Slippery rocks and frozen eyeballs: a first descent

The trail was new, the snow was flying and the crew was solid. A tale of steep footsteps, clogged cleats and jumbly flow.

Hey man, hiking counts.

Brian, Will, Farid, Brett and Jon.

Apologies for the bad photos. It was dark, and my point-and-shoot hated the cold.

An elite selection of badasses and non-whiners. I’m neither, but I organized the ride, so I got to go.

Left Hand Canyon OHV Area, just outside Boulder, CO. I love riding here because 1) the terrain is steep and wrinkly, and 2) rather than apologizing to hikers, equestrians and slower riders, I’m sharing the fun with motos, ATVs and 4x4s.

The goal: Exit this turn so fast you coast up the next rise. Jon gets close.

The new singletrack swings off a 4×4 spur high on the mountain and swoops down to the access road near the bottom of the park. It mixes gradual and steep, smooth and rocky, open and tight — but it’s mostly steep, rocky and tight.

And it’s brand new.

Most of the climb can be pedaled, but enough can’t that I walked the whole thing. Hiking is great cross training, right? Jon and Will pedaled most of it. Jerks. Add that to the goal list.

As we worked our way up the hill, the sandy soil soaked up the light snow. At LHC, wetter is better, and the traction promised to be heroic.



We sessioned a series of jumbly chutes, linked turns, rocky notches and Santa Cruz-esque roller coasters. The rocks and roots were slick, but the dirt was prime. You could brake as hard as you want (no thanks), and you could corner as hard as you want (yes please!).

The main limiting factor was snow-clogged cleats. I wanted an LED on my stem: red when I’m unclipped, yellow when my foot’s on the pedal, green when I’m clipped in. When we mounted up for each new section it was red, yellow … yellow … yellow, green. Go!

Jon finds a man line.


Best to let it roll.

The tongue is often overlooked as a point of control. Brian.

Will applies his pump track skills to the real world.



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