New Year’s Day is always a mixed bag of feelings as I reflect on the year gone by and look forward to the year ahead. As for the year ahead, I always look for ways to make it grander than the one gone by. 2015, while not necessarily grander than 2014, was at least more interesting. I had hoped to ride many more new-to-me trails than I did, but the ones I did get to ride had greater geographical diversity than usual. So while this year’s list has some of the usual suspects from my haunts in the four corners states, it also manages to hit Southern California, the Northern Rockies, and even the Upper Midwest. Variety was indeed the spice of life in 2015. Of somewhere around 50 new “discoveries,” here’s the cream of my new singletrack crop, the top 15 of ’15.
Sedona’s Hangover Trail can be described in three words: Ex. Po. Zhure. I know there are more exposed routes on the planet, but none of them are considered legitimate routes open to the general public.
The Hangover Trail takes the idea of bench cut to the extreme. As you make the counterclockwise loop, the left handlebar is banging the red rock face on the left while the right handlebar is hanging over the edge of a cliff. Then you get to dodge the occasional pinion tree, all while being distracted by panoramic views of the planet’s most gorgeous red rock scenery. It’s not for the faint of heart, but should be on every biker’s bucket list.
Your write up stirred up so many thoughts in my mind. I’ll share the first one in this longer post and keep the rest brief in another post. As much as I love reading on the net about extreme epic journeys ridden in remote beautiful places in the world, the problem with these is that they are usually done by some world class rider(s) who are fully funded by all sorts of mega sponsors. I don’t know what it is, but it almost seems to commercialize the adventure. Don’t get me wrong, I still read about their adventures all the time and watch the videos. But what I love about singletracks.com is that many/most of the stories and reports etc. are written by riders just like you and I who are your “normal Joe” … well except in Greg’s case, who is your abnormal Joe. =) That’s a total compliment. Most of the writers are far better riders than me. I still feel like a newb having started riding just a few years at age 49. But nonetheless most are ordinary guys trying to ride as much as they when they can. There is just a connect there that I love and that inspires me to ride more and explore new places. Some of those places are new to me but not others while other places are new to all since I have the privilege to do much of my riding in Mongolia. Thanks for the great write up. Enjoyed it.
Okay, now for the other thoughts. First, my favorite photo … … Miniskibum at the bottom of Noble Canyon … … that bloody knee is classic. Second (Idyllwild), way to go wearing with pride your Colorado jersey in California. =) Third, Muskrat and East Tensleep sound a bit like the riding here in Mongolia — remote, ungroomed trails that can be rock strewn and can just disappear for a while. You can get some amazing speed, but you also never know what the trail is going to do next; big powerful brakes are a must. Some days are as much as about the exploring as the riding. I have yet to be lost, but some days I wonder if I’m going to make it back to the SUV by nightfall and may have to stay the night huddled by a fire in the forest (no complaint there). Fourth and last, WOW, this is the first time I have read about Agate Creek Trail. I have seen the drainage many times from the highway. That definitely goes onto the Trail Wish List. It sounds awesome and the PERFECT way to get your feet wet. =) Thanks again for the write up.
Thanks for the comments.
A few add-ons:
1. I had completely forgotten that Kyle bloodied his knee on that ride. Good eye there!
2. I think I’ve rocked that Colorado Jersey in about 20 states and a couple Canadian Provinces. (maybe it’s time for me to bring it international — like maybe Mongolia!)
3. There was indeed some serious route finding required on the East Tensleep ride. At one point, the trail emerged from the woods into a park where any semblance of trail disappeared. I had to circumnavigate the park looking for any telltale signs of a trail reentering the woods . That ride was pretty high on the adventure scale (I even saw a really BIG bull moose courting a nearly as big cow).
Hey John, if ever get serious about coming to Mongolia, you have a place to stay with us, and we’ll help you do whatever you want to do and hopefully do it with you. Don’t get tied into the Mongolian tour companies. They will charge you ludicrous prices, and they still don’t know what singletrack is yet. They sponsor bike tours, but the tours are 98% on main dirt roads. The best time of year to come is May and June, and then again in late August and September. July and the first half of August is the monsoon season like CO and Southwest. So you can get rained out. April and October are fine too, just a little cold, but actually great temps for biking imo; more like November in the Springs. Consider the invitation open and available to you and any of the staff of Singletracks. Greg knows. I’m just waiting for a small group to come. No bike magazine or the likes has done an adventure trip/spotlight on Mongolia yet. It’s just waiting to happen.
In reality, a Mongolia trip is unlikely–but it certainly is enticing. It’s right up my alley to get out and ride trails most others would never consider. Thanks for the offer — I’ve loved the pics you’ve posted from this part of the world few know anything about.
I’ve been to (5) of the places on your list…Idylwild and Noble Canyon are regular haunts and while I love Sedona and have done Hangover once, I won’t be doing that again anytime soon. I rode 98% of it but even walking a couple sections was sketchy. You’re right though, the views are truly epic and the reason I continue to return to Sedona.
I’m absolutely STOKED you were able to ride Muskrat! We have a lot of great trails in Montana, but Muskrat is definitely my favorite. The climb is unrelenting, but you quickly forget about it just a few feet into that 7-mile descent!