Bootleg Canyon – Jan. 2008

{ Thursday February 14th, 2008 }

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Nik called me the day before I was supposed to board a plane bound for Las Vegas. We had been planning this trip to Bootleg Canyon in Boulder City for a month and I was ready to leave the cold and snow of the Minnesota winter behind and get some DH time in on some dirt that didn’t require that I clear it of snow first. Nik was calling to tell me that a huge storm was rolling into Santa Barbabra. The streets were flooded and the stoplights were out. More omnious for us were the tales of 8 inches of snow that had fallen on the mountians outside of town. “If it’s snowing in SB, it’ll definately be snowing in Bootleg.”, Nik told me. Nik has many skills but thankfully meterology isn’t one of them. When I landed in Vegas the skies were clear and the temps were in the 50s. Coming from the frozen north it felt positively tropical.

P1010005.jpg While Bootleg Canyon has excellent XC trails including a IMBA Epic ride, we were there for the DH action. The local bike shop All Mountain Cyclery runs a shuttle on the weekends but since we had had problems with the reliability of the shuttle vehicle and also since we wanted to ride on Monday and the shuttle only runs on the weekends, we decided to rent a pickup truck and run some hot laps with each of us taking turns driving.

The first day there were no signs of the storms brewing to the west of us and we were greeted with perfect winter riding conditions; bluebird skies, temperature in the high 50s and most importantly, no wind. The terrain at Bootleg ranges from technical, is-this-really-a-trail type terrain, to fast flowy, carveing-the-ridges type sections at the bottom. We spent the day reacquainting ourselves with the trails and getting used to the alternately grippy rocks and loose dirt. Near the end of the day Nik and Brady dropped into the upper section of Ginger. The trail was so exposed and steep in some sections that they questioned whether it could be ridden clean. We ended the day riding the jump park until it was too dark to be safe.

We awoke on day two to the sounds of rain outside our hotel room. By the time we had finished breakfast the rain had ceased but the air was damp and the clouds hug low. Getting to the top of the downhill trails requires a ten minute hike-a-bike. The clouds were thick and five minutes into the push we could no longer see the truck or the road. Rounding the last corner we were met with a fierce wind. The fog made it difficult to let the bike run in the open sections as the tech sections would jump out at me with little to no warning. As the day progressed the fog burned off and the wind picked up. As long as I kept my wheels on the ground the wind didn’t pose much of a problem.

The run of the day was Armaggedon to Snakeback to Diva. Armaggedon starts off with some rocky tech carved out of the side of the hill. The first move is the “Toliet Bowl” a tight left hard turn over steep rock. Armaggedon gives way to Snakeback right before a small drop which can be tricky when the wind is blowing. The entrance to Diva comes in the middle of a loose right hand turn that was preceded by a extended loose straightshot. Upon entering Diva, the rocky tech is left behind and is replaced with ridgeline trails that are fast with flowing banked turns that are broken only the occational braking bump and random rock garden. On the last run of the day my connected with a trail-side rock. I hit it hard enough that it blew my foot off the pedal and my toe went momentarily numb. Unfortunately the numbness didn’t last long.

On Day 3 the wind came. It started strong and kept growing stronger. Any time our wheels left the ground we were in danger of being blown off the trail. On my last run I had to maintain a 45 degree lean into the wind to keep from being blown off the ridgeline trails. Every bump mashed my swollen big toe against the front of my shoe. It was unpleasant and I called it quits after two runs.

The wind was blowing so hard that I had to find an indoor spot to break down the bike. We had already checked out of the hotel and I wasn’t excited about the prospect of packing the bike up in the airport parking ramp. Luckily the bathrooms at the at the trails was pretty spacious. So while the wind howled outside I got the v-10 broken down and packed up in under 25 minutes; a new record for me.

While the wind sandblasted our cars in the parking lot, Brady, Nik and I said goodbye. It was our most successful Bootleg trip to date in terms of most runs completed and most fun had. I look forward to returning next winter.

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