Our day two Pre-Ride of the Revolution Enduro at Steamboat Springs was very different than day one. If you were here last season, like an episode of Scooby Doo, it is the same plot, same setting and roughly the same cast of characters. One lap up Flash of Gold, finish out on the road to Grouse (broken into 2 stages), out Ditch Trail, one more lap up Flash of Gold (FOG) and Down BTR.
For those of you who are new to the series and the area, you are in for a treat. First of all FOG and Grouse are purpose built mountain bike trails. BTR seems to be re-purposed and primarily a bike trail now. Let's start with FOG.
Flash of Gold (FOG) is a buffed and polished green ascent. A bike path in the aspens. You can basically plant your self in the saddle and spin all the way to the top. The only exception is a very mild 20 foot rock stack that is meant to cover a muddy spot rather than add challenge to the trail. On day one most of the climbing is of the "Why, God? Why?" variety. On day two the climbing is more of the chatting with friends all the way up type. The part that will slow you down the most is the member of your crew that loves wild flowers and will be stopping CONSTANTLY for photos because the Columbines are really going off right now.
You do need to be on your toes though. FOG, being a bi-directional green, is the favorite DH of the lesser skilled in our community, that are still coming up in the game, the terminal intermediates looking for a good casual cruise, and the full on Jerrys and Joeys. What these classes of riders have in common is that mom told them never to use the front brake, otherwise you will go over the bars and surely die. So, bear in mind that if you see one coming, they will probably try to yield to the climber, but will likely grab rear only and skid uncontrollably for quite a distance. Play it safe and be ready to let them by and say a few words of encouragement and support. We are the role models in this sport.
Jerry, on the other hand, will full on KILL you. He is out there and riding with Joey who has done this a few times before and is totally going to teach him. Probably on a rented or borrowed bike, probably shuttling the road, maybe even wearing full on rental Star Wars Storm Trooper armor and a full face. A stern yet polite admonishment about trail etiquette may be in order.
Now on to Grouse. After the BTR intersection FOG continues but becomes more strenuous (still good and maybe even more fun), but eventually ends up wandering around on ups and downs on old dual track. Our first time out we went that way and ended up pretty exhausted and not really any closer to the top. For that reason the transfer jumps out onto the road. Now I like road riding about as much as having my eye doctor perform dental surgery, but the grade is easy, it is very direct, not too much gravel, and the scenery is great, so it isn't too bad.
Upper Grouse consists of stacked features on jagged gneiss. Not always very downhill, but fun and difficult. There are both A and B lines painted on the rocks (white line with black diamonds is A and white stripes is B line). The A line isn't always faster and sometimes the B’s aren't necessarily easier. For instance, one A line involves a right hand switchback on clean slick rock while the B involves slipping and sliding through chunder and dust. The catch is the A line involves mild 15-20 foot cliff exposure. Another example is an A line that climbs a slick rock face to get to a rock roll that basically just re-joins the more direct B line. Most of the A’s just involve an interesting feature or a techy and fun element, but there are one or two that will give you an advantage (and a pucker).
Lower Grouse (the second stage of the day) is a little more consistently Downhill, in fact there are two mandatory and significant skiddy steep sections that are arguably more difficult than the A lines on lower Grouse, except for one gnarly rock roll that you have to climb out of the way to get to, so if you are doing that one, odds are you already blew the race and are just in it for the fun. The hardest two bits for me are two sharp corners with quick techy ups right before them. You need to lay on the pedals, but if you do you will probably pedal strike the crap out of a rock. Hopefully, we can work out the equation on that one. If not it is Fred Flintstone propulsion time.
Finally BTR. The trail map says it is easier, but the fun-o-meter on my fork says otherwise. If you don't know, the fun-o-meter is the little rubber ring that slides up and down the stanchion to tell you how rad the trail is. It isn't any flatter or steeper on average than Grouse, but has a different feel. Less sharp slick rock and more in your face river rock. I have heard of the trail called Behind the Ridge. Trail Forks calls it Bear Tree Ridge. Bash the Rocks may be more apt… Either way it is a rugged good time. Look for a few man made features on the edges, including the famous log ride. They won't help your race time, but they are badass. The hardest part here are a few short rocky uphill punches. It is one thing to step off on a downhill and have to run down before jumping back on, but to hang up on a rock and have to waddle up a mini climb only to find your self hopelessly locked in the hard gears is way worse, so if you see an up, shift easy and pedal hard.
Last of all, on the pedal out we met a hiker who had just met a large bull moose on the trail. Luckily his dog scared it away into the bushes, but the boot prints in the trail were as big as my own foot prints. If he is still hanging around on race day remember to not approach, back away slowly, and if he acts threatening, get behind something. Preferably a tree that he can't see you through or a few trees that are closer together than his antlers are wide, where you can safely taunt him in his frustration and then the Revolution Enduro can print shirts that say Revolution Enduro: We Are The Moosiest!
Seriously though, this one is going to be awesome so pre-ride well (you can shuttle stages 1,5,6 and 7 if you are crunched for time) be safe, and don't get moosed. See you on race day!
Ride Demo Days