So you are thinking about doing the Dixie Lite or Dixie 311 but not sure how to plan for so many unknowns? Here are some tips to get you started.
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Start with Google Earth. If you don't have it yet, download it - it's free.
With these two pieces you'll have more than enough information to launch a deep obsession :) The file includes:
The most recent state of the route tracks and waypoints
An overlay showing the snowpack conditions to the latest hour
current weather forecasts at 5 locations on route
Google Earth of course is connected to massive GIS systems, so you can also search for anything you like near or on route - such as services. Usually said services pop up with phone numbers and images - this is really a great way to quickly visualize what is available and learn more.
I've really been looking forward to laying some tracks on segment 4 of the Dixie route. I had planned to do it next weekend but it worked out best over Memorial weekend. This area is rough, rugged, remote...unbelievable though is the quantity of rideable trail, something I honesty didn't expect to find.
It starts up Casto Canyon, ATV track giving way to singletrack, gently gaining elevation amonst killer views.
There's a hidden/unmarked trail veering N called the Hancock trail. It ascends to well over 9k and is nearly all rideable!
Then it gets interesting...
There is no trail that I could see for the next ~1/2 mile. Riding an open ridge is the scenic way to go.
With some scouting about I found the trail that descends to West Hunt creek, yet more sweet trail.
New carsonite signs, let's hope this means the NFS has blowdown clearing trail maintenance on the books - cause there is plenty of that.
Up towards Adam's Head the route goes.
Most of the world comes into view at one point or another on the way up to the top of the Seviers. TU riders will recognize this landmark.
The area around Adam's head ain't easy. Damn hard actually and I'm still feeling the effects. There is some HAB, and some tree hopping involved. Truth be told, by the time I hit a jeep trail segment I was darn ready for it. At about 10,200' I finally got into some deep snow. Luckily it was early enough in the day it was still frozen - and rideable! No pugs required.
There was less than 2 miles of that before heading off the edge of the plateau down the Snowbank Trail (yes, appropriately named).
Segment 4 is difficult and remote. It stands as mapped. I will encourage any 311 riders to opt to stick to the Fremont trail (really nice ATV route with zero hike a bike) instead of bailing if this stage seems over the top at this stage of the game. If the NFS or me and some volunteers (ahem!) can get up there with chainsaws prior to the event it will be much more enjoyable.
The other piece I wanted to get a read on was the climb out of Circleville (hello Chad, this is for you). I mapped it to go right up the Piute ATV trail. Well, I've had a few close calls with motos out there so the thought of having riders push their bikes up a steep canyon while motos come ripping down didn't sit right, so I found another way. It's in the map below. It's still challenging, but all rideable. You may need to take rest stops though, it's a long ways to climb from Circleville to the Tushars...I'm trying to make that 5k' ascent as direct and rideable as possible.
Unless you are doing TD there's a big blank spot on the multi-day calendar in June.
I have a solution: The Dixie Three Eleven!
311 miles of bikepacking bliss awaits. The route includes the choice parts of Trans Utah - Virgin River Rim trail, Pole Canyon and the Sunset Cliffs, Grandview trail - and adds so much more. Thunder Mountain, the Skyline Drive trail in the Tushars to name a couple.
From the section in the Tushars:
The long road sections of TU are not present in this route. The trail/road ratio is similar to CocoBob.
What: This is a multi-day self-supported mountain bike race. When: Friday, June 25 8:00 AM Where: Near Parowan, UT.
It is no accident that this event fits in with the new CTR plan on LW Coaching. It's got all of the elements needed to refine a CTR assault in August.
Stay tuned for full details and GPX track.
Are you in?
A preliminary track is ready. NOTE: this is preliminary pending a couple scouting missions. It will work for general planning. The route will no doubt change close to race time based on scouting missions.
Added Spruce trail on the Markagunt
Added Louder ponds trail on the Markagunt
Added remote trail network atop the Sevier Plateau, including a singletrack descent of Mount Dutton
More singletrack in the Tushars
Removed the Navajo lake loop (the complete VRRT should be plenty, eh?)
A whirlwind of excitement blew threw my house last night. Dave Kirk was the first to arrive. His race actually started the day prior: get off work 5pm, get in car and drive to St George *all night*. That's from Washington, kids.
The Flagstaff duo of Troy and Blair rolled in around dinnertime. They were so full of crack and excitement there was no waiting, it was time for the final packing and ride! They all left together sometime after 7pm Friday evening.
Dave continues to amaze with his apparent resistance to sleep deprivation. After being up for ~40 hours he was amazingly upbeat and positive. Maybe that was because his shuttle stars all aligned? He was sporting a new, handmade, behomoth seatpack, custom lights, and in general a much more refined kit than his rack setup of the '07 Grand Loop Race.
Troy was all smiles. "We're riding the Honeymoon trail to the Virgin river, what could be better than that?" That quote about sums it all up.
Troy's bike choice was a rigid 29er Coconino, smartly loaded, particularly with the 50 oz nalgene on the bottom of the downtube. A true desert rat.
It was the first time to meet Blair and he basically charmed us all right from the start. Troy has done well in his choice of riding partner methinks, there will be no shortage of trailside laughter.
Track their progress on the whizbang Trans Utah tracker. Click here for the version with status points. At this time it looks like only Dave's transmissions are coming through.
For 2009 the route is bigger, better, longer, and made a bit easier in a few key spots. That does not mean this is an easy route ;)
There is some climbing involved - but probably not as much as TopoFusion is reporting. In confusing sections I used high resolution track data (1 sec interval) which tends to over-report total vert stats.
The TU page will be updated soon with GPS track data and a routesheet. For now you can get the full track data here.
We may have a SPOT tracking page for the event at trackleaders.com courtesy of Scott Morris and Matthew Lee. Please shoot an email my way if you'd like to use a SPOT unit for the event, they will be provided (pending sufficient demand). hairball.dh AT gmail DOT com.
Trans Utah 2009 event start time: September 26, 4AM, in front of the Mormon Temple in downtown St George. We'll ride a no-drop all-together pace on pavement across town (south) until we hit dirt. The early start combined with the shortened desert section should have everyone reasonably high before the heat of the day sets in.
The route has gotten a facelift. It's not complete yet, but to help with your planning here is the part that is: Trans Utah: St George to Powell Point. Compared to the 2008 route, the changes are:
- initial desert section shortened. New singletrack added, Coyote spring still in. This will help us get to higher elevations before the mid-day heat sets in.
- Goulds loop removed
- Brianhead loop, Marathon trail removed. That climb sucked and was all private land until very close to BH. We'll still go to Cedar City, but will come up Cedar Canyon (pavement) to Woods Ranch where we'll climb up a jeep trail to the beginning of the Virgin River Rim trail.
- Added singletrack from Teha CG to Navajo Lake lodge. A great trail segment and potential resupply.
- routed course to hit the junction of UT 14 and US 89. Great little gas station there at Long's Junction. Hot food, tables, friendly. My bailout point in '08. This traded in a few miles of jeep roads for pavement.
- reroute on the Grandview trail on the southern traverse of the Paunsaugunt: we'll head N (up) Mill creek to join some jeep track and hook back into the Grandview from the top of the plateau. The trail conditions of the Grandview between these points are horrific, parts of it wiped out wholesale by mudslides - I suffered through it on the Paunsaugunt Enduro so you don't have to.
- reroute E of Tropic to include the Henderson Canyon singletrack.
These changes make the route significantly kinder in terms of resupply points. The big picture:
Time-wise Long Valley to Tropic is the longest between points up to Powell point. Plan on 2 more days from Tropic to Boulder and that should do it for planning purposes.
How could it be that I'm getting excited for this already? So much for CTR fatigue...
We had a diverse group show for the first annual Paunsaugunt Enduro. We had riders from California, Arizona, Utah, and Montana. With routes of 44 to 96 miles, there was something for everyone. I'm pretty sure everyone found what they were looking for.
Camp was a cozy affair, big shady pines and showers nearby.
It seemed a Lenz Sport bike was mandatory equipment for this one.
With CTR coming up in 2 weeks it seemed a good idea to do a long ride the day before the 96. Not sure what I was thinking, but...I've always wanted to get to the top of Mt. Wilson near Thunder Mountain. It just looks like it would have a good view from up there.
There's a rocket ship up there?
This lone bristlecone pine caught my eye. Struggling.
Meanwhile, there were fires ablazing near Tropic res. The 70 and 95 mile routes were routed right through those fires - last minute reroute required! It was simple enough though.
This sign gets understatment of the year award. OnlyDaveC knows what I'm talking about.
The initial section of the grandview that seemed so hard a month prior has had some trailwork and was much more rideable. What I expected to be a 2-3 hour hike a bike turned out to be pretty quick and a lot of techy fun.
It was a real pleasure to show some of my favorite terrain to others.
Riding rims with grins.
I chose to ride the long one. I've seen all the route at one time or another, but to string it all together in a day - well I just wasn't sure it could be done. The warnings about carrying bivvy gear were real. After a water top-off at the Robinson Guzzler I plunged off the plateau into the no-mans land known as the southern traverse - this is also part of the Trans Utah route. Midway down the descent is this sandy knoll with a view.
It is very challenging terrain. Sand, steep, remote, dry, hotter than the plateau. Full of wildlife! I'd only been here once before and it was as good as I remembered.
The route leaves the Grandview and heads up the Crawford pass trail. Great riding to be had here, but you pay dearly for it...
I had to get it rolling from Crawford pass just to get to camp before dark...meanwhile one lone warrior got to experience some summer storms on the south end of the route, far from camp and a forced bivvy ensued. In camp we got a lot of hail.
So how tough is that southern traverse? Scott got back to camp in about 7:20, while I got back to camp in about 13:20. My route was only 25 miles longer. 6 hours longer for that 25 miles? In my defense I did do some mandatory trail work out there, but wow.
Riders got 5.5 to 26+ hours of being out there this year. It turned out to be quite the demanding route, the 95 especially leaving an impression on me - primarily a need to modify the Trans Utah route to something a bit more friendly. For a 1-2 day epic though, it was the bomb ;)
Next year? I'm leaning strongly towards a June date. Lynda already set my wheels spinning on a few new course ideas too...
Thanks for coming, it was our pleasure to ride with y'all.