If at all possible, it’s a good idea to take a few days before a big trip to get acclimated. Feel the pulse of the land, get used to the temperatures, and make sure you’re mentally switched on. For the Grand Canyon trip our permit started Tuesday, which allowed for a perfect acclimation period. I left work Friday afternoon, camped on the Montana/Idaho border, and made a friends house in Cedar City by mid-afternoon. We hung out, ate some fantastic Mexican food for dinner (something which really doesn’t exist up here), and drank some beer (Utah microbrews are becoming quite impressive). Sunday I hiked Mystery in Zion, which solo ends up being a pretty casual five hours. I camped out at Little Creek that night, and rode one of the best mountain bike trails in the world Monday morning. That afternoon I met Brendan, we ran the car shuttle, and got ready to go backpacking.
It’s not practical to run a single-subject trial, but I think those leisurely days helped ready me for everything on the trip, immediately. It was a good use of vacation days.
It had been not quite six years since I’d last rode at Little Creek, and the first time I’d put the Mukluk tires to slickrock. In contrast to a lot of things, like the approach trail into Mystery, not much has changed at Little Creek. There are trail signs now, but the trail is as chunky, and in places hard to follow, as ever. The road in gets used plenty, but requires a bit of care in the passenger car. Internet beta exists, but not on the level of Gooseberry, the neighbor to the north. And the slickrock camping at the vague TH is still free, unregulated, and awesome.
Little Creek has always been a great singlespeed trail, full of short stingers and power moves. Traction on the rough, soft sandstone is unbelievable, and fat tires only enhance that. After the first mile I aired the rear tire back up, as the level of grip I was getting at that level was excessive.
Singlespeed fatbikes are not practical creatures, especially with a wheelset that fully kitted with tires, slime tubes, rotors, etc weighs 16 pounds. Like singlespeeds generally bikes like mine serve fun more purely than anything else. Which made it perfectly suited to this ride. I didn’t go far or long, but I never questioned my choice to go biking that day instead of something else. It’d be a highlight of the year thus far if it hadn’t been overshadowed by what immediately followed.
It’s a vast, wonderful world out there.