Category Archives: MTB Adventures

Equipment We Use for road trips In 2019

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.

https://www.amazon.com/Cup-Cozy-Pillow-prevent-anywhere-Couch/dp/B06XPR4TR6/

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.

https://www.amazon.com/Cleanwaste-Go-Anywhere-Portable-Toilet/dp/B001TKGAKO/

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.

Road Pro portable 12 volt oven. This is a favorite of truckers and road trippers. Reheat leftovers or even cook frozen dinners. Aluminum trays you can buy anywhere fit into it. It saves me from eating cold pizza for days. https://www.amazon.com/RoadPro-12-Volt-Portable-Stove-Black/dp/B00030DLEE/

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/

I use these stakes, the best I’ve seen in almost 70 years of camping. https://www.amazon.com/BareFour-Unbreakable-Inflexible-Available-Snowfield/dp/B07G5TTJG9/



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.

Inflatable bed chair. When the weather turns bad we stay cozy in our van and read or do Web things on the bed. Inflatable bed chairs work very well. https://www.amazon.com/HOMCA-Reading-Inflatable-Backrest-Camping/dp/B07KQ47DXH/

First 2019 Road trip – Hurricane MTB Festival

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?

October 2018 MTB Road Trip – Too Many Troubles!

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.

Fall 2018 MTB Road Trip Plans

In mid Sept we have this trip planned for 3 weeks!

Yellowstone Moab route

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!

Las Vegas Great Santa Run Plaza Hotel Offer

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.

Jim Preston

#3226098

Category Name

General Admission Ticket

Category Price

$65.00

 

 

Spring 2018 MTB Road Trips – A Little Late…

My last post was at the beginning of the spring 2018 road trip season.  I forgot to post anything here but I made two trips that included Virgin / St George, Sedona, Moab, and Fruita.  Unfortunately my last trip was cut short but a very bad case of hay fever.  I was struggling for a few months until I found a med that worked great.  So nothing got posted because I was too busy coughing.

However,  I did shoot a fair amount of 4k video with the Evo SS Gimbal on my chest.  The gimbal wasn’t as awkward as I expected and the videos came out super!  I’m deep into working on a project since then and no time to create some interesting videos and post them.  Hopefully this winter.  I want to do something different than in the past but not sure yet what that format will be.

On the drive to the Hurricane MTB Festival in Moab in March my GoPro Hero Session 5 camera died.  This was the beginning of a three week shoot!  GoPro said they would replace it, which they did after we got home, but we were almost to St George, Utah and the receipt was 10 hours behind us.

So in St George I went on Amazon and ordered the new Hero 6 to be delivered to Over The Edge Sports in Hurricane.  I ordered on Thursday and picked up the camera on Monday.  It worked great for the trip but died soon after.  GoPro replaced that camera and the new one is still working.

We only biked twice during the summer.  Katya’s carbon bike frame broke and her 2017 Fox Factory fork lost most of its travel even with full air pressure.  WTF?  She doesn’t jump off cliffs, or even 3′ rocks!  So beside my working a lot it took Fox a long time to rebuild it for $180.  Only a month older than one year.  We are supposed to get the bike back in a few days and it is the end of August!  Great fork but this sucks.

So after all those problems we are looking forward to a big fall MTB road trip!!!

Jim

 

 

MTB Road Trip Season Starts This Thursday!

The van is half packed already and heading for the Hurricane MTB Festival this Thursday March 22!  Rather hyped now and ready for big MTB action!

Shooting video with a GoPro Hero 5 Session on my new EVO SS gimbal for smooth 4K action on the most interesting parts of the trails you’ve heard about.  I’ll replace my current Moab trail maps YouTube series with maps + visuals this year.

 

Moab Trails Maps Explained

I like to help other riders get oriented to trails that are new to them but I ride frequently and know the rocks.  Giving back for all the help I received.  So I have many of the Moab trails explained on YouTube in this growing playlist Moab Maps Explained

This is only version 1.  An experiment.  In a few weeks I’ll be riding Moab trails again but with a gimbal on my chest and I’m developing new ideas for explaining the trails.  It will combine these map’s advice with on-scene video.

By the way, I’ve deleted all my years of video.  I tried to use them in these videos but without a gimbal they suck.  The old shit is unusable.  I have to ride all the main trails of Moab, Grand Valley (Fruita / Grand Junction), Zion / St George, and Tahoe again and shoot some crazy good video.   Feel sorry for me.  🙂

I’m also adding Sedona soon.  Katya and I will be there riding for most of a week after the Hurricane MTB Festival coming up at the end of March.

Bend Oregon For Intermediates

The Deschutes River Trail up river from Bend is a very scenic and mostly easy ride.

I’ve done two road trips to Bend, Oregon this year, one for a week with my wife in May and another a few weeks later by myself in June.  A few thoughts:

  • The trails near Bend are mostly flowy beginner / low intermediate with few rock gardens and gentle climbs.  My wife loved them!  I wanted a bit more technical so when I returned in June I rode the higher elevation trails that were buried in snow in May.  More rocks but mostly ridable rock gardens.  I don’t find the lava rocks to be as much fun as sandstone though.  There are several flow trails with berms but Tiddlywinks is by far the best.  Big features and long descent.

 

  • Both Bend and Sisters are great fun to visit!  Bend has 22 breweries and a few distilleries.  We really enjoyed the fine dining on Wall and Bond Streets and tasty elk burgers at Deschutes Brewing.  Sisters has a very good intermediate level trail system, interesting fine dining at Open Door, cozy cafes, and the the Euro Sport bike shop has local brews on tap in the mechanic shop!

The beer bar at Euro Sport bikes in Sisters, OR.

 

  • There are a LOT of trails and loops.  However, the lodge pole pines get a bit boring as they are often the only view.  Higher elevation trails near Mt. Bachelor have some terrific views of the volcanoes and the Deschutes River Trail is a scenic gem.

 

  • I rode nearby Oakridge a couple of times.  I’m not excited about hanging on the brakes for long descents.  Two good shuttle companies available.  Mostly upper intermediate level.  It was OK but not my thing.  Enjoyed the town and meeting folks though.  We upgraded our XT brakes at the bike shop and that went well.  You’ll need the better brakes to ride Oakridge and probably Mt Ashland which is also a shuttle served big descent destination.

We will return to Bend.  Fun trails, people, town, and a great bike culture.  Not an expensive place to visit and I park in the forest for free.  Go for a swim in the river to clean up.  Toilets at major trailheads.  Some nice state parks to camp at but a lack of Forest Service camps close to the trails.  Better camping is out at the lakes.  Cheap motels available, especially compared to Moab and Hurricane.

Rode Redding California And Loved It!

Just rode 2 days in the Swasy Trails system. Loved it! Great terrain and loved the views after a week riding in the Oregon forest.  I prefer big views over being deep in a forest.

Locals sent us up Wintu Trail counter-clockwise a little before noon on our first day. Redding was supposed to reach 96F that afternoon so getting warm by then. 13% grades in the hot sun was un-fun even to hike the bikes but I guess that is how the locals test visitors.

When we finally got to the top of the new jumps section of Wintu we decided to move on and descend Meiners Trail instead. Several locals told us the jump trail part of Wintu had huge gap jumps that couldn’t be avoided. The signs at the top are hardly encouraging.

We’ve worked on and rode the Demo Flow Trail and the Corral Flow Trail at Tahoe and played around on small gap jumps at the famous Post Office Jumps in Aptos so we aren’t complete cowards but the trail advice made it seem like a bad idea for us.  Maybe next time…

No problem because we loved dropping the east side of Meiners! Even found a few rock gardens and I was desperate for rocks after a week of riding X/C near Bend and above Oakridge.

We were going to drive home to San Jose after this ride last Sunday but decided to ride again Monday, Memorial Day.  We moved on to the saloons in French Gulch in the afternoon, an old mining town, and some free campsite near Trinity Lake on a rushing stream. Still a lot of snow higher up.

Odd thing happened on Sunday. Some equestrians gave us great trail advice. I haven’t had the best experiences with equestrian advice starting with backpacking in the early 60’s.

We got an earlier start on Monday, about 9 AM at the TH, and climbed Meiners, Escalator, and dropped down Mule Mountain Trail.  This route was recommended by a very welcoming local guy.  The climbing was easy, even fun.  Loved the descent on Mule Mtn!!!  Rock gardens, large gravel, narrow trail with steep drop-offs, the technical riding that I prefer.   My wife has been very cautious since her ER trip last fall but she started to regain her mojo on this trail.  This is what our Yeti trail bikes were designed for.

There is a lot of poison oak in the area but it was well clear of the trails we rode.  Only a few mosquitos.  I was surprised how early the trailheads clear out.  It wasn’t that hot and we had a nice breeze.

Wintu Trailhead, Redding, California, about 1 PM. Pretty much everyone has left due to heat. The next day at another TH and the same thing. We relax after rides by setting up our camp chairs in the shade and drinking Chardonnay.

The trailheads we visited have nice toilets and picnic tables.  They are crowded early in the morning but the locals run away when it heats up.  We were fine with the heat.

We did a Google search for bike shops to get local info and maybe a map with more trail info than the apps.  None of the shops in the search results were open, really odd for a place that seems to want to be a destination.  I searched through some related mtbr.com posts until I found a referral to Sports LTD and they were open.

Not only are they not listed under a bike shop search, pretty dumb for a business not to have basic SEO, but their bike shop info is under the Backpacking section of their site.  Talk about clueless hicks.  It was very difficult and ate time to try to figure out what they do.

The guys in the shop were awful at describing trails, probably the worst I’ve encountered in the U.S. west, and their map was a cheap tourist thing and worthless.  They made riding the Whiskeytown trails seem awful so we didn’t consider them.  I’ve heard since then that they are great trails.  I was pissed off for wasting my time on this wild goose chase.

The bike shop scene needs improvement for Redding to be considered an MTB destination.  Good opportunity for an Over The Edge shop.  The trails qualify and the extra attractions in the area such as swimming, fishing, exploring old gold towns, etc are also qualifiers. Don’t miss the saloons in French Gulch!  Bring cash.

(Destination MTB tourism has well established criteria.)

It would be good if Redding had a map from AdventureMaps.net like Oakridge, Bend, and many other MTB destinations in the west. Their maps give visiting riders a much clearer picture of what is available than the smart phone apps.  Or something like the maps that Moab has available.

Anyway, other than the shops, I highly recommend Redding!  I’ve rode CA, NV, UT, CO, AZ, WA, AK, OR, and even Russia.  Seen a few trails and towns.

In Fruita, CO Recovering…

I attended the Hurricane MTB Festival, very nice and bigger every year, and shot the wonderful Zen Trail to add to my remake of the video for that area.  I’m ready for post-production on that remake.

Before that I “biked” the easier of the Cowboy Trails near Las Vegas. I like rock gardens but wow, no break with these!  I had to hike the bike to save my ass and back and my 127mm Fox Float rear shock with an Aircan is pretty plush.

After Hurricane I drove to Moab but it was starting to rain so I drove south a couple of hours to bike Phil’s World near Cortez, CO.  About a mile and a half up a gentle flowy trail through junipers I realized I had the flu and headed back to the TH, booked a motel room for a few days, and felt miserable.  So terrible to be laid low in MTB heaven.

In Fruita now and recovering slowly.  Starting to ride again.  I have several trails to shoot here to finish production for this video then over to Moab to finish up the shooting over there.

I have a new GoPro Hero 5 Session camera and it is getting good results with the chest mount.