The first section was a climb along the gravel road I ride for training–the one that goes by the ski hill. So far so good. After two miles of climbing, it turns left to a serpentine singletrack (that’s mtb speak for skinny trail that winds through the grass and small climbs so closely together that you can’t see more than 20 feet in front of you at one time) that weaves along the peak of the mountain. And that was my first tourist moment–the view was stunning. Everything was lush and green and springy up there–though the mosquitos kept us moving.
I love mountains–I hope you know that by now. In fact, that’s my one requirement for a future home–it better be near some mountains. But I’ve lived in this area for six years now, and I’ve never seen those mountains from that viewpoint. I was loving the ride before we even got to mile 5.
The trail connects with another trail which connects with another trail, which … to be honest, it all kind of blends together in my mind, but somehow we ended up screaming down some extremely twisty trails, some of which lined up against old barbed-wire fences (who builds a fence in the middle of the forest like that?), and some of which led through mud and slop to the edge of a small stream trickling through the valley. The course included three separate stream crossings–one of which submerges your bottom bracket–before it kicks you over a footbridge, on to a hiking path and then you’re spit back onto another gravel road climb.
Up the road, you hit the info booth fork, turn left, and then you’re on the part of the course I knew–the switchback climb that leads to some kind of radio tower. In two or three sections, the gradient gets steep enough that you don’t dare leave your seat for fear the bike will roll over backwards. And the craziest part of the climb is that even when you think you’re at the top, there’s more climbing to go before you get to the tower. But when you get there–provided you have time to look–it’s a breath-taking view of Teton Valley and the mountains above it. I think it’s all part of Targhee National Forest.
You round some more singletrack and eventually throws you headlong into this hairy descent–starting with a batch of shale just to shake your nerves up a little. The Moose Run descent was probably the most intimidating part of the trail, and when we did it on Friday I collected a batch of cow dung up my leg on the way down.
At the bottom of the descent, we found a rider out surveying the course backwards. Interestingly enough, when he found out Jason was racing Expert and I wasn’t, the guy didn’t even acknowledge my presence. No shame, I suppose.
As we parted company, Jason turned to me and said, "I think this is probably the most dangerous mountain bike course I’ve ever ridden." And that made me feel a little hesitant about signing up. After all, I do have a wife and unborn kid to think about
You’d think Moose Run would be the end of it, but then the course takes you across this section of grass that–believe me, I rode there a few weeks ago–really isn’t a trail, but is rather a mess of rocks and fallen trees before you hit the bottom of the ski slope. The last little bit includes the freakiest descent of them all–a steep drop right into the stream for one last splash and then over a jump onto some slippery gravel. Yeah, I walked it.
Unfortunately, my bad luck streak continued when I went over a railroad crossing too fast on the way home from the trail Friday night and wrecked the passenger side brake. For a while, I thought I might have to pull out the bike, leave the car behind and ride home.
But that’s not what happened …