I've spent much too little effort chronically the events of our massive summer road trip as it was happening. There was so much goodness. But here's a little taste. At least it's a little taste of the riding, but even a banquet of riding stories would be just an appetizer of the grander Goatish fun of the trip. (What'd ya think of that last sentence? A little too much?)
Our first night was spent in a mosqueto-infested swamp on the shore of Lake Michigan, the second with dear friends in Rochchester, MN. Then the Badlands (a pre-dawn ride through Badlands NP remains a trip highlight), and the next day at Mt. Rushmore and the Black Hills. An early morning ride through Custer State Park was interrupted by a full-on buffalo orgy spilling out over the highway. I counted 65 buffs, but there could have easily been double that number.
After spending nine or ten days in Idaho Falls, which included a wonderfully adventurous 72-mile road ride (30 some miles of which was over unpaved USFS road), and an mtb misadventure where I fell (sort of head/shoulders first) down an eight-foot embankment into essentially a trough of cow dung, we made it to Boise. At dawn the next day I rode across town and up the gravel road to Table Rock, a table-like bluff situated prominently in the foothills just east of the city.
A favorite ride for Boise folk is the 16-mile jaunt from the city to the base of Bogus Basin Ski Resort, a climb of about 3500'. As I climbed the road I got to wondering if there was an all-dirt way to get to the ski station; not just the lower lodge, where we ride our road bikes, but all the way to the 7,500' peak of Shaffer Butte. A few days later I found it. An estimated 4800' net elevation gain in a more or less steady climb. On the day, probably more like 6000' gross elevation. It was a dee-light-full ride. (Punctuated with the obligatory shot of my ride atop the summit.)
There was other great mountain biking in Utah--the Draper foothill trails, Strawberry Reservoir, the Snow Basin area above Ogden--but I had to pull the road bike from the quiver once more in Utah Co., my sense of nostalgia for the dense aspen forests of the Alpine Loop being too strong to resist. (Also, last time I mountain biked in American Fork Canyon--three years ago--I broke my collarbone. So I chose the road this time...)
On the way home we made stops in both Grand Junction and Colorado Springs, Co. (two Colorado towns whose names those in-the-know shorten with casual non-proper noun type appellations--"The Junction" and "The Springs"...and now you know). In The Springs, after a morning mtb jaunt through Palmer Park, a friend took me up "The Incline." Fifteen years of visiting Colorado Springs and I had no idea this existed. But it's awesome. Two thousand feet of elevation over an average grade of 41% (max grade 68%). There used to be rails, apparently, and a cable car-style car that took people to some kind of lookout/resort atop the hill. But that closed in 1990, and now people (including me) illegally access and climb the old rail line. Apparently the Incline is a favorite winter training playground for Olympic athletes, presumably when there's no snow.
I enjoyed my walk up. I even ran the last 50 feet or so. But I took the trail down.
And its September.
But September means cross.
And cross is boss.
So get excited! (My excitement has led to extravagantly placing an order for a new Specialized Crux S-Works. I'm excited! But not brave enough to tell my wife. Yet.)