Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Riding in Red Lodge

Went to Red Lodge, MT with the family for Easter vacation. With the singletrack covered in snow Jake and I brought road bikes along for some riding. From the town of Red lodge there are at least 5 options for road riding. The Beartooth highway was the highlight. Even though the road wasn't open all the way up to the pass, you could still ride 12 miles up from Red Lodge to the barricade than another five miles from there. The week we were there we were fortunate with dry weather and roads. Pretty lucky for spring in the mountains.
Heading up.

One more switchback before running in to snow.
April 26th, 2011. 5 miles from the barricade the snow gets deep and not rideable.
Heading down.
Nice rolling road to the south of Red Lodge.
Heading down west fork Rock creek road north of Red Lodge.
West fork road was closed 8 miles from Red Lodge but when opened continues for another 6 miles.

A nice cycling destination with quiet roads and the summer there are numerous options for mountain biking including up at the ski area.

Mountain Bike Trail Report

Spring riding is upon us! The recent run of dry weather has dried up the trails enough for riding. We have not received any rain this week. There is still trail work to be done such as clearing trees, picking sticks and putting up signs but the trails are open for riding. A few low areas still holding water to watch for otherwise the riding has been great for early season.

First section of singletrack on the Laddies Loppet course.

Top of Suicide hill. Free of snow for first time since October! Part of Laddies Loppet course.
Technical section on Twin Lakes singletrack. The TL singletrack endured the winter nicely. We blew out the leaves before the snow fell so the track is easy to see.

Twin Lakes singletrack.
With the trails drying up late this year, and the way the schedule is playing out, it doesn't look like we will be able to host a short notice spring race like we did last year. If anything changes, we will post accordingly.

Keep the wheels moving!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Latest Trail Report- Laddies Loppet Course

The past three days of warm temps and rain on Sunday has pretty much cleared the snow from the trails at Maplelag. There are still some ice sections here and there and the frost is out, at best, 4-5" down. We are looking at least two weeks before the trails will be open for mountain biking. Last year we hosted a short notice mountain bike race in the Spring, thanks to an early melt and unusually warm March. We were hoping to host another short notice race but with Easter very late and limited weekends available, hosting a Spring race looks tight at this point. We might try to do an event early May and will have information available here.

Mile marker one on the Laddies Loppet course. Clear of snow for the most part but needs a good couple weeks of "drying".

Lakeside singletrack drying up nicely. First to dry up proper with exposure to the sun most of the day.

Many low areas are holding water on the ski trails but most of the Laddies Loppet course avoids these areas. It will be a wet Spring though with water tables at record levels.

Ragnarok 105

The Weather Channel did a spin off during the NCAA basketball tournament having brackets of cities that had the toughest weather in the country. The great city of Fargo came through as the tournament champion!

The team has a handful of riders living in the Fargo area, including Steve Wenzel who competed in the Ragnarok 105 last weekend. Steve commutes daily, rain, snow or shine, each day to work, and riding in the countries toughest weather provided good training for the Ragnarok. We like to call Steve the toughest commuter in the country.

Steve racing at Laddies Loppet short track, 2010 ( photo)

The Ragnarok is a grass roots riding event limited to 105 riders. Conditions were good for this years event and Steve logged 9 hours in the saddle in route to a successful day moving the wheels. Nicely done Steve.

Reads Steve's full report on his blog.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Riding in Santa Fe New Mexico and the Dale Ball Trails

The second week of April, Jonell and I went down south to New Mexico for some r and r in the Santa Fe area. The main purpose of the trip was to relax and enjoy a week together! I brought the mountain bike along with plans to ride an hour or two each day. I did a little research before going down to see what was available for mountain biking and every search the Dale Ball trails popped up. Since we had snow last so long after the ski season was done at Maplelag, I spent free time skiing on snow covered trails instead of riding. In Santa Fe I was content to riding on gravel and back roads getting in some easy miles to start the riding season.

After we got settled in the hotel, I was pleased to find out access to the trails were about 3 miles from the hotel. Most of the hotels in the plaza area of Santa Fe are the same distance away so riding from the hotel to the trail head makes for a nice spin before hitting the trail. I first hit the south section and having the spin up was nice because they are steep off the bat. The trails are very well marked with signage at each intersection. The town of Santa Fe sits around 7000ft and the high point the trail reaches I think is around 7800 ft.

After an initial steep climb the trail buffed out a bit but only for a short while. I was expecting all the trail to be like this since close to town and figured the trail saw a lot of traffic. Once back in the more wooded part, the trail was technical with sections that were not rideable.
The trail I would rate as more advanced, for sure, with some fun technical sections with lots of rocks and tight switchbacks.
More open flowy stuff along the side of the mountain.

With a switch to rocks and fun twisty turny.
The time of year we were there, the weather was cool but sun was intense. The trail was a lot more protected than I expected. One night it rained maybe a half inch and the next day the trail condition was perfect with a tacky riding surface. The rain really brought out the smells and highlighting the brush.

More exposed trail with view back towards Santa Fe.

The trail is well marked with signs at each intersection with corresponding numbers.

Out and back track climbing to a high point.

Nice views at the top with a fun descent to follow.
Fast flowy section but technical rock section shortly after on descent back down.
Couple of days rode some back roads. Mainly paved lanes to homes out in the hills.
The Hyde Park Rd/Hiway 475 is a nice road to get some road miles on. It eventually makes way to Santa Fe Rec area. I didn't put a lot of miles on this road but did find a point to access the Dale Ball trails from it. Would make a nice longer warm up. The road is a little rough maybe for road bike but with knobbies, perfect.
Lot of side gravel roads to explore. The plaza at Santa Fe is loaded with tons of restaurants and excellent biker food. Some of the top choices were The Shed, fantastic local flare, Pasquals: more New Mex food, Il Vicino for wood fired pizza, Coyote Cafe, contemporary bit spendy, to name a few. This past winter season was a lower snow year in New Mexico but the month of March would be a great time to visit to ski and ride dry trails! All in all a great place to ride mountain bike and definitely plan on coming back! The last day we went up to Taos and checked with the local bike shop on trails to ride. Three rides recommended in the area ranging from 6-10 miles in length with rating of moderate to advance. Most of the "good" trails were still snow covered in the high country with 25 miles of singletrack at the Taos Valley Ski Area.