Posted June 22, 2004
Keystone DH and jump jam

Keystone opened for DH last weekend, and you know I was all over it.

The trails
A variety of trails, from "green" fire roads to "blue" singletracks to "black" rock gardens, wind from the top of the Summit Express chair at 11,640 feet down to the base down around 9,300 feet. That, my friends, is 2,300 feet of potential energy sure to satisfy anyone who's reasonably decent on a bike.

I spent most of the day on the "downhill course," which combined tight trees, unruly rocks, sneaky switchbacks, mellow jumps, G-force berms and all-out speed. Depending on the group and my fatigue, it took me 16 to 28 minutes to get down. By my seventh run I was definitely wrung out, and my knuckes swelled into a full-on Anacin 3 arthritis commercial. It was great fun and excellent training: technical, flowy, faaaaast and plenty of pedaling.

On the last run (nobody actually said it was the last run) a group of us railed some fire roads and blue and green trails. Mosquito Coast and the others made for a swoopy good time. We just flowed along, resting our hands in a long train. The Demo 9 was overkill but perfect for a guy who's too tired to pick lines. On my next visit I'll explore more blue runs on my Enduro.

The crews
Since I was there as a freelancer, I tagged onto various groups throughout the day.

Young Billy De La Croix, a moto demon and a great dirt jumper, sure can get down a DH trail! I kept him in sight (mostly) because I pedaled harder than he did, but he made time on me in every corner and over every rock. Impressive. You just watch: This 15-year-old will be winning big races. If you're a local pro, I'd consider getting him into cars and marijuana. That could be your only hope.

A couple runs with Dave Ygnatew and Marc Ciufolo reminded me what I want to be when I grow up: Fast dude, super smooth rider and all-around cool person. They were sporting the new Lenz Sport Pro Descenders, which seemed to be doing the job. On that last run we diced Reebock Eliminator style down some faaast fire roads, which I haven't done since like '93, when Reebok launched racers down the Mammoth Kamikaze four at a time. Side note: Miles Rockwell won that race. He's now facing charges for growing pot. "Here Billy, you want some of this? ..."

I finally got to ride with Shawnee McGovern, who co-owns The Fix bike shop in Boulder. He isn't the fittest person on the Front Range, but he can definitely ride a bike. This is etched in my memory: My aching fingers on the brakes, Shawnee hunched low on his bike, flitting through the trees, the "Shawnee Mac" on his jersey getting smaller and smaller.

A quick rant
I arrived that morning impatient and ready to ride. I'd been working hard all week, obsessing about my book manuscript and waking up in the middle of the night to make changes. I haven't felt this wound up since I wore a tie and kissed a CEO's ass on a daily basis. It was a full-on type-A day: I was in no mood to wait for anyone, including myself. Shoot, I was sick of hearing myself talk to myself. I just wanted to ride fast enough to make myself shut up.

On the first run I was leading a train down a rocky fire road, and this guy stood next to a flat tire imprisoned by a through-axle.

"Hey, do you have any Allen wrenches?"

"Yes." I stopped. Damn. He pulled off his CamelBak. "You mean to tell me you don't have wrenches in that thing?" He removed his wheel and I said, what do you say you give me my tools, install your tire then borrow someone else's tools to put your wheel back on? He was like, I don't have tire levers; can I keep your tool and leave it somewhere for you? I was like, hell no, I don't want to be the tool-less idiot. He seemed like a fumbling bumbler, so I changed the tire for him and got back on my way.

Ordinarily I'm all about helping people on the trail. It's just that I was so impatient that day, and I felt like he should have been prepared.

1) If you're out riding, especially DH-style with XC tires, bring enough tools to take care of yourself.

2) If you decide not to carry supplies because it's more comfortable or you feel like you can rip better, that's fine. Just expect to walk if you flat.

3) If you encounter someone who needs help, stop and help -- even if he's an idiot and you're a type-A jerk.

Hurling stones inside a glass house: Not an hour after I wrote this rant, I was out riding XC, and my bike was making a terrible clanking noise. I checked all the normal trouble spots, and they were fine. Oh well, I thought, and kept riding down the rocky descent to the car. At home I discovered my front brake caliper bolts were only a few threads from falling out! I guess the tools are useless if you don't know what to do with them. ...

Jump jam a-riffic
Here's a report and photos from our correspondent Mark Caminiti, who's nursing a sprained wrist but isn't afraid to talk to pretty dirt-jumper girls.

The first annual jump jam at River Run launched Keystone's summer season opening weekend with flair, panache and, yes, even some style from the ladies. Backflipping phenom Hannah Steffens was showing off her street/dj skill with footplants on the box jump and tasty trials moves on the flats, all while nursing a broken wrist. Steffens is truly a nice girl, and her personality and charm are almost matched by her bike skills. Oh yeah, there were other participants: not just bike supermodels.

The mostly all-colorado male contingent included Jeremy Hagerman, Matt Sutton, Lindsay Emor, Luke Wright, Drew Gibson, and Josh Hubbard. The course had a box jump, log-approach trialsy skinny line and a quarter pipe that rotated forward and back like a roller coaster. The box jump was clearly the preferred apparatus, with riders throwing 360's, supermans, nac nacs, can cans, stalls, tailwhips, manuals and plenty of no footers and no handers to boot.

The family-oriented crowd clearly enjoyed the event, which had the atmosphere of an informal shred session at the skatepark or dirt jumps. Althouth the jump jam was not a contest, Hagerman's 360 on the box jump was the highlight of the show.

Hannah Stephens with the foot plant.

Dirt boarding! I encountered these guys on the DH course, and they were getting the job done.

Jeremy Hagerman spins some of that 360 action.

Nuts and bolts
Keystone is only a couple hours from Boulder. Here's a map.

One bike haul costs $12. All day costs $28. I got eight runs; $3.50 per run rocks me harder than two-for-one Gatorade.


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