The 24 Hours of Moab is one of my favorite events of the year. I have now participated in 6 of them including last weekend. I think that the thing that draws me to it is the variety of experiences that can be had all in one 24 hour period of your life. What else is there that allows you the opportunity to suffer from hypothermia one moment and within about 4 hours, you are sunburned to a crisp? It truly is a unique experience.
In the 6 years that I have done this race, we are yet to have a solid team of four to count on. It has always been myself, my brother-in-law and two other guys that we can find somewhere (usually from the internet). This year was no different except that our fourth man came down with walking pneumonia the week before the race and had to bow out. We scrambled to find someone at the last minute and were able to reunite with a past acquaintance that we hadn't seen or heard from for a long time. It worked out great.
I headed down to Moab on Thursday afternoon with the wife and kids. We got to Moab at about 7:30 in the evening and met up with 2 of the three team mates for some dinner at the Pizza Hut. After that we headed to the race site and set up camp in the dark. The weather was great and that got me excited. It hasn't always been good for the race, and this year was shaping up nicely. A couple of hours after we arrived, the final team mate showed up.
Friday morning dawned cold and clear. We hung out at camp and cleaned up the bikes and headed out on the the course for a pre-ride of the lap. It was the first time that one of the guys had ridden it and in fact, this was his first race on a mountain bike. He did quite admirably I might add.
The course was in decent shape on Friday morning. The sand pits weren't as bad as I have seen in the past and they all had a good path raked out of them so they were mostly ridable. The only exception to this was the final descent back to the finish line. What a mess that was. One thing that I have learned though is that all of this can change with every lap that you ride.
I volunteered this year to ride the first lap. I have sone this once before and I liked it because of things go well, you get to ride both the sunset and sunrise laps with only one lap in full darkness. It's my favorite part of the race. Turns out that this was a good move.
The first lap was a bit brutal simply because of how many people were out on the trail (not to mention I'm not a fan of running). It was difficult in many places to pass and I was surprised by how quickly one could become surrounded by people everywhere. I had a good time though of 1:30. Turned out that this would be my best lap.
I was happy with the way that I rode overall and had a descent lap time in the dark.
We had a couple of problems with the transitions and missed two of them (riders came in and no one was waiting there to go next). Oh well.
By the end of the race, we had a rider taken out with a nasty head cold and finished riding at 11:20 in the morning with 15 laps and in 13th place in the highly competitive Men's Sport class. I was amazed that we did that well considering that we were just there for fun and trying to break in a new team. They said that they would be back next year, so I guess we'll see. Next time, I am going to get off of my lazy butt and train for the race.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
This is a tough hillclimb that goes up Box Elder canyon from Brigham City to Mantua. From there you continue up the Willard Peak Road for the next 11 miles to Willard Basin at the head of Willard Canyon. It is a difficult climb to the top of the road, but it can be done by anyone of any ability simply by turning around whenever you are tired. The road is good at times and bad at others. When you get above Perry Reservoir, the road is quite primitive and rough. Be wary of ATVs and motorcycles on this road. It is a popular destination for them. There are great views into the Ogden Valley and Pineview Reservoir. When you get to the top, somply turn around and go back the way you came. Total vertical feet gained is just over 4200' in 16 miles with an average grade of just over 10%. Typical views along the Willard Peak Road: Bridge accross the retaining wall in the canyon below Mantua on the south side of the road: Shale slope that you have to cross on the trail to Mantua from Brigham City: Elevation profile: Map:
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
One of my personal favorites in the area is the Devil's Gate Valley Loop or "Church Camp Loop". This ride is out of Mantua and is a spur off of the Willard Peak road. It is a fairly challenging route both physically and technically speaking. It provides a remote alpine feel without having to go too far to get it. It's also a fairly exciting route as far as the tech factor goes. There are Fantasitc Views to be had all along the route as soon as you get off of the Willard Peak Road and drop down into the valley proper. At one point, you are right above Ogden Valley above Liberty.
Distance: 11.69 miles as described with numerous options for longer and shorter rides.
Physical Difficulty: Strenuous (short, steep climbs with lots of embedded and loose rocks. Road can be rutted quite severely at times).
Technical Difficulty: 4 out of 5 with a couple of short sections that rank at a 5. Watch out for those rocks on the descents, they will get you if you aren't paying attention.
Tread Type: Jeep roads and ATV trails (don't let this fool you, it really is a fun ride).
Elevation Gain: Trailhead at 5796' with a high elevation of around 7200'. Total elevation gain is just shy of 2400'.
Description: The trail begins at a spot called "Dock Flat" It is located on the Willard Peak Road about 2 miles south of Mantua. For directions to the Willard Peak Road, see this link. Simply type in your address and it will tell you just how to get there. Once you are on the Willard Peak Road, drive until you go through a gate and up a set of switchbacks. At the top of the switchback, there is a large flat area with plenty of room to park. Find a good spot out of the way and get ready to go.
The ride begins with a good warm up climb up the Willard Peak Road proper for just uner 2 miles. At which point you will reach a spur that takes off to the left and heads east to the bottom of a valley below you. This is your turn. When you leave the main road, the traffic all but disappears and things get much quieter. Follow the road through the valley following the signs for "Camp Mantua" passing beaver ponds along the way. If you're lucky you may see one.
Once you get to the camp, take the left turn (the one without the gate) and climb a short stiff hill to the top and a cattle guard. This is where the loop itself begins. I will describe the route as a counterclockwise loop, but it can be done either way.
Go straight at the top of the climb and ride through the aspens and maples to the church campground. At the campground head straight though and follow the route up the canyon. The road becomes quite primitive hear and crosses the creek a couple of times. It's a steady and fairly steep climb all the way to the top of the draw and a great view of the Ogden Valley below.
At the top of the draw, take a left and head up the ridge line. This is a steep and rocky climb with lots of loose rocks and is quite technical. See if you can make it up without dabbing. It's good for you, I promise. At the top of the climb, the trail flattens out and follows the side of the mountain then heads down. Watch out for the loose rocks in this section. You will soon come to a fence. Jump the fence and take a left turn to head downhill on the way back to the beginning of the loop. Be cautious on the descent as it is riddles with large, loose rocks and ruts in the upper portion that is quite steep. As the trail descends, though, it becomes smooth and fast and fun.
Soon you will be spat out back ot the cattle guard where you simply retrace your steps back to your car.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
After 16 years of riding my mountain bike in the mountains of Box Elder County, I have realized that the amount of information available to the public regarding trails and routes here are limited at best. The county publishes a trail map, but I have to say that it is lacking in the amount of content and it is less than inviting to the outsider. It gives no descriptions of the trails and there are no photos.
I have started this blog in order to rectify the situation and let you all in on a few of our secrets around here. There are great rides to be had here and I hope I can help people realize that.
The mountain bike rides in the area vary widely from high alpine singletracks to ATV trails and Jeep roads (I know what you are thinking, but they are quite a bit of fun).
Box Elder County is also a very popular place for road rides. There are hundreds of miles of rural roads with almost no traffic and nice wide shoulders to be had. In fact, the American Diabetes Association has been holding the Tour de Cure in Brigham City and Box Elder County for the past 6 years or so. It is the only Tour de Cure event in Utah and it gets bigger every year. We even have a few routes that are well suited to a cyclocross bike (think dirt roads and pavement mixed up in a nice little package). I will include a few of those as well as time goes on.
Eventually, I would like to put this information in a book and publish it. This in the meantime, is a way to get it out there and let you all know what's up here at the top of the state. I would love to hear your comments and questions if you have them as well as any suggestions as to how to better organize the information.
Happy reading folks and keep it rubber side down.