Mountain biking Precipice > Sidewinder > Suicidal Tendencies > Sidewinder > Barrel Roll
Words and photo by James Murren
A few miles west of St. George, UT on Route 8 is the Santa Clara River Reserve, which has a network of trails open to mountain biking. Local beta from the Dixie Mountain Bike Trails Association confirmed that Suicidal Tendencies lollipop is on the expert end of the skill set needed to ride it.
To get to the lollipop, I headed out from the Cove Wash Trailhead on Precipice which connects right into Sidewinder, a steady incline that is not all that noticeable when eyeballing the landscape, but is obvious when breathing while pedaling a mountain bicycle. I pedaled for a little over 2.5 miles before the stick of the Suicidal Tendencies’ 4.0 mile lollipop was under my tires, marked by a trail sign.
At the loop-of-the-lollipop junction, I went left. I knew the first sets of switchbacks would be hairy, and they did not disappoint. Without any qualms, especially since I did not see any other riders, I dismounted at a super tight set and then got comfortable and dropped down into a wash, at which point the trail went quickly back up to some precipitous riding. I pedaled with relative ease as the trail went went up and up, leading to a spectacular view of the valley floor to the west.
From there, I went down, down, down, passing through juniper trees. The mix of desert scrub and the junipers, with long views of the red rock desert, the Pine Valley Mountains, and all the way to Zion’s walls, had me flying high. Add in the slabby drops and tech-rock riding, and I was in a happy place.
It was not long before I was back at the lollipop junction and heading back down the lollipop stick to Sidewinder, reveling in the fun romping descent. Instead of going back on Precipice, I cut off on Barrel Roll, a different return trail, but characterized the same: flowy twists and turns with a big wide open viewscape.
No doubt, Santa Clara offers up tech mountain biking trails. I barely scratched the surface, putting it on my list for future plans to get back and scratch it some more.
Now that the state of Utah allows for 5% beer, up from 4%, to be brewed by Utah breweries and sold in-state, a nice session beer is available to enjoy after your preferred way to Earn Your Beer.
In St. George, Silver Reef Brewing Company has a red ale like I have never tasted of the style. Up front, on the nose, there is the classic banana scent of a Belgian ale, which plays with your mind a little when considering that you are drinking a red ale, coppery in color. To be clear, this is not a sour red ale, perhaps of the Flanders style. Instead, it is a classic red ale (Irish/European) with malt backbone, as they say, and a dash of hops that comes together to make it an easy-drinker, the Belgian yeast flipping things on its head a bit.
In the parking lot after my ride, while taking in the view of the stunning red rock desert landscape in the distance with the Pine Valley Mountains rising up from it, I thought Color Country Red was a perfect beer to cap off my southwestern Utah mountain biking experience. That section of riding through juniper forest in the desert was as surprising as the Belgian banana notes of the red ale.