A week ago I was riding a bike in Park City, UT. Jake, a friend at Middlebury, invited me to join him and his family for a trip to Utah for Memorial Day Weekend. Talk about fun!
May 28, 2010:
We flew out Friday morning at 6am and arrived in SLC at 1pm, after I nearly lost my stomach on the poor girl next to me. For some goofy reason I decided to eat an entire jar of homemade hot sauce the day before flying, and it tore me a few holes in my stomach. Like I didn’t know that was going to happen, duh! And for the last hour of the flight from JFK to SLC, we hit some mega turbulence, and then had to pull up from the runway as the wind was too strong. 5 feet from landing, and we had to climb again and circle and try again. That added on another half hour. Somehow I kept my internals internal, and the girl next to me got off the plane a happy camper.
We headed to PC and stopped in to our hotel, The Sky Lodge, to drop off gear before venturing out to find bikes. The Lodge lived up to its hip reviews and flashy website, oozing with luxury. Our suite’s living room had a darn pool table! What more could I possibly want? Well maybe a private hot tub on our deck…check. How about fresh Peet’s coffee at my personal wet bar every morning…check. What about a massive bath tub in Jake’s room that poured water out of the ceiling to fill it…check. How about a plasma TV that slowly rose out of my dresser with the click of a button on the remote. Jake and I looked rather dashing in our matching robes. Two muddy mountain bikers, one sweet suite.
Found a few nice bike shops and ended up renting some bikes, a Pivot Mach 5 and a Giant XTC 29’er, and bolted out to the trails to get some riding in before the sun set. As soon as we turned onto singletrack, grins stretched ear-to-ear, and we bolted up a whipping set of switchbacks drooling over the smooth track and gorgeously flowy trail. We ripped all over the mountain on some of the flowy-est trail I’ve ever been on. We peeled back into town just as the sun was setting, cleaned up in some spacious tile accented showers with the biggest shower head I’ve ever seen, and hit the town for some delicious eats.
May 29, 2010:
We woke up the next day to blue sky peaking through grey clouds. The proposed snow and rain had held off. After a hefty (but totally delish) breakfast at one of the restaurants in the hotel, and a meeting with Chef Steve the Biker, we bolted for trails. With 300+ miles of singletrack in PC, the map we picked up of the trails was pretty darn accurate, but nevertheless, we ran into a few problems anyhow. After killing over an hour pedaling around boring wide double track, we finally found some sweet singletrack to rip around on and pounded out some miles. Suddenly I realized that it was nearing 6pm, our bike’s Cinderella hour, and we dashed back into town to return them. After that, we dropped by a grocery store to grab a super late lunch. Bad idea. Jake’s eyes bulged at the first thing he saw, which happened to be a 1.5 ft. long sub that was about 8 in. wide. That’s straight up huge. Bigger than a small child, the “thing” quickly found its way into our hands along with a 2-liter of Coke. Now the Coke was a good idea–my personal choice for a post workout drink–but the sandwich not so much. Ughhhh, I think it’s still stuck in me, slowly moving its way through. We also happened to realize while sitting down gorging our faces, that I couldn’t read time and I was paying attention to a watch two hours ahead. Duhhhh. So now we were without bikes with plenty of daylight left. ARRGHHH! And we could have gotten sandwiches for half price at the dopest sandwich shop to ever grace my gut! Luckily we fandangled some new bikes–an Ibis Mojo and a Cannondale RZ120–and headed out for a second ride. I shouldn’t have rented an Ibis. I’m buying one. Just ask Jake.
We had a lovely dinner with Harriet and Michael, Jake’s parents, and their friends to revisit the day’s adventures. Blubbering, storytelling, and swashbuckling ensued. Then a long stretch session back in the hot tub left me loose and limber for the next day, which turned out to be an epic one.
May 30, 2010:
Harriet, Jake’s mother, joined us for today’s ride ecstatic to get out of the suburbs of PC that she lost herself in yesterday. We rode on pleasant terrain for 8 or so miles on rail trail and mellow dirt track from PC to a mountain range north of the city. As the rail trail turned to dirt, it branched off from the main road, burrowing into groves of aspens, willows, and babbling brooks. Finally we popped out at our destination: a shopping center below the hills. Soon enough, we were on real singletrack, pedaling our way up a series of switchbacks on the hillside. Rocky and narrow, Harriet proved quite an adventurous rider and dove right in, even though she had never been on a mountain bike. Up we climbed, riding higher and higher, eventually weaving our way westward along the contour of the slope. A few miles in we stopped for a break, and lo and behold a moose appeared! Far below us on the hillside, a big ol’ moose with a young rack was making his way up from a beautiful stretch of suburbs. Surely he must have stumbled into the neighborhood by accident. Silly moose…or silly suburbanites rather. We watched him wander up as hikers on his trail scattered. Then a mountain biker came into frame, flying down a side trail, heading directly for the moose! He was set to bisect the big guy’s trail, when suddenly the hikers screamed out and the biker screeched to a halt just 20 feet from imminent disaster. At this point Harriet finally was able to make out the moose. We all stood around goofing off for a bit more hoping he would head up and join us for some dried figs and papaya. He decided to take a detour, so we headed on. Eventually we made it to Bob’s Freeride Basin–just the kinda place you want to take your friend’s mother who’s never been on a mountain bike before. Just as she did before, Harriet amazed us all and ripped down the singletrack. No joke, she handled some pretty ridiculous terrain. To see her shred down the singletrack put an even bigger grin on my face than the bottomless plushness of the Ibis under foot. I’m still blown away that she came along for this epic ride, and am really dying to do another bout of singletrack with Jake and Harriet. We headed out and down to a nearby bus stop so Harriet could head home, while Jake and I tooted around until dark. Well we did just that, whizzing all over the Basin and climbing up and out onto some higher peaks. We did a massive loop on the range, snaking all over what we were told wouldn’t be rideable in a single day. Well, we got some news for you LBS’s, we did it! Of course then we had to ride back 8 miles on rail trail in the dark, barely making it into a restaurant before they closed. Jake nearly died, which makes sense considering we did well over 30 miles of riding that day (Jake’s longest day in the saddle if I’m not mistaken). Of course I ended up stretching in the hot tub again back at the hotel while Jake lay face down on the floor groaning. Poor guy, looks like the hot sauce finally caught up…
May 31, 2010:
After breakfast, Jake still wasn’t feeling too well, so he spent some quality time with Harriet, while I went out for a morning ride. I took off up into the big ski mountains on the southern side of Park City, avoiding the snow still gracing the upper slopes. We had been steered away from the resort trails by the LBS’s, as most were reported to still be under powder, but I found a decent bit that was clear. But with the amount of trails on the mountains, it was nearly impossible to navigate my way along with the map. I huffed my way to the top of a peak and then wound around through valleys and gullies snaking around old lifts, ancient mining operations, and soaring pines. I returned to the hotel for lunch and hung around to see everyone off (everyone else was headed back to San Francisco, while Jake and I would return later that night to VT). Jake ushered me back out to the trails to get in another ride before I returned the bike, while he continued to nurse his aching stomach at a local bookstore. Back on the trails we rode when first arriving, I wound my way around hillsides of aspens and sage, mixed in with the occasional mountain home. Pushing on quickly, I snaked my way around to new trails, climbing up a few different peaks, grabbing some unobstructed views of the PC valley and surrounding mountain range. Finally I had to drop down back into ski resort neighborhoods and cruise my way back towards town. After (hesitantly) returning the Ibis, Jake and I grabbed a bite to eat and prowled the town making a bit of mischief before our departure. By midnight, we were back on a plane, red-eyeing it back to VT. We pulled into Burlington International at noon the next day with visions of sage and dry, flowy singletrack dancing across our eyes, while rain pummeled down on the sopping VT soil. I’d already made up my mind, another PC trip was in the works. I needed more trail. For now though, it was time to get back to ripping up the VT singletrack.
Thanks Jake, Michael, and Harriet for a wonderful vacation!