Micah Henrich artfully navigates the waterfall at the Western Youth Nationals Moto-Trials on his way to the 2017 Championship Title.

This weekend we experienced the very reason that Enduro Ranch needs to exist; driving around lost and looking for trailheads, being out of GPS range, seeing a new generation of kids crush it on trials bikes, preparing a trail for reopening and thankfully, being rescued by a 70 year old hero named Dennis.

Partnered with a 13 year old riding buddy we bailed Colorado Springs, in true “Crack-of-Noon Club” fashion, and headed for the Western Youth National Moto Trials & Women’s Competition, aka WYN. The event was just north of Cotopaxi, CO, and we had no problem finding it.

Nigel Parker displayed amazing talent on his way to 2nd for the weekend. 


Arriving at about 1:30-ish we didn’t know what to expect. There hadn’t been a slew of trucks with bikes headed the other way, so we were optimistic. That said, with a KTM300 and KX85 on our trailer, we kinda figured it would be blatantly obvious we weren’t part of the regular crowd. Fortunately the route was well marked all the way from Highway 50. It was the easiest route we’d take all weekend.

On a single lane dirt road we rolled past a metal shed with a couple trials bikes in it, cool, and over a knoll for a first glimpse of small number of camp trailers, RVs, tents, trucks and lots of trials bikes . . . but very little noise. Yet kids and adults were spoolin’ all over the place. We freaked. I was stoked, but there’s a 13 year old kiddo in my van and he’s going bonkers. Wow, had we hit the right spot.

For the sake of time on your part and mine, we’ll skip the details of the comp. Here’s a link to a clip of a superstar. The gap is way scarier in person. In general the skills of all the riders was stunning. Watching them negotiate the features and navigation just makes you itch to get out and try it. And, everyone was so encouraging. Whether the kids were advanced or experts. It reminded me of snowboarding with peers in the early days where everyone involved is equally psyched about the evolution of the sport and the individual.

Perhaps most importantly, within the first half hour a dad and former rider (sorry about the lack of credentials here) Mark, stopped and talked to us and gave us a solid overview of the event. What I really liked was the comment he made about the difference between trials and racing, and this is a paraphrase but . . . “You’re really only competing against yourself. If you have a problem it is up to you to overcome it. Nobody is going to center-punch you in a turn or take you out, it’s just you and your best on the course.”  Marcy and Christine let us corner them about the event for a bit. Thanks ladies, you were great. Then we chatted with another ex-moto hero, Matt. We mentioned we were hoping to ride in the area and he turned us on to Danny, who knew the area.

And here’s where the dilemma begins.

Danny gave us an amazingly detailed description of how to get to the Tanner trailhead. We turned on 9th went past the Transfer Station, took a left . . . and where are we again? Why is this a dead end? Why is my memory not perfect? We’d messed up. And so a quick 12-point u-turn later and we hit the mini-mart. Keeping in mind that GPS or maps on your phone often don’t exist when you’re moderately off the grid, we went to the gas/food mart. The kid inside was determined to help. He gave some directions and we headed out the door.

As I was putting it into D he ran up to the car and said, “Wait a minute! Let me look it up.” The sun was too bright to see the phone so we locked ‘er up and went back inside. As he was getting it sorted on his phone when a woman walked in and corrected the advice and we suddenly had a new route. We went out and after just one more u-turn we were on the correct road and meandered for a few until we found the Tanner trailhead.

At this point we’d spent about 25 minutes looking for the place and backtracking.

It was 5:30 when we hit the parking area. A couple of guys were there and let us know that if we wanted to drive further up the road we could do a loop and drop back to this entrance. Like Danny, they said going up this section of Tanner was tricky. Since only one of us are have a plate, we opted to go for it.

It was finally cooling off, getting late and we wanted to ride. Gear on, fuel topped and we’re off! Well, that lasted about 10 minutes. Approximately 8 were spent going up and back on the trail after the first two obstacles to get an idea of what was ahead. For a KX85 which needs to be properly jetted and geared, it was a wall chase. We chased the mountain all day and ran into a wall in the first 2 minutes. So, we loaded up and headed for Penrose, hoping to get a little time on the pegs before dark

And, eventully, at a completely different spot, we did. About 40 minutes or so of riding.

The ride time turned out to be about 50% of the time we spent driving around looking for a place to ride.

Penrose is pretty rocky, even on the flats. But it’s something. Granted, everyone calls it Penrose, but it’s formally Penrose Commons OHV. Jr practiced some wheelies while the full moon rose. It was a long day of driving, and because we didn’t have a guide who could present us with, text or email a map with instructions on what we might want to ride, we lost about 1.5 hours of quality riding time.

End of Case 1.

Case #2 ironically starts off at Captain Jacks trailhead to do some work with Jeff Slavens and CMTRA. The CMTRA Facebook page is updated frequently for events and such, btw. Finding Captain Jacks wasn’t a problem as it was in my backyard as a kid. My first run to Jones Park was on a Honda Elsinore MR50. I was following Bill Gross, who was on a ’78 KTM 250 MC. From that day forward it was clear why chest protectors had been invented.

As part of the Crack-of-Noon Club we arrived about 11 am. 

Jeff greeted us along with several others. They’d been working away at the entrance and further up the trail. We offered to pitch in but it was clear that they had a great turnout and were already getting close to wrapping it up. It doesn’t take fifty peeps to pour mud in some blocks. Jim Bensberg introduced himself as and we chatted for a bit. Like the moto trials event, and pretty much every person I’ve met in the trail riding community, people were genuinely welcoming, friendly and helpful.

A young at heart old timer, Dennis, age 70+, was there and shared some thoughts as we caught up on what had been happening in the Colorado Springs dealership scene over the past umpteen years. Everyone with whom I’ve spoken talks about the family-centric and good people at Apex Sports. Dennis shared the same. We inquired about riding in the area and this is where it gets sticky.

The reason the Captain Jacks trail opening, set for July 22nd, is so important, is that it is a gateway to Jones Park and a slew of other trails. If this trail isn’t open, you have to drive a long-long way around or have a plated bike. When this trail is open, you can stay off of Gold Camp road and just go. It’s been closed for 3-4 years and has always been known as ‘epic’. Granted, it was called ‘bitchen’, ‘bomber’, ‘gnarly’, ‘sweet’, ‘amazing’, etc., along the way.

We had some clear directions from Dennis and set out to find the trail head further up Gold Camp. Sound familiar?

We arrived at the parking lot and there were dozens of cars, and triple that in people; dogs, kids, infants, mountain bikers, hikers, rodents. It was packed. Ok, so it was a Saturday. But really? We’re the ONLY dirt bikers here!?? Not another truck or trailer in sight. We didn’t even see an adv-bro-brah thump by with 900 lbs of gear on board. Were we really going to fire up a couple of 2-smokes and pass these people on the way to the trailhead? I felt like putting a sign on my back that read, “SORRY BUT IT ACTUALLY IS LEGAL”.

Advising Jr. Barnes on his ettiquette in the parking area and on the way to the trailhead we did our best to tiptoe through the masses. Surprisingly most folks smiled and waved as we cruised past the gate up Gold Camp Road! We did the same to parade levels. We’d heard the trailhead was on the right from a guy in the parking lot. The first right was unmarked and didn’t look the part of an official trail. We did get to one after a tunnel that was clearly marked and I went for it pronto. My riding buddy immediately started screaming for me. After silencing the antsy 300 I was informed that it was clearly marked NO OHV! Woops.

Thankfully it was a quick 25 foot jaunt back to the trailhead. My bad. So we stayed on Gold Camp, which turned into a singletrack-ish section. We figured this had to be the right route. Within a minute or two we came to a split in the trail. The metal stencil sign had three locations listed on it, one being St. Mary’s Lake. Sounded fun to me! But nothing else to let us know it was off limits.

“Isn’t there a map for this?” you might be thinking.

Well, go ahead and search it out real quick and post it in the Comments. Please. By all means. Reality is, it’s damn near impossible some times to figure out what is and isn’t legal, and for what type of “OHV”. We sat and pondered, and I did have a map, that had none of this clearly marked. As we tried to figure out whether to go up to the lake or down towards somewhere else, we heard a thumper. It was coming up behind us. Hallelujah, it was Dennis. He stopped and was talking us through the proper route and Jim B. wheeled up. Jim made some joke about us blocking the trail and going up something he’d never done . . . because it was illegal. Thus we followed he and Dennis on the lower route.

Splashing through a creek where a mom is playing with her three sub 8-yr old kids isn’t what I typically think of when planning to pretend I’m Graham Jarvis.

But we waltzed through our first agua of the day and followed Dennis “up the Gold Camp”, as he put it. Jim was off into the distance; shorts, knee braces and all. My buddy was about to get one of the biggest lessons in trail riding; it’s not about your age or your bike. Dennis led the way. A couple tunnels, a single track short cut and some forest road later and we were on the newly opened 701 trail. Sweet!

Dennis was incredibly kind, stopping his bike and getting off to help the youngen with the rocky-knots. He probably kick started his XR250 more in that 4 hours of riding than the past 24 hours of seat time. The guy simply sauntered that thing up every section. For those who ride Rampart Range, this was much more difficult than anything on 770 or 679. It’s really quite fun and challenging. Three or four creek crossings later we’d tooled along historic singletrack and some newly blazed double wide sections. After crossing a formidable bridge which was said to be on part of the section owned by the water shed or water department it was time to turn around. Even with a good sense of direction and having just come up the trail, our guide Dennis was much needed on the route down.

Having started out the day in route to help build and keep trails open, show a kid how to do it right and give back, and explore a somewhat unfamiliar are only needing to end up being led around for four hours seemed a bit deflating. “It just shouldn’t be this difficult.” The same could be said about our jaunt to Tanner. I love exploring. It’s an essential aspect of what makes this sport so unequivocally fun! But what I don’t enjoy is feeling like I’m breaking the law, breaking the law accidentally, or having to turn back way too prematurely because even with every map available, there’s an abundance of ambiguity.

Thus, the 2-toned epiphany was resounding: this is why people need guides for motorized trail rides,


more help is needed to mark, digitally document and share trails, no matter how sacred they are to you and your bros.

There will always be those ‘secret’ nooks and crannies. As for the people who want to breathe new life into to motocross, enduro, trials or trail riding, there’s some maturing on the horizon. Vague directions and markers lead to people making mistakes and everyone’s trails being taken away.

Thankfully on this day we were escorted by a hero full of patience and wisdom. Perhaps with a little luck and continued perseverance, we’ll all be able to make this type of day available to others who want to spend the lion share of their time enjoying the ride. Special thanks again to Captain D, CMTRA and Slavens Racing and all the folks who have worked to get Lower Jack’s open again. You folks kick ass.

2017 Youth Trials Nationals and Women’s Open are June 29th-July 1

For information about trials in Colorado check the Rocky Mountain Trials Association – RMTA