1 July, 2017
Shortly after Jamie got here motorcycle license, I took her on a dual sport ride through some of the canyons near our home. I just completed a similar loop, this time with Jason, since Jamie was off backpacking in Yellowstone.
We left home at about 10:30 AM and rode up Big Cottonwood Canyon. Being a Saturday on a holiday weekend, the canyon was extremely crowded. The traffic was moving slowly, which allowed us time to enjoy the scenery.
We rode around the Brighton loop, then headed up towards Guardsman Pass and over to Midway.
We took a short detour into town to buy fuel, then started on the Mill Canyon dirt road from Midway to Tibble Fork Reservoir (Snake Creek Road).
The lower portion of the road was very wash-boarded and covered in small, black gravel. That made the surface very slippery – especially since we had more air in our tires than normal, since most of our ride would be on pavement.
Jason has been trying to learn how to ‘drift’ his motorcycle around corners. He finally got the back end to break loose – but with the loose conditions, his rear tire slid out from under him. He went down fast and hard, but luckily nothing was hurt other than his pride. I had the GoPro running, but unfortunately a tree blocked my view of the actual crash.
To spice up our ride a little bit, we took a side spur road called Big Flat (#420) which climbed up the mountain to the Ridge Trail (#157). Big Flat was fairly steep and rutted, and there were a lot of trees hanging over the ‘clean’ side of the road. The road wasn’t too difficult, but it would be a challenge for beginners.
We stopped half way up for lunch and enjoyed the views from the shade of some Aspen trees (“You can tell that it’s an Aspen tree because the way it is”).
After lunch, we began our single-track adventure. I had never before ridden this portion of the Ridge Trail. The trail here is narrower than the more popular sections farther south. It also had more side hill exposure than some other sections (but not as much as the middle section near Forest Lake).
Whenever I ride single track after riding pavement, I struggle for a while. The riding technique is different, and it takes me a while to adapt. On pavement, you mostly sit and twist the throttle. On narrow single track, you need to do a lot more maneuvering and maintain good balance while you try to pick the cleanest line. Thus, this trail was a bit spooky for me and Jason. I think if we did our normal pre-dirt warm-up drills we would have done much better. It would have also helped if we let a little air out of our tires. We didn’t really have any problems on the trail, but we rode slower than usual, which requires even more effort to maintain balance. Even though we were a bit nervous, we enjoyed the trail and the scenery from the trail.
The single-track crosses the dirt road from Tibble Fork near Pole Line Pass. We didn’t have time to ride more of the single-track, so we opted to ride the dirt road. For me, this was by far the scariest part of our ride due to all of the ATVs and side-by-sides on the road. The dust was very thick and some them were going way too fast for a crowded holiday weekend.
Last year they did some major renovation to the dam at Tibble Fork Reservoir. The reservoir is now much deeper and larger. And it is a lot more popular. The parking lot was full and there were cars parked along the side of the road. The beach was packed, and there were dozens of people out on the lake in their kayaks and stand-up paddle boards.
From here it was pavement back to home. The ride down American Fork Canyon was enjoyable, but you could feel the heat rise as you approached the valley.
We returned home at about 3:30 PM, covering approximately 95 miles.
Here are some videos from our ride:
Part 1 – Big Cottonwood Canyon to Big Flat
Part 2 – The Ridge Trail single-track
Part 3 – Pole Line Pass, Tibble Fork, and American Fork Canyon