Sunday, April 6, 2008

More Hell Raising in Heber

This weekend, my 9 month old was getting fussy enough that my wife thought it was time to take him to a kid insta-care to get him checked out. The closest clinic to us is in SLC, about 45 miles from our place in Midway. So I did what any good father would do in this situation. I helped the wife load up the kids, sent them off to the doctor, grabbed my gear, and went on a ride.

I mapped out a route on Google Maps that took me from Midway to Francis, up and over to Lake Creek Road, through Heber, and back to my place in Midway. I wasn't sure if I'd find a paved route leading out of Francis, so I decided to take the mtb. On my way through Francis, I ran into a guy and his son who were out on a stroll. I asked the guy if he knew of a way I could ride over to Heber. He thought for a while, and said that most of the roads are covered in snow, but I could head up to "Wolf Creek Resort" and take a right. He explained it would be a big climb, but it would eventually take me over to Heber. He also said something like, "on a day like today, there shouldn't be anyone there and you can ride right through."

I was all set. I followed his directions to Wolf Creek Resort and found a gate, a guard station, and a no trespassing sign. I looked in the guard station, and sure enough, nobody home. I briefly considered turning back, but instantly came up with numerous justifications for why I should keep going:
1) That guy was a local. Surely he wouldn't tell me to break a rule/law, right?
2) There are a lot of gates that block canyons in the winter. Mill Creek, Big Mountain, Alpine Loop, etc., but none of them are meant to keep bikes out. This gate was probably just like those (except that it happened to have a "no trespassing" sign).
3) Speaking of no trespassing signs, I've ridden other places that have no trespassing signs without blinking an eye. The last time I was up on the saddle between Draper and Alpine, I saw a bunch of no trespassing signs, but I'm pretty sure they just mean that you shouldn't leave the dirt roads, since everybody rides up there.
4) Haven't I heard of a "Wolf Creek Pass" bike race? That race must be over this mountain pass, being that the resort shares the same name. If they have a bike race here, they surely must welcome cyclists throughout the year. (I've since confirmed... I mean found out... that the aforementioned bike race doesn't use this particular road at all).

Being that I have all of these solid reasons for pressing forward, maybe I'll just head up the road for a mile, and if I see someone I'll ask if it's okay to ride through. Well, since I haven't seen anyone after a mile, I may as well go another mile until I find someone. Hmmm... I've already climbed quite a bit up this road and haven't seen a soul, so I guess I'd better just keep going till I get to the top.

It ended up being a pretty good climb, with the added bonus of having zero traffic. The climb eventually came to an end, as they always seem to do, but this time I got to a 'T' in the road and I started to worry. It was already past 5pm, I was out of food, almost out of water, and damn cold. It looked like there was a sign, but the information was covered in a 12 foot snow drift. The main road seemed to go left, but going right seemed to be a more direct route home. As any cyclist knows, heading downhill in an unknown trail or road always opens the possibility that you'll need to turn around and climb back out if you pick the wrong route. So I hesitated.

During my hesitation, a pickup truck pulled up from the same direction I came from. He rolled down his window and asked how I got up here. I knew what he was getting at, but said (trying not to sound like too much of a smartass) "on my bike." He went off about how I was trespassing, I could end up in jail, etc. I gave him a few of the excuses I'd previously thought up, but he still seemed pretty pissed that I was ruining his otherwise pristine mountain (the gas emissions on my mountain bike are even worse than I thought). In the process of the little altercation, I was able to find out from him that that heading right indeed was the fasted way back to Heber. I managed to ride off without him calling the cops on me, so in a way, it was a fortuitous encounter.

The descent was a blast. High speed corners with no worries about traffic. I can't believe how stable I felt on the 29er Paragon, even if it was just a road ride. I could tear around the corners without even considering touching the breaks. I was pretty blown by the time I hit Big Pole Road, which leads to Lake Creek Road, but the ride back to Midway wasn't too bad. I love rides like this where for most of the ride, you wonder if you are on the right route as you navi-guess your way around each corner, until you finally see a familiar sight and you know that you're golden. This was an awesome loop, and it's a shame that you need to break some rules in order to pull it off.

Man this was a long post. Damn lawyers don't know when to shut up.


Anonymous said...

Mags' parents used to live on Big Pole Road. I used to dream of poaching that Wolf Creek Road all the time, but her folks warned me about the security guards. They told me Sly Stallone has a house up there. I do know of a public dirt road that connects the big pole area to the Wolf Creek road, but only went up it once, and I was on skis so I don't know if I would recognize anything.

If you're looking for some great hill climbing interval training, take the lake creek road to the timber lakes area. Ask me sometime about my ride up there a couple Thanksgivings ago.

Aaron said...

I've been up Lake Creek until the first lake, which is where they stop plowing. I'd like to see where it leads one of these days.