All posts by Dave

Cohutta imagery

For the most part, we had a great time for our trip to the SE.  My race went a bit better than I expected and Lynda, well she got nailed by lightning.  Not much you can do about that.  A race ender for sure, but lucky to be alive (She is fine now).

The trip flows much better in this new (to me) format.  If a picture says a 1000 words, here is our novel.

Bike, snowshoes, or both?

With all the chat about snow levels on the AZT route I thought I'd offer some insights on how those snow models transfer to actual on-ground conditions.  Click for the bigger version...

The red line was my planned route, the blue was as far as I was able to go due to conditions.  Where I was forced to turn back (just E of the blue ball) the trail transitioned from south facing, dry trail to north facing, 2+ feet of snow trail.  Exposure is everything.  That was at an elevation of `5800.

If you've got a GPX track of your route, TopoFusion, and a web browser this is pretty easy to do for your own route:

1.  Start here: then select the interactive maps on the top left.  Zoom into your region of interest.

2.  Copy and save the image of your region of interest. Make sure you've got a couple of well spaced "anchor" points.  I used Enterprise and New Harmony and it looked like this:

3.  In TopoFusion, have your area of interest in view, then go to window->user map library.  Add the image from step 2 above.  You "calibrate" the image to the TF maps by a few different methods, my preferred is to do it manually, dragging the image handles until your anchor points from your image overlay the same points on the TF maps.

4. Click the hand top left in TF and now you've got a superimposed snow model over your GPX track.  Pretty slick, eh?  Hit the 3D button and you can get a good idea where the trouble spots will be.  North facing = lingering snow.

Here's one I'll be watching closely the next couple of months!

The Desert Rat

Reposted from the Desert Rat cause I love this long forgotten piece of Abbey :

Your desert rat is basically just another poor bare forked featherless biped, like the rest of us, but he has certain distinguishing features: a permanent squint, a hide well pricked with cactus acupunctures, the big toes all purple and dead from kicking stones, and inside the skull hardly any viable brains left.

The desert rat loves water but prefers to live, like his four-footed cousin the kangaroo rat, where water is rare as uranium. The rarity makes it precious, therefore lovable. For this rat the finest of all music is the tinkle of seep water trickling into a tin cup, the periodic drip of unseen waterdrops falling in the shadows upon tympanic stone.

He is tolerably adapted to intense heat, constant glare, sand in his eggs, scorpions in his shoes, kissing bugs in his bedroll. He doesn't mind a landscape composed mostly of naked rock with some scrubby-looking plants creeping cautiously out of the cracks; in fact he tends to find green pastures and grassy lawns and trees -- especially the fat sort with bushy green foliage -- stifling, even claustrophobic. Which brings us to space, outer-inner space, and the desert rat's special fetishes.

He loves all forms of life, even people. But though he loves people (in moderation), he does like to see them, just like trees and bushes, spaced well apart. At a comfortable spitting distance from one another -- say two miles, with a sawtooth hogback monocline about a mile high in between for a fence.

This is not meant to suggest that the desert rat is necessarily tougher than other rats. He is certainly not nearly so tough, for example, as the Rattus rattus urbanus, that highly specialized breed that thrives or at least survives on cement and steel, clamor and crime, lethal gasoline fumes and the deadly double dry Martini. Compared to him the desert rat is a delicate, fastidious epicene, tender as a water lily. But the desert rat carries one distinction like a halo: he has learned to love the kind of country that most people find unlovable. Call the desert barren, harsh, bitter, dreary and gloomy, acrid and arid, lifeless, hopeless, ugly as sin, foreboding as the gates of Hell -- he will happily agree with you. Because in his heart lies the secret belief that the awful desert is really sweet and lovable, that the ugly is really beautiful, that Hell is Home. And if others think he's crazy so much the better; he is reluctant to share his love anyway.

-- Edward Abbey, Cactus Country

The Dixie Three Eleven

New website for this race:

Be sure to check out the maps:

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:


Thunder Mountain:


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?

Update 4/19

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?)
  • Added trails south of Hwy 20

The profile has changed a bit.

Not a February guy

What can I say.  It's Friday afternoon before OP and LW is down there without me.  A round of some niggly bug has me in no shape to race a 24.  Even on a team it takes a toll.

It is really stressful to think you might have to bail on a partner, ya know?  Well, we found a great replacement - Scott Morris is in fine form right now and has an itch to stretch his racing legs.  He'll get his fair share there in his backyard.  It made the whole thing a lot less stressful knowing LW was going to end up with such a rock of a partner.

It's bound to be an exciting race for racers and spectators, it's sold out completely this year.  Live results will start going up here once they get rolling at noon Saturday.  Word on the street is it's a madhouse down there, RV central, hero dirt, and nerves a dancing everywhere.

Let the show begin!

Burnin’ Turkey

So how about the weather, eh?  We took full advantage yesterday.  After some climbing, midway down a 2k' descent we hit the rim of the gorge.

The drop in is quite exciting.

Ride #1 complete, it was time for a quickie egg burrito followed up with a not so traveled route with Mr. TopoFusion.

This locked gate is supposed to keep the motors out of the desert preserve, but rather seems to keep them in once they gain entry.  The holiday weekend has been redneck madness, complete with crash'm up derbies in Green Valley and shooting across the Zen trail on Saturday.

We were all riding 26ers today, believe it or not...

Wait - where is this fence from?  The namesake of Scott and Hollywood's favorite trail!

Scott giggles like a kid when on small wheels.  Is there more of this in his future?

Best line of the day from Scott after realizing his pack was open while riding:  "can I borrow a powerbar?  I promise not to put it in my blog!"  Only a few bored individuals will get this one...

"Utah hill goes up thataway...there's a great loop around Square Top and Jackson peak that goes through Motoqua over there...and Candyland, OMG!"  Ya gotta appreciate a keen  sense of place, a desire to grasp the landscape.

We even have water in the desert.  Late day shot, we rode most of the available daylight hours.

Garmin Oregon screen visibility for MTB use

Gizmo addiction.   If you have it like I do you've already looked at the Garmin Oregon or Colorado series of GPS units - and learned from reviews they suffer from poor screen visibility in varying light conditions.  Well, I'd read the Oregon visibility was improved, and the 500 models also had a camera - that was enough for me.  I bought one 2 days before the CocoBob ride, uploaded the route track and set off for AZ.

That cost me a good 5 hours in navigation issues.  Doh.  It turns out the screen is not so visible after all...

But all is not lost.  Based on a review of the Dakota series (same touchscreen interface) and my experiences with the unit in AZ, a change of system settings and a custom mount have made it much more readable.  In fact, I think it's as good as the vista series now - but I'll have to save that observation for the next race.

Here's what the screen looks like under factory settings.

This is viewing a track in "navigation" mode.  I've found this to present the biggest, fattest track line.  Simply enabling tracks on the map gives thinner, harder to see lines.  There is no control over track color in navigation mode.  This is what you get - and it's pretty good.  However, under these settings, there is not a lot of contrast between the track and background, especially in areas where elevation shading is darkest.  So, the custom settings I've found to make it more readable are:

1.  disable land cover (this is the background color, not land features like peaks/topo lines)

2.  disable terrain shading

3.  set map detail to "less".

Here's how that looks.

The difference is shocking - and legible in the field without having the backlight turned on.

So that's half the equation.  The other half is glare.  The shiny screen needs to be oriented "just so" in order to be legible.  The standard bar mount only rotates in one plane, much too limiting to get good results.  Here's what I came up with.  Add rubber bands to the list of my bike accessories now ;)

It's simple - a 1" aluminum pipe cut in half lengthwise with the mount attached via zip ties to the upper half.  Grooves for the bars are dremeled into each half, and the whole assembly is attached to the bars with 4 broccoli bunch rubber bands.  This enables the GPS to be rotated in any direction and get the light angle right where you need it.

Rotating left...

Rotating right.

We field tested it yesterday in the most challenging type of light:  high clouds, sun low in sky, in and out of trees, and with these settings and mount it's something I'd be comfortable racing with.

So there it is.  A usable Oregon setup.  Now I can make use of all those advanced bells and whistles on this unit:  large screen, camera, heart rate, and a sweet touchscreen interface.  Gotta love gizmo unification.

BTW, those map shots above are of the South Boundary trail in Dixie National Forest SW of Enterprise.  It's out there!  It's very near where these shots were taken.

Those shots are geotagged (taken with the Oregon),  click here to see the map.

Here's a shot of those peaks from afar in April. Seasonal differences are huge!

The Bean of Life

In the beginning there was but one option for that morning trailside fix:  brew your own.  Whether using a paper filter or metal screen, the result is messy and time consuming - but ultimately worth the effort.  My early forays into the wild were more easily categorized as "rolling barista".

Then came Java Juice.

Simply brilliant concept and fueled the way for more than  1 long ride this year.  Fast, portable, potent.  Yum.

Yet, at 1/2 oz each the weight adds up fast for someone with an enduro sized  habit.  So at CTR I dabbled into the realm of (gasp) instant coffee, the stuff available at any grocery store.  Never again - enuf said on that.

Starbucks has cracked this nut.  The rules change yet again...