Thursday, November 1, 2012

Jackson Bike Trip - August 2012

Back in August, Ethan and I headed up to Jackson for a long weekend of mountain biking with our good friend Erik.  On our way up we stopped outside of Cheyenne to check out the trails at Curt Gowdy. Curt Gowdy is a strange beast, generally it has the vertical of Fruita's 18 Road and, much like Buffalo Creek, is very smooth. Unfortunately, the lack of vertical prevents any long downhills, and sharp corners generally prevent high speed riding.

A lot of it looks like this:
However, it does have some very unique granite rollers:
Creatively, the trail designers at Curt Gowdy have taken advantage of the geology and topography of the area, designating "play zones" where you can generally just ride around wherever you want. Most of these are mellow, yet unique and fun. One the other hand, the play zone at the top of Skin and Bones is really gnarly, with big rock rollers and drops, some of the most technical XC I've ever ridden. I just kept hoping I wouldn't go flying off my bike into the surrounding boulders and trees. This is generally what it looks like:
For me, one of the highlights of Curt Gowdy was Hidden Falls, which you can jump into...
Photo: Ethan Vimont

I thought Curt Gowdy was good, but not great: there's not much topographic relief which is one of my favorite things about mountain biking. That being said, it has quite a bit of variable and unique terrain, everyone could have a good time riding there for a day. 

Curt Gowdy took longer than expected; with Jackson still hours away we had some catching up to do. Unfortunately, my car is limited at 115...
By 2 AM we were in bed at Erik's, looking forward to Phillips Canyon the next day. Erik was clearly looking forward to making us suffer, and suffer we did on the steep climb up the Old Teton Pass road to the start of Phillips. It was well worth it with miles of smooth single track back to Wilson. This is a great trail that I could ride again and again, not technical, but fast and gorgeous.
 
Erik:
 
After the long drive from CO the night before, Ethan and I were glad to relax the rest of the day and anxiously await a day of shuttling the downhill trails of Teton Pass the next day. These trails are INCREDIBLE: huge berms, gap jumps, stepups, stepdowns, rhythm sections, log rides, they have it all. Its been years since I've jumped on my bike; at the end of every run we were amped and thankful to still be intact. Some of the smaller features:
Photo: Ethan Vimont
If I lived in Jackson I would buy a downhill bike, a full face and armor...and let Erik lead me into all the big jumps.

That night we headed north of Jackson to camp at Shadow Mountain, even through the heavy smoke from nearby fires the Tetons were incredible.
 
A great campspot at the very top of Shadow Mountain meant we had to ride 100 yards from our tent for a classic descent to the valley floor. Like many of the Jackson area trails, this trail is smooth and really really fast. Ethan approaching terminal velocity: 
Flowy single track lower down:
Photo: Ethan Vimont

At the bottom, we hopped on the Shadow Mountain road, and headed back up for another lap before heading back to Jackson. 

After a short break at Erik's, we headed out for an afternoon lap of Black's Canyon on Teton Pass. A car shuttle to the top of the pass shortened the climb to just over twenty minutes. Angry that Erik had beat me up on Shadow Mountain that morning, I made sure to make the climb as painful as possible. Black's started with a serious of high speed, soft corners - few things are as fun on a bike as two wheel slides.

Before long we reached the valley bottom and miles of fast and smooth singletrack.
Even after months of drought, the protected valley bottom was still remarkably lush:
 
Black's Canyon is a must ride; its fast, scenic, and seemingly far away from it all. With a shuttle its virtually no work, leaving energy for another ride; or ride from the bottom of Teton Pass and get a great climb to go along with that great descent
Before heading back to Colorado we squeezed in one last ride up Storm King. Like, the other Jackson rides, Storm King features a crushing climb that quickly brings you above it all, followed by a fast and smooth descent. 
Gentlemen, thanks for kicking my ass everyday, next time please ride slower.