The Paradox Trail

Last week, some friends and I went on a bikepacking trip on the Paradox trail. The Paradox, along with the Kokopelli and the Tabeguache trails, is part of the Grand Loop, a much longer bikepacking route spanning Western Colorado and Eastern Utah. The Paradox winds its way through country that has a haunting Uranium mining history, which likely provided many of the “roads” that the Paradox uses. Although it’s an established bike route, we saw no one else traversing it in the 4 days we were there.

DSC02254We started on the East end, on the Uncompagre Plateau. From there, the route descends for many miles down onto Pinto mesa, with incredible views of the San Juan mountains and Lone Cone. From Pinto Mesa, the Paradox continues to descend to the town of Nucla. The once bustling town of Nucla does have a small market, open every day of the year except Christmas. We swung in for some last minute supplies, and also found some water before leaving town.

We headed North of town, back the way we’d come, to get to the new Paradox trailhead, also the start of a new, small singletrack trail system above the gun range. From there, the route winds through awesome high desert that goes up to the foot of the Uncompagre plateau, going through several drainages and over many ridges. It eventually drops you into Blue Canyon, and down to the Dolores River. After a couple fast highway miles, it crosses the river at Biscuit rock, and begins to head up Red Canyon.

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Red Canyon is an incredible experience, and you’re also climbing like crazy straight to the top of Paradox ridge. From here, the route follows Paradox ridge directly towards the La Sal mountains and eventually becomes Carpenter ridge, ascending the whole time. A good thing to note is that Buckeye reservoir is the last camping for many miles at this point. After Buckeye, you pass through private land until just past the high point of the route, near Deep Creek.

DSC02413Now in proper high country terrain, we looked back at the Uncompagre plateau, and all the terrain we crossed to get here. The La Sals still had quite a bit of snow on them, right above us on the peaks. After winding around the East side of the mountains, the road quite good at this point, it spit us out right onto the Kokopelli trail. I remembered this intersection quite well from when I did the Kokopelli, as I’d looked down the road and wondered where it went. Now I was coming from that road, and heading the same way, towards Moab.

I was also excited to take my Myth Chimera on it’s first bikepacking trip. I really believe that fat bikes are the perfect desert bikepacking rig (maybe the best bikepacking rig period), and I’ve been excited to get the Chimera out and get some dust on it. It absolutely shined on this trip, and I can’t wait to get it out for more desert miles and many trips to come.DSC02348.jpg

All in all, the Paradox is a fantastic route. One of my favorites I’ve ever done, and a truly wild and remote part of the world. I’d recommend it to anyone interested in a not overly difficult bikepacking trip, as it’s both easier and has more natural water than the Kokopelli.

Trail Info

  • The Paradox can probably be ridden from about May until the first snows in the La Sals, perhaps October?
  • The route probably goes well at 3 days ride time, but 4 was great for us.
  • The most up to date route info is probably on the West End Trails Alliance website. Under the “Trails” section are 5 maps whose titles begin with “PT” for Paradox trail. Of particular interest is the Pinto Mesa to Tabeguache Creek map, as it’s the updated route, and different than what is found on MTB Project. Paper maps can also be acquired from WETA, which were very useful to us on this trip.
  • Expect a few steep but short hike-a-bike sections. The rest is ridable doubletrack and dirt roads.
  • Much of the route has great wild camping spots, excluding the section between Buckeye reservoir and Deep Creek, which is private property. Follow all leave no trace rules when camping in these areas.
  • Water. We found water at the following points along the trail, at the end of April: Tabeguache Creek, Spring creek (just puddles), Big Atkinson creek, Blue Canyon, Dolores River, Buckeye Reservoir, and at many points after Buckeye from snow melting off the La Sals. Your mileage may vary.

Wyvern, L, Flat Blue

This is a Large Wyvern frame in the Flat Blue powder coat option. It really came out great with the simple black accents, and has an understated badass-ness. The black powder coated King Cage really worked on this bike. I can understand why folks really like those.

This is the mid range build kit I sell with these bikes, and these are some of the highlights:

-Fox 34 Float factory series
-Sram GX Eagle 1×12 drivetrain
-DT Swiss 350 hubs with WTB scraper rims
-Fox Transfer 125mm dropper, factory series
-Maxxis tires

This is pretty much the build kit I ride on my own bike. It’s a great balance of not being overpriced, but being a really nice build kit you don’t have to worry about upgrading in the future. Anyway, I’ll let the photos speak for themselves:

Wyvern, XL, Yellow

I’m pretty damn excited about this bike because it’s for one of my best friends. I made the frame for him a while back, and we powder coated it, but we only got it built it up a few days ago and now he finally has a Myth!

Interestingly, this is the first XL frame that’s gone out the door, and I think it’s going to be perfect for him. The build kit is a variation on our base build kit, with Sram everything but the brakes. These parts were selected for being a great value, but also not cheapo stuff.

The powdercoat is our Yellow offering, and it’s a totally awesome fun yellow. It’s bright, with just barely a hint of green in it. You can see this bike coming from a mile away. The accents are purple, including the decals, handlebars, seatpost clamp and pedals. I personally love it.

Full Custom Enduro Hardtail, Pink/black

I’ll just say it: this is the coolest bike I’ve ever built. There are a lot of reasons I’m willing to say that, and the first, obvious one is self evident: it looks incredibly badass. However, there’s more even than meets the eye. First off, this bike is for my wife, who absolutely shreds every bike I hand her, so I really wanted to make her something truly aggressive that fit her riding style. 66 degree HA normalized, with short 415mm chainstays. Built for a 130mm fork, and rocking 170 cranks.

The tubing was carefully selected to be strong, without being unreasonably heavy. The seat tube was bent in house. The top tube started life as a 4130 straight gauge .9 wall tube. It was centerless ground until it was .8 wall, then externally butted to .6 wall for 6 inches at the front of the bike. Then bent in house as well. I bent the chainstays as well, and machined a yoke that plugged into one end of the round tubing. All tubes on this bike were bent in house, except for the downtube.

_MG_1645The rear post mount brake mount was a first, and proudly one of my own design. I call it the Snail-Eyes post mount system! With the brake off, they look like eyes on long stalks. I plan to offer this on all my custom bikes in the future, as well as on custom forks.

The powdercoat was also done in-house, and is a flat pink to flat black fade. Both very low-gloss finishes, and I think they go with the components extremely well. This is a fade we plan to offer as a finish upgrade to any of our custom or stock bikes.

Anyway, I think the photos speak for themselves!

New Tool Friday: Post mount jig

I’ve been wanting to do post mount brakes on my frames and forks since day one, but I haven’t taken the plunge on a post mount jig. I just didn’t love the options available for purchase, and they’re a couple hundred dollars each. So I looked up the standard dimensions of post mount brakes, and rummaged around in my stock of metal and found some suitable material. A few hours on the machines, and it was done!

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I included all the features I wanted, and it was pretty simple. It does 160 and 180 brake mounts, and it’s pretty burly. I didn’t want it flexing at all while I weld. The spacer is for either frame or fork use, but you unbolt the arm and flip it around for use on a fork. This brings the mounts 3mm further out, which is how they work. I thought drawing it up would be confusing, but once I just sat down and did it, it was one of the more simple jigs I’ve built.

I’ve also come up with a system for post mounts that I’m very, very excited about. You’ll start seeing it on my custom frames now, but until then, here’s a sneak preview.

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I love building tools. Have a great weekend!