Monday, June 23, 2014

The Obbard Overland

Many moons ago I was on a ride with the venerable - and famously frugal - Rick Steiner and we were having a discussion about the ultra mountain bike races up in Park City.  Rick said something to the effect of: "Why should I pay good money to ride 75 or a 100 miles on local trails when I can just do that anytime?"  To which I retorted "Because you never ride that far!"  Well, Rick took that as a challenge, and as an ode to his impending 60th birthday, organized the first "Steiner 100" mountain bike ride in the summer of 2006. Over the next few years the name informally changed to the "Steiner Memorial 100" to which Rick weakly bleated: "But I'm not dead!" No, not yet, but you're closer than most of us!

A couple of years ago Rick asked that the unbearable onus of organizing the ride and the subsequent party be taken over by someone else - and with that, the rights to the name of the "event" (if it really were "an event")  and of course there was only one person for the job:  uber-achiever and ultra-enthusiast Alex Obbard.   And thus this past weekend was the annual running of the Obbard Overland.
Only Alex would not only design the logo but also do the T-shirts for everybody!
The route has historically started up Emigration to the Mormon Trail, down to East Canyon Creek, hooked into the Park City trails, and ended flying down the Crest, Great Western, and back into Mill creek.  The earlier quest for the relatively-arbitrary 100 miles evolved into simply creating a long and elegant loop, and as such it's now a little less than 100 miles - enabling more time for the party! - but is an all-time ride that now uses the Pinebrook trails to climb to the Mid-Mountain trail that traverses to the Park City's newish Pine Cone trail that then leads up to the Crest.  The participants ebb and flow a little, but every year ~20 folks show up at Alex's house at dawn for a good long day in the saddle.

The snow that fell early in the week caused emails to start flyin' about possible route changes, but ultimately a scouting mission indicated that the entire 10" of snow that fell up high would not only melt but also the trails would dry, and the only problem might be old snow that didn't get a chance to melt out during the storm, and the benefit was that the summertime dust that had already formed got mercifully tamped down to perfect-tacky (can we please have weekly rainstorms delivered this summer?).
The trails were in great shape.....
.....until they weren't.  However, the deadfalls were few and far between
We met the rest of the crew and - bless her heart! - Jill at Pinebrook, where we had a bit of a rest and made short work of the Nutella sandwiches and water that she brought up.

A bit of local knowledge was useful to navigate the maze of the Pinebrook trails, but soon enough everyone was on the Mid-Mountain blasting towards the Red Pine lodge, where we were able to picnic again and watch the freeriders slaying it in the Canyons mtb park (this sport seems vaguely familiar in that they are on 2-wheeled, non-motorized machines, but that's about where the similarity ends!).

As an aside.....why is it that ski resorts like Alta, Brighton, and Solitude "must.....have..... Interconnect! To make more money" and then let the barely-forward-thinking resorts like The Canyons and Deer Valley have the big, lucrative summertime crowds because they actually offer amenities that people want, like DH/freeride mtb parks, while their resorts are either deserted or have people wandering around on steep service roads wondering where they can spend money?

But I digress. The remainder of the day was pedaling over hill and dale on miles and miles of the Wasatch's best singletrack with blessedly overcast skies with no mechanicals, crashes to speak of, or issues besides a few cramps.
Why is this woman smiling?  She's on the tacky Crest with no joeys in sight!  (except her partners)
To end at Alex's where some of the gang relaxed:

Before the great party hosted by Alex and the lovely Sue, who doesn't mind a bunch of stinky, dirty cyclists tromping around in their house, dirtying towels, and mowing hard into all the food put into their general vicinity.

Jim Manos has been an integral part of the Steiner 100 and Obbard Overland, but he had a conflicting event on Saturday to celebrate  his cancer-beatage with hundreds of like comrades for 140 miles on the roads
I'd suck wheel on this guy!!
But of course he made it to the party!

Thanks again to Alex for carrying on a fun tradition! We'll be back for the 2015 version.
Another feather - or leaf, as it were - in the cap of the Obbard Overland's namesake

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