Zen On Dirt

High Altitude Love

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The ride with Pete gave me a little bit of confidence in my knee.  I’d been slowly building up the rides, sometimes the knee barked, sometimes it whimpered, sometimes it was completely okay.  I had no way of predicting what it would do on any given day, but the fact that I could chase hard for nearly three hours and suffer minimal pain gave me hope that healing was in fact happening.  The improved knee gave me a hall pass for the weekend, four hours of riding one day, and then a long day the next.  As has become a bit of a tradition, back to back big rides got turned into a bikepack to go explore some trails and roads on the Rico side of the Colorado Trail.  A quick stop at City Market for some Noosa and trail food, a stop at Zia for burritos, and we were on our way to Durango Mountain Resort.

We climbed the road in the late afternoon light towards Hotel Draw on the CT, pointing out ideal campsite after ideal campsite.  With a solar charger for my computer, I could spend a week up there and actually get some useful writing done without the distraction of life.  Next to the bubbling creek, tall trees towering overhead, blue skies, Colorado summer.  It really is heaven.  


We hit the Colorado Trail and the trip down memory lane continued.  ‘It was muddy here!  There were cows, it was miserable!’ ‘I stopped here to get water and I was so sleepy and out of it, I had to talk my way through getting and treating water.’ ‘I rode off the trail here and tumbled down the hillside.  That woke me up real quick!’

Our planned descent was Salt Creek.  The only information we had on it was from El Freako’s blog.  Really, the only information on riding near Rico is from him, so we went with it.  


It was nothing short of stunning.  Steep, smooth, aspen gladed, tight, primitive.  New favorite descent in Colorado.  And with new brakepads and bled brakes that didn’t squeal, I got to the bottom completely giddy.  We set up camp in a flat spot filled with dandelions, ate burritos, and watched the sun disappear from the hillsides.  I’m pretty sure I could sleep outside every day for the rest of my life and never get bored of watching sunsets and watching stars appear.


We rallied in the morning to make it to Rico in search of breakfast.  My only time driving through hadn’t registered any food suppliers, or anything, really, but we were immediately greeted by a breakfast and coffee shack.  I’ve taken to only drinking coffee when out for breakfast and the black gold never tasted as good as it did sitting on the picnic table, eating a breakfast burrito and basking in the sun.  


Then back up to the CT to Bolam Pass and over Blackhawk Pass.  My first time riding the CT in 2004, I’d arrived to the base of Blackhawk completely exhausted but there weren’t any good places to camp, so I got dragged over, exhausted.  Both race runs saw Blackhawk done in the dark.  In the light, and not exhausted, it’s really quite ridable.  I was excited, soaking in the high alpine beauty.  Halfway down the descent, I thought of the spot where I’d nearly given up to sleep during CTR #2 but had pulled out my phone to set an alarm and opened up Facebook for giggles.  The energy/stimulation it gave me kept me moving for at least four more hours that night.  Never doubt the power of Facebook.


We made it back down to Hotel Draw quickly.  I’ve always loved the downhill part of mountain biking.  We contemplated the options, back down the road to the car, down the CT to Coral Draw, or down the road to Coral Draw, hopefully avoiding some of the steep sections of trail.


‘Let’s do Coral Draw,’ I declared, knowing that ‘real’ training would start soon enough and I wanted to milk my free day for all it was worth.

‘Ok.  But let’s take the road over to it.’

I immediately did a full body scan of Scott.  Take the road instead of trail?  Who took my Scott, and what did they do with him?!

‘That’s dumb, that’s like saying, Let’s not get an ice cream sandwich, or, chocolate granola is overkill.’

So we took the trail, and it was delightful.


Coral Draw, also delightful.  Climbing up Hermosa and back on the road with a tailwind, reveling in the length and beauty of the ride, not tradeable for anything.  By the time we made it back to the car, we’d pedaled for nearly eight hours.  Three weeks prior, I was happy to be able to do a 45 minute ride.  Now, I could explore up high, climb steep trail, descend rocks, and frolic in the flowers.  


Now this, this is why I came to Durango for the summer. 


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