We’re going! April 30 – May 2. The event is at Green River, UT but the riding is in the hugely scenic San Rafael Swell. If you have traveled I-70 through Utah you probably crossed the Swell and checked out some of the many scenic viewpoints. I’ve wanted to explore and ride the Swell for almost 20 years of traveling to and from Moab.
By the way, the last post was about going to the Hurricane, Utah MTB Festival. I don’t have any interesting photos and due to bike companies having no demo bikes now it was a small affair with only Intense showing up and only 15 bikes for 200 attendees. Still, we loved everyone getting back together again!
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!
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!
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!
OK, getting antsy for MTB riding in CO and UT. While we will be on station in April we are thinking also about next September. Instead of Katya flying in and out of Moab I would like to pick her up at the Denver airport and do the following road trip through CO back to the familiar terrain of the Grand Valley.
We would have riding at Yeti’s HQ in Golden, maybe Vail and Aspen, LEADVILLE!, Crested Butte, and maybe try the wild trails of Ouray and Montrose before our favorite trails at Lunch Loops, 18 Road, and Kokopelli in the Grand Valley then on to Moab.
Here is the link with the trip on Google Maps. The only issue is that Hwy 82 between Aspen and Leadville is closed now so it re-routes back to I-70. We won’t do it that way.
I spent 3 weeks on an MTB road trip to Utah and western Colorado last September and October but posted nothing. Ugh. Me bad. Which many people knew already.
We did something a little different and after Katya flew from San Jose to Moab and I picked her up there we drove south to old mining towns deep in the San Juan Mountains in Southwest Colorado. We started with Telluride, no lift riding in late September except weekends, then over the next few days to Phil’s World at Cortez, CO and rode the fantastic Rib Cage Trail, Durango, Silverton, Ouray, and up to Fruita and more MTB on trails we know well. After that, of course, Moab!
Katya flew home from Moab after a couple of weeks of traveling and riding in heaven but I remained in our van around Moab. I had increasing tooth pain so saw a dentist and was diagnosed with a cracked tooth. Definitely not from MTB. So I drove back home to California to figure out whether it needs a root canal and crown or just get pulled. While I was waiting for an oral surgeon it cracked and a third fell out. So the 2nd molar got pulled. Whatever. Damn tooth screwed up a couple more weeks of riding.
The MTB was rather uneventful except for the amazing Ribbon Trail near Grand Junction. There is a shuttle now available, finally, so Katya and I went up and rode The Ribbon. Jeez, you spend about 20 minutes on slick rock descents! You don’t even think about breaking, just max out the speed of your bike on huge rock ramps!
Along the way is the Toilet Bowl, a big steep slick rock descent that looks way less steep in photos and videos. I need to nail that drop but it is scary. Very scary.
The trail descends into an amazing deep red rock canyon and we ride the scenic wash down to a trail junction. From there it is up either way but we are in Lunch Loops! There is a maze of amazing trails to ride back to the trailhead on Monument Road.
By the way, I’m warming up to the Klonzo Trails near Moab finally. They aren’t as technical as I usually prefer but there is a lot of fast flow fun with some great technical in places. Video to come. I’m not publishing my Ribbon video. It was a cloudy day and the light too flat. I’ll shot it in sun in 2020. The same year I die in the Toilet Bowl…
We are frequently asked what road trip equipment we have selected. We’ve been adding stuff to our 1997 Aerostar van for years but recently added much more.
First about our van selection. The Ford Aerostar is a truck, not a minivan, which are on car frames and parts. It is rugged, climbs gnarly roads, low maintenance, dependable even with more than 250,000 miles on it, and parks in compact parking, a big advantage for us in Silicon Valley.
Yakima Slim Shady awning. They are about the cheapest awning option and available at REI and almost everywhere. It is deployed and rolled up manually so a bit of a pain compared to the much more expensive crank-out kind of awning. We’ll upgrade if we use it a lot.
Yakima Dr Tray platform bike rack. Most of the tray racks are about 50 pounds. The 2 inch receiver version of the new Dr Tray is 34 pounds. Easier on the back. I bought mine new in the box off Craig’s List.
Yakima roof rack. Much of what you do here is vehicle dependent. I had to install tracks then install the 4 Yakima Landing Pad 1’s as feet for the Skyline Towers and Core Bars. Thule has much the same products. Full retail for everything can be about $1,000 but I watched Craig’s List, eBay, and Amazon.
Yakima Skybox 16. This holds an amazing amount of stuff including our screen room, folding chairs, privacy tent, leveling blocks, orange construction cones to show our campsite is occupied, the carpet for the awning or screen room, and smaller stuff. I bought mine new in the box off Craig’s List. Moab dust on the van roof.
Cup Cozy Pillow. It fits between us when we are both in the van and prevents spilling whatever we are drinking.
Tri-Lynx Leveling Blocks. Nice to have a level vehicle to sleep in. They are like Legos and assemble quickly. Be sure to order the chocks to make it easier to stop in the right place. I’m going to add them. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0028PJ10K/
Big Kahuna Portable 12 volt shower. It is designed to have one hand holding the shower head. We wanted a traditional shower for a privacy tent so I replaced the hose with the reinforced braided tube and added a gas valve, both available in any hardware store. I had the head left from a cheap shower we bought earlier that didn’t work out. The reservoir is white so paint it black to absorb more heat from the sun if you want a warm shower. Buy a photography light stand on Amazon and clamp and you have a real shower. I can wash well, including shampoo, and rinse with about 1 1/4 gallon of water. Of course turn off the shower when soaping up. https://www.amazon.com/Big-Kahuna-Portable-Shower-Gallons/dp/B00CMHJGEU/
Clean Waste Portable Toilet. It is fast to deploy and stores well. Use with a privacy tent or behind an open car door or bushes. Find a location with a view. Roll up the bag then insert into an included zip lock bag for no odor. Deposit in a garbage can. Bring your own toilet paper. The supplied paper isn’t much.
Platform bed with plastic storage boxes underneath. The size depends on your rig but due to the rear wheel wells we bought a twin size from Amazon then 2 x 4 foot plywood sections from Lowes to put on top. This gave us a full size bed. Add a mattress of your choice. We chose Memory Foam from Amazon. Our platform is 13 inches high so we have 7 12 inches high plastic boxes underneath. There is room for more but we have a locking metal box also that is cable locked to the frame for some security. Use a very heavy bike cable setup.
Yeti 45 cooler. It holds only 37 quarts and Yeti makes that hard to discover. They give you the number of cans and bags of ice but never the traditional measurement. When you buy the product you’ll get a brochure and for the 45 it says it holds 9.2 gallons. You do the math. An Igloo 48 holds 48 quarts, same with Coleman and others. I have a low opinion of Yeti and their marketing fraud but their coolers hold ice much longer than traditional ice chests. I cable lock the Yeti to a seat because it is a target. It sits in the passenger seat when I travel alone.
Rubber patio tiles. Perfect for a clean place to step out of a van and for showering. They dry fast and store well. We use 4. Costco had them for a while but you will have to shop around. 1 square foot.
Aluminum folding table. Various sizes are available from camp stores such as REI and on Amazon. Always handy in dispersed camping areas and trailheads.
Clam Quickset pop up screen room. Very fast to deploy and take down. Useful in many places as shelter from rain, bugs, sun, and wind. If high winds are expected, common in the American Southwest and mountains, we use tie down straps rather than the weak guy lines included. Also use strong metal stakes. It is worth buying their side panels. This Escape model is 12 feet across. Notice the straps in the first photo and the tent set with a shower in the second. The ladder is for access to the Skybox. https://www.amazon.com/Quick-Set-9879-140-Inch-Protection/dp/B00TMBENDS/
Privacy tent. The pop up kind are convenient and store flat but are worthless if a significant wind. The one below was staked to the ground but folded almost flat in a gust. So I put a bungee cord from the top to the tree but that didn’t help much. It would be a wild ride in it! We are currently looking into the tents with a frame. I saw those holding up well in high winds.
We’re heading to the fun Hurricane MTB Festival at the end of this month, March. Hoping that it doesn’t rain! That wiped out my Moab trip last year and flooded out 2 days of Outerbike. Totally sucked.
1) We may demo a bike or two but not a priority. Yetis are our beasts of choice and they won’t be there this year. Of course I’ve had good rides on others. Fezzari from Salt Lake City area is a very good performer. Ibis as always is strong but I’ll demo them in San Jose in April.
2) It’s a festival! So fun to hang out with other riders and the breakfasts and dinner are tasty and fun. And, weather permitting, a BBQ at the Guacamole TH! This is one of our very favorite trails.
3) We have tricked out our 97 Ford Aerostar road trip van with a cargo box and awning on top and upgraded our bike tray rack to the new Yakima Dr. Tray. 34 pounds instead of 50 for the other Yakimas and Thules. Better on my lower back. We also had the van detailed inside and out and wow does it shine! Looks almost new! Auto detailing shops do a much better cleaning job than I can do.
4) I’ve added the iPhone XS to my cameras and I added a little more equipment. The GoPro 6 and the Evo SS gimbal are still the main setup. I’ve worked all winter and didn’t produce any new videos. I’m still working on the concept for the next ones and reshooting the trails in Moab, Grand Valley, and Virgin / St. George in 4K. A lot of riding to do!
So in a couple of weeks the road trip season begins! After Hurricane Katya flies home from Vegas and depending on weather I may go on to Moab and Fruita or down to Sedona, then maybe Moab and Fruita. Such great options, heh?
I just returned from Outerbike in Moab and the end of a 3 week road trip. The first part was a visit to Yellowstone and that went well. We rode Fruita, CO a little then over to Moab where I ripped my lower back and was off the bike for five days. Ugh.
That is rare for me but when it happens I’m almost totally disabled. Even down and up on the toilet because hellish torture. Living out of our van is no worse than a motel room and at least in the van I have a 360 degree view!
Finally back on the bike for a couple of rides and then the weather turned to rain, rain, rain on the Saturday afternoon and Sunday of Outerbike. The weather looked bad for the rest of the week so I drove home. Fortunately few trips have this level of disappointment.
I was able to shoot some additional video near Fruita and the Horsethief Trails near Moab. Besides my other problems I forgot my GoPro chest harness at home. When Katya flew home she sent it to me – $40. Ugh.
We did enjoy showing off our repainted Yeti SB95c’s! They look so new and shiny! Photo on Horsethief Bench above the Colorado River.
In mid Sept we have this trip planned for 3 weeks!
We plan to ride Jackson Hole, Park City, Fruita, and Moab. About a 3,200 mile trip with all the driving around to trailheads. The leg to Yellowstone, which Katya hasn’t been to yet, is about 15 hours as is the return from Moab. Ugh.
There is one more thing! I just scored a Red Bull Rampage ticket so I’ll be riding the Virgin / St George area at the end of October for a week or so!
Thank you for registering for the REDBULL RAMPAGE!!!
This General Admission ticket allows 1 person access to the Red Bull Rampage on October 26, 2018. Access is via a rough 4-mile road and a bike valet is included with this ticket. Bicycles or walking only, no vehicles of any kind allowed. Tickets must have the name of the person attending on them. Tickets are transferable within the Strideevents.com platform for a fee of $15.
Tickets are non-refundable and will be sent digitally to the purchaser 3 days prior to the event.
This ticket includes a $5 donation to both Dixie Mountain Bike Trail Association and Wings for life Foundation.