Issue #9 : Aug 2018
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July Night Trial at Grand Lake
UTE Cup - Adventures in Checking - by Jon Stoodley
The Ute Cup is an endurance Trial to a degree, with loops sometimes up to 25 miles but the loop is beautiful and not like the Scott Trial in the U.K. where the loop is sometimes a lot more difficult than the sections. It’s a wonderful ride in the mountains in some of the most beautiful scenery in the U.S. (the altitude can range from a little over 8000 ft. to about 13,000 ft. ) and the sections are generally set for a NEOTT Senior-Amateur/Intermediate level and I’ve never seen any I wouldn’t at least try my hand at. There are no splits in the sections; all riders ride the same lines. Riders ride two loops each day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon and the sections are usually different from Saturday to Sunday. The event is held in different parts of the state each year and this year it will be on The Rainbow Trial near Salida.
As it’s sometimes a long and arduous event you will want your bike to be in top shape, properly jetted for the altitude and the cooling system serviced as cooling systems are not as efficient at altitude. You will need a spark arrestor and a Colorado Off-Road permit (usually obtainable on site) and all-weather riding gear. First time riders don’t realize it can get really cold in the mornings at that altitude. I remember rolling out of bed one morning at La Garita to put on my gear and it was 28 degrees outside. Most riders carry a backpack with them on the loop with extra tools, parts and gas just in case.
I’ve had a lot of adventures checking the event. One year I was the last one down the mountain from my section at the Rainbow Trail and it had started to really rain. At one point, the single track trail had been washed out on the side of the steep mountain side (straight up one side of the trail and straight down the other side) so I had to gun it and loop up the side of the muddy wall so I would slide down to catch the trail on the other side but I made it! Happy to have survived, I pinned it down the trail towards a bush and tight blind turn and upon making the turn ran straight into a HUGE horse’s face, causing me to run up the side of the wall, burning my leg on the exhaust pipe in the process. I had run into the first of a four horse pack train. The horse rider behind the lead pack horse profusely apologized, saying that he believed that all the riders were off the mountain. I was more careful of what I might possibly meet on the rest of the way to camp.
Then there was the time I had a beautiful running creek section next to a great meadow at La Garita and in between loops, here comes a herd of wandering cattle that thought they would try my section out and ended up totally trashing it. After they all wandered off, I had to re-string all the tape and re-set the signs before the next wave of riders appeared. I gave all of the cows a “5”……….Oh, and then there was the invasion of the Marauding Black Bears at another Ute Cup that was a lot more comical than dangerous.
Pretty consistently, around 3 in the afternoon it is normal for a thunderstorm to show up, throw a bunch of lightening, thunder, rain and/or pea-sized hail around for a short time and then disappear. One time I had a first-time young helper with me and explained all the nuances of checking to him along with the forecast of a coming short storm that will be there at 3pm (which he thought was silly as it was clear and sunny). Sure enough, in the afternoon, a storm dropped rain and small hail all over our section and then evaporated and I told him to check his watch. “Its 3:10!” he exclaimed. After that, he thought I was a magician for sure.
The time I get to spend up in the mountains between loops is some of the most peaceful and regenerating I have ever experienced. The wind through the pines and the scenery are spectacular. I love meeting old friends from all over the U.S. that come to the Cup as well as some friends from other parts of the world that occasionally ride the event. If you can make Colorado the third weekend in August, you will have lifetime memories, trust me, I know……
NEOTT rides the UTE Cup - 2018
- Central Regional Trials Championship Series resuming:
-- Sept 15\16 Trenton, MO
-- Sept 29\30 Sedan, KS
-- Oct 13\14 Camp Gruber, OK
-- Nov 10\11 Gilmore, TX
- NeottNews Sooner Cup Special Edition written by Rick Land (winner of the first Sooner Cup) will be out Oct 2nd. You don't want to miss this one!
- If anyone wants to write up a short story or a tall tale send it to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll get it added.