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 Post subject: TR - Dixie 200 revisited
PostPosted: Wed Aug 28, 2019 11:36 am 
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A few years back I did the Dixie 200 bikepacking race in SW Utah. I had wanted to do it again, but a fire in June 2017 put it on hiatus temporarily.  The Forest Service has put some impressive effort into reopening affected trails, and Dave was able to piece enough of them together to come up with a revised route for 2019.  It moved to August from June as well.  My friend Brian was interested as well so we headed out Thursday afternoon from SD.  

The route still includes Thunder Mountain, some Grandview Trail, and now full Virgin River Rim Trail, but changes how we get between them.  It also adds Navajo Lake loop, Cassidy trail and newly rebuilt Right Fork of Bunker Creek.  Dark Hollow is still closed, supposedly til summer 2020.   The route: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/28677561


Seven of us lined up to start, half what was there last time but not unusual to have a small group for this event.  Might take a couple years for word to get out again

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7am start was right at sunrise, and it took a while for the sun to climb above the hills

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Not sure if this was a bit of fog or dust from a massive flock of sheep grazing nearby

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We started off at the west end of VRRT and then jumped off to do a lap around Navajo Lake loop.  I'd never ridden the loop before, had more short punchy climbs than I expected.

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Also wasn't expecting the lava field at the east end, but it was cool.  

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Too early for a swim, so just took in the views

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I was not looking forward to the next part, a 1,000ft HAB up the Marathon trail.  Marathon is a mix of steep singletrack, non-existent singletrack, and sections of forest roads of varying quality.  

The section below required a bushwack from the road to get to, but was rideable from here.  I think a couple riders missed this section.

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More Marathon trail, marginally visible through the sage.  The black area beyond is another lava field

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No sooner had I seen a Caution - log trucks sign, this guy came rumbling past

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It was clear after that.  Every open spot had a huge RV parked in it but there weren't many people around.  Seems lots leave their rigs there during the week to hold their spot

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Lava field

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Same broken bridge as last time

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This time we were climbing up to Sydney Peaks, and this section was a lot of HAB for me.  All of today was above 9,000 so far and now we were cranking it to 11.

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Finally at the top...had to go over and check out the view

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Traversing across to top of Bunker Creek

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More view, much of it now burned

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Bunker Creek was a bit harsh riding a hardtail, but was over quickly.  A new singletrack extension below it is nearing completion.  Ran into the trail crew on the road who said it isn't done.  I was hungry and wanted to make sure I'd get to Panguitch before closing, so I skipped it.  A few others rode it and said it will be good with some traffic.   Burger at the Burger Barn was excellent.

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The new route goes east from Panguitch Lake on some forest roads, then crosses north of the highway and takes more forest roads all the way into Panguitch.  They weren't great or terrible, and went by pretty quickly.

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Made it to Panguitch before 9:30 and resupplied at the gas station.  Brian had been ahead all day and had gotten a motel room in town.  I wanted to keep going and get the next big climb over with.   So I kept going about 12 miles further on route, first pavement and then onto Fremont ATV trail which started near the airport.  The climb was easy for the first 7-8 miles then grades picked up and I suffered the last hour or so, finally stopping just after midnight.  Good results on the day, around 91 miles.


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avidtest, Big Clyde, Dirtrider, Inconceivable, Ld00d, OldDogDan
PostPosted: Wed Aug 28, 2019 12:49 pm 
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 28, 2019 3:35 pm 
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Day 2:

Woke up a lot of times during the night, wasn't sleeping well at all. I had planned to get up around 530. Woke up at 5, 5:20, must be 5:30 by now why is my alarm not going off? Hadn't set it of course. But it was in fact 5:30 so I got up, ate and packed. Rolling by around 6:30 just as it was light enough to not need lights.

I had 16 miles to go to get to Red Canyon. The first four were rolling jeep road

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Great views opened up as the sun rose

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Singletrack started unexpectedly early on the Hancock Trail, a seldom used trail that was pretty raw but rideable

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Lonely cow. Usually they run away when a rider approaches, this one just stood there and watched me

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Cassidy trail is pretty nice. I had not ridden this section of it before. Some short steep HAB's but otherwise it was rideable.

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Ran into some locals

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Lots of variety too - red dirt, white dirt, pine trees, scrub

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This view was spectacular. Photos don't do justice how much the colors popped

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There were a few tough but not too long climbs out of each canyon. And then a long fun descent down to the Hwy in Red Canyon

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After a quick stop at the campground for water I braved the bike path overrun with tourists on rented bikes shuttling back to Red Canyon. Then finished the 2 mile climb up to Thunder Mtn trailhead

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Was hurting by this point and had to push the bike up all but the easiest grades, so I just slowed down and enjoyed the views

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Always a favorite spot

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For those who have ridden Thunder Mtn - have you ever noticed this sign and wondered what Grandview trail is? I sure did.... It runs for about 85 miles around the south end of both the Paunsaugunt Plateau and Bryce Canyon NP.

I was pretty baked by the heat at this point so I decided to crash out in the shade and have a nap. Ended up resting for almost 3 hrs. 406 caught up to me here and had run out of water, so he had to finish Thunder Mtn and get water at the ranger station. He'd catch me again just as I was riding away on Grandview.

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Grandview is a mixed bag. Some sections like this are great. Some are terrible, and some barely exist. Cool backcountry adventure riding.

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Lots of character

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Another good section, with some steep HAB in the upper right

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Flowing stream was reported at Hillsdale Canyon so we checked it out to see if there was enough for a soak. There was, just barely. Very refreshing.

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Beyond Hillsdale Canyon it got tough for a few miles, climbing steeply to several saddles and then dropping steeply off the other side. Two of these required some painful downhill HAB as well.

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Near the final saddle was this piped spring with clean fresh water flowing into the upper corner. It was starting to cool off by that point as well, so things were looking up. And not just because a 1500ft road climb out of Proctor Canyon was up next.

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Made it part way up the climb before dark, but missed the best part of the sunset.

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406 decided to camp about 3/4 of the way up the climb at a nice flat area since it had good views and cell coverage. I wanted to get past the next section of Grandview trail and preferably to the spot where we would drop down off the plateau, another 12 miles farther. Feeling good and temps were nice, so why not.

Up top was a pretty cool sight. We had seen smoke from prescribed fires earlier in the day. Now, up top, I could see flames along two distant ridgelines. Not a great pic but it was impressive to see a whole ridgeline glowing in the dark.

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Got to my desired end point right around midnight again. Had a quick bite to eat then crawled into my sleeping bag. 57 miles on the day.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 28, 2019 10:30 pm 
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Day 3

Slept much better the second night and woke up around 530 again. Maybe there was a temperature inversion over night because it was warmer than it had been the night before.

The mission for first thing this morning was to drop down off the plateau and hit the highway up to Tod's Country Store for breakfast and re-supply.


Got started and needed lights on the descent down Pole Canyon, it was hard to follow the trail at times but was all rideable. Kind of a trip riding through stuff hoping you were actually on the trail

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It was chilly too, classic cold air drainage. Put on extra layers for the road descent. TONS of deer everywhere.

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Made it to Tod's around 8, stocked up on breakfast burritos, snacks for the day and a pepsi for breakfast. Then it was off for another few miles of pavement climbing followed by 13mi of dirt road to VRRT. The last 2 miles was steep HAB up this ATV trail.

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VRRT is pretty nice trail, and though a bit steep in places it was only unrideable in places due to loose rock. This section almost earned the middle-finger-photo treatment

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After some climbing I got to the first of the good views. Great spot to have lunch... The ride will follow the whole ridgeline above pink cliffs far as you can see here.

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Side view

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VRRT is a series of climbs and descents much of the way. The worst climb was out of Cascade Falls trail head. Long and fairly steep. But some nice trail in there too.

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Helped this guy off the trail

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OK, this section definitely deserved the finger.

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Up top the slope mellowed out and lots of good riding was had. Then the reward for all the climbing - a good 15 min of sustained descent

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Finally made it back to Navajo Lake where the route would double back on the 9 miles that we rode on day 1. I kept expecting tough climbs but aside from some very short sections it was all rideable.

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Made it back to the truck just after 830, after sunset but not yet needing lights, so I'm counting that as back before dark. Another 62 miles on the day, making it 205 for the trip. Pretty stoked on how it went. I cut about 13 hours total and 5 hours moving time off my previous times, albeit with some differences in the route. I think this year's route was harder though - more sections tackled in the non-optimal direction. 406 had been feeling sick day 3 so rode pavement back to the end. We opted to drive home that night rather than ride on Monday. My legs were pretty shot by that point.

Good times... Huge thanks to Dave Harris for putting this together! It is such a cool and varied route! I'll be back again at some point.


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avidtest, b5driver, Big Clyde, Dirtrider, Inconceivable, Kimba, OldDogDan, tfitz
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