Saturday, September 12, 2009

A little background

I live in a great place to ride -- and I love exploring all the possibilities.  I've been riding for about two years now, and I enjoy it a little more each time I go.  I love being outdoors, away from the city, and I love the challenge of climbing and descending terrain whether smooth dirt-packed trails or rocky paths.

There are many great, classic rides just a few miles/minutes from where I live and work.  These are just a couple of my favorites.

The Pipeline Trail

This is a very popular trail - it is close to the city, is flat in many places, and is fairly wide, so it's a great place for beginners.  But what I like about it is that there are several options to change the whole flavor of the ride.  There are four different exit and entry points to the trail which add some significant climbing and cruising opportunites, and an awesome technical exit route called Rattlesnake Gulch with lots of drop-offs and quick turns.

This is a view from the very top of the trail overlooking the canyon road below.  Another great thing about this trail is that you can ride it well into November before the snow finally starts to fall.

If you choose to ride all the way out to the very end, some 6 miles down the trail, there is a great place to stop, rest and look out over Salt Lake City far below.

The Little Cottonwood Creek Trail

There are a lot of things to like about this trail.  I like the fact that it's only a few minutes away from my house, so it's perfect for those times when I only have an hour or so for a ride, but want to have some fun while I'm at it.

The trail runs right along the Little Cottonwood Creek in Little Cottonwood Canyon (home of two world-class ski resorts, Snowbird and Alta) and starts right at the mouth of the canyon. 

The first mile or so of the trail is a very minor climb over mostly packed soil with a few rocks here and there.  The next two miles involve about 600 feet of climbing over some very rocky terrain. This is where the fun begins.

As you climb the trail, you cross the river twice and will see a few interesting things that date back to the time when settlers first explored this area.

This photo courtesy of

When you reach the top, there is a great area overlooking the river where you can relax before you turn around and bomb down the trail as fast as you dare.

This trail is also very popular with downhill riders, and there are two points where downhillers can get on the trail from the canyon road and then run out to the bottom.

The Dog Lake Trail

This is perhaps my very favorite trail in the Salt Lake area.  Because of its high elevation, you can't ride it until mid-summer, and then only on even-numbered days because it is in a protected wilderness area.  The trail is a true XC ride with lots of fast, hard-packed trail, and some climbing to go with it.  :)

There are also some great connecting trails, that turn this into an epic ride, so it is possible to start in Big Cottonwood canyon (home to Brighton and Solitude ski resorts), ride along the Wasatch Crest trail overlooking Park City, connect to the Dog Lake trail, and then continue onto the top of the Pipeline Trail (mentioned above).  I have not done the ride starting in Big Cottonwood canyon yet, but will be doing it later this month, so look for a trip report here.

Starting at the trailhead at the top of Millcreek Canyon, you will embark on a climb of almost exactly 1,000 feet over the course of 3 miles. There are a couple stream crossings along the way, and lots of changing scenery as you enter and exit stands of aspen and pine all the way up.

Once you reach the top, there is a short descent to Dog Lake. This is a great place to sit and relax for a few minutes, eat something before you turn around and cruise down a fast, smooth, beautiful trail.

The Slickrock Trail

Of coure it snows here, so once winter comes, it's time to head south a few hours to one of the Meccas of Mountain biking, Moab!!  There are lots of good trails in Moab, but the slickrock is a true classic that will always leaving you wanting for more.

These are a couple pics of my last trip to Moab with my brother back in March.  I will be going back to Moab in October, so look for a report here.

If you look closely, we're the red and gray specs in the lower third of the picture toward the left.

A word about safety.

Not every trip has been perfect.  This is a picture of when my brother and I took Dad out on the Pipeline Trail for the first (and probably last) time. Dad came around a bend too fast and lost his balance and careened 30 feet or so down the hill.

One visit to the emergency clinic and a few stitches later, Dad was as good as new.

My wife took a spill riding with me too ...

And, of course, I've had my fair share of accidents ...

The pins in the hand are the result of my most recent wipeout. When accidents happen, I'll report those here as well.

Finally, I like to end each post with a trip report from my GPS. This is the report from my most recent ride on the Dog Lake trail when I broke my hand. You can see lots of cool info on the trip report, but I like the speed graph best, where you can clearly see my speed go from 26 miles/hour to zero. That's where I crashed. :)