Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Race Camp Part 2: Singletrack Hooky with Tyler2

Four helmet-cam videos in this post. First two are a bit geeky, second two rock.

The days at Race Camp were spent on the road of course, but it’s just too wrong to come down to St. George and not bring the mtn bike, so Thursday AM I snuck out early and hit Barrel Roll. I blogged about this trail over a year ago in my Botany of St. George Series. Here’s a ~5 minute-long helmet-cam clip. Almost all the shrubs on this stretch are Blackbrush or one of 2 species of Mormon Tea- Ephedra Viridis and E. Torreyana. The Viridis is bright green, and broom-like, with the stems all pointed up. The Torreyana is a light blue-green, usually lower to the ground, and the stems stick out at all kinds of angles. If you watch closely, you can easily pick the 2 out.

Or don’t, and just watch the clip for a singletrack fix. I don’t care, it’s just filler. But isn’t it pretty?

Video #1 Notes

The day before it rained, so the air was super-clear on this ride. The snow-dusted mountains in the distance right when the clip starts are the Beaver Dam Mountains. The lower slopes on the far side of the range are studded with Joshua trees. Soon (about 0:10) the Entrada sandstone cliffs of Snow Canyon swing into view to the North/Northwest. Entrada is the smooth, (usually) reddish sandstone layer which occurs above the Navajo formation. The fabulous arches of Arches National Park and the hoodoos of Goblin Valley are carved out of it, and if you’ve ever ridden Bartlett Wash, you’ve pedaled on it. In general it’s not quite as high-traction as Navajo sandstone, but is often smoother.

At about 1:52 you can see the snowy Pine Valley Range to the North come into view on the left side of the screen, and to the right of Snow Canyon. At around 2:30 you’ll see a band of cliffs across the gorge in the low foreground. This is Land Ridge, atop which runs the Tempi’po’op trail, which I blogged about in the petroglyph post. A better view of Land Ridge appears at around 3:20.

On Saturday, after 3 days of hard road-riding, I and one other teammate- Tyler2 from last year’s High Uintas Classic- forsook the road and broke out the mtn bikes for a fast JEM/Hurricane/Gould Rim loop before the weather turned foul.

Tangent: I’m just curious- how many readers besides me played hooky in school? I did, just twice, both in 7th grade. One time we went bowling, the other I can’t remember what we did. The first time, my confederate and I- let’s call him “David Galante”- called in to school as each other’s mothers to excuse ourselves. (Why we didn’t just call in as our own mothers, I’m not sure- maybe at the time it seemed less scary to impersonate someone else’s mom.) Since neither of our voices had changed, the calls went fine.

The second time, I decided to blow off calling in, figuring (correctly) that the bureaucracy was to clumsy to track down a kid with no other (known) behavioral issues. But David called in, and the school secretary didn’t believe him. She hung up and called David’s house, immediately reaching his mother.

Nested Tangent: How does it work these days, what with caller-ID and all? Do kids still fake-call-in-sick as their parents? Where from? Do they have to swipe Mom’s phone?

Fortunately, David’s mother had both a quick mind and perhaps of a bit of criminal free-spirited streak as well, and covered for David, saying oh yes, that was me calling in… Cool mom. I wonder how David turned out…

We rode the loop counterclockwise, and in this first clip are riding South along Hurricane Rim, descending into China Wash.

Tangent: I love switching back and forth between road and mtn bikes. I find that after 3 or 4 days on one, the other feels fantastic- almost liberating. The road bike feels incredibly light and fast and precise after a few days on the mtb, while in the reverse case the mtb feels powerful, smooth and thrilling. I don’t get roadies who never mtb- don’t they get burned out? I’ve a bit more sympathy for mtbers who never road-ride (I was one for many years) but still love switching from one to the other.

Video #2 Notes

I blogged about this ride as the classic “Bench Level” ride in the Botany of St. George series. In that post I mentioned how one of the cool things about this ride is that it dips in and out of the botanical Mojave, as defined by the upper limit of creosote. The descent into China Wash is one of those transitions. At around 10 seconds in, you’ll see creosote- tall spindly shrubs with distinct olive-hued leaves- start to appear alongside the trail. As a reminder, this is the Mojave race of creosote, chromosomally hexaploid, with 78 chromosomes. The snow-covered mesa in the background is Gooseberry Mesa; behind and to the right is Little Creek Mountain.

OK, now for the good stuff. We descended to the Hurricane T/H, crossed highway 59 and picked our way up the jeep road to the Gould Rim trail. Up, up, up. We had to modify our route a bit to avoid some bad clay-mud, but eventually found our way up high on JEM trail, ready for the descent.

Video #3 Notes

The video starts in a small wash draining the cliff-band ringing the base-bench of Gooseberry Mesa. Soon we leave the wash, and at 1:35, as we roll off the end of an earthen “spine”, things get fast. Soils up here are clay, and still had enough moisture from storms earlier in the week to be hard-packed, tacky, and dust-free- pretty much perfect. At around 2:00, the cloud-capped range that appears in the background is the Pine Valley Range, possibly the world’s largest laccolith, as described in this post. We’re several hundred feet higher here than we were in the China Wash video, and you’ll notice there’s not a creosote bush in sight.

Wow! That was fun! We spent the next 15 minutes or so rapidly descending, then rolling, more of the same, until we arrived at the “cherry-stem” of the loop leading back to our vehicle. This stretch hugs the rim of a tributary-of-a-tributary, then the tributary, and finally the Virgin River Gorge itself.

Video #4 Notes

At about 30 seconds we start running along the first of the 3 rims (tributary-of-tributary). I’ve ridden this many times, but this was the first time I’d seen water running in the bottom. At around 2:00, as we start riding the second rim (tributary), I look back and down to the left at a small, muddy waterfall emerging from the mouth of the tributary-of-tributary we were just riding alongside.

The tributary soon joins the Virgin River Gorge proper, and at 3:25- the point of maximum exposure- you can see the rain & snowmelt-swollen Virgin River below.

Well, that was a fun vacation. Spring is around the corner. Can’t wait to get back down to the desert.


KanyonKris said...

All of your videos with the new camera look great.

I swear that section of trail near the cliff edge looks spookier in video than it does to ride it.

Glad you left the audio in. I like the sounds of the bike, the comments and the familiar Watcher whoops.

I must confess, the first time I rode with you and you let out a yip, or a yeah or some such, I was startled and looked around intently to see if you were warning me of something. I soon figured out it's your way of expressing the joy of riding. Joy it is. I whoop it up on occasion too. Biking is good.

Enel said...

I have six bikes, and they all feel different and are a great change of pace...but no road bike if you can believe it.

The closest I come is a commuter which is a rigid 29" MTB with 42c cx tires, fenders, etc. It still probably weighs 27 lbs. I rode it yesterday on the road and was literally blown away with its speed and acceleration compared to the "big" bike I have been favoring lately off road. I can only imagine that a true road bike is another order of magnitude beyond that.

KanyonKris said...

Enel - the quickness of a true road bike is astounding. I've only been road riding a few years, before that it was only mountain.

I tried putting slicks on my MTB to ride with the roadies - it helped, but I was working hard to stay on the back while they seemed to fly effortlessly.

I bought a used road bike and was amazed at the difference. Much quicker and faster with less effort. It was then easy to stay with the pack.

Riding in traffic is still a concern, but overall road biking has been a good addition.

Anonymous said...

Nice vids! Thanks for getting me excited to ride again. It's been a cold, lazy winter so I needed that extra motivation to get out riding again (plus spring weather is finally coming around, which I have been waiting for). Although in one of the first rides this year, I wrecked screwing around in a trials course (broken helmet, mild concussion, brusied ribs and sore neck) - don't know what I was doing there except maybe trying to impress the wife and her brother (male ego - what is up with that?), so it will be another week b/f I get out again.

A few years ago, I got a used road bike and was astounded at the difference. It is so light and fast! I still prefer mtb but road adds a different component to training and it mixes things up. You typically go straight on a relatively smooth surface so it allows one to focus on your body, like your breathing, heart rate, pedal stroke, form, etc. Mentally and physically, it's very different. Plus, the first time I was on a true road bike, I felt top heavy, like a bowling ball balancing on a pin (though the spare tire in my stomach probably helped that feeling).

And, my wife and I yell too when we ride a good spot or go down a cool descent. Some riders look at us crazy-like but others join in. So I say, whoop it up if you are having fun! Ya know, sometimes you just get let the inner kid out ("if you are happy and you know it, clap your hands"). And that brings out the final difference (for me) btwn mtb and road - after a good road ride, I will have that good feel you get after a good workout. After a good mtb ride, I am grinning ear to ear and laughing, saying things like "that trail was so awesome" - I have never felt that way after a road ride. (Sorry about the long post -boring day at work)

mtb w

Watcher said...

KKris- Yes, traffic/cars is the single worst part of road-biking. I love riding on closed roads, like Mill Creek or Big Mtn in Spring, before they open the gates.

mtb w- Ouch! Sorry to hear of your injuries. I know firsthand how darn uncomfortable a bruised rib can be... Sounds like you'll be well-healed before bike season gets into full swing, which is good news.

Lucy said...

I envy your rides down south. When we were down last weekend, it was too rainy to ride JEM-Gould-Hurricane Rim. It is one of my top 5 favorite rides, and I was really disappointed. After watching your videos, I am even more bummed we couldn't ride it. Glad you had fabulous conditions and a great time.

KK, agreed. The video is spookier than real life. If I showed that video to my mom, she would freak out.

Don't you just love seeing water running in the almost-always dry washes? It always seems to "prove" that erosion happens.

I played hooky once to go lay-out to get a tan (er, sunburn) before prom. I don't think we called in or anything.

Whoop, whoop!

Anonymous said...

Only played hookey once. But it was "Senior Day" just a few days before graduation when lots of seniors ditched. We played golf that day and generally screwed around, party hopping. Didn't bother calling in - I figured that with so many skipping, the school wouldn't do anything (and they didn't). I have a feeling the school doesn't allow it anymore, with zero tolerance rules.

mtb w

bjchild said...

Those videos are great, keep them coming. Your videos give me some great ideas of where to ride when down south. So far I've only ridden once down there and it was on Barrel Roll (fun trail), so your 1st video was familiar. I agree with KK about leaving the audio in as your commentary and whoops were entertaining.

Riding both mtn and road is the way to go. I started out on the road bike and after 2 years bought a mtb. I'm hooked on both and love both for different reasons.

ramblingwoods said...

Wow..the video quality is great. So alien to what I see here in western NY. I called my husband over to look and we both decided that it was too close to the edge there and not good for me with lack of balance. Looks so cool though.....Michelle

Rambling Woods said...

I forgot to add that for years before I my symptoms (multiple sclerosis) got too challenging we took our bikes and rode... there is a trail along the Niagara River that is beautiful...a park with trails. Too much for our street bikes and then when the kid got old enough took her...wow...more good memories.. Michelle