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Thunder Mountain Trail and More Interbike Adventures

September 26th, 2011

Riding the knife edge ridges of Thunder Mountain

Each year every one that is any one in the bike industry packs up and makes the pilgrimage to Sin City, Nevada (otherwise known as Las Vegas). Our bike team here at Osprey Packs is no exception as we plan for months to join the week long flurry of activity that can make or break next year’s sales numbers. Even though the show is an absolute blast and a bike lover’s paradise, it can be very stressful with all of the business appointments, late night dinners and endless hours standing on a concrete floor.¬†Our team of trade show warriors is experienced enough to know that the best way to survive the chaos of Interbike is to step onto that floor still reveling in the endorphins from an outstanding ride.

Each year we make it a point to schedule some riding time pre-show to get everyone in the right mindset. Trails such as Gooseberry Mesa, Gem Trail and the singletrack loops at Bootleg Canyon have made our short list for previous trade show “attitude adjusters”. This year we decided to go a little out of the way and tackle the Thunder Mountain Trail near Bryce Canyon, Utah. The buildup to the ride was intense as I had been hyping the trail to no end based on a memory of riding it years ago. Was it as great as I had remembered? Would everyone else think I was nuts for driving hours out of our way for this one trail?

Balanced Rock on Thunder Mountain Trail

Leaving Cortez early Saturday morning the weather was perfect and anticipation was high for some pre-show riding but as we drove down Utah Hwy 89 toward the trail head, conditions quickly deteriorated. The Sprinter van windshield wipers couldn’t keep up with the buckets of rain dropping from the dark clouds hovering over the mountains. The mood became somber as we all hoped that a miracle would happen and the clouds would part in the next 10 miles.

Our wishes were thankfully answered as the rain stopped and some blue sky appeared. At the trailhead we nervously changed into cycling gear knowing that our window of riding weather was going to be very short. After 6 or 7 miles of paved bike path, we hit the singletrack and all cares in the world were gone. Thunder Mountain is one of those trails that forces you to make a decision. The single track is so good that you are tempted to put your head down and charge full speed ahead, enjoying the banked turns, rolling jumps and narrow ridges but the scenery is so spectacular that you want to look around and enjoy the red soil, towering hoodoos, and gnarled ancient trees. A decision must be made though, because trying to find a balance between the two can result in a crash with severe consequences. I found the best way to roll was to hit it hard, grinning from ear to ear while focusing on the trail ahead and then stop at the high points to regroup and take it all in. Even though the skies around us were dark with clouds and thunder was rumbling in the distance, we managed to complete the journey in a window of clear weather. With a deep feeling of satisfaction, we loaded back into the Sprinter van and aimed West for Las Vegas in a much better mood than we would have been without an outstanding ride.

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