All posts by jmpreston

A mountain biker who loves to ride the trails with sandstone (slick rock) and granite rocks. My favorite trails are around Moab, UT, Lake Tahoe, Downieville, CA, and near the west entrance to Zion National Park and Bryce National Park. Mostly I ride the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Damn Wildfire Smoke!

We’ve had only a few clear days for videography since we moved to Fruita at the end of August this year. This problem is not new to those living in the U.S. West and many other countries.

I have most of the shooting done for the 18 Road / North Fruita Desert trails video but nothing else. Moab last weekend was the same. While the smoke wrecks the distant views, not the trails, I’m sure all of us want to see beautiful views and the crisp colors of Red Rock Country. I ride for the scenic value as much as the technical challenges.

Photo: Me searching for the canceled Outerbike event at Moab Brand Trails last weekend. Love that event! The smoke doesn’t look bad here but the La Sal Mountains were not visible at all. Everything closer was rather grayish.

Most of the smoke seems to originate in California but there are contributions from Utah and Colorado wildfires also.

I’m finally getting to use my new GoPro Hero8 camera. I’m no longer using a gimbal and the GoPro’s stabilization works great! A little bouncer than with a gimbal but more like a real ride. Not the chatter of the bad old days of MTB videos. I bought this camera for my usual spring road trip to Utah and Western Colorado but the pandemic blocked that.

We’re Settled In Fruita, CO!

I disappeared over the summer as we planned our move out of Silicon Valley to the Grand Valley, Colorado, found a house to rent, packed, drove for two days, then unpacked and figured out where everything goes. It was a 2 1/2 months full time job for me and my wife put in a couple of weeks.

Moving during a pandemic is a pain and then the actual move happened during a major heat wave that added more stress, as if moving isn’t stressful enough. Fortunately the U-Haul truck climbed those passes in 111 degree heat in the Mojave Desert without overheating but other travelers were stuck by the side of Interstate 15.

So no more 15 hour road trip drives to Moab and Fruita! I’m hyped about living near the trails I love! Within a 20 minute drive we can be at the trailheads for the 3 major trail systems near Fruita and Grand Junction, and we are only an hour and a half from Moab.

We just had a day and a half of rain with snow up high. This photo was taken a few minutes ago and shows the mountains above the North Fruita Desert Bike Trails, commonly known as 18 Road. The riding will be super great this weekend! See you out there!

Move To Grand Junction?

A rider descends the Toilet Bowl on the Ribbon Trail above Grand Junction, Colorado.

In pre-COVID-19 days, which seems like long ago, I would spend up to three months on MTB road trips, mostly to Virgin and Moab, Utah and the Grand Valley, Colorado. The famous hot spot for MTB there is Fruita but Grand Junction is the biggest city in the region with 63,000 people and is home to the Lunch Loops and other fine trails such as Ribbon.

I’ve been based for the past twenty years in my native Silicon Valley, California, which has great weather, exciting new technologies in all directions, many wine regions nearby, the Pacific at nearby Santa Cruz, and decent X/C level trails. For bigger and more technical trail fun then Lake Tahoe and Downieville are four hours away in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and have excellent trails, camping, and wonderful lakes and rivers for summer swimming.

I’m bored with the trails around the San Francisco Bay Area and Tahoe camping is so popular with the world that I can rarely find a campsite anymore. And in the winter Tahoe has snow and often lots of it. When I was a skier that was wonderful but I’m no longer interested in being cold and wet.

My wife and I can live anywhere we have broadband and have no change in income. We aren’t dependent on local employment. We live in one of the world’s most expensive housing regions and a break would be nice. We could save money for new bikes! Well, probably better housing instead.

We’ve long considered Moab and Grand Junction / Fruita. That area is like having a second home anyway, so why not just move there?

Moab has a small population, 5,300, and we prefer much larger. So that leaves Junction which also has a nice university. We like intelligent informed friends and conversation. While there is some of that in Moab there are more opportunities in Junction.

Another plus for the Grand Valley, besides the terrific technical trails north and east of Fruita and the Lunch Loops almost in Grand Junction is that the local MTB group, COPMOBA, is building more trail systems, whole systems, not just a trail, to the south of Junction! More red rock trails to explore and without the 16 hour drives from Silicon Valley.

Another BIG plus is that Moab is only an hour and a half away. Virgin in southwest Utah which includes the famous Gooseberry Mesa is only 5 1/2 hours away, half the time it takes me from Silicon Valley.

We can be on our bikes on our favorite trails pretty much all year except for occasional snowfalls which don’t last long. Yes, the summers are hot, but riding is great in the mornings and often in the evenings.

There is another benefit. I grew up in the Santa Cruz Mountains with big views from home. My 16 years in Anchorage had beautiful views from home, including glaciers and volcanos. I want a home that has beautiful views and that is possible Junction. Same with being within a short ride of world class bike trails.

The current pandemic makes planning a move difficult. We don’t want to move in the heat of the summer so we would wait until fall. We could easily be in lockdown mode again in the fall which makes travel more difficult.

We hate the moving process and trying to get all our things in either moving pods or a truck, or both, and then unpacking and getting setup again. We dread it. However, planning the packing is underway.

After that we will have road trips in CO, AZ, NM, WY, MT and the Rocky Mountain provinces of Alberta and British Columba in Canada. So after a brief pandemic intermission, the MTB road trips will be back and by next year I should be shooting with the amazing Skydio 2 drone!

Hang in there everyone! We’ll get through this shit!

— Jim

Moab Trails Highlights Playlist

One of many in the YouTube playlist.

I show and explain the best sections of Moab mountain bike trails by trail system. Please watch these on a big screen, preferably 4K. They are much more immersive.

I’ll be adding Moab trails throughout 2020 and also trails in the Grand Valley (Fruita / Grand Junction) and Zion / St George areas. I may do some shooting in Sedona during 2020 but certainly some time soon.

I Purchased The Skydio 2 Drone!

Well, pre-purchased. It won’t ship until the 3rd quarter of this year. They just launched this amazing AI driven drone in October and are way behind on deliveries. So I have to be patient. This spring I’ll be shooting with a new chest camera setup. More on that later.

The advantage of this drone over others is that it uses artificial intelligence and computer vision better way better than others. This gives the viewers a cinematographic view of the rider instead of just following, unless the rider wants it to do that.

It was developed by a team that worked in AI and computer vision at MIT. That is a lot of product development horsepower.

Here are some favorite reviews of the new Skydio 2! Both are amazing!

New moab area mtb videos!

After not publishing for a couple of years as I shot videos with a gimbal and 4K I finally had a little time to publish 4 in January. Long dry spell but I was learning to be a software developer, my 11th career, and didn’t have the time and attention to publish.

I published the Klonzo Trails Highlights today and last week the Klondike Bluffs Highlights. More to come.

I really want the new Skydio 2 drone for shooting this spring and fall. However, I found that I would need a reservation to buy one and the next batch of deliveries is in the fall! It would be a great addition to my next videos series. So I’ll shoot a bunch this spring in the SouthWest and then ride some of the trails again in the fall with the drone. Hopefully it will arrive by then. The new series will launch next fall but I’ll continue with the highlights series.

Two more months to the Hurricane Mountain Bike Festival and the beginning of the 2020 high desert riding season! Also, this year I’ll start shooting our interesting side trips.

Navajo Rocks Trails Highlights

I’m starting a new series of Trails Highlights that are short and I present and explain just the more interesting features in trail systems. Check out my first one and let me know your thoughts.

This April I begin shooting for a new series of videos and we’ll ride along together so you can sit at home in front of a 4K TV and enjoy the experience! A big 4K TV will give you a much more immersive experience than a smart phone 🙂 These should be good videos for home gym workouts.

FINALLY, A NEW VIDEO CONCEPT

Here’s the story. Brian Kennedy (BKXC on YouTube) is a top star because he engages viewers with a more personal approach to MTB rides. I’ve always wanted my videos to be about the trails, not me.

I was going in the wrong direction. Years ago I was well known across the U.S. west. Then that went away as viewers want something different.

So the new concept is to ride the trails as before but I’ll do real time discussions with other riders I chat with along the way, at camps, and trailheads, and I chat with a lot of riders. It takes me forever to get anywhere! More fun though, and I’ll bring viewers along for my riding road trip experience for 3 months a year. I’ll also include cool restaurants and other interesting places we visit on MTB road trips, and there are many.

I’m pretty hyped about the new direction but after shooting most Moab trails in 4K in 2019 with the intention of scraping the audio due to gimbal motor noise I have to reshoot them all in 2020 with an external mic plus do interviews. Hey, great exercise excuse!

Ugh, Trips ended quickly

September Moab Trip – cut short…

I’m having a bit of bad travel luck lately. We had a great time for a couple of weeks riding Moab and Grand Junction but soon after my wife flew home from Moab I cracked a tooth somehow and the weather forecast was pretty bad. So I joined the mass traveler migration out of Moab as everyone wanted to get over the mountain passes to the east and west before the storm hit. That ended my videography shoot rather quickly and I didn’t get much done on the new 4K series.

I didn’t video our 4 day side trip from Moab to Telluride, Cortez (rode the Phil’s World trails), Durango, Silverton, Ouray, and Grand Junction but now wish I did. Not much MTB but a fun road trip through beautiful mountain fall scenes. I highly recommend it!!! We arrived in Telluride mid-week and their lifts weren’t open for biking those trails. In Junction we rode the fantastic Ribbon Trail but I don’t like the video with the cloud cover. The light was flat, so I’m not publishing it. I’ll get it in 2020 and MAYBE have the courage to drop into the Toilet Bowl. Really scary!

Death Valley Trip – failed…

For Christmas Eve and night we stayed at the wonderful Harris Ranch Inn and Restaurant on Interstate 5 in California’s southern Central Valley. We ate and drank too much as usual there. If you like beef it is the place to hang out for a while! There is nothing else to do in the area but enjoy the hot tubs, pool, rooms, and socialize with travelers in the fine dining restaurant bar. And eat a lot of beef meals.

The plan was to continue on to Death Valley National Park and ride some interesting four wheel drive roads with our bikes. There could be some fun video there and in ghost towns. However, the morning after Christmas the passes out of the Central Valley to L.A. and to the south and east were officially closed due to a large snow storm. So we headed north and home.

So sad to unpack our van and not have any video of Death Valley riding!