Posted May 11, 2005
Feeling at home in the OHV area

I feel good about riding in Off Highway Vehicle areas. In places where people drive Jeeps through creeks and shoot at the No Shooting signs, we mountain bikers have a very low impact.

The kind of riding we're capable of -- especially with downhill bikes -- just isn't compatible with shared-use trails. Heck, even when you slow to walking pace, some Audubon types still freak out. At Left Hand Canyon, where the trails are gnarly and so are the trail users, we're not seen as an abomination; we're seen as a curiosity.

So yes. Let's ride bikes in OHV areas. The motos and ATV riders get in our way on the downhills, but they're usually pretty impressed when you braaap past their XR400s on a Demo 8. They understand what we're after, and if anything they feel sorry for our finely muscled but self-propelled butts.

The Left Hand Canyon OHV area is just few miles outside Boulder, CO. It consists of two drainages with eroded Jeep trails splashing through the valley floors, rocky trails skirting the ridge lines and rutted trails plummeting down the slopes. Riding a bicycle here requires a lot of hiking, but the descents are deliciously intense. And they're legal. And we can ride how we like without scaring anyone.

Yesterday a group of us hiked up Carnage Canyon (that's the real name) then hung a right 1,400 vertical feet to an 8,000-foot ridge. The trail on top is wide and very rocky, with about 89 potential lines per square meter. We sessioned a couple spots on the way up then pinned it on the way down.

The endless rock gardens challenged us to find perfect rhythm. Fast corners gave us that G-loving feeling. And the final descent through Carnage Creek kept us bouncing and slipping (but not unclipping!).

In the end we hiked for about an hour and descended for about 10 minutes on some very DH-worthy trails. When we rode through the shooting range everyone stopped shooting, and when we railed past some 4x4s the drivers nodded approvingly. In this OHV area, downhill mountain bikers are about as bothersome as bird watchers.


Walking up Carnage Canyon.

Stop and behold the grandeur -- and the goofballs.

When you reach the top, you're really up there.
 

Elliot interrupts the hike for a little root gap.

Patrick style. He just sold an Intense M1 downhill bike and bought this Giant Reign, and he's stoked with the smaller bike.

The ridgetop trail provides plenty of loft potential. Elliot.

"Dude, sorry I missed that shot. Do you mind hiking up again?"
 

Tammy tells Elliot why she missed her shot -- he jumped above the frame!

Mmmm ... rocks.

Wiley rocks it.

The view is awesome, but all Wiley sees are rocks. Rock cocktail, rock gumbo, rock ke-bobs ...
 

Pat porpoised through the section with ultra speed. It was all good until he flatted.

Elliot sets up for some funny business.

Talk about being light over the rocks ...

Wiley with some nice body English.
 

Pat deals with that flat. Weird: The Maxle on his new Pike fork got stuck, so he couldn't remove his wheel. 1-800-WALK-DOWN.

My new Demo 8 skirts its first rock garden.

Me, balanced on the pedals, ready for anything.

Stay on the pedals, extend the front end and let that Fox 40 work its magic. My bike felt awesome on this stuff. Oh, and it weighs less than 38 pounds! Detailed review to come.
 

My name is Elliot, and I'm about to crash hard.

On the way down we hit this crazy saturated dirt. It looked normal, but it sent Elliot over his bars at full speed. He's curled in a ball beyond that last bike. Wiley slowed down but still got catapulted. Tammy got the same treatment. I saw it all going down and stayed safe.

Wiley's wheel, axle-deep in the muck.


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Here's more info about Left Hand Canyon.

We also enjoy riding at Pawnee Grassland (shown below).

Fight terrorism: spend money!



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