Earlier this summer, for reasons I won't get into I lost my mountain bike. About a month ago I worked out a trade with AmyZ for her old Rocky Mountain, as she just bought a new one. Today I finally got around to outfitting it with new Shimano SPD pedals, etc.
It's a 2001. The paint's in rough shape (AmyZ, how many times did you fall??) but it's otherwise in great condition. Much of it is still stock but AmyZ upgraded the front brakes to disc.
After installing the pedals, bottle cages and cyclocomputer it was nearly 4pm. What to do? We were under a Severe Thunderstorm Watch issued by the NWS until 9pm, but the radar showed a good break in the weather. The Pipeline Trail is a popular mountain bike route in Millcreek Canyon right behind my house. I decided to do a "cheater's" Pipeline by having Mrs. Admin drive me to the eastern trailhead and I'd ride back home from there. Pipeline is mostly flat, but riding it from east to west means that the switchbacks in the middle and Rattlesnake Gulch at the end are both downhill. Catching a shuttle also eliminates the long climb up canyon to reach the eastern trailhead.
Pipeline's trail surface varies widely along its 7.5-mile length. Most of it is in forest with smooth, rich soil for a bed, while at other times it's quite gravelly with sharp, loose rock. Many of the latter areas are accompanied by a steep drop-off to the left where you really, really
don't want to slip over the edge. Some of those spots were made frighteningly narrow, too, by old landslides and wash-outs.
Halfway through Pipeline, just past Burch Hollow, the trail drops via a few steep switchbacks to a lower level, then continues on at a steady contour again. Leaves are already starting to turn around here, but that probably has much more to do with the bone-dry summer we've had than it does with the date on the calendar.
I had originally planned to ride Pipeline as far as Rattlesnake Gulch (which is appropriately named, by the way) and descend to the canyon road, but upon reaching the trail junction I decided instead to press on to Pipeline's dead end at the Salt Lake Overlook, then double back to Rattlesnake Gulch to descend afterward.
As the terrain became more open weather began to form to my west, and a ferocious westerly wind developed, channeled into an even stiffer breeze by the canyon mouth. It was easily blowing a steady 30 with higher gusts, making those occasional drop-offs even more "sporting."
Rattlesnake Gulch has a couple of steep moments just below Pipeline that are a hair above my skill level (Edit:
I now understand why -- it's rated red!
), but it quickly mellows into a far more reasonable descent back to the road. A few moments later I was back home, really pleased with the new bike. I was surprised at how empty the trail was for a Saturday, too -- I hardly saw anyone -- but I guess that a lot of people got out of Dodge for the holiday weekend.
It was a quick 11.9-mile ride, 9.35 miles of which took place on singletrack. And as I post this, yellows, pinks, reds and purples are blossoming on radar as a severe thunderstorm marches across the Oquirrh Mountains and across the Salt Lake Valley toward us. It should be storming here in just a few more minutes.