Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Myers Park / Booty Loop

Update: It's the Booty Loop! ...as in the 24 Hours of Booty which I'll be doing next year.

Yesterday, with rain closing the trails at Catawba and Renaissance Park, I went in search of road riding in Charlotte. I found few useful tips or directions on any sites or blogs so when I left uptown I simply jumped on 3rd street and started riding.

Then I came across a steady stream of riders in Myers Park.

Here are the directions: From Uptown take Providence Rd. to Queens. Queens then makes an easy right on Selwyn. Take Selwyn to W. Queens Rd. and turn right. Go down the hill and push ride strong back up the hill to the intersection of East, Kings, and W. Queens Rd. Turn right (watch the marbles!) and proceed to the intersection of W. Queens, Granville, and Hopedale. Merge with traffic on Queens and then Turn right on Queens - right back where you started. Here's the hybrid map from Google.

...and yes, I am aware that Queens intersects itself multiple times. Welcome to driving in the South.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Vacation in the American Workspace

Having recently returned from a great vacation followed by a long weekend at IMS, vacation is on my mind. On top of that, during that great vacation I picked up my copy of Outside magazine and found an article on "Vacation Deprivation."

The link to one of the surveys quoted in the article is here at Expedia. The survey results can be found here.

In short, American’s enjoy fewer vacation days, take fewer vacation days, and are less productive than a number of other economies.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Strand Hill and Upper Loop, et al

And so we come to the end of my recap of a great week of mountain biking in beautiful Crested Butte, Colorado.

I believe it was Wednesday that I journeyed to Strand Hill from town with our new friends (living in our front yard for the week...long story) from Denton, Texas. One mistake we made was riding to the trailhead from town. Although not a real problem, I would have preferred my tires ride single track and not access roads or county roads. One can easily drive out to Strand though which we didn't really know at the time.

Strand is short and sweet (relatively speaking) with a long climb in the beginning at the trailhead. One can use Strand, along with Strand Bonus as a trail in and of itself or as a connector with Teocalli (for the inner masochist)or 409.5. The riding is quick, clean, and challenging. The descent down Bonus is a blast but not as technical as the other trails.

The trails of the Upper Loop, Whetstone, and Tony Trail are not to be missed. More than anything, they're easy to get to. Simply ride your bike down Elk St. and jump on the trail. The trails can be done in either direction and in many combinations including as connections for Strand, Teocalli, and others to the South as well as Snodgrass. The descent down these trails - going from the Upper Loop to Tony's Trail - is some of the most fun I've had with my clothes on. While Tony's Trail isn't necessarily very technical, it allows a rider to go extremely fast with a clear line-of-site of the entire trail. Meaning: You never have to worry about rounding a corner and running over someone; it's just balls-out, big-chain fun.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Mountain Bike Hall of Fame

Here is a link to the MTB HoF in Crested Butte. Along with some interesting notes, the HoF site also offers directions to and status on the local trails.

Teocalli and Reno Ridge

Following up on FTBW from the previous post comes a note on some of the most challenging riding of my life.

A few days into our time in Crested Butte, Mr. J. Pants and I decided to challenge ourselves and scale Teocalli Ridge. After riding Strand (more on that in the next post) the previous day, I knew that we had to drive closer to the trailhead. Unfortunately, the closest we could get was 5 miles down (what seemed to be) fire roads and double track. The double track was 4 miles of brutal climbing which led to the most wicked sight of my MTB career: 1 mile of vertical single track at the base of Teocalli Mountain.

After pushing our bikes much of the way (I rode small sections; Steve nearly died) and slurring our speak due to oxygen deprivation, we reached the ridge which offered some of the best views either of us had ever seen. The scenery was followed by sick single track and a finale of fast downhill through a mountain-side field of wildflowers (which smelled oddly like burning disc brakes). I wouldn't categorize Teocalli ridge as a fun trail necessarily but it sure was a challenge. Please don’t misunderstand me. I’d do it again and recommend all that are looking for a rush to take a run at it. But it wasn’t exactly like playing in a sandbox. Teocalli was more like a sandbox with army ants.

Days later, I hooked up with one of the group rides. We threw our bikes in a truck and headed to Reno Ridge (although I thought we were going to 401 which is what the schedule said. I later found out that the guides didn't even know about the schedule).
From the point where we jumped out of the truck on Cement Creek rd., I think we climbed for about an hour to the top of Reno divide. The rest of the ride was basically a wash-rinse-repeat of the same thing; nasty climbs followed by incredible downhill. Like Teocalli, it was incredibly challenging with the very dry conditions and difficult climbs. Unlike Teocalli, Reno Ridge had more rewards for your climbing effort including a breath-taking (and terrifying, depending on how you rode it) downhill to top off the ride.

At one point your humble host (me) literally had a mental breakdown on the last climb. My partner for the day, Josh, stopped with the same sort of frustrated posture and said, "You know, I'm no mathematician but the time and distance climbing doesn't seem to add up to our time descending." But all-in-all it was one of the most epic MTB experiences of my life. That experience from that day will not be forgotten.

If you're in the CB area and can get a guide, I highly recommend it. This is especially the case with Reno Ridge as it is way the hell out there and can be difficult (depending on your ability to read a topo) navigating. Reno is certainly not a place where you want to have mechanical problems, get hurt, or get lost.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Fat Tire Bike Week: A Recap

Fat Tire Bike Week ended last week. While I didn't have a chance to update this blog during the event, I'll attempt to do so now. After this post on the event proper, I'll update with a review of the actual riding.

We arrived in beautiful Crested Butte on Monday the 19th of June. One's first impressions of the town are of awe and excitement. Awe in the sense that CB is such a lovely, quaint town surrounded but incredible natural beauty. Our excitement was due to the belief that there had to be miles and miles of single track.

The registration had closed at 5pm local time so we had to register ($100) on Tuesday. After registering on Tuesday we received an itinerary of events and a schwag bag. The itinerary was a bit sparse but the schwag bag was worse. It included a few stickers for local merchants, 1 or 2 pain relievers, and some product catalogues. One of the catalogues was from Magura. First of all, I didn't even know Magura was still in business. Second, fuck Magura; they suck, their products suck and their customer service is the worst around. Seriously, who even uses Magura and what the hell's wrong with them?

Monday night we found a local trail and tested it out. There were no issues with altitude and that was a great thing.

On Tuesday we registered and planned our first group rides. In short, most of the group ride was done on a paved trail and the road. Our guide was friendly but his chain hadn't been lubed in a few weeks (a big issue with me) and he didn't know where the trailhead was. Not a good start.

We wandered down to the "festival" which was at the Chamber of Commerce. There really wasn’t much of a festival at all. New Belgium brewery had a tent at which registrants could get 3 beers for free (for the week). Ellsworth and Yeti had demo bikes as did Haro but who was going to ride a Haro? Pedros showed up later in the week with schwag but there really wasn't much to test...maybe a lube or cleaner. Point here is that there wasn't much of a festival. On top of that, the few participating vendors split town on Friday night; there wasn't much if anything to do on Saturday and Sunday even though those were officially scheduled as "Festival Days."

Steve J. Pants and I were looking forward to the clinics. One was at Mt. Crested Butte and the other was at a local business. Both conflicted with rides. We were disappointed that there were only two.

Two days worth of rides were in Gunnison. I didn't like that. I came to ride CB not Gunnison. By the second or third day, the schedule - which was subject to change - had changed so dramatically that there was little or no way of telling what was happening or when. Transportation to and from the group rides wasn't provided ...at least in a way one would think. Basically, someone would muster up a truck and participants would pile in.

The festival events were scarce and of little interest and the organization was really lacking. The attendance of the festival was light and the group rides really showed it. Advanced group rides were fun and well guided (I would have paid $20+ for their guidance on each ride) but at times only 4 people (plus 2 guides) went.

All-and-all the festival itself was a waste of money and I wouldn't participate again.

But before you panic and say, "Oh shit, Ober had a bad vacation" just wait. The riding was truly world-class, the people and times we had were the best, and the memories made were the fondest. But all this despite Fat Tire Bike Week.

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