Thursday, May 10, 2007

El Dorado Canyon

El Dorado Canyon was the destination of this week's Wednesday after work ride. I was excited to check out this remote canyon, just east of Carson City in Lyon County. The last time I was up there I had 12 inches of suspension travel and a 40 hp motor. This would be the first time on a bicycle. To get to the trail head, we drove east of Carson City to the town of Dayton. We parked at the Rodeo Fair Grounds, and Jeff P. and I began the ride there.

The remoteness of El Dorado Canyon is not so much because of its distance away from civilization, but because of its ruggedness. The road up the canyon is very smooth and enjoyable in many spots, but when it's bad, it's very bad. It's a popular route with jeeps because of the challenging creek and boulder crossings. I rode my hard tail for this trip. And while it was fine most of the time, the frequent boulder crossings were wearing me out on the way back. Next time I plan to bring the full suspension bike.

The canyon is quite beautiful, and is probably a geologist's dream. There are all sorts of interesting rock formations, and each rock outcropping seems to be a different type of rock. This also adds to the many colors of the canyon.

When we reached the mouth of Sullivan Canyon, we followed a single track up a pleasant grade. The climb is smooth and narrow, and is a nice break from the rocks back in El Dorado Canyon. Once near the top of Sullivan Canyon, we climbed up onto a hill above Bull Run Spring. Looking at the topo map, it looks like we did about 1,500 feet of climbing at this high point in the ride. It was now time for the payoff from all the climbing.

The descent back to El Dorado Canyon is perhaps one of my favorite to date. The single track is tight in the trees, and swoops all around like a roller coaster. You only have to pedal here and there to get over little hills before once again descending wildly. There's a real steep drop into the Bull Run Spring canyon. It's free of rocks, but quite slippery. It feels like the brakes aren't doing a bit of good, but then you regain control and get on the single track heading down Bull Run Spring canyon.

It was just starting to get dark as we once again reached El Dorado Canyon. Unfortunately I pinch flatted the front tire when I nearly endoed on one of the creek boulders. The nocturnal wildlife was starting to wake up. Frogs, crickets, and quail started making their music. We quickly fixed the flat, and finished the trek out of the canyon. The boulder crossings were starting to get to me at this point, and I was wishing for my full suspension bike. We finally got back to the car at 8:30, and it was officially dark. I'm looking forward to riding this trail again soon, and will day dream of that cool downhill often!

More pictures from the ride HERE.

Here's an article in the Nevada Appeal about El Dorado Canyon.

9 comments:

Chris said...

That makes me what to fix my mtb. Great pictures.

Scott said...

Very nice description. Glad you got some terrain that makes you appreciate full suspension. Only 2 places around here I would ride a hardtail..NOW...but in 1989 who knew of anything but rigid. I enjoyed the babyhead boulders no less then than now. I'm not sure why I like rocks.

Jeff said...

Thanks, Chris.

Scott, This is where you and I used to ride the Hondas...those loops we did from the BLM office.

I like rocks, but on the way back I was tired and it was getting dark. I was looking/hoping for a bike path at this point. Plus I was out of spare tubes...

Marcus said...

Totally rad. Excellent trail description. Can't wait to hit that!

Brent said...

That is out in my neck of the lunchtimeride woods. Now you see why I don't run my tires at the low pressure you seem to prefer. I'd be snakebitten every day! Some time we can do that ride and I can show you the singletrack I have been working on for the last year.

Jeff said...

I still have to do a postmortem on the tube. It was sometime after the endo that the flat occured, so I'm not positive it was a pinch flat. I was bummed...it was my last super light tube. It lasted for several months without incident. I was surprised. I had 30 psi in the tire before the ride...

Funny...you're talking to me about running more pressure, and Potter lectured me about going tubeless and running less pressure.

Yeah, I'd like to see your trail!

Scott said...

I'm with Potter. Tubeless..Maxxis Ignitor 2.1 Lust ust technology(whatever the heck that means)currently with no flats in approx 12 rocky rides. Great traction for many different conditions. I was killin kenda sidewalls in non ust tubeless mode out here. So now I can expect a flat next ride. Nothing worse than more than 40psi in a tire.

Brent said...

I'm runnin around 40 psi now. I am looking into Stans tubeless system...

Jeff said...

I just completed the autopsy of the Maxxis super light tube. Not a snake bike pinch flat! It's actually a hole where the spokes are, so I'm gonna need to take of the tire and see if some rim tape went south... The Kenda 2.3 on the front is pretty tall, so I was thinking it was weird that it pinch flatted. Nevertheless...I'll probably increase the pressure just a tad when riding El Dorado. I've been experimenting with low tire pressure to see how much (or little in this case) I can get away with.