July 31, 2016

UT: Park City - Wasatch Crest Loop

My next ride stop was to be in Park City, UT mostly to experience the Wasatch Crest trail for the first time. I had seen plenty of pics and read ride reports from friends touting how great it was. My original plan was to have K drop me off at the bottom of Puke Hill, then ride the Crest over towards The Canyons resort where she'd pick me up.

Somewhere along the way I swear she mentioned something along the lines of 'If you can make a loop, why not do that instead'. Maybe that's just what I wanted to hear, but the next thing I knew I was planning a route from town to ride up to the Crest and back into Park City. What I didn't know was how much longer this version would actually be, both in mileage and time. Remember, I was trying to keep my rides in the 2-3 hour time range.
I immediately started climbing the uphill only Armstrong trail.
What a beautiful climb it was. Mellow grade, buffed out singletrack in the trees. It was fairly warm for a 7000' ride in mid-morning too. I came across a fella walking his bike down the trail who was bonking pretty hard. I felt bad for him since he couldn't even coast down this 'uphill' trail, bummer. He didn't accept my offer of snacks, but seemed in good spirits in spite of his woes.
Last time I was here it was a bit more white.
Trail felt like a tunnel at times.
Zigzagging up the mountain gaining impressive views along the way.
Plenty of ski runs to choose from in the winter season.
Ahh, aspens.
Eventually Armstrong topped out onto Mid-Mtn trail thus ending the one-way riding. I happened to run into another rider there who instantly commented on my Yuengling jersey, he was also from PA, near Pottsville not far from the brewery. That jersey strikes up more conversations than I can count, which is really cool.

 It wasn't long after that when I glanced down at my GPS and in that split second heard a rider approaching saying 'oh shit!'. He locked up his wheels as did I, narrowly missing a head-on crash. He apologized up & down, but really it was no one's fault. Just poor timing around a bit of a blind corner and he really wasn't going too fast.
The climbing continued up Pinecone.
I was a little over 2 hours into the ride and was finally at the Crest trail, joining in at the top of Puke Hill. It was funny watching all the other riders huffing & puffing up that hill in full HAB mode. I almost felt like I cheated, but wait, I was the one doing a loop instead of a shuttle!!
Finally!! At the Wasatch Crest trail junction.
It was time to see what all the fuss was about. A short climb up some 2-track led me around to singletrack along a ridgeline with expansive views of the surrounding valleys. This was going to be alright. I saw two guys in red that I had been chatting with earler way up ahead. I wondered if I could catch them.
A little more climbing to go.
Now we're talking.
Looking across Big Cottonwood Canyon at Solitude resort.
Billed as advertised.
Willow Lake.
It wasn't all downhill, but the ups were tame.
Dipping back into the trees.
I caught up to the two riders on this rocky descent.
I came around a corner to see the trail had turned into a rockface of sorts. The two guys in front on me were both walking down the pitch on their full squish bikes. They both seemed to watch in awe as I guided the hardtail Voodoo down it with relative ease. I stopped at the bottom and they asked where I was from. 'Phoenix, land of rocks!' They were both local and probably used to the mostly groomed trails.

I was already going on 3 hours with plenty more to do. One thing I noticed about the Crest trail, since it gets so much rider traffic it has an abnormally large amount of washboarding even on stretches where you wouldn't expect any. It was a little bit of a bummer, but my hands got used to it and the trail was super cool anyway.
Re-joining Mid-Mtn trail.
I almost wanted to jump in.
I was now over 4 hours in and craving a Mountain Dew, $5 later, I had one. Sheesh.
I sent K a text giving her an update of my whereabouts, but I was still only guessing at a possible ETA. Little did I know the next couple of miles would be a grind. Slightly uphill and techy.
The climb started smoothly.
Near the top the views really opened up.
This was a fun section, some techy rock features to toss the Voodoo over.
Back to the buff.
I was now pushing 5 1/2 hours into the ride when I reached the final downhill into town.
Huge open vistas when crossing the ski runs.
Bermed turns are the norm for switchbacks here.
Park City Ski area base.
Of course it was uphill back to the car to meet K.
My 2-3 hour ride had morphed into a 6 hour half day affair. Bless her heart, but K rolled with it pretty well. It was a good thing I had reception most of the day to keep her informed of my progress. It was tough giving estimates on a trail system entirely new to me. She kept herself busy at a local street fair, reading and people watching. We wrapped up our Park City stop over at the Wasatch Brewery then pointed the car north once more.

Flyby of the route via Relive.cc

More photos from the day

GPS route:

July 30, 2016

UT - Thunder Mountain

First up on my roadtrip list of rides to do was Thunder Mountain in southern Utah. We had camped at Red Canyon Campground not far from Bryce Canyon National Park. This made things super easy for this ride as I could simply pedal from camp up the paved bike path, onto a short forest road to the trailhead. My goal was to keep the ride around 2 hours since we had plenty of sightseeing to do later that day.

I got spinning early and spooked a fellow rider on the forest road as he was messing with his bike. I think for an instant he thought I was a bear coming after him!! We departed at the trailhead and I was anxious to see what all the hype was about.
Let the fun begin!!
The first part of the trail is mostly forested singletrack following the contours of the terrain. Fast, fun, swoopy dirt through the trees.
Soon the orange dirt became more prevalent.
I think that's Thunder Mtn.
Hardly the scene I was expecting.
Near the top of the climb, the views opened up.
Cool looking knotted trees.
Random outhouse in the woods. This appeared to be a staging area for equestrians.
There was a bit more climbing, then the landscape changed to what I expected. Orange hoodoos everywhere!! The next couple of miles descending through Bryce Canyon type terrain should be on everyone's list. So much fun.

The trail meanders through the orange rock just above my rear wheel.

I exited through a lower canyon to a trail junction. Heading right it led me on a fast rip out to the trailhead and paved bike path leading back to camp. Only a few minutes past the 2 hour mark on my first ride of the trip, I'll call that a success!! For me, Thunder Mountain surpassed the hype. I hoped my other planned rides could equally deliver.

Paved bikepath makes for an easy loop option.
Here's a really cool third party app for Strava:

Relive.cc - Thunder Mountain

Full photo album for this ride:

Thunder Mountain pics

And finally, the route: