New Bike – Hurricane Riding – Gooseberry & JEM Trails

I got my bike on Thursday at work. It was a little before lunch, and it was just barely within my view of my peripheral vision. It was driving me nuts! Just seeing it all packed up in a big brown box…I had to do something about it, so during my lunch, I freed it! I had it all put together and it went pretty smoothly. I took it for a spin up and down a normally empty hallway a few times. Later that night I took it for a few more test spins after making adjustments in the pool parking lot. I was liking it, but really wanted to try it on a trail….but it was going to have to wait till Saturday.

The bike I purchased was the Motobecane Fantom Elite DS. Overall I think it’s an excellent bike, however the shock combo is a bit weird with their remote lockouts. The rear to be locked has to have the remote switch in the up positino and the front switch has to be down for a full lockout. I love being able to adjust the travel so I can get some air off jumps with a lower travel, or soak up the bumps on the trail with a longer one.

We tried to camp at the Red Cliffs Wilderness CG, and as we pulled through there around 11pm and found nothing open, we disappointedly decided to go to the one spot I knew would be empty, especially on Easter weekend. It’s in an area called Crater Hill – where the Guacamole trail starts up. Nobody was there, except for some coyotes, who weren’t afraid to howl at the full moon and call out to all their buddies in the vicinity.

Our trail of the day where I was going to pop my new bike’s cherry was Gooseberry Mesa. I’d been through a few of the trails a few years ago on my hardtail, and it was a lot of fun. It was even more fun with a full suss. We did the practice loop, came out on the main road, found our way to the point, came back out, did the yellow trail – which is a hoot, did the damn trail section, and came back for some food. We headed back out and did the first stretch of the south trail and called it a day. I was impressed with the handling of the bike. My only complaint is the pedals. I prefer flat pedals, and these were hybrids, so I couldn’t get started in complex areas because I couldn’t get the right side of the pedal when I needed it. Those will soon be ditched. I thought about getting clipless shoes, but I don’t think I want those.

That night we went up to Smith Mesa to check things out up there. It’s where the supersonic test track is for testing ejection seats. It was a USAF proving grounds, but is now a private company’s test site. There were plenty of no trespassing signs, and mentions of video surveillance. It looked like there were tons of areas to camp up there, and it would probably be great in the summer, but it was colder up there and tons of wind. So we went back down and drove part of the JEM trail looking for a site….didn’t really see one. In retrospect, pulling off the road on one of the pullouts and camping there would’ve been just fine. Rather we found our way up on Little Creek Mesa just south of Gooseberry and camped in a quarry. What fun!

Our last day was spent on the JEM trail. It’s a long, boring ride up a gradual slope to the foothills of Gooseberry Mesa, then a riot from there all the way back to the TH. I wish I had a hardtail for that trail. All the jumps and possibilities for air left and right, it was just awesome. The only downside was the cows using the trail for travel when it was muddy, making it pot holed and rough. It probably won’t even be noticeable in a few weeks with enough use.

I just love being down there in an environment with so many bikers. Everyone is just really happy to be out having fun. It’s such a different experience than everyday life. So I’m just asking myself, when am I going back? Soon….very soon. Or maybe to Moab, or Fruita….

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