& Betsy Blais
Bruce's Interests - Mountain Biking
Bruce's journey into mountain biking began accidentally in his late 50's. Not being able run anymore, he got an exercise bike to try to spin off the pounds. That got so boring, he decided to get a "real" bike and get out of the house. The streets were not for him and the bike paths quickly became boring. Someone at a local bike shop suggested he ride the DORBA trails, so he started doing that and quickly became hooked on off-road cycling. Soon afterwards, he joined the Dallas Off Road Bicycling Association (DORBA) and became an active member. Use the links to the left to learn more about his "ride", local club, favorite local trails and some of the special places he has been mountain biking.
Like so many folks, his first ride was "Big Box Store Special" from a national sporting goods chain. Being a very inexpensive bike not really designed for serious trail use, it was heavy, awkward and expensive to maintain, but it had the advantage of making him a stronger and better rider just to keep up with the folks on the lighter, faster bikes.
His first serious mountain bike was the Jamis Cross Country shown below. It had an aluminum frame and a decent fork. He upgraded it with some good tires and SPD pedals, got some good riding shoes with cleats and started getting really serious about trail riding.
After about a year on the Jamis, his skills exceeded the capabilities of that bike, so he moved up to a 2005 Gary Fisher Paragon shown below. The Fisher is known as a 29er which means it has 29" wheels instead of the traditional 26" wheels. The larger wheels allow it to roll over roots and rocks easier and give it a larger tire foot-print for better cornering and climbing traction.
This was a fine bike configured for competition, so it was appropriate for serious riding. It was light and fast, very capable in roots and rocks, and climbed like a mountain goat. He felt it would be a while before his skills out-grew this one. With it, his riding abilities advanced to the point that he began competing in local club races. Unfortunately, the seat-tube cracked above the top-tube, and the frame had to be replaced as a warrantee repair.
Most of the components on the 2005 Paragon were transferred to a 2009 Paragon frame shown below. He upgraded the crankset to a Shimano XT FC-M770 HollowTech II, the hydraulic brakes to Hayes Strokers and the saddle to a Phenom. The shifters and derailleurs were the SRAM X.9, the cassette was a PG-970, and the chain was a SRAM PC-991. These were all original components from the 2005 Paragon.
The 2009 Paragon lasted a little over a year and then the frame cracked in the same place and there was another warrantee replacement.
Having "had it" with the Paragon frame, he elected to spend a few bucks and upgrade to the carbon fiber frame used on the Fisher Superfly hard-tail. At the time, the carbon frames did not have any known cracking problems. Another component swap was done and the result is the bike shown below. For the technical details of this bike, use the Equipment link.
This bike did fine until he took it out to Nevada. After three months in the roughest terrain he had ever ridden, the frame on the Superfly hard-tail cracked. It was the seat-tube again, but this time it cracked below the top-tube. He had the bike repaired in Las Vegas. Since the terrain in Southern Nevada and SW Utah was very rough, he replaced the hard-tail with the Gary Fisher Superfly 100 full suspension bike shown below for riding out west, and shipped the hard-tail back to Dallas. For the technical details of this bike, use the Equipment link.
After about six months, the Gary Fisher Superfly 100 developed a crack in the frame and chainstay. The shop did a warrantee replacement with a TREK Superfly 100 Elite frame, and the result is the bike shown below. All of the components are the same as those on the Fisher Superfly 100, although the frame is is by TREK.
This is the bike he is currently riding.
Bruce didn't like riding on the road when he first started biking, so spent a lot of time on paved bike paths. That got boring pretty quick. A local bike shop told him about the Dallas Off-Road Bicycle Association (DORBA). He checked it out and got involved in several of their clinics and weekly ride events. In the beginning he rode a heavy, slow bike and didn't have any fancy riding jerseys. Instead, he wore some bright orange Florida Gator tee shirts since he did graduate from there and is a big fan of the school. Being the slow guy in the Gator shirt eating everyone else's dust, he got the nick name "Dusty Gator." This eventually became his forum "handle" and now with a better bike and skills, a lot of folks are eating his dust.
Bruce was a student and participant his first couple years riding with DORBA. He would routinely attend the Wednesday Night Rides as a "trainee" and then later as his skills improved, he began leading a group of intermediate-level riders each Wednesday night. Several of those that rode in his group on a regular basis suggested he was good enough to get into racing. He chuckled at the idea at first, but their persistence prevailed in the end, and he started racing in 2008.
Bruce is fairly active in the Dallas Off-Road Bicycle Association (DORBA) and participates in a number of the club events. The following paragraphs describe some of his favorite events and provide links to detailed descriptions and photographs.
Clearfork MTBK Festival
The largest of these is the annual Camp Clearfork Memorial Day weekend mountain bike bash in the Ouachita National Forest in Arkansas. The event turned 25 years old in 2012 and is staged in a former Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp. There are a number of cabins, a dining hall and kitchen, lake, canoes and a gathering area around a fire pit. The annual event hosts 160 mountain bikers for four days. Camp Clearfork is convenient to several famous mountain biking trails including the Womble, Lovit and Ouachita. The Womble is an IMBA Epic trail.
The Dallas area has a couple dozen off-road trails, due mostly to the volunteer efforts of DORBA. The closest trail to home is Rowlett Creek Preserve, or RCP as we say around here. It is about 6 miles from home, so I spend a lot of time riding there. It is a great trail system with nearly 16 miles of beginner to intermediate level trails. Other favorites include Oak Cliff Nature Preserve (OCNP), Big Cedar Wilderness Trails (BCWT), Cedar Hill State Park (CHSP) and Boulder Park. I also like Irwin Park, Johnson Branch State Park and Ilse du Bois State Park. Most of these trails are some distance away, so I don't get to them very often. You can learn more about these trails in the Local Trails section of this site, or the Trails section of the DORBA website.
Bruce has ridden several special trails. His focus is on IMBA EPIC trails because these have the distinction of being the "best of the best". The trails are arrange by state as follows:
The headings below link to detailed descriptions and photos of the notable trails he has ridden.
The Alabama trails are on the agenda for a loop of the lower Appalachian Mountains including Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia and Alabama. This trip is planned for the summer of 2015.
Oak Mt., AL - Oak Mt., south of Birmingham is on the list because it is an IMBA EPIC and near the loop.
Grand Canyon, AZ - Arizona has a lot of great riding, but the only thing he has ridden so far is the Rainbow Trail along the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Here is a description and photos of this ride.
Arkansas has a lot of great riding. Here is a description and photos of some of the trails he has ridden so far. There are a lot more on his list.
LOViT Trail, AR - In May of 2012, the Dallas Off Road Bicycle Association had its 25th annual MTBK Festival at Camp Clearfork in the Ouachita National Forest in Arkansas. This campground is near both the LOViT and Womble Trails. LOViT is an acronym for the Lake Ouachita Vista Trail.
Syllamo Mt., AR - In October of 2009, the men of the church gathered at Blanchard Springs NP for their annual campout. This campground is at the foot of Syllamo Mt., another one of the IMBA EPIC trails. It is a an advanced-level trail system ranked No. 222 in the world. This is a great trail system, and he intends to go back and ride it with some of his hard-core riding buddies.
Womble Trail, AR - Bruce's fourth riding adventure took him to the Ouachita National Forest in Arkansas. This is home to the Womble Trail, one of the more famous IMBA EPIC trails in North America. It is a an advanced-level trail system ranked No. 48 in the world. Each year, the Dallas Off-Road Bicycle Association (DORBA) has a 4-day campout, ride and party there, and he was part of it in 2009 and 2012.
In 2014, Bruce took and assignment in Colorado. This section describes his rides while working out there.
Alderfer/3 Sisters, Evergreen, CO - Alderfer/Three Sisters is a typical JeffCo trail located in the foothills west of Denver and near the town of Evergreen. Bruce has ridden it twice: once on June 8, 2014, and again on July 5, 2014. The July ride was one of three rides the holiday weekend totaling 54 miles and 10,600' of ascent.
Bear Creek, Morrison, CO - 3/30/2014 Local, Urban trail in Morrison near the Front Range. Check back later for the link to the page for that ride.
Betasso Preserve, Boulder, CO - On May 4, 2014, Bruce rode the Betasso Preserve Trail west of Boulder. He rode it again on August 17, 2014. Betasso is a fun trail, giving a good workout without being technical. It is especially popular with the ladies.
Buffalo Creek, Pine, CO - Buffalo Creek is an IMBA EPIC trail located in the foothills about an hour's drive south-west of Denver. Bruce rode BC, as it is called locally, on 5/3/14, 6/21/14, 7/4/14 & 9/21/14. The IMBA ranks the trail as #4 in Colorado and #11 world-wide. It is truly an outstanding trail and should be on every XC rider's bucket list.
Centennial Cone, Idaho Springs, CO - Bruce has ridden Centennial Cone twice so far. The first time was May 24, 2014 with Bobby Duncan, and then on July 6, 2014 with Phillip Bird. The Centennial Cone Trail is located in the foothills or Front Range of the Rockies 9 miles west of Golden, Colorado and about a 30 minute drive from Denver. This is one of the finest mountain bike trails Bruce had ridden, with outstanding trail design and magnificent vistas.
Colorado Trail, Kenosha Pass to Georgia Pass, Jefferson, CO - On September 27th, 2014, Bruce rode a section of the Colorado Trail between Kenosha Pass and Georgia Pass. This trail is located west of Denver near Breckenridge, well into the Colorado Rockies. The trail was high, fairly long, very technical is spots and had a lot of climbing. This trail is rated as intermediate to advanced by Colorado standards, and has a black diamond rating.
Dakota Ridge & Red Rocks, Morrison, CO - Bruce rode the Dakota Ridge and Red Rocks Trails as a loop from the Matthew-Winters Open Space Park on August 3, 2014. It was a double black diamond trail, but since it was rated as one of the top trails on the Front Range, it was on his list to ride.
Deer Creek, Littleton, CO - On June 29, 2014, Bruce rode the Deer Creek Canyon Trail west of Littleton. The Deer Creek Trail is located in the Deer Creek Canyon Park and is a short, steep, rocky climb best left to those that really have something to prove. Check back later for the link to the page for that ride.
Elk Meadow, Evergreen, CO - On July 13, 2014, Bruce rode the Elk Meadow Trail north of Evergreen. he rode it again on October 25, 2014 and made a video of the descent down "Too Long" on that ride. The name for this park is very deceptive. While the park has a meadow where Elk graze, but the trail is a steep, rocky and rooty climb in many places followed by an awesome steep, rocky and rooty down-hill.
18 Road Trails, Fruita, CO - The end of May, 2014, Bruce rode several of the 18 Road trails with some friends. These trails are located north of the town of Fruita about four-hours driving time west of Denver on Interstate 70. He and some friends camped out for the weekend. He went back for Labor Day weekend for four days, and added the Kokopelli trail system to ride. He also made several videos of the down-hill runs at 18 Road.
Green Mt., Morrison, CO - On June 22, 2014, Bruce rode the Green Mountain Trail in Lakewood. This is a local, urban trail near the Front Range. Check back later for the link to the page for that ride.
Kenosha Pass to Georgia Pass, Jefferson, CO - On September 27th, 2014, Bruce rode a section of the Colorado Trail between Kenosha Pass and Georgia Pass with Anne Taylor. This is an intermediate to advanced trail by Colorado standards west of Denver and well into the Colorado Rockies near Breckenridge. It is fairly long, very technical in spots has a lot of climbing, and has a black diamond rating. Most of the trail is over 10,000', and it gets to nearly 11,672' at Georgia Pass.
Hall Ranch, Lyons, CO - On July 19, 2014, Bruce rode the Hall Ranch trails. These trails are located just west of Lyons and Northwest of Boulder. It has several trails with a wide range of skill-levels needed to ride them. The most common ride starts with the Bitterbrush Trail at the parking lot on SR-7. This trial starts with a smooth climb then transitions to a challenging, technical rock garden that only fit, expert riders can clear all the way up. However, it is quite an experience for intermediate riders on the way down.
Indian Creek 800 Trail Loop, Pike National Forest, CO - On August 16, 2014, Bruce rode what he considers one of the prettiest trails he has ridden in Colorado. He shared this experience with his friend, Anne Taylor.
Lair o' the Bear, Morrison, CO - On June 28th, 2014, Bruce rode the Lair of the Bear trail with the Not Over the Hill Yet mountain biking group. This was an out-and-back ride in the foothills west of Denver from the main trailhead to Pence Park.
North Table Mountain, Golden, CO - The trailhead for North Table Mt. is located about a block from the Golden office, and due to its proximity, gets ridden often, including at lunch occasionally. 4/25/14
Rampart Reservoir, Woodlands, CO (Colorado Springs) - On September 13, 2014, Bruce rode the Rampart Reservoir Trail near Woodlands, Colorado, just west of Colorado Springs with the Not-Over-The-Hill-Yet mountain biking group of Denver. This was a beautiful trail and a joy to ride. Since it circumnavigates the reservoir, the elevation changes are minimal. However, the trail is at 9,000' above sea level, so since the trail doesn't give you much of a work-out, the altitude does.
Red Rocks Open Space, Colorado Springs, CO - On October 26th, 2014, Bruce rode the Red Rocks Open Space Trail Colorado Springs, Colorado with his friend and coach, Zoe Nance.
The Sourdough Trail, Nederland, CO - On August 8 2014, Bruce rode the Sourdough Trail north of Nederland with the Not-Over-The-Hill-Yet mountain biking group out of Denver. This was a "high altitude" ride, which is what a lot of folks in Colorado like to do in the summer.
The Peaks Trail, Frisco-Breckenridge, CO - On July 12, 2014, Bruce rode the Peaks Trail from Frisco to near Breckenridge. He rode this trail with the Not-Over-The-Hill-Yet Group. This is a favorite for the summer because it is above 10,000' for the most part, and tends to be cool, even in July and August.
White Ranch, Golden, CO - On May 18, 2014, Bruce rode the White Ranch trail system. This park is part of the Jefferson County, Colorado Open Space program. The trail is located just west of North Table Mountain in foothills of the Rockies. The system offers several trails and some of the most intense climbing in the area. The down-hill is also awesome.
Florida doesn't have a lot of great riding, but there are some notable trails in the state. Here is a description and photos of the one trail he has ridden so far. There are a couple more on his list.
Alafia River SP, FL - Bruce has a sister that now lives in Brandon which is a suburb of Tampa. He was going to be spending some time in Florida, so he decided to see what kind of trails he might be able to find. A web search led him to the Alafia trail 15 miles from her house. This is another IMBA EPIC trail and was quite an unexpected find in Florida. It is a an advanced-level trail system ranked No. 13 in the world. Normally, the area is considered to be flat, but SWAMP has converted an abandoned phosphate strip mine into a bike park. This made for a really enjoyable experience for his third out of state riding adventure.
The Georgia trails are on the agenda for a loop of the lower Appalachian Mountains including Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia and Alabama. This trip is planned for the summer of 2015.
Bull Mt., GA - Bull Mt., north of Atlanta is on the list because it is an IMBA EPIC and near the loop.
Nevada is an incredible place to ride. He ended up on a project in the state, and had many opportunities to ride. Here are descriptions and photos of some of the trails he has ridden so far. There are more to put on the website and many more on his list.
Bootleg Canyon, NV - This is the first IMBA EPIC trail Bruce road, and the first trail he road outside Texas. It was quite a treat. It is a an advanced-level trail system ranked No. 52 in the world. While in Vegas on business, he rented a bike from All Mountain Cyclery in Boulder City. This is a great shop with great folks. You need to check them out when you are in Vegas.
Red Rock Canyon, NV - In the summer of 2010, Bruce took on a consulting assignment in Nevada, and was based in Las Vegas. His condo was only about 20 minutes from Red Rock Canyon and the Cottonwood Valley mountain biking trails. This page is under construction and will be updated as he rides more of the trail system. At this time, it describes the trails north of SR-160. The trail system south of SR-160 will be added in a few weeks.
In September, 2013, Bruce had work to do in the Reno and took an extra day to ride the Flume and Tahoe Rim Trails. The TRT is another IMBA EPIC trail, and the Flume has an international reputation.
Three trail systems in North Carolina trails are on the agenda for a loop of the lower Appalachian Mountains including Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia and Alabama. This trip is planned for the summer of 2015.
Tanasi, Ocoee NC - The Tanasi Trail in the Cherokee National Forest is on the list because it is an IMBA EPIC and along the route. The Thunder Rock campground at the trail head has 42 sites for tent & RV camping and hot showers.
Bent Creek, Ashville NC - There are a number of trails in the Bent Creek Trail system. These are on the list because it is one of the most popular systems in the Ashville area, and near the route. There are a lot of options at Bent Creek, and the trails planned to ride are yet to be determined.
DuPont SP, Brevard NC - The DuPont Trail system is on the list because it is an IMBA EPIC and near the route.
In 2012, Bruce did some work on a radio system in Oregon, and while there, took the opportunity to ride a couple of trails.
Silver Falls, OR - This park has several mountain bike trails, and while they are not very technical, they are pretty serious in the amount of climbing and descending involved.
Waldo Lake, OR - This trail is also an IMBA EPIC Bruce rode. It is a an intermediate-level trail system ranked No. 508 in the world. This is the trail where Bruce had is one and only riding accident landing him in the hospital.
Tennessee is also an incredible place to ride. While working on a project in the state, and had an opportunities to ride ride Lone Mt. in the Knoxville area. Here is a description and photos of the trails ridden on Lone Mt. There are many more Tennessee trails on his list.
Lone Mountain, TN - Bruce's second-out-of state ride was at Lone Mt. Tennessee near Knoxville. Again, he was in the area on business and had an opportunity to ride a great trail. According to his GPS receiver, he did 14 miles of trail with a cumulative climbing distance of 1,960 feet.
Big South Fork, Oneida, TN - The Big South Fork trail systems in Tennessee is on the agenda for a loop of the lower Appalachian Mountains including Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia and Alabama. This trip is planned for the summer of 2015.
Texas is home and one incredible place to ride. Below are descriptions and photos of the trails outside the D/FW area he has ridden so far. The D/FW trails are in Local Trails section. There are many more trails outside the D/FW are on his list.
Palo Duro Canyon, TX - Check out the description and photos for this trip in the Happenings - Vacations section of this site.
Flat Rock Ranch, Comfort, TX - The trails at Flat Rock Ranch north of Comfort, Texas, were the first "Hill Country" trails Bruce rode. These trials are cut into the limestone of central Texas. The ride took place on Saturday, April 20th, on the way back from a business trip to San Antonio.
Reveille Peak Ranch, Burnet, TX - The trails at Reveille Peak Ranch West of Austin, Texas, were the second "Hill Country" trails Bruce rode. These trials are route across the granite rock of central Texas. The ride took place on Sunday, April 21st, on the way back from a business trip to San Antonio.
Utah is an unbelievable place to ride. Bruce was able to ride the southern part of the state due to its proximity to Las Vegas, his base of operations for the engineering project in Nevada. Here are descriptions and photos of some of the trails he has ridden so far. There are more to put on the website and several more on his list.
Brian Head, UT. - Riding Brian Head has been on Bruce's "Bucket List" for some time and now he has crossed that one off. One weekend during his consulting assignment in Las Vegas, he managed a trip 200 miles up I-15 to Cedar City, UT and Brian Head. This was the most incredible down-hill experience to that point in his riding career. During the trip, he rode both Bunker Creek and Blow Hard Mt. Bunker Creek was fun, but Blow Hard kept him on his toes.
Gooseberry Mesa, UT. - During his consulting assignment in Las Vegas, Bruce managed a trip to Gooseberry Mesa just outside Hurricane. This was the most significant ride of his riding career. Words cannot express the experience. Check it out.
Bearclaw-Poppy, St. George, UT. - Check back later for the link to the description & photos of the Bearclaw Poppy trail near St. George, UT.
Virgin, Hurricane, Goulds & J.E.M., Hurricane, UT. - Check back later for the link to the description & photos of these trails near Hurricane, UT.
Curt Gowdy IMBA EPIC, Cheyenne, WY - Check back later for the link to the page to the Curt Gowdy Trail ride near Cheyenne, Wyoming.
In 2008, at the urging of several of the folks he rides with, he got into completion via the North Texas Cross-Country (NTX-XC) series sponsored by DORBA. As a rookie, he took third place in his division (55+ beginners) his first race. For the four-race series, he ended up with another third place finish, a fourth place finish and a DNF due to tire problems. He finished in fourth place overall in his first series of racing.
Bruce's second try at racing started out very encouraging, finishing in first place in his division for the initial race of the series at Oak Cliff in August. Most of the race series was canceled due to rain and wet trail conditions. For 2009, he finished second in his division and age group.
After returning to Dallas from Nevada and Oregon, Bruce competed in the DORBA 2013 XC Series. He finished 3rd in the LBH, race 2nd in the RCP race and 2nd in the CHSP race. His results for the three race series were second overall in CAT-3, 60+ Division.
Bruce also competed in a 100 mile XC event in 2013. He managed to complete over 81 miles in about 9 hours. The only reason he didn't complete the full 100 miles is that he had a commitment the evening of the race and didn't have enough time to finish. For this race, he was able to put his knowledge of endurance nutrition to the test, which exceeded expectations. The lessons learned about training and nutrition for endurance riding are summarized on his Training & Nutrition page.
Follow the Competition link for photos and descriptions of these races.
Version 1.3, Novober 13, 2014