Here are a few pics from the last and worst ride of my life – yes, it HAS been nearly 8 months since I’ve hit the trails.  Insert sad face here.  I had to visit UT on a work trip way back in June, so I decided to bring my bike along and make a short stop in Park City.  I visited and decided to try the IMBA Epic.  It looked like it would be a challenging climb that would offer some great views and a rippin’ downhill once I got to the top.

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above: I parked my car at a bike shop in town and peddled to the trail head using the mtbproject app as my guide.  Without a handlebar mount for my cell phone, I missed a few turns on the unfamiliar city streets, adding a little bit of distance to what IMBA says is a 26.4 mile ride.

below: Once I found the trail head, I got into an easy going peddling groove and paced myself for a 10 mile climb up to 9,900 feet.

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above: Aspens lining the Armstrong trail on my way up.  Armstrong is open to cyclists traveling uphill only.

below: The barren slopes of Park City waiting for winter.

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above: Shortly after making this turn, my left foot began to feel like it was floating all over its pedal.  I finally had to stop to see what was going on and I discovered that my Time pedal had blown a ball-bearing which was allowing my pedal body to completely come off the spindle.  Not wanting to turn around and give up on the ride, I decided to keep going and concentrate on my pedal stroke to ensure my foot would not slip off the spindle.

below: After a grueling climb that nearly bonked me close to the top, the views below were mine! For the last half mile of the climb, my calves tightened up and threatened to completely give up if I pushed any harder. I had to walk a bit, but the push was worth it, or so I thought.

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Shortly after the picture above was taken, the thunder clouds which were once on the horizon continued rolling in and started pouring down rain. I got my phone out one last time before I left the views to make sure I was headed in the right track and peddled on with one foot barely attached to the crank.  After the first half mile of a nearly 10 mile descent, I new I was in trouble.  The thunder and rain were not letting up and my face was getting pelted with grit flying off the front tire.  To make it worse, the rocks and roots forced me to slow to snail like speeds in order for me to not wash out.  After a few miles of rolling in the stream of water running down the middle of the single track, I stopped to double check my phone again for direction.  Ever tried to use a touch screen that is wet?  Don’t bother!  Ever tried to dry a cell phone screen while standing in pouring rain completely soaked head to heels in water and mud?  Don’t bother!

After several fruitless attempts to check my whereabouts, I gave up and continued down the trail, avoiding any trails that branched off in other directions.  After giving up on the idea of not getting too dirty, I had to embrace the mud that quickly covered me from head to toe.  What should have been a 20 minute ripping descent turned into a painful 1 hour crippled ride down the mountain.  Once I got near the bottom, I found a fire road to bail on and headed straight to my car after being defeated by the mountain.

The trails and scenery in Park City were incredible and I hope to return someday – hopefully I’ll have better luck with the weather.  Had I not had to work earlier in the day, I could have avoided being on the mountain in the late afternoon.

below: Good beer is really hard to find in UT.  Great beer is even harder to find!  If you are ever searching, stop by Epic Brewing and pick up some bombers of their Exponential Series.  I had the Sour Apple Saison (which left me wanting more tartness – I’m a huge sour fan) and the Smoked and Oaked.  Both were very well done and left me wanting to sample more.

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