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Header Photo: Alpine meadows below Gilpin...


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Monday, December 12, 2016

Mountain Bike Mecca Walks






Convenience aside, the overriding argument against camping amid the human detritus of Ground-Zero Zion is to be able to  hop astride the ole Cannondale at Ground-Zero Virgin... where BLM backroads and single-track serenity awaits just beyond camp's doorstep.


The upside is that this Mountain Bike Mecca also serves as an excellent elevated promenade for those who prefer a leisurely perambulation with panoramic views. Enough tacky alliteration; on to a little photogenic illustration...


Of all the "walkable" backroad/single-track destinations around Camp Virgin, one of the most unique has to be "Guacamole," a pocked-topped sandstone plateau that puts the "play" in playground. For bikers there is peril enough to get your mojo kick... from whoop-de-doos to ledges to outright cliffs

Recall the BCB post a couple years back when a few members of The Gang decided to mountain bike to "Guac" from camp (ugh... a seven-mile uphill sandy slog capped off with almost a mile of 14% grade at the end). Tired legs and all, we Geezers blindly embarked on Guac, following little rock cairns into a "playground of no return," or almost, anyway.

Long story short, Jim crashed hard... landed flat on his back on a boulder (his specialty). Fortunately his backpack cushioned the blow, and  probably saved a 911 call, if not his life. But either to his credit or insanity, he got back on the "horse that threw him" and we continued on. We stumbled upon Bobbie and Gayle who had long since ditched their bikes in favor of walking. Advice from Gayle along with a fractured thumb forced a "white flag." We beat a hasty retreat with tails between legs... promising to return.           



Having not made the entire 12 mile loop (more of a maze, actually), we decided to hike Guac, and this year had the good sense to drive up to the mesa's top. Here's what we found before lightning sent us scampering back to cars. Shesh, it's always something...  


"If ya can't even walk the Goddamned course how do they expect you to ride it?"

"Much better..."


Petrified rock everywhere

Looking toward Zion and the Chinle trail... a couple miles as the crow flies.


Some of Guac winds through a surreal burn area...




I've thrown in some photos of other bike rides that illustrate the beauty, variety, and walkability of trails surrounding Camp Virgin...  






You've heard me mention "riding the Monkey," I'm sure. This year I had an equally crazy riding buddy, Maikel, who also loves to push his limits. And push them he did... as well as mine. Nearly 20 years my junior, I was lucky to keep Maikel in sight, and had to settle to racing against "the clock," trying to knock a few seconds off my time using him as a "rabbit." 

Yep, we going to race up Flying Monkey Mesa. Note water tower on  top
Meet Andre... We talked him into riding the Monkey. Turns out he's smarter than us and once was enough

Do da Monkey dance, boys!

On top of "Monkey" and headed for the next level...  on top of that mesa to Zion overlook.

The reward is worth the grunt.  Nice...



Then there's the "Jem Trail Complex," now a plethoric maze of interconnecting single tracks and BLM backroads... beginner, to advanced black diamond. 



Discretion is the better part of valor! Live to ride another day by walking this section... 



Miles and miles of lovely single track...

With views like this...
Camp Zion I... Flying Monkey Mesa boondock 

If you want a nice canyon ride, head up to Zion and catch the Parus Trail from the Visitor's center and ride it all the way to the Narrows. 











When the Trams run, car traffic is gone... making this a fun ride with neck-craning views












With Rewards!!!
I will conclude with a few more photos of Maikel and I riding the Gem Complex... 
















Peace out,
mark and bobbie
Post Script: I went to the bother of delving into the HTML for the lead photos of this and the previous post. Once found I inserted 1600 for the existing 620 px. and I do believe I can tell the difference. To do this for every photo is just too time consuming (sigh). Thanks for your input!!! 

7 comments:

  1. Just planning my strategy before the next attempt. Gotta come back and ride all the trails I missed out on.

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  2. Hey, we're even smarter than Andre by not even attempting to ride up the Monkey even once!
    I do love that ride up through Zion Canyon, though.
    Gayle

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  3. Mark Al & I are in ecstasy just driving thru Zion on a late fall day but those trails, man just knowing all that beauty exist out there and so few humans is just exciting to think about and dream about. Glad you all play it safe and don't risk getting banged up big time at this stage of your life.

    Maybe now that our rainy season has started you better keep the BCB going till we get thru to Spring., what the hell.😋
    Stay Warm
    d

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  4. Incredible views- thanks for taking us along on your rides. Mary Lou

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  5. Jim's only in it for the ice cream. ;-)

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  6. Somebody missing the red rock?

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