RR: St. George Utah . . . The Promised Land

Discussion in 'Ride Reports' started by Mikie, Jun 3, 2015.

  1. Mikie

    Mikie Admin/MTB Addict

    Location:
    Lebec, California
    Name:
    Mikie Watson
    Current Bike:
    Yeti ASR5c, SC Hightower
    Bless me Father for I have sinned . . .
    It's been several weeks since my last RRC (Ride Report Confession).
    I have looked upon Gooseberry Flats, and St. George Mountain Biking in general, with lustful eyes and a covetous heart for several years now...

    Meaning to go every year, and then not; based on going to Kokopelli where I have kinda blown my wad financially, for the last 4 years.
    But my angel of singletrack, (MADDOG!) swooped down and showed me the light and saved me! Halleluiah!

    For the last couple of years he has been offering to take us on a "School's Out for Summer Tour" out of state when he escapes prison, errrr I mean, school teaching and I have not latched onto the idea until now!
    Getting the call to go on a weekend trip to St. George and sample the goods such as Hurricane (pronounced Herric'n, no pronouncing "cane" at the end...) and Gooseberry Flats was just too tempting.
    So a band of misfits were assembled to include scan, hill^billy, maddog, and myself and to load up in maddog's truck and drive out to the promised land.

    It was a Thursday and I am watching the clock from work waiting to burn rubber out of the parking lot and hightail it to maddog's house and load up and get on the road. We were going to St. George!
    Fueled by the most excellent report put together by jfsh, evdog, and company from just being where we were going, I was jacked about EPIC new dirt...

    Loading up, maddog, hill^billy, and I were to meet scan in Victorville and then nonstop it to Mesquite for a night's stay in a very basic motel. The plan was to stay there the night for cheap, ride the next day (Friday), and then go to a Condo maddog rented for the next couple days leaving on Sunday (after one last trail ride) for home.


    ...and to think Hill^billy thinks I'm taking a picture of him.
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    I can tell, right away, that Maddog was NOT keen on this idea...
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    Loaded to perfection. We are ready for take-off.


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    After picking up scan... naturally the Dirt Bag schmack talk instantly began as we all felt the buzz from hitting the road to St. George.
    We got to Mesquite by 11:00pm crashed for the night and we ate at McDonalds in the morning (well, they did. Mrs. Watson made me some very healthy burrito's I simply needed to warm up each morning). hill^billy is a firm believer that fast food is of the devil, and was not happy.


    All smiles the next morning after staying in Mesquite.
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    We stayed in back of this Casino, in a HOTEL! Sheesh... what do you think we are? Don't answer that!
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    Guacamole

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    On the menu for today was Guacamole (a lollipop) in the morning and then JEM (an out and back) Trail in the afternoon. I heard it said that Guacamole was a new favorite over South Trail on Gooseberry. That is definitely an opinion, but when it was all said and done by the end of the weekend, I definitely do not agree. Guacamole was most definitely fun and should be ridden, but it is a child that can only hope to grow up some day to be what South Trail on Gooseberry Flats already is. Just my humble opinion...
    Winding and twisting around on Guacamole was definitely fun, it's was a great warm-up for the trails to come. It could use some better trail marking, as we got a little lost a couple of times, but all in all, a great ride!


    Parking location for Guacamole.
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    Scan & Hill^billy on the Guacamole Trail.IMG-20150529-03436.jpg



    Bad Dog! Maddog! The master trail guide!
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    Checking out the Buttes surrounding the Guac...IMG-20150529-03440.jpg



    Back to the beginning of the Lollipop Loop we get some grub.
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    Ahhhh, love at first sight.
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    Awesome vistas.
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    JEM and Associates

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    JEM was in the afternoon after we got some lunch. The trail started out hot and semi cloudy and ended cloudy with some lightning off in the distance . . . . AWESOME!
    Admittedly it was a hot weekend. Temps were going to be based in the upper 80's lower 90's. Heat doesn't bother me too much, but hill^billy and scan were a little concerned with it. So we had to roll with some changes here and there to accommodate.
    Out of all the trails JEM and the trails associated with that network are by far the fastest and flowy that we experienced. These are more a desert trek with gradual rises and fall of the land. No trees and relatively flat (I didn't say level) trails that give you the opportunity to see for miles and miles. We weaved up towards some buttes on JEM as well as Dead Ringer and More Cowbell where there was a little canyon side climbing. Coming back down Dead Ringer and JEM was the speed for the weekend.


    We got lunch in this little town.
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    Trailhead for JEM. Watch how the weather changes by the time we get back to here.
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    Views, views, views...
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    That night we went out to a place scan suggested for dinner called Cafe Rio. Now before I say anything more, I think that Chipotle is the best restaurant on the planet in regards to healthy Mexican food. Cafe Rio blew Chipotle away! Larger selection, equally healthy, they make and cook the tortilla's right in front of you. This place is an awesome Mexican food stop in St. George right off the freeway!





    Hurricane Rim Trail

    The next morning we did the Hurricane Rim Trail out to JEM and partially up JEM to the bailout point. To be honest I was a little frustrated to not finish that ride as I wanted to get the full experience of JEM. None the less the Hurricane Rim Trail was awesome!
    To serpentine along the edge of that canyon was both epic in trail and visually appealing. As an out and back there would be some climbing in it but not too extensive. If you want to avoid the ride and climbing back you can simply hit the bailout on the JEM trail and literally coast back to the trailhead on the highway. Not my choice of routes but certainly an option.











    South Trail on Gooseberry Flats

    Gooseberry Flats to me is the crown jewel of St. George. Especially upon the discovery of the Gander Trail!
    We hit South Rim Trail in the afternoon after visiting "Over the Edge" bike shop, buying a $12 dollar map, which I now admit, did come in handy and; after riding Hurricane Rim Trail that morning... So we may not have been as fresh as we could be, I think we did a good job of hitting up South Rim Trail. This starts out innocent enough but gets in to some very sweet technical boulder rolls, step ups, and ledge drops. For those who have NOT ridden South Rim, it is pretty well marked by white paint dots to give you the general idea of the route. Following the white dots exactly is a cool way to keep it very technical and fun! To be honest in all the years of riding, I have been very sheltered to this type of riding, but the last couple years of hitting Sedona, Kokopelli, and this has helped me a lot in gaining trust of rock traction and climbing and descending things I once thought way over my head. Personally, I thought we killed it this weekend on these trails. hill^billy and I were in a groove switching lead as we missed the trail or did a dab. scan was digging the ride and was blown away by the vistas. maddog (Mr. Steady and sure) was just cruising with a big ole smile on his face all day. One thing about maddog I have learned over the last couple of years is this guy is Mr. Tough and Consistent and a great ride partner! When he starts . . . he finishes no matter how tough. Every time hill^billy and I stopped to take a break he was right on our azz! You have heard of wedding planners, well maddog is the master of trail planners. He's ridden everything!

    Going out South Rim we diverted off on an "out and back" called Hidden Canyon which is just more awesome stuff of the same. It actually seemed easier and faster climbing back out of Hidden Canyon then going down. At the bottom, scan said he wanted to hit the road back to the truck and there is a bailout road that could easily get you back to the trail head (nice!). maddog, hill^billy, and I went back up Hidden Canyon and continued on South Rim. Seemed like the boulder climb and drops were getting bigger and closer to the rim edge. On a couple of the boulder rollers I was getting nervous on, maybe because we had been riding hard since yesterdays events. When we came upon the first real view over the edge, it was awe inspiring!

    maddog was ahead of us on a smooth singletrack when he stopped and pointed to the ground. "It wasn't a rock, it was a ROCK TORTOISE!" ( B52's reference). Cool! Second tortoise ever I have seen on the trails, the first being on a ride up by my house. He was a little more shy than other tortoises but none the less, not rude. I moved him off the trail but he climbed back on as we were leaving. On our way back we never saw him again.

    Made it out to the West Point of South Trail and turned it around and headed back after a sit down break. On the way back, I was out front and was negotiating a hard right to a large boulder climb when just before the right turn, the simplest of rock lips stopped me cold and I went right over the bars on solid rock. It hurt my pride more than my body although it did contribute a little more to a already slightly sprained wrist. I was tangled up enough in my bike that hill^billy had to get my bike off me. It's what I get for constantly stretching my skill level. Grrrr!

    The views fantastic, the trail a welcome challenge and NOT recommended for beginners, in fact it states on the trail map this is a trail for the well advanced.




















    Gander and Grafton

    We called it quits after South Rim and headed back to the Condo to get cleaned up for dinner and went to a Sports Bar that maddog had been to in the past. I ordered Fish and Chips and it was very good!
    Next morning was Sunday and I can't believe the weekend is coming to a close. Based on Tom the Bomb's suggestion of doing Grafton, hill^billy and I had to step up.





    However, the dood at "Over the Edge" suggested an unmarked trail called "Gander" that followed along the North Rim of Gooseberry Flats starting around Windmill. So I bought a map as we would need it, and downloaded mile by mile turn points off the internet onto our phones so we could get through this. "Gander" would drop us right exactly at the upper trailhead for Grafton. PERECT!
    So we parked at a parking spot on Gooseberry Flats and maddog and scan headed out to do the trails they picked and when they were done, they would drive to the bottom of Grafton and pick us up and we would then start the journey home.

    It was a little hard to find the Gander Trailhead (at first), but once we found it we were on our way, it's not marked at all along the way, but for the most part was pretty clear. By far, this was the best trail of the weekend if you want a slight descent with a few easy climbs, fast pace flow with enough technical to keep you on your toes. Plus, the views were amazing! This trail ranks for me as one of the best trails out there. Seriously. It combined the Kokopelli view with some of the technical fun. The flow was awesome.
    At the 8.5 mile mark it was suggested to get onto a Dual Track and avoid a singletrack climb up to the Grafton Trailhead. We took that since we were on the tired side from all the riding and we were not sure what was in store for us on Grafton.











    We text scan and maddog that we made it to Grafton and were heading down so they would know they were not abandoning us incase there was a mishap and we headed down Grafton. The upper section of Grafton has its surprises and twists and technical. It's not marked at all accept for the occasional cairn. There were a couple of places that were completely above my riding skill, but to be honest, Grafton was not that big of a deal. We did drop a lot of elevation very quickly and the ride would definitely have been more entertaining and fun with someone that knew the trail, and could ride the crazy parts so we could watch and learn.

    When we hit a junction just past the "Pigs in Space" Loop, we opted for a bailout directly to the bottom Grafton Trailhead (glad at this point to have the map) as we were pressed for time to hit the road home. The bailout was an intense plunge to the valley floor. More than likely we missed out on all the good stuff of Grafton. Next time!









    When we hit the valley floor we went the wrong way which seemed like it would be the right way. It dead ended at a museum/ghost town. Turning around we met maddog and scan about 3 miles from the main highway as they were coming to get us. hill^billy and I opted to ride all the way to the highway to make it an even 20 mile ride.





    Loading up we went to a Dairy Queen and changed in the bathroom and had lunch there so we could get a jump on the road home. As we were changing in the bathroom, hill^billy was in the only stall they had and we were washing our hands and getting ready to change as well, a guy walks into the bathroom and starts taking a leak, when hill^billy blurts out from the stall, "Yeah, I'm changing now and wiping all the butt butter off!" I was standing behind the guy taking a leak and watched as he tensed up big time. Probably thinking, "Oh sh!t! What did I just walk in to??? Crazy Californians!" We all laughed a nervous laugh, but the guy left in a real hurry. Ha hah!

    We got lunch at Dairy Queen, hill^billy upset that he once again was eating the food of Satan, and we hit the road semi clean from a Fast Food Restaurant bathroom clean up, to include a thorough butt butter removal... :?

    Long drive home but with little to no traffic even through Vegas and Barstow, we dropped scan back off in Victorville and made it to maddog's place around 9:30pm which meant I would be home around 10:30pm and up ready for work at 3:45am. Dawg tired the next day, I zombie'ed through the next day at work barely alive but with a huge smile of what just went down this weekend. We hit St. George and we hit it hard! Now I can't wait to head back! NICE!


    Great trip, GREAT GUYS! And maddog completely knocked it out of the park with his St. George plan and execution. I probably would NEVER hit this EPIC stuff up if it was not for the maddog. Huge kudos to the maddog! You totally rock!

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  2. Daddy Dirtbag

    Daddy Dirtbag Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Castaic
    Name:
    Jeff Johansen
    Current Bike:
    2016 Trek Stache 9 29+
    Now, THAT is a proper ride report. Outstanding!
     
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  3. mtbbiker

    mtbbiker Active Member

    Name:
    Craig
    Mikie you never cease to amaze me with your well documented, comical RRs!


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk HD
     
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  4. MCB2K

    MCB2K Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Castle Rock, CO
    Name:
    Brian Kiggins
    Current Bike:
    Santa Cruz Tallboy LTc
    Good stuff!

    My dad lives in Mesquite... we may have to plan a trip for him to see his grandson while his son day trips up the 15.
     
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  5. pachaven

    pachaven Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Laguna Hills
    Name:
    Mark
    Current Bike:
    A bunch of them!!!
    Great RR!! Now that you know the good stuff in The Goose Area, try Little Creek Mesa. It's like Gooseberry Mesa but a touch harder. Well worth the drive to get there.
     
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  6. Voodoo Tom

    Voodoo Tom MTB Addict

    Location:
    Castaic
    Name:
    Tom
    Current Bike:
    Pick one, got a few
    I don't know how you do it but somehow you always manage to one up yourself with these amazing ride reports and photos. Only one missing is a photo of hill^billy getting you untangled from your bicycle though to make this RR complete.
     
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  7. Mikie

    Mikie Admin/MTB Addict

    Location:
    Lebec, California
    Name:
    Mikie Watson
    Current Bike:
    Yeti ASR5c, SC Hightower
    Ha hah! Thanks buddy! Labor of love brothah! Labor of love...

    I would have got the crash on Video had I not run out of disc space on the GoPro.
    I haven't even looked at the video I have captured and now need to edit. Man! I can do this full time! :eek:
     
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  8. Voodoo Tom

    Voodoo Tom MTB Addict

    Location:
    Castaic
    Name:
    Tom
    Current Bike:
    Pick one, got a few
    Oh sure now tease us by telling us there is video...
     
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  9. Tom the Bomb

    Tom the Bomb MTB Addict

    Location:
    Alta Loma, Ca.
    Name:
    Thomas Cosgrove
    Current Bike:
    Niner rip 9
    Sweet Mikie. Ya you gotta hit Grafton fresh. Too bad you could not check out the ghost town really cool grave sites. Wish I could have joined ya on this one. Awesome.
     
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  10. evdog

    evdog Well-Known Member

    Location:
    San diego
    Name:
    Evan S
    Great RR!

    Looking at the map of what you rode at Guac, you missed a couple of the unofficial loops that are the most fun. Now you have a reason to go back!

    Cool you found the connector from Windmill to Grafton, I really like that trail. Makes for a pretty substantial ride, more worth while than just the shuttle.
     
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  11. Mikie

    Mikie Admin/MTB Addict

    Location:
    Lebec, California
    Name:
    Mikie Watson
    Current Bike:
    Yeti ASR5c, SC Hightower
    Hey evdog!
    Ohhhh, we're going back. ;) That is MTB Heaven on Earth! :thumbup:
    hill^billy and I got off on a different trail when we were going counter clockwise that was actually marked with white paint. The whole time I was thinking, "I don't remember this?" We even video'd each other on a section that was a way cool transition that I now know was not on the main route. So there is obviously some super awesome opportunities.

    Your guys Ride Report REALLY inspired me!
    Awesome.
     
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  12. Mikie

    Mikie Admin/MTB Addict

    Location:
    Lebec, California
    Name:
    Mikie Watson
    Current Bike:
    Yeti ASR5c, SC Hightower
    Tom the Bomb totally ROCKS!
    I know we missed the whole lower section of Grafton. If we were fresh, we could have cleaned a lot more of Upper Grafton. I can easily see 2 days on Gooseberry Flats. Day 1 to get The west end trails in. Day 2 to do Gander and all of Grafton with some very nice person doing the shuttle pick up at the bottom.
    I'm in! Just say WHEN... :cool:
     
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  13. Faust29

    Faust29 MTB Addict

    Location:
    Rancho Santa Margarita
    Name:
    Steve
    Current Bike:
    Chameleon & Highball C
    Loved it! Great read... Even though I spit on my monitor while reading the bathroom scene at the end. :lol:
     
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  14. hill^billy

    hill^billy MTB Addict

    Location:
    Acton
    Name:
    Doug Lake
    Current Bike:
    Yeti SB-66
    Yah, I hightailed it out of there when I heard there was someone else in there :eek: .
    I've been to Hurricane riding with my family, but had never hit Gooseberry. We have all read about how good it is over the years, but nothing really prepares you for the kinetic bombardment of multitasking from second to second if you ride it at pace. If you don't ride it at a decent pace, you won't be making much of anything, sometimes riding it too fast, I would fail to connect the dots. One thing you learn is not to follow too close! What makes it even more exceptional is riding the barash fatigued! BTW it's alot different riding with the beast Mikie than it is riding with the family, when the getting is good we don't like to stop, and we push each other most of the time. That to me was the BEST riding I have ever experienced hands down!
    Thanks Greg for showing me more of the 3/4 of trails I ride, and picking us up after Grafton, you are a great guide and ride planner! Also to Mikie and Fran that was awesome. Although the food really wasn't very good! Cereal is much better!
     
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  15. surftime

    surftime New Member

    Location:
    Huntington Beach CA
    Name:
    luke
    Current Bike:
    Yelli screamy Stump Jumper FSR
    great report and nice photos, i need to get a few of those in this summer
     
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  16. Maddog

    Maddog Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Lancaster
    Name:
    Greg Madison
    Current Bike:
    Intense Tracer 275
    Thanks Guys! It was a great trip starting with the 1st night at that fine establishment in Mesquite! $15 bucks a person, loud AC unit so you know it's on and free cockroaches which stayed outdoors following Dougie everywhere he went! :lol: I even won $5 and got a pretty decent 7&7 in the casino! It did give us an extra full day of riding!

    The riding was great with that poor lizard on Guac the only casualty. We think Fran hit it first but it was right on the best line so I think we all flattened it some :? !
    Looks like Gander would make a great loop with North Rim and Windmill with an easy return on the roads. Don't think I'll ever want to do Grafton so I'll be glad to drop y'all off again!

    I remember hill^billy high-tailing it out of that restroom; I just wish he would have covered his tail first :eek: ! Nah, he had his shorts pulled up but he did have TP stuck to his sandals! And he survived all that fast food too!

    Great trip and great company! Thanks for joining me on my "School's out for Summer" road trip boys!
     
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  17. SoCal_Rider

    SoCal_Rider Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Temecula/Murrieta
    Name:
    Ryan
    Great RR. Looks like you had a blast and hit some really great trails.

    I'm going to echo what evdog said about Guacamole: you missed a bunch of good stuff at the outer end. We did a figure eight on a new section called Salt on the Rim. Check it out if you go back.

    We missed Gander and Grafton when we were there in April. After seeing some of the RRs lately, I'm bummed we missed them. But now I HAVE to go back to ride them.
     
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  18. hill^billy

    hill^billy MTB Addict

    Location:
    Acton
    Name:
    Doug Lake
    Current Bike:
    Yeti SB-66
    I'm currious to know if anyone on IMTB has cleaned the rock section below my hand in the pic? It looks like it could be done but I would say by an 8 in. bike or maybe a pro. Al I know was when I rolled up on that section I thought we had taken an wrong turn on an off shute trail that seemed to end right there, took us awhile to figure out it continued cause it was hard to see where it went. Anybody? :cool:

    Oh and great ride report Mikie! That's a given anyway!

    And Fran, you got lucky and escaped the fashion police.
     
    Mikie likes this.
  19. scan

    scan MTB Addict

    Name:
    fran allas
    Current Bike:
    trek ex 7
    Oh thanks doug, now the fashion police will be out in force!

    That was a great trip. Thanks Maddog for all the set up you did. The condo was very comfortable.

    North Rim and Windmill are excellent trails and sound similar to Gander from what Mikie and Doug described. We talked about how we could loop North Rim/windmill/Gander , all right on the edge of the mesa with killer views at every turn and enough tech to keep you alert, and flowy.

    Mikie the restaraunt name is caFE RIO, the name is in the pic too :eek: , minor mistake for a GREAT RR as usual!!
     
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  20. jfsh

    jfsh Member

    Name:
    Jeff
    Current Bike:
    Nomad
    Hill billy, I have ridden the feature you speak of. It is committing but looks worse than it is once you roll into it. I can't seem to find my pictures from that trip but I did find the old ride report on STR. If you check it out there are several pictures of that move on both pages. Just for the record, we are not pros and we were not on DH bikes. That was a good trip.
    <a class="postlink" href="http://www.socaltrailriders.org/forum/showthread.php?t=25683" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;">http://www.socaltrailriders.org/forum/s ... hp?t=25683</a>
     
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  21. hill^billy

    hill^billy MTB Addict

    Location:
    Acton
    Name:
    Doug Lake
    Current Bike:
    Yeti SB-66
    That was a good report, I was thinking last night one would probably have to huck the end of that feature? No need to say you gents are outstanding riders with very large huevos. :cool:
     
    Mikie likes this.
  22. CBone

    CBone Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Antelope Valley
    Name:
    Tucker
    Current Bike:
    Intense Primer
    Great report Mikie. Looking forward to another trip up there soon. Hidden Canyon on Gooseberry is awesome.
    Cafe Rio is right here in Valencia. They have several places in Southern CA. Maybe you could find an excuse to stop in at Bicycle John's and then have to get you some Cafe Rio. Or maybe its the other way around? Great place to eat.
    <a class="postlink" href="http://www.caferio.com/locations/state/CA" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;">http://www.caferio.com/locations/state/CA</a>
    Disclaimer - I am not affiliated with the above establishments (I wish)
     
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  23. knucklebuster

    knucklebuster MTB Addict

    Location:
    Mission Viejo (South Orange County)
    Name:
    Dave
    Current Bike:
    Canfield The One '12
    Thanks, that thread is great stuff (2008!).
     
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  24. abuck55

    abuck55 Well-Known Member

    Name:
    Mark
    Wow!!!.. Now that is a road trip to remember! Looks like you guys had a great time!!
    I did that trip a couple years ago. We loved it too. Seeing all the great pics brings it all back!
    Great, Great report Mikie!! Thank you for sharing... :)
     
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  25. hill^billy

    hill^billy MTB Addict

    Location:
    Acton
    Name:
    Doug Lake
    Current Bike:
    Yeti SB-66

    Ahh, 2008, that's when I bought my first FS bike.
     
    Mikie likes this.
  26. Danimal

    Danimal MTB Addict

    Location:
    Mission Viejo
    Name:
    Dan
    Current Bike:
    Rocky Mountain Altitude
    Thought I'd give a bump to a excellent ride report!
     
    CarlS, MCB2K, hill^billy and 2 others like this.
  27. Oaken

    Oaken Well-Known Member

    Location:
    OC
    Name:
    CeeJay
    That was an excellent read.
    I like the part about Chipotle and healthy...:D
     
  28. Cyclotourist

    Cyclotourist MTB Addict

    Location:
    Redlands
    Name:
    David
    Current Bike:
    Santa Cruz Chameleon
    Thanks for resurrecting this, @Danimal As fine a ride-report as there ever was!

    And Chipotle does flush your system out!
     
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  29. hill^billy

    hill^billy MTB Addict

    Location:
    Acton
    Name:
    Doug Lake
    Current Bike:
    Yeti SB-66
    Damn that was Awesome! I've got a hanker- in for another trip, somewhere?
     
    MCB2K and Mikie like this.
  30. MTBHotRod

    MTBHotRod Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Santa Clarita
    Name:
    Rodney Thompson
    Current Bike:
    Ibis Ripley
    Great ride report Mikie. I have to admit I don't get jealous easily but this trip sounds epic.
     
    Mikie likes this.
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