Zen On Dirt


2 Comments

St George – Fighting soreness on red rocks

Every road trip I take, I hatch the same plan: Go to a cool place, ride three to four days there, move to next cool place, ride three to four days there, move to the next cool place. Rinse and repeat.

Every time I find a cool place, I realize that three to four days isn’t even remotely enough to scratch the surface. It’s enough time to go do some of the ‘classics’, but the beauty of a place and of its trails and of its landscape are often far off the beaten path. Places you don’t go to unless you have some time to spend in a location.

Unfortunately, this traversal to the north had a fairly strict schedule that I had to stick to. We arrived in St George on Saturday and I was set to leave Thursday.

You can do a lot in St George in four days, but we also arrived with trashed legs from our Big Ditch adventure, which put a damper on things. But I approached the week with the motto: You can rest when you’re dead, and hoped for the best. The big goal was to be recovered enough to go running in Zion before I had to leave. It had been 15 years since I’d last been and had looked at the towering cliff walls every time I was in the area, wondering what was in there.

And then there was Gooseberry Mesa, and Little Creek, and Guacamole, and Zen, and Bearclaw Poppy…

Maybe I could do two-a-days?

IMG_0964

Sunday, LW and DH invited us out to ride Suicidal Tendencies. I couldn’t resist. I probably should have given the state of my legs, but knew that it was possibly the one time I’d get to ride with the Dos Epicos.

IMG_0971

Maybe it was the mellow pace, maybe it was that we gabbed the whole time, maybe DOMs is just mental, but the riding didn’t hurt nearly as bad as it should have.

I did take care of all of my standing up chores as soon as I got home, knowing that once I was down, I’d be down for the day. I was…to the point of going down stairs backwards.

Monday, I conned Scott out for a short ride. Spin the legs, I coaxed, we’ll feel better.

IMG_0974

The beauty of St George is the variety of riding available right from town. Scott found us some rocks. And some downhill hike-a-bike. Exactly what the doctor ordered.

IMG_0976

But it was all stuff I’d done before. I longed to get out to some place new. To do something long. To see where all of the squiggly lines on the map went. But that would have to wait…wait until i could actually stand on my pedals for longer than 30 seconds without experiencing complete muscle failure.

IMG_0990

Tuesday – still sore. Battling tight calf muscles and achilles tendons. Soreness that felt like it would turn into injury if not respected. Not to worry, there was high desert cruising to be had on new trails on the JEM system with Scott and Scott’s dad.

IMG_0994

It was lovely, but standing in the shadow of Zion left me thinking, Tomorrow? How about it little leggies, tomorrow?

IMG_0997

But after being wrecked after 3 hours of riding, we knew a biggish run was not to be.

But here’s the beauty of being flexible and finding joy in most things: There were still bikes to ride in St George.

IMG_1005

Wednesday, we went out on a ‘more sparkly’ group ride with LW and DH, meaning that a fair amount of focus was employed to actually keep up.

IMG_1008

Take the waterbottle out for the picture. It’s unsightly. So pro. 

And like that, my trip to St George was over. A short run on Thursday morning and into the car and out of town. I didn’t get to ride all the places I wanted to ride. I didn’t get to run all the places I wanted to run. We started talking about what time of year to return for a full month to really start to explore the nooks and crannies of a place.

As I drove, I made mental notes of all of the places I wanted to visit along the I-15 and then the I-70 corridor. Oooh, Capitol Reef. Oooh, Escalante. So much public land, so little time.

And I thought back to the week where I got to ride with some of my favorite people on trails that I already knew well, and thought, That wasn’t half bad either. 

Flexibility. It’s awesome.


1 Comment

A Grand idea

I’m known for having big ideas. Sometimes, they turn out awesomely stupid. Another times, stupidly awesome.

Running the Grand Canyon had been on my Stuff to do this Winter list since we hauled our bikes across it last spring during our AZT tour and it nearly killed me. Really, earlier in the winter when I was still pretending to be a runner, I wanted to do Rim to Rim to Rim, but with age and experience (and a bad case of shin splints), even I’ve learned the difference between a bad idea and a really bad idea. Scott and I had been pretty consistent with our 4-5 mile runs 2-3 times a week for the past month, what could possibly go wrong with a 17-mile trip with ~5,000 feet of elevation drop, and then gain?

To be honest, I was a little surprised Scott agreed to a south rim to river to south rim trip. He’s generally the more logical one of the two of us. But when he said yes, I wasn’t about to try to talk him out of it.

IMG_0776

AZT exhibit at the Grand Canyon Visitors Center. 

We left our little camp on Schnebly Hill in the morning and made it to The Place in Flagstaff just as they were opening their doors for breakfast. Fully bellies and another short drive, we were ready to pay to get two cars into the National Park. Scott bought an annual parks pass, which will pay itself back going to Glacier and Olympia National Parks later this summer, but $105 between the two of us. Ouch.

I used to hate the crowds at National Parks. I used to not like big party bike races. Now, I embrace being part of the circus. It’s not every day, it’s not going to kill me to deal with people on trails every once in a while. And it’s the Grand Canyon.

IMG_0896

We managed to find two parking spots near each other, discovered that we could find everything needed for running in the cars, and ran to catch the shuttle bus to the South Kaibab trailhead.  Amaze-balls people watching.

IMG_0907

And then down.

IMG_0926

And down.

IMG_0932

And stop and take a picture of a flower before going down some more.

IMG_0928

Look at those achilles tendons!

The crowds weren’t too bad. Neither were the mules. Mules are amazing athletes.

IMG_0916

But the heat…that was something special. 100 degrees forecasted for the bottom, we were pretty glad to be doing no aerobic work as the sun beat down on us late morning/early afternoon.

We made it to the river in around 2 hours, which I think is pretty good for the million photos we took, and bathroom breaks, and really, not being in too much of a hurry. I can only imaging how fast people who can actually run the more rubbly and technical sections can do it.

Instead of heading straight to the cantina for lemonade, we stopped to dip our legs and tootsies in the river. So cold. So good. With cool legs and warm bodies, we headed up to Phantom Ranch to waste away a few hours until the sun lost its intensity.

IMG_0941

I was impatient. After two lemonades and snacks, I was ready to go. No, Scott said. It’s hot. We’ll roast. I pouted and read a National Geographic. We went down to Bright Angel Creek and soaked the toes a little more. When the sun goes behind the cliff, we’ll go, Scott said. But I wanna go now, I whined. We stayed put. Scott is the more logical of the two of us.

IMG_0942

The best $11 ever spent on food. Refills on lemonade were only $1. And the summer sausage, so salty.

Finally, with bladders full of water, we cruised across the bridge and pointed for Bright Angel Trail. The sun was firmly behind the cliff making for a lovely running temperature, especially with shirts soaked in river water. The legs felt surprisingly good and I was amazed at how much of the up we could actually run. Or jog. We’ll call it jogging.

IMG_0950

When we got to the top three hours later, I thought maybe we’d gotten away with stupid. The legs felt ok. No blisters. Minor chafing. Maybe? Are we runners?

IMG_0951

Indian Gardens. So green. So awesome. 

A quick dinner at the lodge (They have a fajita dish there for $15 that has 2,100 calories. I almost got it.), we made our way to the super-not-so-secret free camping right outside of the park. A nearly full moon illuminated the canyon on our drive, casting ghostly shadows down into the depths. We threw sleeping bags out and fell asleep hard.

Halfway through the night, we woke up and discovered, No, we hadn’t gotten away with it.

DOMS. Shoot!

IMG_0958

We spent the morning touristing the rest of the Canyon, we did, after all, pay $105 dollars to get in with both of our cars, hobbling from view point to viewpoint and eating a fairly to mostly yummy breakfast burrito before heading east, north, and then west to Jacob Lake Lodge.

Jacob Lake Lodge means one thing: Cookies. And if you’re snoozing, you’re going to be losing.

IMG_0780

We drove the rest of the way to St. George that afternoon, giggling at the fact that while yes, we were sore, we’d totally pulled off a really fun little adventure on our way north. This may have to become an annual tradition.


Leave a comment

Leaving

It’s funny to me that sometimes the things that are the best for us are the hardest to do. Like flossing. Flossing is good for you. Flossing is a royal pain in the ass.

But really, it’s the the difficulty I have giving up our Tucson home in the summer that fascinates me.

IMG_0868

One last girls single-speed ride. One last rattler. 

I know that wandering makes me happy. I know that new experiences, new places, new people, and a whole lot of unknown make me happy. I know that all it takes is leaving the house to make these things happen, but sometimes I struggle to make that first step. Especially when Tucson is so awesome.

IMG_0869

Making it to Seis on a Tuesday night ride with daylight to spare? Unheard of!

We spent last week going through our belongings and packing up our house. Each item was examined: Do we need this for the summer? Yes? Put it in that bin. No? Do we need this at all? No? Put it in the trash. Yes? Into the storage bins. 

Several times, we threw up our hands. Why do we have so much stuff? Which is pretty funny because we really don’t have much stuff at all.

IMG_0870

Who can ride a slowly leaking tire the longest? Who can pump up said leaking tire the fastest?

Several times I wondered if it was worth it. Why didn’t we just sign a year lease someplace, or take the plunge and buy a place, settle in and then just take trips? We could just leave all of our stuff here, if we forgot something, no worries, we’d be back in a day or two, or week or two.

IMG_0873

Somebody is all smiles about his new bike. And matching shorts and helmet. 

Girls rides would continue. Several trips weekly to Seis would continue. Life in Tucson is easy. It’s grand, really. I love it. There are endless mountains to explore. The riding is second to none. It does get hot…and Scott’s allergies leave something to be desired.

But the call of the road… Try as I might, I can’t ignore it, and right now, I have the chance to answer that call completely and totally. So many people tell us to enjoy this lifestyle while we can. Life situations change and maybe someday we won’t be able to pack all of our belongings into a small storage space and point two cars north each summer. But right now we can, and for that, I’m grateful.

IMG_0880

Try as he might, he couldn’t destroy his big chain ring…or get up the step. 

The stress and anxiety associated with the last day of a lease never gets any better. The last minute packing. The scrubbing, cleaning, and dusting. Loading the cars in a way that we can find what we’ll need in the immediate future. Looking at the two halfway packed cars and asking, Is this really all we need for six months of living?

IMG_0886

Dylan getting ready to set off for the CDT tequila-tree style

The white-knuckled driving through Phoenix after waving good-bye to our little barrio house did nothing to ease the stress. It wasn’t until we pulled onto a dirt road just outside of Flagstaff and threw out our sleeping pads and bags out under the stars that it sunk in.

IMG_0891

Freedom.


2 Comments

Bikes on the CDT – Summer 2015

For a long time after last summer, I was firmly under the impression that anyone who wanted to undertake the Continental Divide Trail on wheels was mistaken. It was so freakin’ hard.

But lo and behold, there are not one, not two, but three people riding their bikes on the CDT this summer, two of them attempting a full thru-ride.

Firstly, Iohan Gueuorguiev got one of the Blackburn Ranger sponsorship spots and mid 7-year round the world expedition, is trying the route north to south. Based on quick internet  and bikepacking.net searching, he’s got a fairly high tolerance for BS and is planning on riding the Canadian section as well. He’d done a lot of the GDMBR and wanted to step it up a level.

Secondly, Dylan from Alaska, is headed out this afternoon. He flew into Tucson a few days ago, and we dropped him on a Greyhound bus early this morning headed to Lordsburg. As one of the original members of the stumblefutzing expeditions on Alaska’s Lost Coast, one would think that the BS that the CDT doles out would be nothing for him.

IMG_0872

We insisted that he come out and do a final Starr Pass ride with us, putting him on Scott’s Leviathan. He said it was the longest time he’d ever ridden a dually, and halfway through the ride when it clicked for him  that they can be point-and-shoot machines, he claimed that while entirely useless in Alaska, he might have to get one.

IMG_0882

And lastly, Steve Spanogle from down south is doing part of what I’d consider a dream trip. He has twelve days of support and is riding a bike on all the fun sections of the the CDT from Silver City north and hiking all of the Wilderness and sections that you really don’t want a bike for. I’d love to do something similar on the Colorado Trail someday…He’s going to be out for 12 days and I think is about half way done with his trip right now.

We got a good bit of beta from Steve about the “trail” south of Lordsburg before our trip last year, a lot of which gave us the confidence to actually attempt the sections. So that’s really cool that he’s getting out there on wheels himself.

It’s a small step in a positive direction for getting people excited to ride the trail. Hopefully we’ll get updates from the thru-riders throughout the summer.


Leave a comment

The final weeks

The end always sneaks up faster than I think it will. Back in October, November, December, even January and February, it seemed like winter in Tucson would never end. I could always put off the motivation to drive up and ride Ridgeline because I had plenty of time. There would be endless Starr Pass rides. No need to get Seis burritos now, they’ll always be there. Ok, that last parts a lie. Whenever there’s even the slightest reason to go get Seis burritos, we go get Seis burritos. 

But now I’m sitting here with only three days left till our lease is up and anything that doesn’t fit into our cars goes into storage for six months and we point north, and I ask myself, where did the time go?

IMG_0753

I guess it’s a common life question, one that receives serious thought due to picking up and doing something completely different every six months. Each half-year becomes a very finite time period, instead of month rolling into month, year into year, I’m forced to stop and think, what did I do with my last six months? Was it worthwhile? Was it fun? What will I remember about winter of 2014-15?

Lots. I’ll remember lots.

Heck, just the last nine days, I’ll remember lots.

I’ll remember shrieking like a small child when trying to pass a rattle snake that Scott had already pissed off. There’s a primal fear associated with the sound of their rattle, one that can’t be reasoned out of knowing that I had plenty wide of a berth that it couldn’t get me, and that it was cold out and it couldn’t move fast even if it tried. Snakes, I will not miss this summer.

IMG_0849

We spent a lovely Sunday morning riding a lap of Cyclovia, the semi-annual celebration of human powered transportation. Several miles of city streets are shut down and taken over by bikes, walkers, adults, kids, vendors, music, and people looking to have a good time. The sheer number of cyclists who come out, all shapes, sizes, and ages, always makes me smile. Usually we get some ice cream, but this time we were aiming to pick up a Seis breakfast burrito on our way home. Life rule: When given the chance to get a Seis breakfast burrito, get a breakfast burrito.

IMG_0751

Drum bike!

Shannon’s birthday ride came just two days later. We’ve started a girls single speed ride on Tuesdays out at Starr Pass. Most weeks, we ride as long as possible to end up being those customers who show up at Seis five minutes before closing asking for burritos. This time, Shannon got off of work early, giving us plenty of time to toodle around on bikes and make it to Seis with daylight to spare.

IMG_0853

The desert is so damn green right now. I’m going to miss it. I’m also going to miss our girls’ ride. Though I’m really looking forward to riding trails that aren’t filled with rubble. And climbing big hills. We don’t have big hills on this side of town and I sort of miss them. I’m going to miss Rufus, our semi-tame stray cat who comes by most every morning and sometimes at night.

IMG_0764_1

On Wednesday, fully aware that I should probably be a good bike racer and rest up for Whiskey 50 weekend, I hijacked Scott and Chad’s techy taco ride and hauled them up to Ridgeline instead. It really would be my last viable chance to ride Ridgeline this season, and I would have felt really bad if I’d skipped the freshly completed trail entirely. Rest be damned, I can rest when I’m dead.

IMG_0859

We made good time up and around. I nearly ran into two javelinas getting it on, which was actually a little unnerving because they are mean little piggies, and I figured that they probably weren’t too stoked with the interruption. Luckily, they ran off snorting in different directions.

IMG_0862

We made it back with only 20 minutes of riding by headlight, not bad for a post-real work day ride. Having hijacked the ride and pushed my agenda on it, I felt it was only fair to relent to a trip to In-and-Out burger. If someone could enlighten me on what’s so great about In-and-Out, I’m all ears, but I’ll admit, it did the trick. Hungry belly no more.

And then we went up to Preskitt so that I could race the Whiskey 50 on my single speed, one of those ideas that seemed like a good one when I was stoked on racing after 24 Hours of the Old Pueblo. Every time I race, I debate whether there’s a better way I could be spending my weekend, and the ‘resting’ time leading up to it, and the ‘recovery’ time after it. I’ve come to the conclusion that racing is simply a good time, and as long as the rest/recovery sacrifice isn’t too great, is well worth the effort.

Plus, it’s a great excuse to stay in shape enough so that I can ride with people instead of fiddle farting around at normal Ez pace.

Unfortunately, the weather didn’t fully cooperate for a weekend full of festivities, showering us with rain and hail multiple times per day. Luckily, we got to stay at Kurt and Kaitlyn’s little cabin in the woods, where we even convinced them to build a fire one night and got the place roasting. The weather seemed to mostly hold off for the actual racing, including the pro crit Friday night.

IMG_0759

Race day itself turned out to be perfect racing weather and fun racing. Kait walked away with the win and a trip to Japan for single speed worlds, but I reached my goal of making the top five and getting one of the neat little whiskey flasks, perfect for bikepacking.

10608616_10104203189491447_9162976256526259780_o

Photo from Kurt

A part of me hates getting beat. The same part of me knows that I didn’t put in the work to be at the top of my game. It’s an interesting place to be as I work towards learning how to race for fun instead of with 100% commitment. Interestingly, my usual post-race internal dialogue reel of ‘Next year, you’re going to train, and eat right, and do all the intervals’ only lasted for about 36 hours. The whole time I smiled at the little voice – I know you well. You’ve helped me achieve a lot. You’ve helped me reach nearly every bike racing goal that I set. I devoted much of my life listening to you, and it was worth it. But now, I’m going to go eat a donut. There is nothing left to prove. 

IMG_0761

We came home in time to host a Christina who was looking for a last minute Warm Showers place to stay after getting stuck in a hailstorm outside of Lordsburg on her cross-country bike trip and hitching into Tucson. She’d been fighting headwinds for the past several days and was pretty excited to be nearing California where she wanted to get on the Ellen Show.

IMG_0766

I’d love to have a tally of the number of nights we had guests this winter. I’d put it pretty close to 40-45% if I had to take a guess, and I love that.

IMG_0769_1

Leaving to explore the world. We’ll be following soon enough. 

As we head out for a summer of adventuring on bikes and on foot, it’s fun to look back at all the new people I’ve met in the past six months, the new experiences I’ve had, the self-reflection time, the good times and the bad. It’s also a good time to sit and think about the next six months. There’s going to be some traveling. There’s going to be some racing. There’s going to be a long bikepacking exploration trip on another National Scenic Trail. There’s going to be a whole lot of fun.

I’m ready to get this house packed up and venture into something new.


1 Comment

Pie Town Bikepack – The perfect fusion of the CDT and GDMBR

Last summer, we stood at an intersection of the CDT just off of Highway 12 in New Mexico. To our left, newly built and signed CDT that would take us to Hwy 60, 13 miles outside of Pie Town. To our right, the Ley map suggested an alternate route going to the Mangus Mountain Lookout and then hooking up with the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route 12 miles outside of Pie Town, leading to pie via dirt. We looked left at the smooth, flawless trail that disappeared over the hillside. We looked behind us at Wagon Tongue Mountain that had ended up having a spectacular descent down it, but not before a fairly excessive amount of cross-country BS. We looked at our minimal food stores, knowing that the CDT had 30 miles of unknown quality trail and a highway ride to Pie, versus the Ley route had a fairly established dirt road and 2-track route to Pie. We went with Ley, somewhat reluctantly.

When Silver City plans started to come together last week, it seemed like a given that this new section of trail would have to be explored. Anyhow, Scott desperately needed time away from the computer, and I’m an easy one to talk into  going on an adventure.

We decided to ride the mysterious CDT north from HWY 12 to Hwy 60 and cruise over to Pie Town, spend the night at the Toaster House, eat breakfast and pie at one of the cafes in the morning, and then ride the GDMBR and Ley route back to the van the next day. An easy overnighter with minimal gear given that we’d get to spend the night inside.

IMG_0780

We got a nice and early Scott and Ez start: 8:45am. But who’s in a hurry?

The first mile of trail was smooth, freshly built, and clearly used more by cows than humans. Our tires cut a clear layer through the dust. We kept waiting for it to go to shit, as so many trails we explore tend to do. Mile after mile, smooth, gradual trail, climbing to the pines.

IMG_0784

It did eventually go to shit for a short period of time, but quickly changed its mind and went back to smooth, duffy, pine-needle covered trail, wending its way through the woods, sometimes so faint, we had to use our spidey-senses to follow it.

And then it would turn to crap.

IMG_0793

And would get good again.

IMG_0803

And get crummy.

IMG_0810

And flow beautifully through the landscape.

IMG_0797

Yeah non-motorized trails!

All in all, typical CDT, better than average in my book.

We enjoyed a full lunch at the top of a climb. Cole-slaw and a sandwich (Hatch green chile, avocado, tomato, red onion, banana pepper, green pepper, and mayo on home-made grilled bread, yeah, drooooool) and some iced tea. Because we’re civilized and all.

IMG_0789

We reached the north trailhead surprisingly quickly. 30 miles in just over seven hours is pretty good CDT pace…

IMG_0817

We saw a freshly signed segment of cross-country trail across the parking lot. It looked bush-wackable. We had daylight to spare. We looked right at the road that would take us to the highway. We looked left at the trail. We went left.

We’re such suckers.

IMG_0819

After a mile of bouncing along on a tussocky field and seeing nothing to indicate anything would change in the next six miles, we waved the white flag, took a right, and made our way back to the dirt road.

IMG_0820

Dirt to pavement and to the closed-for-the-night Top of the World store, complete with alien statue.

IMG_0823

Pavement to Pie Town.

IMG_0826

We met Jay and Mary who were touring the GDMBR north-bound, just recently arrived at the Toaster House. They’d made it to town to hit up the Mercantile before it closed and bought all of their mini pies. They were nice enough to share a peach pie with us to complement the frozen pizza that Nita stocks the Toaster House freezer with.

IMG_0737_1

It was their first bike tour together (Jay had done Trans-am 10 years prior) and mentioned that they’d learned a lot in their first 400 miles. Broken spokes and a tight schedule were going to end their trip in Grants, but it seemed to me that they had the touring bug. It’s always fun to see people getting into the scene and figuring things out.

Breakfast was eggs, bacon, potatoes, and of course, PIE. New Mexican apple for me, Blue Moon (blueberries and peach) for Scott.

IMG_0742

Bellies full, Jay and Mary headed north, we headed south.

IMG_0827

Every time I get on the GDMBR, I thank myself for talking myself out of racing the Tour Divide every year. I’ve developed a complete intolerance to wide dirt roads, regardless of how remote or quiet. We saw two cars and one ATV during our 30 miles on road…the most continuous road I’ve ridden since riding into Canada last September. I only whined a little bit, I swear.

The 30 miles went quick, and we knew that the last 10 miles of CDT that we’d started out on the day before would be ‘mostly rideable’ in the opposite direction, so we cut over on a small forest road and rejointed the CDT. My smile returned.

IMG_0840

There’s something about trails…

A brewing storm kept us honest and moving as we made our way back to the trailhead, noting the improvement in the trail firmness with only two sets of tire tracks on it. More people need to get out and ride this!

IMG_0842

Mid-afternoon, we were back. 30 miles of new CDT checked out – some of it will definitely make it into our recommended route for the two intrepid adventurers who are ready to take on the route this summer.

It took me six months of recovery to forget the brutality of the trail as a whole, but with four days of riding on it with fresh legs, I’m fully ready to sing its praises and convinced anyone with mountain bike skills and a tolerance for BS to take a serious look at the route. It’s well worth the effort.


3 Comments

CDT Trail Days

Silver City is one of those magic places. One of those places where no one really expects you to act like a grownup. One of those places that has an eclectic mix of old hippies, college kids, outdoorsy people, miners and ranchers.

And an amazing bike community.

This year, it hosted the first annual Continental Divide Trail Days festival, part expo, part talks about various trail subjects, part general kick-off to trail season. Scott and I were both a little shocked when the CDT Coalition invited Trackleaders to come set a booth up at the expo and promote the long-trail tracking that they offer to hikers.

Surely they knew that if we were there, we’d talk bikes on the trail to whoever would listen.

When we discovered that Gila Hike and Bike was hosting a group ride on the CDT in conjunction with Trail Days on Sunday, we were sold. Any chance to support bikes on the trail, we were in. Plus, we had a little bikepack we wanted to go on in the area, but that’s a different story.

We finished up work Friday afternoon, set an absurdly early alarm for Saturday, and pointed the van east towards the Land of Enchantment.

IMG_0731

The expo was set up along the Big Ditch Trail and had a handful of booths. For a first-year event, they had some good stuff. Hikertrash was selling t-shirts and hats, Sirena and the Arizona Trail Association had a booth set up, the lady across from us was from a historical trails organization dedicated to keeping the history of old routes, think Lewis and Clark and Oregon Trail, alive. Talking to her sparked some ideas for sure. We got to meet the great Jerry Brown, GPS track-keeper of the CDT and other long trails.

Scott set up a fairly to mostly janky booth, but really, given that we’d decided to go somewhere on the order of 48 hours before departure, I’d say it was pretty good. Talked to a lot of hikers using SPOTs, the Grant County Search and Rescue booth was just across, so they wandered over to talk unit reliability. One random guy informed us that ‘Those devices don’t belong anywhere in the Wilderness’ followed by ‘You rode the trail? Did you do the Wind Rivers?’ ‘No, that’s Wilderness.’ ‘That’s like going to Paris and not seeing the Louvre!’ I wanted to reply, ‘That’s okay, the best part of Paris is the street-side crepe carts, not the tourist-infested sights’ but I figured this guy was grumpy enough.

IMG_0732

I got to man the ATA booth while Serena went for a walk. It was all fine and dandy until a reporter from Las Cruces came over and started asking questions. After correctly answering a few questions (The trail is 800 miles long. It goes through the Grand Canyon), I eventually had to punt and ask her to come back when Sirena was back.

20150411_121834

This is my, ‘Oh geez, come up with something good, she’s taking notes!’ look

When all was said and done, we moved on to Goal 2 of the trip – Ride bikes.

We’d gotten the recommendation to ride Cherry Creek to the top of Black Mountain and flip it, skipping several miles of CDT that we could also use to descend back to the car. Take Cherry Creek, it’s better trail, they urged us.

I’ll give you one guess which trail we took back down. Rubbly in parts, but all in all, a fairly low BS factor, given that it is, after all, CDT. We’d had to skip this section of trail last summer due to the Signal Peak fires, which have still left some areas of CDT closed.

IMG_0763

The next day, we met up at the Hike and Bike for an amazingly reasonable 11am ride time. Martyn was leading the ride, his two kids in tow, and Cat showed up as well, which worked out well for us as we’d get a personalized tour of CDT South, as the locals call it.

IMG_0764

At the trail head, Martyn, nearly ready, told us to ride ahead since he’d be moving slower with the kids. Cat took off. The kids took off after her, deaf to the calls of their dad to wait. Scott and I shrugged and took off after them. Those kids can shred!

IMG_0770

I asked Addy how long he’d been riding. He very matter-of-factly told me that he’s been riding since he was three, and he’s seven now, so he’s been riding for four years. I was impressed. He didn’t want to stop at the three way where our slightly-more-grown-up group would split up from the really-not-grown-ups.

IMG_0769

I sure hope our ride isn’t over yet

Cat, Scott, and I continued on to freshly built trail, newly designated as CDT, built by the local mountain bike trail building gurus with mountain bikes in mind. It was glorious.

We paid a visit to a trail section called ‘Where unicorns are born’ before looping back on old CDT to the Hill of Death that led to the Meadow of Life. I love the trail names in Silver.

IMG_0771

It was the perfect little ride on new CDT. Big thanks to Cat for the tour! It’s neat to see mountain bikers taking care of and building CDT. The more people who love that trail, the better.

We finished with a quick stop to the grocery store for some bikepacking grub (does anyone else get embarrassed by loading up a cart full of crap instead of good food and taking it to the checkout?) and pointed the car out of Silver. There was much left to ride, and we’ll be back, but we had more CDT that needed exploring and a favorite house in a favorite NM town that needed a visit. And pie, pie needed to be eaten.

IMG_0777

We made it to our remote trailhead in time to watch the sunset from the back of the van. NM might even have AZ beat for sunsets. I’ve yet to see a dud. Sleep, then ride. That was the plan, and the plan was good.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 102 other followers