoor Games,” says Cosgrove. “It brings in people from different backgrounds and with different interests who can spread the word about Lyons. I think it fits nicely with the model of economic development that has been the

hot topic as of late.” Hayden agrees that the Games have already returned more to the Parks and Recreation Department in less than five years than their initial investment. “It’s one of the key things—including Hall and Heil ranches for biking, the South St. Vrain Canyon for climbing and Planet Bluegrass for music—that makes Lyons an outdoor Mecca. Ten years ago people used to say, ‘You live in Lyons— why?’ Now they say, ‘Wow, you live in Lyons, that is a cool town.’” This year’s Lyons Outdoor Games will be held June 12–14.

Eddie Clark

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Phone: 303.823.8100


durango colorado Must Do • The Rally of the Dead

Iron Horse Bicycle Classic: Man vs. the Machine by Erinn Morgan

(see Events below)

General Information • Durango information, • Lodging (central reservations): 800.409.7295 Events • Iron Horse Bicycle Classic, May 2009, • 12 Hours of Mesa Verde (at Phil’s World), May, 9 2009, • The Colorado Trail Jamboree, July 2009, • Road Apple Rally, Farmington, N.M., Oct. 2009, • Singlespeed World Championships, Sept. 16–20, 2009, • Rally of the Dead, Oct. 2009, subversive singlespeed fest, ask around for info (Hint: Durango Cyclery would know.) Guidebooks and Maps • Mountain Biking Colorado’s La Platas by Derek Ryter • Mountain Biking Durango by John Peel • Mountain Biking Colorado’s San Juan Mountains by Robert Hurst Local Club • Durango Wheel Club, club rides Tuesday and Wednesday nights and Saturday mornings, April through October. Four categories (A, B+, B, and C) so everyone can enjoy. See website for very complete schedule, Advocacy •Trails 2000, working to enhance all types of trails for every trail user group, or 970.259.4682 Local Attractions • Mesa Verde National Park, • Durango Silverton Railroad, 94

Cresting the oxygen-starved, 10,910foot Molas Pass—the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic’s final grind before bombing down into Silverton, Colo.—is somewhat of a religious experience. And, while it is arguably this historic high alpine race’s pièce de résistance, there is much to hold in reverence over its 47-mile span. From the thrill of the mass start in Durango, Colo., and the majestic scenery to the charm of Silverton and the beauty of the road closure, the Iron Horse charms on many fronts. It is a proving ground that boasts more than 6,000 feet of climbing and delivers a searing average riding elevation of more than 9,000 feet. 2009 marks the 38th year of the country’s longest continuously running road race. Its roots lie in a sibling rivalry between two brothers, Tom and Jim Mayer. Jim was a brakeman for the D&RGW railroad, whose steam-powered locomotive had run between Durango and Silverton since the 1880s. Tom, a young cyclist, challenged his railroad brakeman brother (and the train) to race him to Silverton and a rite of passage was born. In 1972, a group of 36 riders took the mantle and raced the first train of the spring, officially kicking off the Iron [communitypages]

Horse race. Today, an average of 2,500 riders make the same pilgrimage each Memorial Day weekend. The field is a blend of world-class racers and citizen riders who come to beat the train’s threeand-a-half hour time. Here, we check in with Iron Horse event director, Gaige Sippy, for what’s on tap for this year’s event and more. Q: HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED WITH THE IRON HORSE BICYCLE CLASSIC? SIPPY: I moved here in early ’90s to race bikes, and I was fortunate enough to live next door to Ed Zink, the Iron Horse chairman of the board. Ed offered me a job working in his shop, the Outdoorsman, which is now Mountain Bike Specialists. When the previous Iron Horse director left in 2007, Ed offered me the job. I feel fortunate. It’s pretty darned cool for a bike geek to get to run one of the oldest bike races in the country. Q: WHAT’S YOUR BEST IRON HORSE TIME? SIPPY: 2:23 minutes in 2006. I’ve raced the Iron Horse over 10 times.

Just in time for lunch, competitors in the Durango’s infamous Iron Horse Bicycle Classic stream across the finish line in Silverton, Colo.

off and the front racing guys got to Silverton but the vast majority got caught up in a huge snowstorm on the passes. There were bikes abandoned everywhere and people huddled together in groups to stay warm. There was a lot of hypothermia. It snowed six inches, and they had to get a snowplow to Silverton to get the buses out of there. Q: WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU HAD TO CANCEL LAST YEAR’S RACE? SIPPY: When I lay awake in bed all night listening to it raining on my roof and it got quiet at about 4 a.m.; I knew it

was snowing. One of the staff members who lived up near Durango Mountain Resort called at 4:30 a.m. and said she had five inches of snow on her deck. We had set up a bunch of contingency plans—a finish line at the top of Coal Bank Pass, a finish line at Durango Mountain Resort—but we never dreamed it would snow that much at Durango Mountain Resort. Q: IS THERE ANYTHING NEW FOR THE 2009 EVENT? SIPPY: We’re launching the “Quarter Horse” race to Durango Mountain Resort

The Iron Horse Bicycle Classic challenges riders with endless climbing, thin air and unbeatable views of the rugged San Juan Mountains.

Scott DW Smith

Q: WHO HOLDS THE FASTEST IRON HORSE TIME? SIPPY: Back in the early ’90s, Michael Carter was the first to do a sub-two-hour ride. But he got to the finish line, they handed him his first-place trophy, and the sheriff pulled up and said, “You’re disqualified because you went across the yellow line and passed a car.” He had gotten to top of Molas and had to pass cars to stay on pace. This was before the road was closed for the race. That’s the unofficial record, but Tom Danielson technically holds the record for a subtwo-hour ride. That is movin’ out. It’s 47 miles and the air is thin. Q: WHAT WAS IT LIKE BEFORE THE HIGHWAY CLOSURE? SIPPY: I raced back in the days before the road was closed, and it was absolutely terrifying. Now we sweep riders off the course if they’re not in Silverton by 12:30 p.m., when the road reopens. Q: WHAT WAS THE CRAZIEST WEATHER SCENARIO? SIPPY: In the mid ’90s, riders took

Scott DW Smith



this year as part of the race. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 27 miles and 2,500 feet of climbing.

It all starts here. Riders gather in Durango before the start of the race. The best will finish less than two and half hours, 6,000 feet and 47 miles later in Silverton, Colo.

Q: WHAT HAS THE IRON HORSE DONE FOR THE DURANGO COMMUNITY? SIPPY: It all started on the idea to market Durango for tourism. And in 2009, we are back to our roots. With the economy the way it is, tourism matters even more. We get 2,500 riders and 1,900 of them come from somewhere else, from Albuquerque and Denver to Germany and Australia. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a big economic stimulus package for the town of Durango. We have also made the event three days long by including the criterium and time trial. The 2009 Iron Horse Bicycle Classic will take place on May 23. Visit www. for more information.

Scott DW Smith



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by James E. Rickman

James E. Rickman

The graffiti appeared one recent night without fanfare on an old water tank next to a connector trail in our neighborhood. The rusting blue-green exterior of the tank had been crudely tagged with black spray paint that traced out a death mask beneath a jester’s hood. “Lost One” was spelled out alongside the macabre figure, as well as what appeared to be the cryptic signature of the artist represented with arcane glyphs. Such a thing seemed strangely urban and out of place in our tiny town—particularly so close to the trails, where the trappings of Modern Life seem so far away. Our police chief quickly deduced that the water tank had been tagged to pay homage to a local youth who had gone away to the Big City and later died of a heroin overdose. Passing the tank at daybreak, the back story of The Lost One amplified the chill of the morning air, despite the warm golden light that had begun to spill over the eastern horizon. Maybe the culture shock of moving away from quiet pine forests to a bustling asphalt jungle, or perhaps the futility of unrequited love pursued across vast expanses of time and space, had crushed The Lost One’s still youthful heart. Something obviously had filled his body and soul with such searing pain and emptiness that he turned to the needle. Most of us at one time or another have experienced the kind of crippling angst that forces us to seek solitude and succor by hopping on a bike and pedaling furiously away— from wherever we are and whatever is ailing us—until sheer 98

exhaustion eventually causes us to keel over into the dirt someplace far, far away from our problems, stripping us of the ability to shed another tear or utter another lamentation. We find ourselves peculiarly, comfortably, alone, accompanied only by the rapid, ragged rasp of our own breath and the steady thumping of the blood roaring deep within our ears. A bike can be a fine narcotic and deliver a powerfully addicting kind of euphoria that provides respite from reality every once in a while. Bicycles take us back to our childhoods and put us in touch with nature—even in locations like the Big City, where nature can be as fleeting as a pair of sparrows feasting on a chunk of Cinnabon™ in the mall parking lot. The bicycle is a time machine to a happier place, a counselor who lets us talk things out on our own terms, a noble Templar providing escort on a pilgrimage to a holy land. Unfortunately heroin may seem like a cheaper and more accessible antidote for our ailments—at least initially. Staring at that tank in the frosty morning air, I wondered for a moment how things might have turned out for The Lost One had he relied on a bicycle instead of a downhill run on the Big H. I’m one of those people who is naïve and childish enough to believe that the humble bicycle can provide salvation and deliver us from the temptation to give in and let Cold Futility arrest our beating hearts. If everyone else who believed that could become pushers of our own drug, the painted epitaphs in unlikely places might become less commonplace.

Mountain Flyer Number 12  

Mountain Flyer Magazine Issue Number 12 - April 2009