Zen On Dirt

A week in St. George

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I’ve passed through St. George a handful of times during my years criss-crossing the west, looking for cool places to ride. First there was Camp Lynda, then the ‘wet’ year at True Grit, once coming north from racing the Whisky 50 where I finally got to ride the famed Gooseberry, and once for 25 Hours of Frog Hollow, another time heading home from Stagecoach 400. I feel like each trip gave me a glimpse of what there was to ride in the area, and I kept trying to find reasons to come back and spend a significant chunk of time in the area.

The stars aligned this past week with my early exit from Salida to go see the Boulder doc, which was followed by a weekend in Junction with Jj. With Salida getting cold, I didn’t particularly want to head back for a few extra days of riding there before heading to Tucson, and anyhow, Scott had to drive to Durango on his exit route from Colorado (the issue with leaving your belongings scattered about the state is that you have to go get them when you leave) so we made plans to take care of our separate medical issues, pick up belongings in Boulder and Durango separately, and then meet up in St. George at Scott’s parents’ house.

I was to arrive on Sunday night. Scott would follow on Tuesday. And then we would spend a glorious week riding the red rocks of Dixie.

It almost worked out for us.

Driving through Utah during sunset was absolutely stellar. I forget how pretty the state is with high mesas, the Swell, and beautiful colors. It was mesmerizing until it got dark, at which point the speed limit went up to 80 and I made short work of the final miles to St. George.

Being fairly wasted after a weekend of following Jj around GJ, I begged for mercy from Scott’s dad, who was itching to ride. We settled on a short ride in Paradise Canyon, just a stones throw from their home. Up, down, all around. It was good to finally be warm and to try to maintain some rock skills that I’d picked up over the weekend.

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We ran into Big Guy Tortoise who was sunning himself under his alcove.

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Then later we ran into a very motivated tortoise who ran me down. I’m pretty sure I was more scared of him than he was of me. He did the same thing to LW. I feel pretty lucky to have run into two of these strange animals on my first ride, especially since I didn’t see any the rest of the week.

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Day 2 brought more of the same. Breakfast. Workie-work. Afternoon ride on the rocks with Scott’s dad.

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City Creek and Owen’s Loop, which isn’t even remotely a loop as far as I can tell, but amazing riding nonetheless.

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And then Scott showed up!

Our first order of business was to go ride and LW was happy to play tour guide on the newly built Suicidal Tendencies.

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I sort of feel like a more appropriate name would have been Team Vertigo.

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We watched a beautiful sunset from the back deck, marveling at how quickly, yet imperceptibly the colors changed in the clouds. St. George is good for sunsets. And I’m good at watching them.

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Tragedy struck that night with Scott getting sick. Being the rational person that he is, he opted to skip riding for the day and loaned me his GPS so I wouldn’t get terribly lost trying to navigate a big loop of trails. I feel like I haven’t ridden solo in a long time and it felt a little strange. Exceptionally strange since I used to only ride solo.

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The ride was going along beautifully until the storm moved in. I realize that in a past life, I may have had tough-girl points, but I’ve ridden in St. George in the rain and I have no intention of ever doing so again. I hightailed it home as fast as my little legs could carry me. I’ll save my HTFU points for sometime when I actually need them.

A double rainbow was a consolation prize to being inside when I was planning on being out pedaling.

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With Scott still sick the next day, I teamed up with LW, Heather, and Kenny for a lap of Zen. It was billed as a session-y type of ride and I think we all rode stuff that scared us. Except for Kenny. I’m pretty sure nothing scared Kenny.

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That afternoon, I made good on a threat of trying to ride Scott’s big bike. We went out with his dad for a lap of Paradise Canyon and I quickly discovered why Scott’s brother had nicknamed the bike the No-fear bike. I few drops took me a couple of roll ups before I could commit to them, but a whole lot of moves that I couldn’t fathom on my other bike went smoothly.

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I think I could get used to big bike geometry and 5 inches of travel.

We took the bike up to Zen the next day. While a few moves still eluded me, a few that I had failed at the day before went and I was down to 3 unrideable sections, with one of them being so close that I almost want to count it as going. The hard part went…I just couldn’t keep the bike going in a straight line at the top.

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It’s a good excuse to come back and ride it again in my book. I can see it all going…if I can just stop clipping my pedals on a biggish step up and (wo)man up and ride the silly drop on the last switchback.

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The fun and games continued at Little Creek the next day. A good crew of LW, DH, Kenny, Heather, and Brian with qualified tour guides. The key was to keep Brian and Kenny in sight and to follow them to a) ride all the cool lines and b) avoid going off the edge of rocks you really don’t want to be going off of.

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I feel like I’ve become awfully good at embracing the slower paced riding of the rock monkey culture, and this group was exceptional in the ability to keep moving through flowing sections and then stopping to play at all the good ones.

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Having LW and Heather there was awesome for pushing limits on moves that I might not have tried or retried on my own. Girls with skills rock.

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Starting to feel the wear and tear of riding all week, I almost welcomed the wind and rainstorm that hit the area on Monday morning. We tried for a morning ride in Paradise but were blown off our bikes. I was ready to call it a rest day.

But then the wind died down, the sun came out, and I couldn’t resist.

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If it wasn’t for the beautiful sunset that just needed to be photographed in all it’s glory, I would have even made it home before dark.

Scott finally woke up feeling better on Tuesday. Well enough to make the drive down to Tucson, but first we needed a re-do on the Paradise ride that we’d been blown off. And really, it’s always better to do a long drive after riding. Or so I say.

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With newly adjusted shock pressures to account for the weight difference between Scott and I and a lowered stem to account for half a foot of hight difference, I’m starting to take back my offer of joint custody of that bike. I may have to selfishly call it mine from here on out. It needs some brake levers that I can actually reach and a saddle that’s actually comfortable, but it’s coming along nicely in its Eszter-ification.

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And so wrapped up a week in the southern Utah desert. We loaded up the Sportsvan and CR-V with a handful of bikes and other stuff and pointed south. The weather was about to get cold, so it was time to move to our new winter home in the desert.

While I’m going to miss the rocks of Dixie, I hear there are rocks to ride in Tucson as well.

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One thought on “A week in St. George

  1. Great trip repor t Ez. You are living the dream. Glad to see the type A racer Ez getting toned down so that the LOVE TO RIDE Ez can be in the present. All those peeps you got to ride with in the past 2 weeks would agree I bet. Good peeps. Cheers.

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