A friend of mine - a photojournalist and adventure sports writer - recently blew through town on his way back home from covering the Sea Otter, a huge season-opening mountain bike race meet in California. While he was here, he decided to give the completed portion of the Secret-Lamoille trail a spin, and here's what he told me via e-mail, along with some photos he took:
"I’ve been riding in the Rubies for about 12 years now. I first rode them back in about 2005, returning from Colorado to the Bay Area, where I lived at the time. I asked the desk clerk at my motel if there was anywhere to mountain bike and she sent me to Lamoille Canyon. My expectations were low and since it was November I hit snow pretty early in my ride and didn’t get far. However, what I saw stuck with me and I’ve been going back at regular intervals, ever since.
"Although I’ve explored the Rubies a bit, my main ride is the one that goes to the pass at the top of Lamoille Canyon. It’s pretty steep and rocky and definitely not for everyone. The scenery and descent are fabulous, though.
"A couple of years ago Sue took me on a short hike up the Secret-Lamoille Trail. Aside from easy access and friendly grades, it didn’t make much of an impression on me at the time. However, after riding it for the first time (the morning after our phone call), I have very different feelings about it. Other than a couple of corners that were too tight for me to make, it’s a very, very nice trail. It flows well and I think it has pretty broad appeal to both beginners and experienced riders. The climb up was pretty comfortable without being boring or easy; and the descent was super fun. I like that they left some rocks in the trail to keep things entertaining. And as you’ll see from the photos I took, the landscape is absolutely spectacular.
It's gratifying to get such a glowing review from someone who's ridden some of the country's most epic trails, and who has covered some of the most important MTB events in the world. The even more exciting part is that there is the teeny tiny possibility that IMBA, the International Mountain Bicycling Association, may be interested in working with locals to get the trail, finally, completed and built to USFS spec for an MTB and equestrian trail.
"Lamoille Canyon and the Rubies were already a worthy mountain biking destination. But if the Secret-Lamoille Trail can be completed, they will have a whole lot more to offer. The Secret-Lamoille Trail is more than just a fun trail, too. It would provide increased access to the whole Ruby Mountain range, most of which is blocked by private ranches. It’s the beginning of what could be a huge trail network. I would love to see that."
We'll see. The potential is there to develop a trail that could earn IMBA's Epic Trail designation - a designation that will put Elko County on the map for mountain bike tourists. I'm not counting chickens, at least not these ones, but stranger things have happened...
More pretty pictures from my friend John Shafer, a man perhaps better known in MTB and photography circles as Photo-John. Click on the pictures to make them bigger - you'll be glad you did.