I spent all of last week mountain biking on an Escape Adventures tour. This year I went with a friend of mine on the Bryce and Zion National Parks tour. It was awesome: great trails, great food, amazing scenery, and a fun group of people. There were 8 guests (husband and wife from Toronto, two women from Boston, two men from Denver, me and a friend of mine from LA) and 2 guides (Erik and Nancy).
I had been trying to get in shape for this trip, but even after riding to work every day for the past few weeks, I was still the worst athlete in the group. I had about as much technique as most of the other riders, but I usually wound up finishing rides last due to having less stamina. It was the worst on the first day as I hadn't yet been acclimated to the high elevation. My heart would beat really fast just after peddling uphill for one minute! It definitely got better throughout the week as I adjusted.
I rode my 1996 Trek Singletrack on the trip. As I expected, everyone was telling me I was crazy to ride a "hardtail" (no rear suspension) bike. I have been thinking about buying a bike with full suspension, but the good ones cost around $3000 and I didn't think I was a serious enough mountain biker to spend that much. I borrowed my friend's Santa Cruz Superlight on the last ride which was on slick rock. Riding this dual suspension bike was amazing. I couldn't believe what a difference it made. Suddenly, I was able to ride as well as all the others in the group. It was so smooth compared to my bike. At the end of the trip, the guides gave out awards to each guest. I won The Enlightened One award because they thought I had seen the light when I tried the dual suspension bike and that I was like a totally different rider.
Visiting Bryce and Zion again reminded me how amazing those parks are - especially Zion. I was glad we had a chance to do some hiking in the parks. The Narrows hike is incredible.