There are times, that no matter how much you want to go ride and how well planned every aspect of your ride is, it just seems to be that your single track quest is simply not meant to be. Earlier this week I had everything planned out perfectly. I was starting my ride at 5 in the evening, a very normal start time allowing for plenty of daylight. There was a storm that was supposed to roll in, however, that was not for another few hours. I had plenty of supplies, tools, water, spare tube, pump. I was all set and ready to go. Apparently mother nature and just plain dumb luck has other plans.
|Thick Grey Clouds Blanket the Wasatch Range|
I am fortunate enough to live towards the base of Millcreek Canyon. A very beautiful place with great views and great trails. From my house I can ride up the canyon road and have access to six mile downhills as well as some epic alpine single track that would drop down into Park City Utah, one of I.M.B.A.s first gold level ride centers. Naturally I have to share Millcreek Canyon with everyone on The Mountain Bike Life, so I decided to head out on a journey to show people how amazing the riding in this little stretch of land is.
|Struggling to find my footing after a small rock drop down one of the great local trails.|
The start of my journey was a bit over cast with a chill to the air, however, that is to be expected a few hours before a rain/snow storm. I knew the storm was not supposed to hit for roughly three more hours so I had plenty of time to go on my adventure. I threw on a rain shell for some protection from the cold and went along my way. To get to the Canyon for me it is just a quick jaunt up a couple city streets, a cut through a neighborhood and then I am sitting at the base of the canyon, a small part of the Wasatch National Forest.
|Now Entering the Wasatch-Cache National Forest.|
The land in the Wasatch National forest is maintained and managed by the U.S. Forest Service. The canyon rises almost 3000 vertical feet over the 9.2 miles it takes to get to the top. A rather long ride to be doing on a mountain bike, however, my goal was the first stretch of single track, only a few miles up the Canyon. I had sweeping turns and berms on the mind and knew exactly where to find them.
Shortly after getting into the canyon conditions start to degrade… quickly. Climbing the canyon I was met with fierce crosswinds that started to quite literally blow me off the side of the road.
|Strong crosswinds made the climb a bit of a grunt.|
I decided that I should soldier on. After all, once I get to the trail, I will be sheltered by the trees and the wind would not be nearly as much of a concern. When fighting against the wind, grinding away at the miles up the road, trying to reach the trail head was exhausting.
At the trail head I had to take a breather after the hard push up the road. While breaking there it became obvious that the storm was rolling in much faster than anticipated. The sky quickly darkened and you could see the rain clouds gather on the opposite side of the valley.
|Rain obscures the ridge line as the storm approaches on the other side of the valley.|
I knew that I would have to act fast if I wanted to get in a bit of ride time. I begin my charge up the single track. After the long road climb warmed up my legs and had my bike handling skills ready to go the rocks and roots seemed to disappear beneath my tires as I monster trucked over everything. I felt surprisingly confident in my skills, my bike, and the perfect dirt beneath my tires. The only problem with confidence, is that it can come back to bite you. Being a tad overzealous it was not long before I could not clear one of the many rocks strewn throughout the trail. I went down, but made it out surprisingly unscathed. My bike was a different story. After I started off once again, it was quite obvious my rear derailleur was not too keen on the idea of shifting… at all. A rock had decided to pinch my derailleur cable and resulted in some rather poor shifting.
|Rocks and bikes rarely get along.|
Fortunately, I knew that I could quickly dispatch this problem and be back on the road again. I just had to grab my multi-tool and do a few quick shifting adjustments and I would be off once again. Grabbing my tool out of my bag, I was met with another issue that would further slow down my ride. My multi-tool had decided that in the darkness of my frame bag it would rather be multiple single tools.
|My multi tool dies an honorable death on the trail.|
After finding what I needed in the pile of metal I was able to get my bike rolling once again. It was about this time that the storm had really caught up with me. The wind started kicking up once again, even through the trees. Then the hail came. Bike helmet or not, hail never feels good. Now that my bike was operational I quickly turned my attention to getting a bit of shelter. Fortunately riding in designated parks, you will often find trail maps, rest rooms, or many other things that will at least give you a bit of shelter.
|Seeking shelter from the foul weather. At least until the hail would relent.|
After the hail gave way to a light rain, it was obvious that I had worn out my welcome. I know better than to try and ride these trails in the wet, so I high tailed it home.
|Cutting my loses and jetting home for the day.|
The rest of my adventure was relatively uneventful. Smooth coasting down the trail, a relaxing romp through the streets and I was back at my door step. Obviously this ride, and my mission of telling how great some of my local riding is could be viewed as a bit of a failure. I set out with a goal to be reached, and I accomplished none of it. Despite all of the set backs and frustrations I faced along the way I remembered one thing, that was one good ride. Any day spent on a bike is better than a day spent off the bike. The fact that even this ride did not leave a sour taste in my mouth is the proof of why we ride bikes. It is always a good time.
Hopefully every here can remember that next time your bike ride seems out to get you. No matter what happens, at least you got to ride your bike.