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


Category Name

General Admission Ticket

Category Price




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!!!




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.


Change of videography plans

I’m going to buy a gimbal and reshoot the trails of Moab, Grand Valley (Fruita), and Zion / St. George, and all in 4K. I tried working with what I have this winter and wasn’t satisfied.

Meanwhile I’m changing format and will soon have videos of me explaining the trails on maps in 4K while showing my 1080p videos as picture in picture.  They will be replaced with 4K gimbal shots of trails after that for the best ever explanation and orientation of these trails.

This is only interesting if you haven’t rode the area before but want to know what is there. The next step for you would be to focus on specific trails that interest you at http://utahmountainbiking.com and YouTube.

Katya and I will be riding Sedona near the end of March then hanging out at the Hurricane Mountain Bike Festival.  See you there?


New Videos Update

I’m trying something new, basing the videos on me explaining the trails with maps and added a few images and videos at the more interesting trail sections.  I’m experimenting and progress is very slow.  Also swamped with work if I’m to get back on the Moab trails in April.

Somehow I have to stop coding for a while and get this done but not easy to do.  Meanwhile, I’ll be in Hurricane, Moab, and the Grand Valley (Fruita / Grand Junction) for much of April.


Fox Fork Update

My 2017 Fox 34 Factory was installed on my Yeti in October, 2016.  I’ve biked about 3+ months since then and have not crashed.  Really amazing for me.  I’m really good at going over the handlebars and not getting hurt.  I’m going to lose that skill.

I’m riding much more technical than previously, as is my wife who now has the same fork.  Starting to do crazy shit like about half of the drop-in to Horsethief Bench near Fruita, CO and part of Flying Monkey in Virgin, UT.  I’ve become fearless…

I will never ride a Rock Shox again.  If a demo bike has a Pike I’m waling away.

I have a new theory.  When riders say you have to have the technical skills to ride Rock Shox, it really means they figured out hacks for the poor design.  Of course they are proud of their hacks, err, skills, they earned them.  For the rest of us there is Fox.



Starting To Edit The New Moab Videos!

Christmas Day and starting the long edit process for new videos. The first one will be Moab West Side, then North Side, then East Side. After this I’ll move on to Fruita / Grand Junction, Lake Tahoe, and remake my Zion / St. George production which will include new trails and clips.
I’m using an editor that is new to me, Apple’s Final Cut Pro, and a totally different approach to telling the story about MTB trails. It will be modeled after how I advise riders on the trails but with video clips of what is in my head at the time. Voice-overs of course but very little music in these videos.

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.

Outstanding Trail Bike Upgrades!

I’m still riding, and loving, my 2014 Yeti SB95c.  However, over the years I’ve rode a bunch of demo bikes with different component setups and slowly figured out what works best for an intermediate who rides rocks carefully and doesn’t want a trip to an emergency room.

This post is useful for any trail category bike with a beginner or intermediate rider.  Advanced riders on all mountain bikes have plenty of resources online.  These upgrades had a major positive effect on my riding!  I have a whole new bike!

I’ll never be a strong 24 year old stud again with legs like pistons.  When I was a ski bum for 3 years after high school, 100 days a year on skis, and then 2 years as a power company lineman climbing poles and towers my legs were damn strong.  No MTB back then however.

My Yeti SB95c riding Great Escape Trail, Moab, Utah.

First I’ll update my opinion of the 2017 Fox Factory 34 140mm fork I installed in October, 2016.  I have a previous blog post about this.  Then my rear shock upgrade.  Last I’ll give you the details of my gearing upgrade from the original 2 x 10 to a 1 x 11 that includes the same low gear range as the old setup.  I have a 1 x 11 that can climb!

2017 Fox Factory 34 140mm fork.

I rode this fork for two weeks in Moab and Fruita in late October, 2016 and never crashed!  For me that is amazing.  I didn’t ride much during our very wet Northern California winter but I returned to Hurricane / St. George, Utah, Fruita, and Moab for three weeks in March and April, 2017 and started riding gnar I previously hiked the bike on.  Again, no crashes!  This fork gently lifts me over everything I’ve hit, even a very low speeds such as 6 mph.

For 2017 Fox re-engineered their slow speed bump performance, probably the first fork manufacturer to specifically target intermediate riders with a performance fork.   It made a huge difference in the low speed gnar performance over Rockshox, and probably the others.  Before this the manufacturers were focused on racing and we got the leftovers.  Now we have a product designed for us but it also performs for advanced riders.  Fox has tweaked the low speed bump performance a bit more for 2018 but I haven’t rode one of those yet.

The bike performance is so good that I’m starting to ride very famous gnar such as the infamous Drop-in to Horsethief Bench near Fruita and Flying Monkey in Virgin, UT – and still not crashing!

My riding skills aren’t better – my equipment is.

So I just put the new fox fork on my wife’s SB95c and she is starting to ride stuff she used to walk.  My strong feeling is: Screw Rockshox.  I won’t ride them anymore, and that includes the Pike which sent me over the handlebars on not very big rocks.  They aren’t designed for us slower intermediates.  I had two Rockshox reps, several mechanics, and eventually me adjust the shit out of my Rockshox Revelation.  No adjusting made up for antiquated engineering.

I’m going to restate:  This blog is for intermediates.  I have no opinion for advanced and expert riders.  I can’t and don’t test for their riding styles.  If they think Rockshoxs are great then fine, they were designed for them anyway.

Fox Factory Aircan upgrade.

I asked the Fox factory reps at the Trailhead Dirt Days demo event in 2016 if I should upgrade my Yeti to the new and exciting Fox X2 rear shock.  They recommended the simple Aircan upgrade which costs about $100.  So I upgraded my shock and noticed a softer more plush ride through rock gardens.  The result is a little safety and more control and comfort.  Not a big deal by itself but when combined with my other upgrades it helped to improve my bike’s performance in a major way.

1 x 11 gearing setup for climbing. 28T x 40T.

My new Shimano gearing has a 28T (tooth) in front and a 40T as the largest in the back.  This gives me the same low gear as my old standard 2 x 10 setup.  I’m not a strong climber and the standard 1 x 11’s on demo bikes don’t have that low gear.  That is why I didn’t change over years ago.  This upgrade cost me about $600 but I could keep my XT crank because it was originally for 3 gears up front, although I was running 2 from the beginning.  The middle placement worked for the 1 x 11.  Hey, I got a good deal on it when building up the bike!  Shifter and derailleur are new Shimano XT’s.  They have to also be replaced.

This is a close-up look at my Shimano cassette.

For your reference the above shows all the gears in the cassette and how many teeth they have.  The 37T and 40T are the most important for me.  I need low gears for climbing and these nail both the long grinds and the technical rocky climbs.  Earlier setups didn’t do both well.

My wife’s SB95c with a 1 x 11 setup and an oval chain ring.

After I tested my setup and it worked fantastic in Moab, Hurricane, and Fruita, our favorite rocky trails, I recently setup my wife’s SB95c similar but not the same components.  Not cheap but worth it!  The only changes are that she has a beautiful black Box 46T cassette, a pretty gold 30T oval chainring, and a new crank.  Oval is supposed to help on the climbs. Shifting and derailleur are new Shimano XT’s.  She hasn’t rode it enough yet to have opinions on the gearing.  Total cost for this plus the Aircan was $900 installed.  The Fox Factory 34 140mm fork is $879 retail and hard to find cheaper.  She has noticed a huge improvement with the fork on the gnarly Styles Ranch Trail in south San Jose.  She’s had the fork a few weeks longer than the gears.

Gold oval 30T chainring.

I don’t know the manufacturer of the chainring, it is not on it or the invoice.  She has a Raceface crank but I don’t think it is important for intermediates who makes this stuff as long as they are reputable manufacturers.  Whatever you bike shop supplies should be fine.

46T Box cassette.

The 30T gold oval chainring required a bigger 46T cassette to achieve the same low gearing as my setup.  Gearing gets technical so I rely on my mechanic, Scott at Trailhead Cyclery in San Jose, and the software he uses to figure this out.

So now our bikes ride like the new ones or even better for us.  We see no need to upgrade our trail bikes.  However, yesterday we demoed the Yeti ASRc, a lightweight cross country bike that can handle some gnarly tread, and the Specialized Turbo Levo FSR pedal assist bike with 3 inch tires.  Both would be terrific second bikes for us but my wife fell in love with the Levo 🙂

Meanwhile, we’ll be riding the Santa Cruz Mountains, Henry Coe State Park, and the Sierras this summer.  Back to Utah and Colorado this fall.  See you on the trails!

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