Category Archives: Biking

Tehipite Dome

First view of Tehipite

Florence to Wishon

After a mere day and a half of peak-bagging, it was time I tried another 75-mile bike day, from Florence Lake to the Rancheria Trailhead near Wishon Reservoir. I figured that, starting earlier in the day, from a much higher elevation, with a slightly lighter trailer, I could actually pull it off this time. The rolling route still had plenty of elevation gain and loss, but I managed to reach the trailhead with a lunch break and only a few minutes of headlamp time.

I took my time waking and packing at Florence Lake, getting started around 9:00 AM when I thought my hands would not freeze. The road was every bit as rough as I remembered, but I found the climbs almost all rideable, and was back at Kaiser Pass at a reasonable hour. Once past the one-lane part of the descent, I enjoyed the fast, smooth road back to Huntington Lake, then turned left on the high road to Shaver Lake. The road had more climbing than I expected, reaching a highpoint over 7000′ at Tamarack Hill before dropping 2000′ to Shaver, but the good pavement and civilized grades allowed me to make good time.

After several days incommunicado, I finally had cell service in Shaver, which I used to determine that Bob’s Market seemed to be the preferred local store. It had perhaps a slightly better selection of fresh fruits and vegetables than expected, and the usual insanely high prices for packaged goods. I bought the most caloric, least healthy things I could find — a pound of bologna, a block of cheese, a package of chocolate chip cookies, and a Coke — then sat outside the store to drink the soda and make myself a couple of bologna tortillas. I struck up a brief conversation with the owner, who seemed impressed that I was headed all the way to Wishon that evening, then headed to the southern end of town and turned back east toward the mountains.

Fortunately this road was much better than the one leading to Florence, and not very crowded. Almost all of the traffic consisted of large white pickup trucks, about half from various utility and tree-trimming companies, the rest seemingly hunters. The long, uphill ride took longer than I had hoped, so the sun was just setting as I reached Wishon Dam. The temperature dropped suddenly and dramatically as I put on all my clothes and turned on my taillight on its far end, then continued the remaining few miles to Rancheria Trailhead. Seeing that the trailhead itself was dry, I filled up on water from a creek near the final intersection, then finished the last half-mile of dirt by headlamp. There was a truck parked at the trailhead, but I did not see anyone around, so I quickly made dinner and packed for the morrow, once again set an early alarm, and threw down my bivy stack in a flattish spot right behind the bear boxes.

Tehipite Dome

Tehipite Dome was one of two SPS Mountaineers’ Peaks I had yet to climb, the other being the Hermit, whose summit block proved too hard last fall. It is an impressive sight from the south, where its most photographed side rises 3000′ or so from the deep and remote Tehipite Valley. From the north, however, it is a small bump at the end of a dusty 14-mile trench, invisible in the forest until you are about 20 minutes from its summit.

There’s no camping at Cow Camp!

I stashed my dry-sack in the bear box, left the rest of my stuff behind the bear boxes, and started from the Rancheria Trailhead by headlamp. I knew I would see this part of the trail at least once, and I figured once was enough. The trail climbs a bit, then drops on its way past Crown Rock to Crown Valley, home of the famous Cow Camp, where there is ABSOLUTELY NO CAMPING! (Perhaps this rule does not apply to cows.) From there I dropped still farther, crossing Crown Creek and entering Kings Canyon with views of Kettle Dome to the north, a much more impressive formation than Tehipite from this direction.

Crown Point and Kettle Dome from Tehipite

After following the trail to a saddle, I left it to make my way cross-country through several small drainages to Tehipite’s north ridge, from which I could finally see the summit and the upper parts of Tehipite Valley’s south side. Unfortunately the smoke on this day was the worst of my entire trip, obscuring the least-often-seen and possibly most-impressive views I would have. The route up Tehipite’s summit was fairly obvious: start off on a sloping ledge to the left, turn uphill at a tree, then sort-of mantle onto a short third class slab which leads to the summit plateau. There was a faded and dubious-looking sling on the slab, which I would have cut and removed if I had a knife. I instead pulled it up after me and left it at the top, to discourage anyone from pulling on this dubious and unnecessary handline.

Upper Tehipite Valley

The summit register was more or less evenly split between Real Climbers doing hard routes on the big side, and peak-baggers like Yours Truly sneaking up the back side for SPS points. The long approaches for either deter the crowds, so I recognized most of the names. I sat around for awhile taking in the views of the Tehipite Valley and the long, deep upper valley of the Middle Fork Kings River, which is still a major internal Sierra divide far upstream where it passes through Le Conte Canyon between the Palisades and the Black Divide.

West-side dirt tan

The return was uneventful, and I found my stuff unmolested at the trailhead. I rinsed off as much of my dirt tan as I could, packed up, then filled up on water on a short ride down to the Crown Valley trailhead, where I planned to start the next day’s hike/bike to Spanish Mountain. Looking through Tehipite’s register, and at the map later, I realized that I could have done both peaks in the day. However this would not have saved me any time, as I planned to ride to Courtwright Reservoir the next day. I set up camp in the empty trailhead parking lot, then almost regretted it as truck after big, white truck crawled by creepily slow. I at first thought they were rednecks checking out the outsider, but later realized that they were just hunters looking for deer foolish enough to venture within rifle-shot of the road. It would be another cold morning followed by a much shorter day, so I turned off my alarm before settling in for the long night.

Huntington to Florence, Jackass Dike

Jackass Dike and water source


Having succeeded in reaching a cold elevation, yet failed to reach my next trailhead, I waited for it to get warm enough for my hands not to freeze while riding, then got an inefficiently late start toward Kaiser Pass and Florence Lake. The pass was another 2000′ of climbing, starting out on a good two-lane road that narrowed to 1.5 gradually deteriorating lanes. I was glad to spend the first part of the morning going uphill, giving things a chance to warm up enough for my hands not to freeze going downhill.

Kaiser Pass

I stopped for a photo at the pass, then descended the rapidly-worsening road toward Edison and Florence Lakes. The pavement was almost worse than dirt, consisting mostly of potholes and frost heaves. Checking on the trailer periodically, I realized that I had not tightened the nut on the hinge between its fork and body enough, and the constant bumps were slowly loosening it. This seems like a flawed design in two ways: first, this is the only part of the trailer that cannot be assembled with a 4mm Allen wrench, instead requiring two pairs of pliers; second, unlike a quick release, the tiny nut on the bottom of the skewer can work its way loose and fall off. Fortunately it loosened very slowly, and I caught it in time; I quickly got in the habit of checking the nut every morning and after rough sections of road, and tightening it as much as I could with my fingers.

Florence dam

While I paused on a steep descent, a young woman in an old car wearing camo stopped to ask what I was doing on a bike way out in the middle of nowhere. I explained I was just touring, and she oddly wondered if I were worried about dangerous wild animals. Having spent plenty of time in Canada and Montana, where such things actually exist, I found her concern strange in the tame Sierra. Continuing on, I fetched some water from a roadside stream, grateful for my new insulated rubber gloves, then jounced on to reach Florence Lake a bit after noon.

Partly cloudy to the west

I spoke to some fishermen for awhile, then stashed my trailer in the day use area, looked at my map in an unsuccessful search for water less polluted than the reservoir, then pulled up Peakbagger to find a nearby bump I could climb to kill the rest of the day. I settled on Jackass Dike, a slabby fin downstream from the lake. It was close, short, and I would pass by some potential water sources on the way. I biked over to Jackass Campground, which was of course closed, then followed the dirt road leading past the diversion dams and tunnels used when building the Florence Lake dam, giving up where the road fords the reservoir’s outlet stream. The stream was slow, swampy, and downstream of the reservoir, and a sign along the road warned that the water was unsafe to drink without boiling. So much for an easy source of good water…

Mmmm, slabs…

I locked my bike to a tree, then headed off through a dispersed camping area along the stream, finding a nearly-complete roll of toilet paper on a branch. I made a mental note to booty this, then continued on game trails through the meadows and woods toward the dike. I knew nothing about the peak, but assumed I could figure out a route. The first crux was finding a path through the manzanita and oak-brush surrounding the base; I hiked along the edge of the woods perhaps halfway along, then thrashed uphill to the base of the slabby side.

Snowstorm on the summit

With some false starts and a bit of backtracking, I found a third class route to the crest, where I saw that the highpoint was obnoxiously far away, and the weather was deteriorating. As I made my way through a couple of undulations, I kept an eye on the snow slowly swallowing Florence Lake and the peaks to the east. I thought of turning back, but the storm did not look too bad, and I had only one more gap to cross. This proved trickier than the others; after a bit of exploration, I found a fourth class route to the left that led back to the top. Another 5-10 minutes of hiking through a snow flurry led to the summit, home to an unattractive radio repeater.

Here it comes

I found no register or cairn, though I did not look very hard in the snow and wind. I made a couple false starts before finding the fourth class downclimb on the way back, cliffed out trying to take a different route down the side, then found a worse way to thrash through the brush at the base. However, once in the woods, I found a better game/use trail for my return. I bootied the toilet paper, then rode back up to the day use area, worried about how cold it would be that night. Surprisingly, I did not have the lake to myself: a small group of rednecks who may have been out boating pulled their trucks into a picnic spot on the other side of the woods and started a lively campfire. However, they kept their distance and were not too loud, and I was tired, so I had no trouble going to sleep at dusk, with my alarm set for an unpleasant pre-dawn hour.

Bass to Huntington Lake

Million Dollar Mile


I had been carrying my bike and BOB trailer around in back of my car for awhile, setting them outside each evening to make room to sleep; now it was finally time to put them to use. I stashed my car on a forest road off Beasore Road, where it would hopefully not be vandalized or towed, then spent much of the morning assembling the trailer and packing. My goal for the day was to ride to Florence Reservoir, deep in the mountains near Seldon Pass. Maps.me plotted a route that was a bit under 80 miles which, in a ridiculous and uncharacteristic turn of optimism, I thought I could do in a day. As it turned out, 80 miles and over 10,000′ of elevation gain with a full trailer is far more than I can manage. Also, maps.me’s routing was seriously messed up, taking me on one road closed for construction, then another closed to all but maintenance vehicles. Fortunately I was on a bike, so both errors worked in my favor.

Italian Bar bridge

After a quick descent to Bass Lake, during which I got used to how my bike handled with 50 or so pounds of trailer attached, I made my gradually-descending way south and west, past the Geographic Center of California (whatever that means), to the Italian Bar Road along the north side of the San Joaquin River. There were almost no cars on the road, no wind, and temperatures were comfortable in shorts and a t-shirt. As I descended into the river valley near Redlinger Lake, I passed a sign saying the road was intermittently closed — Uh, oh… — then spoke to the driver of a Jeep going the other way, who said that the road was definitely closed at the bridge — Oh, crap… — but suggested I might be able to get through, as it was a weekend and no one should be working.

San Joaquin waterfall

It turns out that a small road crew was working on a Saturday, but one member was happy to escort me across the bridge, which was under some sort of construction. From there, at a lowly 1600′, I enjoyed a gentle climb along the river on more car-less road, eventually reaching a split at a switchback. Stopping to check my map while shooing away face-flies, I found that I should head left, on a gated road that continued along the river. I was once again glad that I was on a bike, as the road is only open to pedestrians, bikes, and utility workers accessing the various dams and power plants along the river. I disassembled my setup, passed the bike, trailer, and dry bag over the gate separately, then reassembled them and continued west, pedaling hard to outpace the face-flies.

Power station along closed road

This was one of my favorite parts of the trip, riding a car-less road blasted into the steep granite walls of the San Joaquin River valley. The (type I) fun ended at Dam 6 Lake, where the road forks and begins climbing in earnest. I took the right fork, which averages about a 10% grade for several miles. Here I learned two things: (1) I had to walk my bike on anything steeper than about 11%; and (2) the face-flies could keep up with me in my lowest gear. I never felt them bite, or even land on me; they apparently feed solely on human misery, of which they had a bountiful harvest. I finally reached the upper gate around 4500′, once again disassembling and reassembling my rig in a swarm of face-flies.

Huntington Lake near sunset

Back on normal roads, I encountered the occasional car on the more gradual climb to the power plant at Big Creek. It was hot and I was out of water, so I stopped to see if I could find a hose bib or restroom. Unfortunately the visitor center was closed for the weekend, and the grounds were all watered with greywater. I was debating whether to knock on someone’s door — I was thirsty and a long ways from camp — when a man and his daughter walked by. The daughter, who apparently had Down’s Syndrome, sat down nearby to play in the grass, and the man was curious enough to talk for awhile. I learned that he was a triathlete, had lived in Houston for awhile, and now lived in Big Creek and worked for the power company. He told me that the various dams and generating stations I had passed were all built in the early 1900s to power the trolley lines of Los Angeles. Eventually his wife came by and, learning that I was looking for water, went back to their house to fill a gallon jug. I drank some, then filled all my receptacles, sensing that sources of water might be few and far between on this side of the range.

The man had warned me that the next section (the “Beaver Slide”) was a tough climb, and I soon found myself intermittently pushing my bike again, though at least there were fewer face flies at this elevation. It was about a 2000-foot climb to Huntington Lake, which I reached just before sunset. The houses around the lake were half empty, the campgrounds all closed, but that was fine by me. I pulled into one of the closed campgrounds, made dinner, made myself a thermos of boiling water to help stay warm at night, then threw my dry bag in one of the bear boxes before crawling into my sleeping bag for the long night.

Tour de Sierra Ouest


I had yet to climb twenty-something SPS peaks, mostly in the western and southern Sierra. Many of the peaks were not particularly interesting as climbs, and involved long drives to remote trailheads. To make them more interesting, save miles on my car, and gain some experience, I decided to bag some as part of a bike tour. After briefly considering a crazy 500+-mile loop over Tioga Pass and back through Kennedy Meadows, I settled on this shorter 9-day route from Bass Lake. The experience taught me that I can handle around 75 miles per day towing a trailer through the mountains, and that I really enjoy bike touring when mixed with peak-bagging. I was also reminded that the west side, with its face-files, dry trailheads, and dusty woods-trails, is inferior to the east side.

Cycling stats

Day Mi Elev
1 47.9 +7600/-5100
2 24.1 +3600/-3200
4 78 +9200/-9000
5 3.3 +100 /-1000
6 16 +3000/-1700
8 45.7 +3400/-7600
9 36 +4700/-4200
Total 251 31,600

Hiking stats

Day Mi Elev
2 3.5 1400
3 29.2 8100
5 28 5600
6 14.6 4300
7 40.5 11,900
8 13 2900
Total 128.8 34,200

Langley Loop

Langley from NE

Langley from NE


It made sense at the time

It made sense at the time

After a couple unusual days in SoCal waiting for the new snow to cook down in the Sierra, I rallied back up 395, left my bike at the Cottonwood Lakes trailhead, and drove back to Tuttle Creek. Driving at night and unsure of the road conditions, I backed down from about 6,600′ to a camp spot at 6,500′. The road was every bit as sandy as I remembered, but my “new” car is more suited to such things than the Celica I drove last time, so I didn’t leave it on three wheels in the middle of the road.

Ashram and Lone Pine Peak

Ashram and Lone Pine Peak

Compromising between my need for sleep and desire to get on a northeast-facing snow climb early, I set my alarm for 5:00, and was hiking by 5:30. After passing the “trailhead” around 6,900′, I followed a well-defined trail to the ashram, then continued along what was essentially a cairned game-trail up the north side of the south fork of Tuttle Creek. The trail stays 50-100 feet above the stream to avoid the worst of the brush, finally climbing steeply to an open area where the valley broadens.

Flower in Tuttle Creek

Flower in Tuttle Creek

The trail fades as it climbs through this section — most people are smart enough to do this snow climb while there’s snow — but a line of cairns eventually crossed the stream and makes its way along the base of the talus to the base of the couloir. With the insanely-dry Sierra winter, what I remembered as low-angle snow last time was instead a vast talus-field partly covered in fresh snow, with some slabs to one side. The snow was breakable crust over sugar, so I treated it as lava, hopping from rock to rock where I could where I couldn’t march up the bare slabs.

Entering the chute

Entering the chute

Finally turning the corner into the main northeast couloir, I saw that it was well on its way to melting out, but a winding line of snow remained. The snow seemed easier than the loose debris beneath, and I was here to do a snow climb, so I took out my axe and started kicking steps. It was a bit of a mess, with new, drifted and/or crusty snow over the remaining winter snowpack, but with a bit of experimenting I was usually able to find a supportive line, sometimes even following an old boot-pack.

Dry year...

Dry year…

Somewhere around 12,000′ the snow finally became steep and hard enough to require crampons, which I donned sitting on one of the many exposed rocks. The branch I chose eventually melted out a couple hundred feet below the summit plateau, so I went back to scrambling from rock to rock until I topped out. Like last time, the temperature dropped dramatically as I transitioned from the sheltered snow of the couloir to the wind-blasted summit. I found a sheltered spot, read the register (other people complaining about the poor snow quality in the NE couloir, mostly), and took a look at the surroundings. The area south toward Horseshoe Meadows looked mostly dry and warm, while the alpine lakes between Langley and Whitney were still frozen.

This sucked

This sucked

A sane person would go back the way he had come, but this was a “work” climb, so I headed off on some version of the standard route to Old Army Pass. With the crust-over-sugar snow everywhere, I quickly lost the increasingly-established trail, cliffed out a bit, and spent quality time punching through the crust and then bashing my shins on it. My optimistic belief that the spring Sierra in a low-snow year would be as friendly as the summer Sierra in a normal year was proving ill-founded.

Treacherous Old Army Pass

Treacherous Old Army Pass

Old Army Pass was every bit as treacherous as one would expect early-season, with a steep, hard snow-slope covering the normal summer trail. I bypassed parts, carefully side-hilled others in crampons, and eventually got below the serious snow a few hundred feet above the highest Cottonwood Lake. Now there was nothing left but the standard sand-slog back to the trailhead. I passed only two people on my way through the normally-crowded area, reaching the trailhead to note happily that no one had stolen my bike. Now for the fun part.

The fun part

The fun part

I hit 42 MPH on the first drop, ground out the little climb, then sat up and braked to keep my speed to a sane 30-35 MPH on the straights and 20 on the turns. I felt pretty stoked as I blew past some people walking down the road, probably hoping for a lift. Rounding the final turn onto the last, straight switchback, I assumed my best tuck and let go, and was elated to hit 51.8 MPH before reaching the valley floor.

Climb back to the car

Climb back to the car

The road drops more gradually to the Tuttle Creek turnoff, so I could cruise along easily at 20+ MPH for awhile. Unfortunately, I had something like an 1,800-foot climb from Horseshoe Meadows road to my car, and was completely out of water. I could take it easy on the roughly-paved Granite View road, but the sandy track to Tuttle Creek was another matter. It was a long, grim slog, with several stops, a bit of walking, and a terrified slow-motion sprint past some jerk’s bee colony right next to the road. After about 9h30 of varied “adventure” I was back at the car. I’m glad I did it, but wouldn’t do it again.

Wet, wet Moab

Sudden shower

Sudden shower


I had hoped to ride the White Rim Road, a 103-mile loop around the Island in the Sky district of Canyonlands, so I wanted to take an easy day after Phil’s World to prepare. I also didn’t want to drive much, so Abajo Peak, the highpoint of a small range west of Monticello, seemed like a good low-ambition goal for the day.

Dinner?

Dinner?

After sleeping at the base of the old ski area, I decided to take the dirt road up the south side instead, figuring that the remaining snow in the woods would be annoying. It had rained the night before, and the bottom part of the dirt road was wet and mucky. Not wanting to coat my bike with mud, I drove past the area of the localized rain shower, then started riding from around 8,000 feet. The road was consistently steep, but dry until it turned the shoulder of South Peak to cross a north-facing slope, where it was blocked by snow.
Gooseneck aspen

Gooseneck aspen

Locking my bike to a tree, I walked the rest of the road to an exceptionally large and ugly collection of buildings and radio towers on the summit. Not being in any hurry, I walked most of the way back to my bike, then coasted to the car.

Abajo summit

Abajo summit

After getting some new and hopefully less mobile cleats, I hung out in Moab for awhile, then drove up to the start of the White Rim Road to camp. Waking to steady rain, I abandoned my riding plans and headed back into town, where I killed a day in the public library with the other dirtbags, then drove back to my previous camp. A large group of cyclists was finishing a multi-day tour of the White Rim as I arrived, looking generally miserable as they straggled in on mud-caked machines. As they described repeatedly dismounting to knock the mud out of their dérailleurs, I decided I would give things a bit more time to dry out.

Klondike trail

Klondike trail

After driving back to the highway, I pulled in near the Klondike Bluffs trailhead on BLM land to camp, and was surprised to find maps of what was apparently a relatively new mountain biking area. Maybe I would have a chance to ride it the next day while the White Rim dried.

Klondike Buttes

Klondike Buttes

Unfortunately, I woke to find it had rained more overnight, so after driving through some nasty muck to the trailhead, I instead decided to jog 4-5 miles of jeep road to the Klondike Bluffs. A couple of riders pulled up as I prepared, including one professional woman with a striking quantity of wavy red hair. Though they were apparently willing to ride the wet, sandy trails, I preferred to wait for things to dry out a bit. I explored the Bluffs a bit, got poured on for about 5 minutes, then jogged back to the trailhead, passing a convoy of about 10 jeeps on the way.

Fun?

Fun?

More riders arrived as I ate and eyed the weather. Though it never truly started raining, it sprinkled off and on, and it looked either overcast or raining back toward Island in the Sky. Clearly I was not meant to ride the White Rim this spring. With miles to drive and a one-day weather window in Nevada the next day, I looked through my list of things to do, then headed west for Ely, Nevada.

Fear and sucking in Durango

On the one hand, she can be frustrating and high-maintenance, and occasionally breaks down unpredictably. On the other hand, she is fun to spend time with, and introduces me to new areas and activities, so I’ll probably keep her around for awhile. Plus, she’s a good ride…

Home and "woman" at Phil's World

Home and “woman” at Phil’s World

Luxurious home improvement

Luxurious home improvement

Based on Mike’s recommendations, I stopped at the Durango Walmart to improve my sleeping situation, then drove over to the Horse Creek trailhead to explore the nearby network of supposedly easy trails. Early on a Saturday afternoon, the large parking lot with the sign was mostly full. Heading up the old road, I mistakenly bypassed the trails, eventually ending up on a well-graded country road on the other side of a minor pass.

I fell for you!

I fell for you!

After realizing my mistake, I returned to the first obvious trail on the north side of the road. Less than 100 yards up the first climb, I slammed on my brakes to avoid running over a lethargic snake, then fell over when I couldn’t unclip fast enough.
Trail toward Raiders Ridge

Trail toward Raiders Ridge

I shoo-ed the lethargic snake to safety, then continued up toward Raiders’ Ridge, mostly hiking up some steep slabs that I probably should have been riding down. I probably should have turned around.

Reaching the ridge, I turned uphill, riding up miserable little sandstone steps. Occasionally, one of them would be big enough to stop me, and I would either manage to unclip in time, or topple over on my side. After doing this a few times, I realized that my cleats were slipping, frustrating my attempts to unclip. I tightened them as much as I could, then turned around, getting off the wretched ridge at the first opportunity.

Telegraph trail

Telegraph trail

Once back on the road, I headed toward the trailhead a bit, then turned south into the Meadow Loop area, where no-skills people like me are supposed to ride. Life improved considerably, modulo occasional stops to reposition and tighten a cleat — I still haven’t figured out how to make them stay put without stripping the bolts. After much climbing, the descent on a counter-clockwise tour of the outer Meadow Loop was fast and fun.

With plenty of daylight and energy left, I decided to explore the Telegraph trail, which climbs a hill south of the meadow past some old telegraph poles. This I also found manageable, though the signage at the spread-out 4-way intersections was confusing at times. I had intended to ride something longer, but ended up returning via Sidewinder, a fast, swooping, banked descent toward a different trailhead. This was probably the highlight of the day, as I was able to get out of my normal terrified-self-preservation mode for most of the descent. I took the paved Animas trail back to the car, ate some stuff from cans, and drove on toward Cortez.

Main trailhead

Main trailhead

After camping a bit farther up the road, I returned to the well-signed and -developed Phil’s World parking lot, empty at this early hour. The night had been relatively warm, but the sky was overcast, and rain threatened to the east.
View south from Phil's World

View south from Phil’s World

While Mesa Verde and Ute Peak rise fairly impressively to the south, Phil’s World lies in gently-rolling terrain covered in juniper and sage, the kind of land I would normally think is best suited for dumping old mattresses. The trails have two parts: the smaller “Trust Loop,” and the main collection of loops across the road from the parking lot. All of the trails are one-way: not only are they signed for clockwise riding, but they have been expertly built so that drops and other obstacles are encountered on the downhills. Also, simply turning left at all but one well-signed intersection results in riding all the trails.

Having nothing else to do all day, I started by riding the outer perimeter of the main area. This was mostly fast and fun, with the smooth, banked trail meandering among the junipers as it goes around and over small hills and sandstone outcrops. The main exception is the Ledges Loop, which spends more time on unpleasantly rough sandstone. I ate it once on this section, possibly bending my rear derailleur, but found most of even this part ridable.

Where the good stuff starts

Where the good stuff starts

The highlight of Phil’s World is Rib Cage, a smooth trail that swoops and dips along an arroyo, with perfectly-banked turns and a variety of dips and jumps. After trying it once, I returned to the car for more water and canned food, eyed the weather for a bit, then checked out the Trust Loop. That proved mostly easy and underwhelming, though increasingly hot as the sun finally came out. Returning to the now-crowded parking lot, I refilled my water, then did three more increasingly-fast laps on Rib Cage — it’s that good.