Been puttin’ in some hours on the hippie bike this summer, hoping I’d get a chance to do something long before the winter hits. While I’ve got some geared bikes, I nearly always reach for the single speed. It’s harder to pedal, sure, but other than that it’s so much fun that I can’t be bothered to change gears anymore. This probably has to do with the 29″ wheels more than anything but, I dunno, maybe it just feels like riding when I was a kid back before I could afford gears.
So last weekend my friend Dustin asks me if I’d show his friend Jill, who is visiting from Oregon, around the trails. He’s worthless in this respect because he’s too busy riding his civilized bike to ever get dirty. Yeah, yeah, he had a race but that’s boring. There are trails to explore, so I’d be happy to show them to Jill.
After hearing about the hours I spend doin’ stuff she’s worried about slowing me down. No worries, I say, I can always just go out again when we’re done. Then it strikes me that she can drive and I can simply ride home when we’re done. Perfect.
I concoct a big loop through Deer Valley, Park City, and The Canyons ski areas that then connects to the Wasatch Crest, heads down Mill Creek Canyon and back to my house. It looks outstanding on paper. A tour of the mid-Wasatch that features over 50 miles of single track, plenty of climbing, and mainly down hill street riding.
We begin our adventure at While Pine Touring. 10 minutes later and we’re lost. Well, not lost exactly but we were not on the right trail. Looking for something called Skid Row we seemed to be on something called Lost Prospector. At least it was going up. We keep taking easternly turns but eventually get dumped into some hifalutin neighborhood above Deer Valley. We roam around looking for our supposed trail and laugh the absurdity of the size of all the homes (still, I could probably live in this area if I had to). We wander around touring homes for too long and then bail and glide down streets to the Deer Valley ski area, where I actually know the trails.
This doesn’t help, however, as some trail construction forces us off of Deer Crest and we’re exploring again. Somehow we come back down to the base and hit Devo. Um, we’re NOT climbing this as I’d ridden down it once and got slaughtered, and end up climbing up the Tour de Homes on the other side of the valley. This is supposed to be the “easiest way down”, and just may be, but it’s not the easiest way up. I find the only section steep enough to force me off of my bike on this climb. Other n’ that, it is technically easy and we do get to tour some more ridiculous homes.
At Silver Lake Lodge we’ve already been out nearly two hours and Jill’s a bit tired “we don’t have this much climbing where I ride.” That’s okay, ’cause now I really do know the way, and it’s more or less flat–well, not really flat, but at least rolling. We fill out water, inventory food, eat and people watch, then off on Mid Mountain. Theoretically, the rest of the day should be nothing but fun.
Sure enough, Mid Mountain, even with the new bypass, which requires some climbing, is a blast and now Jill is thoroughly enjoying herself. Deer Valley was packed but there aren’t many people on the trail–lucky for a Saturday. We cruise along until we get to the connector with John’s trail. Jill is cooked and wants to go down but I determine that riding Mid Mountain and decending Spiro will be physically easier than dealing with John’s technical challenges. We continue on MM and are forced to climb just a bit more.
It’s all worth it as we hit the mainly view point above Park City. Some folks from Baltimore had made full use of the bench and have a picnic spread over it. The first thing I notice is the flask.
“Brilliant idea,” I say. “I should have brought mine.”
Before a word is spoken the flask is offered in my direction. A nip of Jamison’s never tasted so good. Jill arrives, accepts her serendipitous reward for reaching the high point of her ride, and we hang and chat about Baltimore vs. Park City for a while. This was definitely a civilized time on our hippie bikes.
Jill says her legs are like rubber, but that’s cool since she’ll hardly have to pedal anymore. The Jamison’s should help. We fly down MM to Spiro, where Jill will head back to the car. She looks a little uncomfortable leaving me in a place where, I’m sure, it feels like I’m an awful long way from where she picked me up that morning. I assure her that I’m quite comfy in the situations and happily am on my way.
Between Park City and the Canyons MM can be a little lonely because you are commited to around 14 miles of riding. My next stop, hopefully, would be Red Pine Lodge. I hammered this part because I was slightly worried that it would be closed and it was my last stop for water. Red Pine is only about 9 miles from the Spiro connector. It’s a lifeline for long rides up here because, if closed, you’ve got to descend a couple thousand feet to town and come back up. I wasn’t too psyched at the prospect of riding Holly’s uphill.
Red Pine was getting ready for a wedding when I got there. The restaurant was closed, so I was glad I took those Gu’s from Jill, but I could fill my water. I then rode the rest of MM and, at the end of the Canyons, took the Wasatch Trail connector. This cooked my legs and I had to walk. I’d ridden this once before and it was hard but after 6 hours I just couldn’t pedal the grade. This really made me question whether I could do the E100 (and its 18,000+ feet of climbing) on my ss.
I took a short break at the crest. Though it seemed a long way from home it would be nearly all downhill from here. It was also going to get warmer, so I enjoyed the cool mountain air until it felt as though I was procrastinating.
I headed down Great Western to Big Water, then took Little Water because I hadn’t ridden it. It was much steeper and more techie than Big but I made it, so it couldn’t be too hard. Next was a few miles of pavement down Mill Creek, which was fast and fun. My last bit of single track was the Pipeline Trail. This is a famous trail that everyone seemes to love. I’d run it many times but never ridden it. Compared to everything else I’d done, it felt hot and dusty. I suppose it is a good trail. I’d been getting spoiled all day and was probably a little tired.
I popped out of Mill Creek to another 100 degree SLC evening. At least it was downhill home–well, mostly. It was a little slow due to my not being able to pedal even the most gentle decline but, whatever. It was a small pennance to face for 8 hours of nirvanna.