Return to Tucson

The first photo on this blog has been, for the last month, a photo of my green Lenzsport Mammoth. The bike was leaning against a ledge of that beautiful white rock on Gooseberry Mesa. Sadly that bike was stolen soon after we returned to Southern Arizona for the winter. It had seen many a mile, been pushed up many a mountain, and traversed the CDT. It had a good life and it served me well.

I’m not one to get sentimental over bikes (i.e. possessions), but it was one of my favorites — and probably the most capable and versatile I’ve yet owned. The loss made me feel less like writing here. The fact that my camera got stolen along with it may have had something to do with it, too.

But… the blog must go on. The diary is some 12 or 13 years old now. Yikes.

We recovered from Southern Utah adrenal fatigue with some local rides.

And runs, too.

photo by Eszter Horanyi

Friends converged on Little Creek Mesa. My photos of the rides and hanging out with Alexis, Denny and the crazy dogpack are lost, but it was a great weekend. The growing November cold had us deciding that tent season was closing in Utah.

Time to head to…

The Sonoran Desert! Let tenting season continue!

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to work Picacho Peak into a northern/southern migration, but it’s never worked out. This year, with nowhere to ‘live’ in Tucson set up, it was an easy choice. Good camping, and a silly fun hike out the door.

That top singletrack still calls for wheels. It’ll be a task to get a bike up there, though!

Overcoming fear can largely be a function of familiarity. The more time spent in situations like this, the better.

Bikes got stolen, so we turned our attention to other activities.

Like hunting for birds!

Not that kind of bird. Have you ever seen cattle be rounded up by helicopter? I can’t imagine the number of cowboys rolling over in the graves.

Crazy beak deformation on this northern mockingbird.

Bikepacking was out, so backpacking was in. For Thanksgiving we hiked up to ‘our’ saguaro on Ripsey, ate slices of pizza and watched what seemed like the longest sunset either of us had ever seen.

Backpacking has a beautiful simplicity to it, I must say.

For “#optoutside” day, we went to check the mail at Picketpost.

The picket is an entertaining scramble.

It seemed so much easier than last year, especially for Eszter.

We had just enough daylight to check out the nearby Arboretum. We need to go back… with far more time.

A fall color “Us-ie” inspired by Chad and Kendall, who were killing it in the Usie department while in Japan. Thanks for letting us crash your house while you were away, guys!

I pulled a bike out of storage — a Tucson appropriate bike, as it would have it. I joined Chad for his singletrack commute on the 50.

The only bike waiting for Eszter was a decidedly non-Tucson-appropriate one. This ride was fun, though. She’s taken the opportunity to focus on running instead.

So happy to be back, and near my favorite Tucson trail system.

Lee put together a Canelo ride slash trail scouting party. He’s the new regional steward for the first six segments of the trail.

The Little Outfit! Lee and I stayed a night at the ranch during our 2005 thru-ride of the AZT. The stay was complete luxury — with swimming pool, WW2-era tank tour and delicious food. Not all of our nights on the trail would be so glamorous…

Regional steward at work! Our biggest task was to figure out the nasty areas and make the trail easier to follow.

I always enjoy riding in the Canelos. But without fail, you’re always glad to get to that last hike-a-bike before the descent to Patagonia, knowing the Canelos are behind you.

The early December weather in Arizona was simply ridiculous, with temperatures warmer than anything we’d experienced since… August? Tent season was back full on. At Harshaw road, then Patagonia Lake, where we found a Green Kingfisher, among many other interesting birds!

It’s really fun to be on the steep upslope part of the curve on a new activity. We are learning so much, and having so much initial success, all while spending copious amounts of time outside. Birding, check it out….

Next hot spot was Madera Canyon, where the camping is good and the birding even better.

The riding? Leaves a little to be desired. Elephant Head is an old favorite of mine, but it has been all but swallowed by monsoon-fueled grass. I flipped it earlier than I would have liked, after getting stuck in a monster catclaw bush I was trying to trim with my little snippers.

The good doctor J-bake organized a big crew of chunk-riders for what can only be described as a TMP beatdown ride.

Wormhole, Krein, Wormhole again, Wagonwheel, Hooligan, Hidden.

It was *such* a fun ride. I wasn’t riding in midseason Tucson form, but was waaaay more confident than the reciprocal ride last year, upon return from the CDT.

Ancient rock art, well protected courtesy of the US military.

Lee and I had a bit of an ill fated attempt to ride the AZT, from Sierra Vista. For years I’ve been curious how Sierra Vista riders get through the mountains to connect with a section of trail (Sunnyside Canyon) that is rarely ridden otherwise.

We made it to the crest of the mountains, but it was too cold/snowy to want to continue. We froze descending back down Garden Canyon.

The main objective of the trip was to pick up our new home — a 13′ little Scamp! We purchased the little guy from a small time fisherman from Homer, Alaska who winters in Bisbee.

Lee was kind enough to offer his truck and expertise so we could get it back to Tucson. We have some stuff to learn about pulling stuff and keeping batteries charged, but we are super excited to ‘move into’ the Scamp.

It’s funny that people seem to ask us how living out of it is going to work — it’s so small, right? But really, it’s an upgrade for us. We spent ~7 months living out of just our minivan, with a tent.

We’ll spent another month renting the tiny house we’re in now, then move about Southern AZ for the rest of the winter…. if all goes according to plan.

Last year’s return to the Techy Taco ride was full of ignominy — and not just for me. Both Chad and J-bake got reamed out there, so much so that we almost abandoned it for the whole season.

But this, this is a new year! Trails are in better shape, and the tacos were damn tasty this go round. It’s back in the regular rotation, I’d say.

Who remembers these? It’s pretty funny the crazy old things I still had lying around. Part of the Scamp transition is to pare down things even more, and it’s a good feeling to be trimming down.

Agua Caliente should also be a part of the regular rotation this year. So much fun out there!

We’ve had a little bit more time to squeeze in some local adventures before heading north for the holidaze. This day was a good one. I ran up to the saddle on Hot Water Hill, then switched to ride up nearly the same distance. Then we both went to the spring fed lake to hunt birds.

Vermilion flycatchers are one of my favorites.

It’s good to be back in Tucson — so grateful to be here. I can’t wait for the rest of the winter.

Adrenal fatigue in Southern Utah

Moab’s wind and rain brought us to Salt Lake. It was a good time to visit with my family — overcast and cold for several days. Very little temptation to go outside and play. We played inside, with nieces and nephews, instead. It was fun.

The skies began to clear over the west, and the Sports Van drove south like it had a mind of its own.

just enough daylight to get a taste of the white rock before a blustery night in the tent

It pulled us to another mountain bike mecca. Another rare expanse of rideable rock. Another classic area that I have neglected too long.

Gooseberry Mesa.

I love that I live in a world where a trail system like Gooseberry has become official and protected, despite its roots as an unofficial / underground.

In the late 90’s we happened to stumble into the creators/explorers/builders at a shop in town, and they were kind enough to show a bunch of college racer dorks around their stash.

We were duly impressed, and at that moment, the Slickrock Trail was suddenly old hat. Yet despite coming to visit St. George many times over the last decade+, I rarely get out to ride it.

Luckily the Sports Van righted that wrong and took us there.

Luckily we had a couple weeks of riding in Moab under our belt, and chunk confidence was approaching levels not seen in years.

Ez, in particular, was killing it out there. I’d be challenged by a section, then turn around to be surprised by her riding it first try. She also climbed a couple sections before I did, or in less tries. My girl can ride tech!

It was a glorious day on the white rock, grunting up steeps, trying not to peer off the cliff edges while riding along them, and basking in the desert sun. We covered nearly all of the trails out there, returning to camp pretty worked over.

Evening was spent reading, computerizing, and sitting by the fire. In the morning, Goose called again. We covered the sections of trails we’d missed and felt the magic of the place again. It was completely empty on a Monday morning.

A certain place, seen visible in the background of this and many of the photos above, also called us.

We had one more day of good weather, so haste was made to the other side of the mesa, through the park entrance station and into Zion!

The goal? Angels Landing.

New to both of us, we’d long heard of it, but never made it happen. The route is along the wall behind Eszter in the photo, luckily protected with lots of steps and chains.

I LOOOOOVE the trees out there and all their crazy roots

Into the white rock layer and the top! A little breathing room here.

Eszter conquered some fear out there, claiming to be a member of ‘Team Vertigo.’ She got very quiet and focused the whole way up, while being more relaxed on the way down.

I was really only scared watching people coming back down at us. The biggest danger, I think, is someone slipping and knocking other people over. Choose your waiting spots carefully.

Floating down ‘Wallys wiggles’ — switchback attack!

Maples and oaks still changing color. This canyon made me miss Tucson, strangely enough.

all fed from water coming out of cracks and weeping from walls

Soon, soon, we’ll make it back ‘home’ to Tucson for the cold and dark months.

We motivated for another hike up to the Emerald Pools despite what we realized was a good case of being completely drained in the adrenal department. Gooseberry and Zions will do that to ya, apparently. I’m really grateful we were able to squeeze these days in. Both need return visits.

To the desert!

At last the snows did come to the mountains. It piled up in a slushy mess, up high and on the roads down low. We were lucky to get out safely when we could.

The destination? Fruita / Grand Junction – the desert.

Eszter and two Bec(k)s were bikepacking the Kokopelli Trail over the weekend. I was tracking four events, including one with hundreds of lines of untested code. I snuck in a loop on Moore Fun after the girls headed off. I felt like a fish out of water, realizing I hadn’t ridden in the desert (i.e. chunk) for a long time. It was humbling, and incredibly fun.

I met the girls in Rabbit Valley for a water fillup, then proceeded to what I hoped would be a quiet campsite. It was anything but quiet, but I was working the entire night anyway. Motos and buggies circled all around me, alternately flooding my campsite with light, or with umpa-loompa music. I watched in the morning as my camp neighbors pulled out whole junipers with their ATVs so they could continue their daytime bonfire.

I went riding. Mike and Jeny had no shortage of difficult and cool moves to throw at me, for which I was sorely unprepared. I was firmly in the non-participant category, but I knew that going in. I was just happy to see them both riding so well and thriving in their natural environment.

I drove the Koko shuttle to Moab for the girls, then waited at our new campsite for Eszter to return with the van. Unfortunately this one wasn’t that much better than the one before, with a 4-year-old stuck in a man’s body, screaming at his wife and kids pretty much the entire time. For a while I was wondering if I was going to have to call the police. If I had a car, or any energy, I would have moved somewhere else.

Considering that we spent about half the summer camping, to only have a couple bad neighbors is not bad, I’d say.

We spent our recovery day working at the coffee shop and dorking around Arches National Park. I love having a Parks pass! From here on out, camping in the desert was nice.

Amasa Back recovery ride!

Energy was limited, but riding focus was high. It’s Moab! Ez rode several new sections on Ahab — such a fun trail.

We were supposed to be recovering from a looooong and glorious alpine season, or something like that. A weekend of Kokopelli, and sub-ideal camping/working didn’t exactly add to the energy pool. But Eszter had the bright idea of a big day on the bikes. And I couldn’t say no.

We left from camp just before sunrise. Halloween days are not long, and we knew we’d need all the daylight we could get.

Dropping down to the Green River, there’s a small sense of commitment since the bailouts are few, and the miles are long to complete the loop.

Hum, I wonder if the White Rim ever gets muddy?

It was a pretty ideal day to spin around the loop, with mostly cloudy skies and cool temps.

Oh no, some hike-a-bike on the last bit of Murphy’s Hogback! I was pleasantly surprised by how engaging the riding is on the White Rim — it’s not hard riding, but you have to pay attention most of the time. It’s 4×4 roads, not graded dirt.

And yet, there is much easy cruising. The miles float by, and we sung “cyclotouring, cyclotouring, we go cyclotouring!” You can really just sit back and watch the scenery roll by, in true cyclotour style.

There is much to see out there. Just keep peering down below the rim, or stop to eat fried chicken at the edge, like we did, several times.

I suppose at times it gets busy out there, but we only encountered a few groups of smiling and stoked mountain bikers, going the other direction with support vehicles. Some were wearing Halloween costumes, others were under 10 years old and loving it. It was hours between seeing groups, giving it a nice ‘out there’ feel.

We definitely need to go back with more time to hike and explore the side canyons and trails. There are some primo campsites out there, too.

Just another incredible view into Canyonlands.

Yep, another, sorry.

The sun did fail us, but our legs and energy did not. You do finally have to pay the piper with a hefty climb up the Shafer Switchbacks at the end. I expected a climb about two or three times as long, so it was really no big deal. The pavement we rode in the dark, however, seemed about two or three times longer than I expected, so we did dip a little into the suffering piggy bank.

Back at the van, camp was already set up, and the warmth of the big fire we started felt better than anything in the world. We rarely make fires when camping, but this one was so good we didn’t want to leave it to crash in the tent. Sunrise to sunset rides are something special, and though it was long dark, we didn’t want this one to end — it was that good.

So glad I finally got to see the White Rim.

The next day we attempted to focus in town at our computer screens. It was somewhat futile, but what needed to get done got done. Luckily Eszter’s brother, Andras, was en route to Moab, and was keen to ride. We took him to Amasa/Ahab — since it’s clearly a recovery ride, and clearly a good ‘intro to Moab’ ride.

Recovery move, recovery power.

First ride in Moab for Andras, first visit to Moab, period. He rode impressively well.

He even rode down one section that I continue to balk at. It was very fun to see him picking it up so quickly, and to have his eyes opened to the uniqueness and wonder of the Moab style of riding. I remember that happening to me many years ago.

Milt’s. Proper Moab recovery food.

Delicate Arch, Landscape Arch. You have to see Arches if you visit Moab, even if you have bikes and the trails call loudly.

Pipe dream is a new trail to me. The less said about the resources and energy available for this ride, the better, perhaps. It was pretty, though.

Tomorrow is another day! Back in the saddle for a figure eight around Navajo Rocks, also new to me.

“I’m going to go practice my wheelies.”

Monitor/Merrimac in the background.

“Punch it Chewy!”

Ah, the classic uphill endo! I haven’t had one of those for a long time, likely a sign that I’m just not trying hard enough.

Sovereign singletrack has some hard stuff on it, and we were able to ride it from camp.

That camp, yep. We found many a good night’s rest there, despite it being probably the most popular place to free camp in Moab. I think the off-season started the day after we got there.

Hashtag coffee outside.

It may have been offseason, but the weather had been decidedly on-season and perfect…. until we rolled up to Slickrock to attempt to ride a lap. The wind was pretty out of control up there, so we settled for the practice loop and some dorking around.

I can’t believe it’s been over 10 years since I’ve ridden up there. I have some deep MTB memories and stoke for the place that was reawakened by the quick ride we did there.

The same can be said for Moab in general. I’m not sure why I haven’t made it a destination and a priority to visit. I spent so much time riding and dreaming of Moab in high school and college, I guess I felt like I moved on and past it after settling (term used loosely) in Arizona. Since then it’s either been bikepacking or just passing visits. That’s got to change — the riding there really is like nothing else, and it was really fun to share it with Andras.

In short, I can’t wait to go back, and Slickrock will be at the top of the list.

Closing out the alpine season — with a binge and a bang.

The view from my ‘office’ was superb. Gold aspens, blue sky. Trails from the door. Easy access to the alpine. A cozy place to stay.

Why leave such paradise? Why jump back in the van and sleep in a tent for two weeks, working from campsites and libraries, constantly on the lookout for wifi, power, and spigots to fill up on water?

Here’s why.

Mt. Princeton segment of the CT

Because there are other gold and orange leaves to seek out, each configuration unique and beautiful in its own way.

Because sometimes you win — big time — and find a free hippy hot spring just as the rumor on ‘the trail’ (CT) had said.

Because friends come to visit. J-bake declared the Monarch Endarno [sic] to be the “best race ever.” Despite great endarno fatigue, he joined us for a loop on North Backbone in Salida, shredding it with more gusto that we ever do!

Because you don’t experience sunsets like this from indoors. Camping on the mesas above Salida can be sublime.

we go up there!

From there, Mt. Shavano towers over you, calling with its siren song. Climb me! Climb me! You can’t spend weeks camping here, looking at me, without joining me for a day in the sky.

I love fall. We took a lazy morning at camp — reading a little, working a little, sipping coffee. “Is it about time to go climb a 14er?” “Yes, I suppose so.”

First we had to explore the CT a little. Besides Shavano, we’d been staring at all the color we knew was bisected by the Colorado Trail.

We ditched bikes and began the ascent in earnest. We found yellow leaves as high as 13,000 feet, carried by the wind above treeline, and even further above aspen-line.

Shavano really stands out on its own.

Leading to vertigo-inducing views.

I had a bike up here once, and can confirm this qualifies as ‘dream riding’ at 13,000 feet.

I was happy to not have one though. Riding Shavano was one of the best descents of my life, but perhaps the only time I’ll attempt it, too.

Bikes were waiting, for a little CT, a lot of color, and an easy coast back to camp for dinner.

Dinner and a sunset.

The banana belt loop was our ‘recovery’ ride.

Trails paved in gold! If you stop and admire the leaves, that makes it a recovery ride, right?

Swoop swoop! Banana belt features the Rainbow — a Salida classic. A recovery ride, it is not, though.

We met Chad and Kendall in town for pizza, then led the way to our campsite. In the morning we were obliged to show them some of what fall has to offer in Colorado.

I shot for a hike that might combine changing colors *and* high altitude revelry. We were skunked on leaves up by Monarch, but once we got up on the Divide, on high and lonely trail, there was no disappointment.

let me show you the proper way to use those hiking poles….

The CDT. I can’t believe we bikepacked this section, what with its copious hike-a-bike and all. The views and far-dreaming make up for it, I suppose.

“Look, there’s where we dropped off the divide to the first clump of trees we could tie the tarp to, and where we spent one of the most beautiful and most lacking of sleep nights of the CDT.”

Look, there’s a 32 degree glacial lake, in October. Beautiful. Maybe I should jump in?

Yes! Gotta love my hippy lover.

A campfire and sunset shared with good friends.

Shovani, chobani!

In the morning, colors were sought out, and found. Naps were taken. We ran in terror from blizzards of falling leaves. Just a lazy day spent exploring the woods, perfect.

Friends headed back to Tucson, we started scheming for a big day in the mountains. One that was a little terrifying, to me, and one that Eszter had been hoping on all season.

High pressure was strong for a few more days, so we schemed for a few adventures to do on the way. First our sights were on Mt. Princeton. I must admit that it was partly on the list due to the fact that we could hit up the hippy spring twice while camping by it. But it’s also a mountain we are always looking at, and one that I failed to summit with my bicycle some years ago.

So there was a bit of unfinished business. First we rode up to the ‘Chalet’ at treeline, just to check it out. Pretty cool structure up so high.

Then we ditched bikes at the last clump of trees, switching to non-poofy running shoes.

The non-poofy ones are good because you need a lot of control and traction on this “trail.”

It’s not so much a trail as a pile of rocks. Back when I was young and dumb (arguably I am still both, especially the latter) I took my bike all too far on the ‘trail’ hoping it would get semi-rideable, even if only briefly. Eventually I yielded. After hiking it, I can confirm that it is pretty much entirely unrideable. Hats off to those that took a bike up it anyway. It’s a slow hike, even without a bike.

I called my Dad for his birthday, from the bikes, then we loaded up for a tiny bit of ‘dream riding’ before hitting the main event: the road descent.

You see, the descent is littered with erosion diversions that make *perfect* Scott-sized jumps. Once you pop, you can’t stop. Pop, pop, pop!

After a rejuvenating soak, we camped on the Vapor Trail course again, with sunrise views of the “Cliffs of Insanity” (Chalk Creek Cliffs). Then we took the minivan over Cottonwood Pass, stopping for a favorite but hard-to-access loop.

Texas Creek, back on the CDT!

This would have been pretty OK a week or two ago, when erupting with yellow.

Timberline is full of rowdy good fun, and a fair bit of hiking.

But it gets you to this: Texas Ridge Trail, closed to motos.

Dream riding of a different sort — pine needled, soft, well-graded. It makes me miss the ponderosa pine riding of AZ and NM, badly.

The trail is a rare find in Colorado. We’re stoked that we were able to squeeze this one in.

Whether or not it was a good idea, is another issue entirely. We were both feeling it towards the end of the ride, and tomorrow was the big day. We organized everything in the sun next to Taylor Res. Bikes were loaded with shoes. Packs filled with water, food and warm clothes. Batteries swapped out. Water filters found. Maps studied, briefly.

We’d grab a burrito in Crested Butte, head to camp, and hit it at Oh-dawn O’clock.

“There’s nothing romantic about alpine starts,” says Ez.

There’s nothing warm about them either. I fought with my hands all the way up the pass, finally succumbing to the ‘screaming barfies’ as they rejoined me climbing singletrack on trail 401.

A stupid early start was the only way we were going to pull this off, given that it’s mid-October and daylight is a scarce commodity. It’s been a while since we’ve had such a start. It’s been a while since I’ve attempted something that scared me a little. We aren’t hikers, but we wanted to hike somewhere between 28 and 32 miles, in a day. That’s routine for thru-hikers (on a good day) or ultra-runners. But neither of us have approached that distance in a single day. And it was almost all above treeline, with four big climbs.

The Four Pass Loop (usually done without bikes and from the Aspen side, not the CB side).

I have to admit that watching the world slowly turn into the sun’s influence, from the seat of a bike and from my feet, was an experience that I do miss about bikepack racing. So many sunrises. So many slow turns of awareness and extreme gratitude for the sun’s presence and warmth.

Ez gets her first taste of sunlight for the day — finally!

We didn’t actually get any direct sun until well into the morning, when we crested the first pass — West Maroon. It was hard to regulate temperature until then.

Down toward Maroon Lake, we started seeing people, and all sorts of signs of over-use. It’s a beautiful place, and frequently visited. Once over the next pass, it was empty again, other than a handful of people backpacking the Four Pass loop (which is arguably the smarter approach than what we were doing).

I can certainly see why the Maroon Bells, and this loop, are so ‘popular.’

It’s a place that defies description. And we got to spend all day immersed in it — sunrise to sunset.

We kept the pace steady, with minimal stops and determined movement. Marching speed on flats, occasional coasting downhill. Oh yeah, the downhill — my shins made their sore presence known on the first descent. I remember thinking, “this can’t be good, at the start of a 30 mile day.”

even a little fall color to go along with the high revelry

There’s a beautiful simplicity to walking all day. I’ve experienced similar feelings with focused riding, but it’s a little different on foot. It feels more like a ‘migration’, even though we were actually hiking a loop. It feels like our bodies were meant to do this, occasionally, to move great distances when required. Even when your muscles are already sore, sleep is minimal, and you’re tired. You just keep walking.

“Retired from suffering, my ass!”

Ez likes to claim she is retired from suffering (along with racing). But I called her on it as we crested Frigid Air Pass, our fourth and final one. Legs were still moving, but definitely lacking pizzazz. Suffering, perhaps, but well worth it, of course.

We still had five or so miles to go, and the sun was nearly gone (damn short days!). The out/back portion from the CB side is pretty long and has its own 500′ climb up to the Wilderness boundary. It pushed us to a full 30 miles of hiking. Then we had to find our bikes in the trees, put on every stitch of clothing we had, and start riding in the frigid and pitch dark night. It was fun. And not all that cold. A tent with warm sleeping bags awaited down by Gothic.

What a day. It was the perfect way to put the nail in the coffin on our spectacular fall alpine season. We were almost hoping that the forecasted snow and general arrival of winter would actually pan out, and soon.

be Hippy, be Happy, and the view from S Mtn in Salida

The snow didn’t arrive immediately, but cold temperatures did. We thought we’d go for another recovery ride on the ‘other’ section of Rainbow Trail. But we woke up to ice on the van and a very slow and grumpy morning as the sun rose and didn’t hold much strength.

We opted for a day in the relative warmth of Salida, then a pathetic spin on North Backbone. It gave concrete confirmation to what we should have already known: we were worked. Stick a fork in us, we’re done. In the best possible way. Lucky us. Time to rest up and pray for snow. Or something like that.

Feeding the addiction

bird nerd!

Our addiction to high places and to places where trees cannot grow, continues.

run! the storms are building!

Sometimes that just means getting in the car, driving up high, and walking for a few hours. (We were also hoping to catch a couple of CDT hikers and ‘perform’ some trail magic of the egg/bacon/bagel variety).

Sometimes that means cranking out 3000 feet of climbing on granny gear roads.

Leading to ridgeline riding of the ‘dreamy’ variety.

Cranking out rideable trail above 13,000 feet? Surely a dream.

Back to reality … a little hiking now and then.

The Jones Pass section of the CDT is rarely ridden by mountain bikers. It was perhaps my favorite section of the entire four months on the CDT last summer. I was anxious to go ride it again — unloaded, and in the other direction.

I love places that make you question whether you’re still on planet earth. So outside the norm of what our eyes are used to seeing. So different than the usual routine.

Arizona is like that, too.

Can’t believe more people don’t ride this.

Well, the most direct access, from Herman Gulch, is kind of hike-a-bikey. We know, we went that way last summer. Going down was a piece of cake.

We continued on the CDT, replete with color and coasting. The CDT *is* the bikepath here.

We rolled into Georgetown on the path. But how can you loop this?

Eszter had a trick up her sleeve: a closed road turned trail through Empire Pass, climbing right above I-70. The perfect connection to make the loop. The connection also brings you to a place of great happiness: Lewis Sweet Shop!

Great sadness! No malts, sweet potato fries and candy for us.

On the remaining 1000 foot climb to close the loop we felt something rare for late September in the Mountains — scorching heat. Gentle tailwinds will do that to you, even with air temperature in the 60’s. We were dripping with sweat, and it kinda felt good.

We still had a couple of bike to hike adventures in mind, rolling from the door in Winter Park. There are lots around here, actually.

So we started on trails paved in gold, climbing away.

We took a new-to-us trail on old railroad grade. Very ‘alpine tunnel’-esque, nearing treeline.

Neither of us had made the full climb up to Rollins Pass and the divide yet, this season.

At the top, the pass is hemmed in by Wilderness. Ditch the bikes and get to walking, even if I forgot the inserts to my running shoes, fighting rolled ankles with every step.

Fellow divide travelers, crossing late in the day.

We made it out to Devil’s Thumb, sat a while, then began the slow walk back as the sun began its own slow descent.

Golden hour above treeline. Pure magic. We haven’t seen much of it, being too cowardly to camp in the ‘cold’ and generally starting so many unknown and new adventures with (what we hoped was) plenty of daylight.

This one was a little different. It was Eszter’s brilliant idea to watch the super moon eclipse from the divide. So we packed lights, puffy jackets and some slices of pizza.

The evening was incredibly warm. It was warmer than you’d expect even in the middle of summer. But once the sun’s influence was only detectable on the fading slice of moon low in the sky, it did get cold. We shared Eszter’s sleeping bag, then about halfway through the red moon, we packed up to start riding down.

point and shoot attempt to capture the blood eclipse

A fair number of other folks had the same idea as us — Rollins had some dozens of cars parked along it. Chairs were set up. People yelled, “you guys are hardcore” as we coasted down past them. We turned onto Broken Thumb to descend singletrack. We both had the same realization. Night riding is fun! We don’t do enough of it.

As usual, after 1.5 or 2 hours, night riding gets a little old, and we had the same realization: riding during the day is better, duh. We joked about the world ending, and that maybe only those above treeline, or in federally designated Wilderness would be saved. Isn’t it about time we start believing in things that are real and that actually matter, instead of fairy tales? Maybe we could believe in ourselves, and the human race in general.

We climbed the ‘hill of doom’ back to the condo just as the moon was getting its full shape completely back.

The next hike+bike adventurita started just as before, climbing aspen laced trail.

We climbed roads that are closed to cars and hid from hail under trees.

We patiently waited for mom and calf to yield the trail.

How kind of them to install a bike rack, just below treeline.

The combo of bikes+feet can take you some amazing places. Our goal was the pile of rocks just visible on the ridge above Eszter.

That one! Supposedly it is a monument to a shepherd that died in a snowstorm up here. Quite a view from the monument.

Wide open tundra running. So much fun.

We had to make some haste, with a 5pm deadline to pick up the van from the shop. Good thing we can sorta run.

Ez directed us to some primo trails, dropping all the way down into Fraser, arriving with 20 minutes to spare. Pizza was ordered, disbelief was uttered, at how well the adventure went and how lucky we are to be able to do this, together. Scanning the mountains above us for where we had gone, and the area we now have intimate knowledge of, we realized you can see the shepherd’s monument from town! Too cool. I love it that I can look around at so many of the ridges and peaks around Winter Park and know them.

It’s October now. Much longer will the high country be open?

6 Million Trackleaders

I’ve been meaning to write this code for a while. It would dig through the trackleaders archive, and do a little counting. The results are a little staggering, at least to me.

That’s a lot of tracking, a lot of adventure covered. 6 million miles!

It started back in 2008 or 2009. …. [Continue reading]

A fleeting fall

We set up camp in the shadow of Mt. Shavano, and just outside of Salida. We needed a tiny bit of recovery after the 14ers and such, and Salida is the perfect place. We have friends to visit, there’s a friendly bike shop, a hot spring / rec center, and even my favorite …. [Continue reading]

Huron Peak and Mt. Sherman – mountain biking 14ers

descending off Huron — dream riding

I didn’t think it was going to happen. If you’d asked me a week ago whether I’d be riding down Huron Peak, after having summitted, I would have put the likelihood somewhere close to zero. Yet there I was, late on a Saturday afternoon, sun shining bright …. [Continue reading]

Alpine Season in Winter Park

I feel so lucky to be able to experience prime alpine season here in Colorado. The monsoonal flow has settled down, days are still warm, and snow is a non-issue. It’s time to get high!

With this comes an appreciation for the freedom and opportunity we have, being mobile and able to live …. [Continue reading]

Ride to the hike – Byers and Vasquez Peaks


Look! Proof that we occasionally hit the trail early.

I was overly excited and awoke at an uncivilized hour. It’s not every day you have a new peak to climb, accessible by bike/foot right from ‘home.’ Alpine(ish) starts are a good idea when heading above treeline in Colorado, too.

did you know …. [Continue reading]

Hot Sisters Hot Springs Route Photo Roll [2 of 2]

Let’s continue on with the second half of the photo reel. Part one left us at Oakridge, roughly halfway through the loop.

big tree went boom

The route hits some deep wooded singletrack, a very pleasant 98 degree ‘warm’ spring, and some roads, leaving town.

Paved roads aren’t the first choice …. [Continue reading]

Hot Sisters Hot Springs Route Photo Roll [1 of 2]

The Hot Sisters Route came together we’re putting the route on the fast track to being published. There will much more info to come, but for now we have a page coming together over at

Hot Sisters Hot Spring Route

The route is ready to go — email me if you’d like GPX …. [Continue reading]

Adding some Pacific Crest Trail to the Hot Sisters bikepacking route

Eszter and I spent a few days scouting an alternate route for an exciting new bikepacking route that just came to life this month. It’s a five or six hundred mile backcountry loop highlighting singletrack, hot springs and mountain climbs (on foot) all through the central Cascades in Oregon.

Despite the fact that bikepacking and …. [Continue reading]

Day 23 – Wrapping it up on Mrazek

Done. A little more than three weeks, which is pretty much what we guesstimated. It all came together supremely well.

We got up lazily from camp at Devil’s Lake. I love camping in the same spot for multiple nights. A few miles climbing on the pavement back to the Metolius Windigo trail took us through …. [Continue reading]

Day 22 – Hey South Sista!!

It wasn’t an alpine start, but I did wake up earlier than normal, excited about the day ahead. We were camped at the trailhead for the South Sisters Climbing Trail. 6 miles and 5000′ up was the top of the volcano, one we have been looking at, and riding around, for the last 3 weeks. …. [Continue reading]

Hot Sisters Day 21 – Metolius Windigo Trail , from horsey to bikey

A few hours ago we pretty much completed the loop, reaching the top of the Mrazek trail, which is a heavily ridden and mostly downhill ride into Bend. We could have been done in a few short and easy hours.

But, we are not done! We have our biggest climb yet, and the centerpiece (literally) …. [Continue reading]

Day 20 – Black Butte and soft trails


Coming into Sisters today, we both independently realized that the route had somehow ended up almost entirely singletrack for the last day or so. We hadn’t really planned on any from the end of McKenzie all the way to Sisters. Yet, that’s the way it played out, as we coasted at 10mph on smooth trail …. [Continue reading]

Hot Sisters Day 19 – Sand and singletrack


Today was almost entirely either sand, or singletrack. That wasn’t the way we thought it was going to go, but it was an interesting day. Making it up as you go has a way of keeping things interesting.

We started out on smooth singletrack along Clear Creek, heading to breakfast. Then more good trail to …. [Continue reading]

Day 18 – Mckenzie goodness


Today was another fantastic day on the bike. We got to ride the McKenzie River Trail. It’s a real gem, and in many people’s opinion, *the* gem in Oregon or maybe, anywhere.

I wouldn’t go quite that far, but it sure works itself well into a bikepacking loop. The lower half is lovely green circle …. [Continue reading]

Day 17 – Bikeglamping!


Are you a camper, or are you a glamper? Bare bones, or do you carry the luxuries? There are many styles of camping, and bikepacking almost always falls far from the glamping side.

You have to keep things light or you can’t ride trail, and it’s just not fun. Services are often few and far …. [Continue reading]