Seems like the folks at Teton do as well. 🙂
After a fairly arduous bikepacking trip to the Chilcotins in July I headed back as part of a 17 rider crew from the Dirt Hombres Mountain Bike Club in mid-August. The plan was to have our camping gear flown into Spruce Lake and ride in/out on unloaded mountain bikes. That way lots of people who were not interested or equipped to bikepack could enjoy some backcountry riding and by sharing the cost of the flights 17 ways it wasn’t super expensive.
We all rode in 35kms along Gun Creek Trail from Tyax Lodge. It’s a pleasant ride with a slight uphill grade for the most part. There are a few hike-a-bike sections to keep you honest, but on unloaded bikes we cruised up the trail without much difficulty. At one point a black bear blocked our progress and he was quite stubborn. The sight of a large group didn’t phase him and he even started trotting down the trail towards us to see what was going on. I had to fire off 2 bear bangers to get him off the trail. After which point he just watched us pass from a safe distance.
One concern I had initially was how we’d manage 17 riders on such a big trip. Happily without any prompting the group broke down into smaller teams that rode together throughout the week. Everyone had someone to ride with that wanted to do something similar.
When we arrived at the lake our luggage had been delivered by Tyax Air and we setup our camps for the next 4 nights. There was only 1 other group camping at the time so we pretty much had the place to ourselves.
Each day we set off on different rides from our Spruce Lake basecamp. There are enough trail options to ride something new each day for 5 days – although most rides are out and backs.
We really lucked out with the bugs. There were literally no flies or mosquitos to deal with. In my limited Chilcotins experience that was just unheard of, but very welcome.
Not having to carry camping gear and coming back to an established camp after each ride was quite pleasant. It certainly made the riding less gnarly and more fun.
In the early mornings and evenings we did quite a bit of fishing. Spruce Lake is filled with a ton of hungry trout which makes fishing dead easy. Sharon caught her first ever fish on her first ever cast. 🙂
Needless to say we ate a lot of trout during our stay at the lake.
For the most part we had dry and hot weather during our trip with the exception of one day of light rain. It was just enough moisture to cool us down and keep the dust in control.
The Dirt Hombres had a lot of smiles and laughs at Spruce Lake. There was lots of talk about doing a similar trip next year. If so I’m bringing a packraft and I’m going to fish a whole lot more. 😉
In the post below I mused that I was starting to miss the cool/damp of winter riding conditions after much heat and dust lately. Well the Bike Gods were listening. The Dirt Hombres headed up to Cumberland BC for the weekend and Saturday delivered on the damp. No real rain, but previous day’s wetness was still present on the trails so we got a taste for mud and wet roots once again.
Our fine local hosts Jerry and Mark showed us a great route up to Race Rocks and Trent River Canyon. I can’t tell you the names of all the trails we rode, but it was a fun day of slipping and sliding in the forest.
I recently attended a mountain bike clinic put on by Drift Mountain Biking. I’ve been riding dirt for decades, but there is always more to learn and I was using my newly honed skills in Cumberland to reach faster speeds and better flow than ever before. All was going so well until I lost the front wheel on a wet wooden structure and had to leap off my bike at the top and try and land on my feet. It mostly worked out with some minor damage to man and machine. Nothing that couldn’t be fixed with zipties, electrical tape and beer! 😉
Looking down in the shower I was impressed by the amount of mud and blood coming off my legs!
Oddly enough Sunday’s ride was more rainy, but the trails were drier. It was supposed to be easier, but instead of one big climb the smaller more frequent climbs still felt pretty tough! We got to ride quite a lot of the BC Bike Race course over the 2 days which was cool.
Thanks again to Jerry, Mark and Brian for taking the time to show the Hombres around. 🙂
The Dirt Hombres Mountain Bike Club was conceived around a campfire at Hornby Island last year so it was only fair that the Hombres descended on the island for some shredding in 2014. It’s not hard to get people excited about the little island’s quiet buff trails and chilled out vibe. As people rolled into Ford’s Cove Marina Campground we counted a 35 strong posse of riders.
Despite not being too far from Victoria the 2 ferries required to get to Hornby Island make it a ~5hrs trip. So we took Friday off and went up in the morning so we could sneak in a ride before everyone arrived and settled in.
Unlike Vancouver Island that features very rough techy riding Hornby offers smooth flowy trails that you can ride without needing to hop, skip and jump over obstacles. It actually feels a bit wrong at first like your bike is broken and then you realize it’s just buttery smooth.
As you can imagine 35 riders in a small campground made for a very social atmosphere. Luckily nobody partied so hard they couldn’t get their butts in gear for a big ride on Saturday. We split up into 4 smaller packs to keep things manageable and accommodate everyone’s speed. The map and GPS track above is the ride I was on.
By the time the last group got back to camp Saturday evening there were lots of happy, but tired mountain bikers milling around with open beers telling lies about the day’s adventures.
Not only did have have an amazing trail network to explore that we could ride to from our campground, but we saw hardly anyone on the trails that we didn’t bring with us to the island.
Although it rained everyday at some point it was never while we were riding or hanging out in camp. So the rain on served to keep the dust down – not our spirits. Thank the Bike Gods! 🙂
Our local Victoria trails are techy and slow so going lightspeed at Hornby was a ton of fun and a refreshing change of pace.
On Sunday we got out early for a ride that cherry picked all the most fun trails and then headed back to the ferry for the trek home.
Thanks to everyone that joined us for a fun weekend of riding and laughs. Let’s do it again next year! 🙂
Last weekend the Dirt Hombres crew met up at Maple Mountain for what we expected to be a challenging, but fairly normal ride for us. As it turned out this time the trails shredded us not the other way around.
While I’ve been waiting to find time to write this post I’ve been ponder why things were so challenging for us? Conditions were a bit wet/muddy, but that’s not unusual for Vancouver Island in the winter and we ride year round. In fact at the end of winter we should be at our peak sloppy riding skill level. Some folks had some equipment issues. I was on my new bike with under gunned tires and it was machine I was not used to riding. Another Hombre had some worn tires which made riding treacherous.
The thing was by the end of the ride just about everyone had had a serious crash. Typically we would have zero bad crashes on a ride like this and maybe 1 major crash on an especially tough ride.
Talking to everyone the day after the ride there was general puzzlement at why it went so far to gnarly side.
Luckily none of the damage was permanent. 🙂
Black eyes are healing. Testicles are not as swollen as they were. Scabs are peeling off. The bruising of bodies and egos is fading away. Some bike parts were killed in action or replaced due to poor performance.
And our crew of Hombres and Hombresses is tough…we are packing our gear as I write this. Getting ready to shred again. Ready to face the challenges of the mountains and forests. Sometimes you don’t get answers in life and you just have to get back in the saddle.
As most mountain bikers know all too well – sometimes the trail giveth and sometimes the trails taketh away!
Wish us better luck this weekend! 🙂
It’s a tough life being a Swiss mountain biker! 😉
As I write this I am sitting in my office in Victoria with a space heater roaring trying to keep my fingers warm enough to type. Sadly our Sedona adventure is in the books, but the last ride didn’t get posted before we left so here it is.
The sun was shining and the temperature was perfect for our last ride. We headed out on the now very familiar Chuckwagon Trail and then onto Mescal Trail where our local guides took us on an unmarked detour down Canyon of Fools.
Canyon of Fools is the dirt equivalent of a small roller coaster down a narrow dry creek bed with wild high banked turns off each side. Speed is your friend if you want to get the most from this trail.
It was sad knowing this would be our last ride with Sedona Dirt Hombre Crew, but that’s life so we just enjoyed the day cranking away in the Arizona desert. Thanks to Jen for keeping the pace slow enough that we could survive and always having a big smile on your face even when you were warning us about the epic cliff side climb around the corner. 😉
We passed Kurt R of Kurt’s Going Nuts Blog fame on the trails. The encounter was brief so as my tired synapses fired away I yelled after him “I read your blog!”. Sounding like a crazy person? – check!
Local legend NOD [aka gNarly Old Dude] demonstrated his peoples’ ancient technique for eating Powerbars that have turned to concrete. NOD is coming up on 70yrs old and still rides nearly every day and lays down the hurt on average riders like me. I just hope I’ll still be rolling on a mountain bike in 25yrs!
As NOD would say “It’s the Apache way!”
Dave [owner of the Sedona Fat Tire Bike Shop] was a great host during our stay in Sedona. He kept our bikes running, loaned Sharon a replacement shock while she waited for RockShox to send her a new one and was a very patient guide on our group rides. Dave is about twice as fast as Sharon and I so he had to wait a lot. Thanks Dave!
The Fat Tire Bike Shop is hands down the best local bike shop in Sedona. I don’t say that because I am friends with Dave. I am friend’s with Dave because he runs the best bike shop in town! I love dealing with people who are on top of their game.
There are lots of great places to ride in the SW US, but Sedona is special to us because of the great people we know there and the new ones we meet every trip. Mountain biking is less about the shredding for us and more about the laughs we have with our friends out on the trails. In that regard Sedona rocks hard! =)
I should say one final thank you to our trusty Honda CRV that eats up the miles on these long road trips. Hauls our bikes and enough gear to be dangerous without costing a fortune. AWD to handle the gnarly road conditions when they happen and a big enough interior to let us sleep sort of comfortably when we just can’t drive no more. Thanks little buddy! 🙂