So you want to have an “adventure”? That’s pretty much where we were last weekend. Teammate and neighbor Justin Lindine and I had been kicking around the idea of doing a loop in our area that neither of us had ever pieced together by bike. Starting from North Ogden, we’d cross the Divide, head up the dirt road towards Avon, hop over to the ATV trail which connects on the east side of the road to Inspiration Point, then take the Skyline trail south over the peak and back to Ogden.
I’ve been racing all around the world for a decade, and while you tend to see the same people no matter where you go, occasionally you meet someone new with whom you click. Such is the case with Marathonmtb.com editor and fellow racer, Mike Blewitt, who was visiting from Australia. I met Mike at the Mongolian Challenge a couple of years ago, and when he came to visit, I knew it was the right time to finally make an attempt at this brand-new route.
Our route has sections that would make sense as segments for everything from a road race to a gravel grinder to an adventure race, with a few certified enduro segments as well. We guesstimated that of the approximately 50-mile route, the first 35 miles were effectively uphill, gaining about 8500 feet in the process. The last 15 miles would be all downhill. We’re all fit, so I figured we could all handle that much climbing.
I’d ridden half of it on the dirt bike, and we had all ridden the return route in summers past on mountain bikes, but none of us had ever connected the dots. Normally, that’s not an issue, but in this case some of those dots included the unknown condition of Mt. Lomond’s north-facing snowy summit and an unseen climb to 10,000ft.
I tried to give Justin and Mike fair warning. We were headed out for a loop with sections that seemed fine on a dirt bike. Basically, I figured it was “probably rideable,” and we “probably” would have enough water.
In these days, when we’re connected 24/7 with GPS and Google Earth data available anywhere, it was refreshing to head out on what would be a rather unknown ride (despite having sort of mapped it out). This gave us just enough confidence to go for it, but with enough reluctance to be a little excited, and justifiably a bit scared.
Preparing for this ride represented how we would approach basically any race or training ride. A lack of bailouts or rescues on the route meant we had to take care of things on our own. My bike of choice was my Yeti ASRc, rolling on Vittoria 2.25 TNT tires and Reynolds Trail wheels. These days, there really is no need to compromise regarding what you can do with your bikes. XC bikes can “enduro,” trail bikes roll and climb as fast as any cross country bike, you know the drill. The old adage of “different horses for different courses” isn’t as applicable as it used to be. There are certainly marginal gains to be had, but this ride was a case study in why I like to set up my cross country bike such that it’ll take me anywhere I want to go.
Before we headed out, I checked bolts, suspension and topped off the tires, just in case. Same for food in the pockets. Water was a concern for us, though. Our wives were kind enough to stash some water at the top of the first climb, both to prevent having to carry it up the first 20-minute climb, as well as to be able to top off everything before heading out into the wilderness.
Temperatures were in the 90s, so gloves went into the hydration packs to keep them fresh for later. They would have been useful for wiping our sweaty brows on the climbs, but such are the sacrifices to keep your gloves fresh and body a bit cooler.
Bringing a small stash of chain lube is worth every gram it weighs on rides like this. Normally, four or five hours in the dust aren’t too hard on a chain with Orange Seal, but with multiple creek crossings, extended snow melt runoff and clouds of ATV dust, a fresh coat of chain lube made a big difference in terms of keeping our bikes quiet.
Of course, we wouldn’t want to forget the restorative powers of a cold(ish) beverage.
The ride went as smoothly as anyone could ask. Of course there was some post-holing through snow at the higher elevations, but it was expected, and I have to say that without it we would have been a little disappointed. We made the summit on fumes with nothing but 15 miles and 5500 feet of descending back to the house. If there had been single rise in the road on the way back, we’d have been in trouble. Thankfully our scouting and preparation paid off, and it was smooth sailing on the way home. Our success bolstered our confidence, and now all that’s left to do is decide which route is the next candidate for a memorable adventure.