Wednesday, June 12, 2013

"Is it rideable?"

Long ago, before the interweb bestowed the gift of instantaneous information and the curse of habitual, worthless personal journalism (the needless sharing of Tweets, Facebook status and any other observations that satisfies our need for attention, of which this blog is one), there was this wonderful thing called "experience".  Rather than living vicariously through others photos or comments, you would satisfy your own curiosity about mountain bike trails by either buying a rather rigidly written and possibly outdated guide book or talking to guys in a local bike shop, but in actuality, once you got out on a trail, you were mainly finding out for yourself, especially when it came to the condition of the trail.  And 10 years ago, when I started mountain biking in the South Hills of southern Idaho and the mountains of Central Idaho, I wasted more than a few days "finding out for myself" what kind of shape my favorite trail was in.

It would usually be around this time of year, late May and early June when I would find myself calling my mountain biking buddy J.D. (yes, back in those days we actually called people instead of texting dag-nabbit) asking if he thought 3rd Fork was clear of snow; and did he think Fisher Creek, way up in the shadow of the White Cloud Mountains, was ready to ride?  We never knew for sure, but usually a few calls to the forest service would give us a pretty good idea.

However, now that it's the "information age" when UtahMountainBiking.com's forum has nearly daily trail status updates, it seems to have taken some of the fun out of this guessing game... or has it?

With my repaired knee coming along nicely and my doctor giving me the all clear to resume normal summer activities, I decided Monday that I wanted to mountain bike.  It was hot and windy down here in the valley, and I needed a break from road riding.  Plus, my father-in-law wanted to try out his new 29'er.  I knew Corner Canyon seemed like the best option, but keep in mind, with my ACL tear on December 24th, I have gone over 5 months without quality time in the Wasatch and riding the Wasatch Crest Trail, even just a portion of it, seemed really appealing.  I went to the UtahMountainBiking.com and sure enough, in the forums, someone was inquiring about Wasatch Crest.  What followed became an almost petulant war of egos as so called "authorities" tersely gave their view opinion on when the Wasatch Crest Trail is rideable.  One responder just typed  two words, "Crest July".  Which was of course followed by someone pointing out that last year we were riding the Crest on June 14th.  The cascade of regurgitated data, ranging from Snowtel readings, to photos of Hidden Peak at Snowbird two weeks ago, to a mathematical mean of the last 5 dates on which Crest was rideable.  Do these people have jobs?

So, as I hope we are all realizing in this technologically advanced, a "wealth of information at our fingertips" actually means, "more information that we used to have and a wealth of bullshit and attitude at our fingertips".  Pedal up from Guardsman to the Spine, that was all I was interested in; if I encountered a few snowbanks, fine.  What I found interesting is "Mr. Crest - July" had posted a picture, seemingly just below Scott's Pass of his bike in a snowbank.  Obviously he made it that far, and from Scott's to the Spine, it's all southern exposure, so I figured, what the hell, we'll find out for ourselves.

As soon as I pulled over to the side of the road by the trailhead, a dark, expensive looking sportwagon pulled up beside me and rolled down his window.  The driver, in a slim fitting, black polo shirt and pair of Tifosi sunglasses (which told me he was a rider) had something he wanted to ask me (always beware of people who go out of their way to talk to you, I'll give you my evidence on that in a later blog).  "What's up?" I asked.  "Do you think it's rideable?"  It was the way he asked it.  It was less a query and more a derisive statement, as if mocking me?  What the hell?  I should have told him to go back to trolling on UtahMountainBiking.com and leave me alone, but instead I paused, shrugged my shoulders and said, "Probably not, but we'll just ride up to the pass and check things out."  "Yeah, I don't think it's rideable," and he drove away.

Look dude, I'm sorry you had to spend your Monday driving around in your Audi or whatever overpriced version of an Outback you had, but I had nothing going on today, so rather than sweat my ass of among 25 other bikers down in Corner Canyon, I chose to come up here.  Sorry if you're jealous.  He did however give us a nice mantra for the ride... "Is it rideable?"

Turns out the trail was exactly what I expected in terms of conditions.  Wet in the trees at the beginning, a few big snowbanks to cross at the top and clear of snow and dry to the Spine, 9 miles out and back. You guys can keep bitching back and forth on the forum, I'll keep pedaling.


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