About 30 ish at my last count, but stragglers came trickling in late. It was so cool to meet Lynda and Dave as well as Jeff Kerkove, Fixie Dave, Grizzly Adam, Sonya Looney, and others I recognized from the blogs and MTBR postings. There were a lot of big wheels in the lot as 29ers were more the rule than the exception. I think this fits very well into the mindset of the endurance crowd and the sand and the rocks of St G. are 29er country IMO. There were quite a few SS riders too. I was, without a doubt, out classed in speedi-ness with this group.
What followed was a mix of singletrack through sandy desert and some powerline jeep roads. T-Bone Hills, Church Rocks, and Prospector trails were the course according to Lynda. I really never knew where we were most of the time, but it was easy to follow the 25 sets of tire tracks ahead of me. This is beautiful country. I stopped to take a pic or two and everyone I had passed on the downhills passed me back. Sigh! Well, I am looking at this more as an adventuring tourist and many of the riders are dressed to kill, no Camelbaks, barely even a jacket among them. And, some of the riders here are first class fast people, no doubt. Even if I stripped to the bare minimum and took no pics, I would just have seen fading taillights. So, I set my own pace and others did the same. The front pack was pretty tight but the rest of us were strung out in the rain, pedaling.
At one point, some unlucky soul had piled it up on one of the rocky downhills on the powerline road and folks were busy helping him straighten his front wheel and get his wits about him.
Once I hit the Church Rocks area it was a hoot. It is kind of a blur, but I think the Prospector Trail is what we were on. Very Moab-ish. Slickrock and winding singletrack with some flow, some tech, and all fun. This is some of my favorite kind of riding and I have always been a decent techy rider. The 29er wheels just eat this stuff up. You can see from the arrow where the trail went (rider gives it scale).
This rider was stopped, perhaps hoping for GPS guidance on finding the right path through the rock. "Pleeeze, little GPS....heeeelp meee"
I ran into KT as he was coming off the side of the main trail having sampled some extra-curricular routes (he got lost). There were cairns everywhere on the slickrock sections, so it was easy to put a wheel on the wrong path. Usually I was able to keep a rider in sight and stay on course. A lot of the time I was either behind or just in front of Fixie Dave. If he is Slower Than Snot, what am I? Hard to say, but to anyone that can do that ride on a rigid, fixed bike on flat pedals, he or she has my vote.
At around 18 miles by my reckoning, we ran into the main pack as we were having a snack break. They were coming back out after hitting the clay soil about 2 miles up the trail.
I guess we were not that far off of the leaders. We turned it around too. On the way back I was poking along and was passed on a steep, ledgy climb by a big guy on an SS. It was Brad Keyes. I was amazed at the power gettin' put down to the ground. I could barely make it on the geared bike. Some people can really hammer and I can see that I have only a fraction of the skill and fitness of a really top rider. Sonya Looney was wearing this absolutely huge Ergon pack, the new epic sized one. KT asked her about the Winnebago-sized pack and she laughed, saying it was all part of product testing. You go, girl.