Zen On Dirt


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A week in St. George

I’ve passed through St. George a handful of times during my years criss-crossing the west, looking for cool places to ride. First there was Camp Lynda, then the ‘wet’ year at True Grit, once coming north from racing the Whisky 50 where I finally got to ride the famed Gooseberry, and once for 25 Hours of Frog Hollow, another time heading home from Stagecoach 400. I feel like each trip gave me a glimpse of what there was to ride in the area, and I kept trying to find reasons to come back and spend a significant chunk of time in the area.

The stars aligned this past week with my early exit from Salida to go see the Boulder doc, which was followed by a weekend in Junction with Jj. With Salida getting cold, I didn’t particularly want to head back for a few extra days of riding there before heading to Tucson, and anyhow, Scott had to drive to Durango on his exit route from Colorado (the issue with leaving your belongings scattered about the state is that you have to go get them when you leave) so we made plans to take care of our separate medical issues, pick up belongings in Boulder and Durango separately, and then meet up in St. George at Scott’s parents’ house.

I was to arrive on Sunday night. Scott would follow on Tuesday. And then we would spend a glorious week riding the red rocks of Dixie.

It almost worked out for us.

Driving through Utah during sunset was absolutely stellar. I forget how pretty the state is with high mesas, the Swell, and beautiful colors. It was mesmerizing until it got dark, at which point the speed limit went up to 80 and I made short work of the final miles to St. George.

Being fairly wasted after a weekend of following Jj around GJ, I begged for mercy from Scott’s dad, who was itching to ride. We settled on a short ride in Paradise Canyon, just a stones throw from their home. Up, down, all around. It was good to finally be warm and to try to maintain some rock skills that I’d picked up over the weekend.

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We ran into Big Guy Tortoise who was sunning himself under his alcove.

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Then later we ran into a very motivated tortoise who ran me down. I’m pretty sure I was more scared of him than he was of me. He did the same thing to LW. I feel pretty lucky to have run into two of these strange animals on my first ride, especially since I didn’t see any the rest of the week.

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Day 2 brought more of the same. Breakfast. Workie-work. Afternoon ride on the rocks with Scott’s dad.

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City Creek and Owen’s Loop, which isn’t even remotely a loop as far as I can tell, but amazing riding nonetheless.

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And then Scott showed up!

Our first order of business was to go ride and LW was happy to play tour guide on the newly built Suicidal Tendencies.

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I sort of feel like a more appropriate name would have been Team Vertigo.

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We watched a beautiful sunset from the back deck, marveling at how quickly, yet imperceptibly the colors changed in the clouds. St. George is good for sunsets. And I’m good at watching them.

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Tragedy struck that night with Scott getting sick. Being the rational person that he is, he opted to skip riding for the day and loaned me his GPS so I wouldn’t get terribly lost trying to navigate a big loop of trails. I feel like I haven’t ridden solo in a long time and it felt a little strange. Exceptionally strange since I used to only ride solo.

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The ride was going along beautifully until the storm moved in. I realize that in a past life, I may have had tough-girl points, but I’ve ridden in St. George in the rain and I have no intention of ever doing so again. I hightailed it home as fast as my little legs could carry me. I’ll save my HTFU points for sometime when I actually need them.

A double rainbow was a consolation prize to being inside when I was planning on being out pedaling.

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With Scott still sick the next day, I teamed up with LW, Heather, and Kenny for a lap of Zen. It was billed as a session-y type of ride and I think we all rode stuff that scared us. Except for Kenny. I’m pretty sure nothing scared Kenny.

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That afternoon, I made good on a threat of trying to ride Scott’s big bike. We went out with his dad for a lap of Paradise Canyon and I quickly discovered why Scott’s brother had nicknamed the bike the No-fear bike. I few drops took me a couple of roll ups before I could commit to them, but a whole lot of moves that I couldn’t fathom on my other bike went smoothly.

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I think I could get used to big bike geometry and 5 inches of travel.

We took the bike up to Zen the next day. While a few moves still eluded me, a few that I had failed at the day before went and I was down to 3 unrideable sections, with one of them being so close that I almost want to count it as going. The hard part went…I just couldn’t keep the bike going in a straight line at the top.

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It’s a good excuse to come back and ride it again in my book. I can see it all going…if I can just stop clipping my pedals on a biggish step up and (wo)man up and ride the silly drop on the last switchback.

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The fun and games continued at Little Creek the next day. A good crew of LW, DH, Kenny, Heather, and Brian with qualified tour guides. The key was to keep Brian and Kenny in sight and to follow them to a) ride all the cool lines and b) avoid going off the edge of rocks you really don’t want to be going off of.

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I feel like I’ve become awfully good at embracing the slower paced riding of the rock monkey culture, and this group was exceptional in the ability to keep moving through flowing sections and then stopping to play at all the good ones.

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Having LW and Heather there was awesome for pushing limits on moves that I might not have tried or retried on my own. Girls with skills rock.

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Starting to feel the wear and tear of riding all week, I almost welcomed the wind and rainstorm that hit the area on Monday morning. We tried for a morning ride in Paradise but were blown off our bikes. I was ready to call it a rest day.

But then the wind died down, the sun came out, and I couldn’t resist.

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If it wasn’t for the beautiful sunset that just needed to be photographed in all it’s glory, I would have even made it home before dark.

Scott finally woke up feeling better on Tuesday. Well enough to make the drive down to Tucson, but first we needed a re-do on the Paradise ride that we’d been blown off. And really, it’s always better to do a long drive after riding. Or so I say.

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With newly adjusted shock pressures to account for the weight difference between Scott and I and a lowered stem to account for half a foot of hight difference, I’m starting to take back my offer of joint custody of that bike. I may have to selfishly call it mine from here on out. It needs some brake levers that I can actually reach and a saddle that’s actually comfortable, but it’s coming along nicely in its Eszter-ification.

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And so wrapped up a week in the southern Utah desert. We loaded up the Sportsvan and CR-V with a handful of bikes and other stuff and pointed south. The weather was about to get cold, so it was time to move to our new winter home in the desert.

While I’m going to miss the rocks of Dixie, I hear there are rocks to ride in Tucson as well.


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Embracing the inner Rock Monkey

Last December, I found myself in a bit of a panic. I needed two things before I headed down to Arizona for the first time to ride: A cute pair of pants (turns out, after you live in a mountain town for several years where you hold jobs that don’t really require you to look excessively nice, you stop owning nice clothes), and rock riding skills. The first problem was easily remediable with a trip to the mall, the second required a frantic call to Jj: We need to go ride Bergen. You need to teach me how to ride rocks. Stat.

Somehow, as is my general life motif of pulling together some amazing stuff when push comes to shove, I showed up to Tucson looking presentable and with some semblance of skills. Enough, at least, to convince Scott that I was a worthy riding partner.

I’ve tried unsuccessfully to embrace Rock Monkey-ing as a lifestyle, since some of my favorite riding partners are full-fledged primates, but I think that maybe they’re starting to rub off on me. A little bit. While I still prefer riding at a pace that involves moving in more than 200 foot increments, I’m finding myself fascinated by learning to get up and over rocks.

With Arizona looming again, I felt like I needed a refresher course from the Rock Monkey master herself. It was time to spend three days learning enough skills so I wouldn’t make a complete ass of myself when I got down to the desert.

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After an early morning blood draw in Boulder, I pointed the car west to the desert of Grand Junction and headed out for a quickie loop before the sun set.  Well, it was meant to be a quickie and turned into a quickie + an I’m lost at Lunch Loops loop before I successfully located the car again. My second mountain bike race ever was out at Lunch Loops and to this day I’m impressed that a) I didn’t die with no skills and 40 psi in my tires and b) I stuck with mountain biking after the traumatic experience. I scoped out a handful of lines that had scared me in the past, rode a few of them, chickened out on a few of them, and scratched my head at a few of them.

When Jj had asked if there were any trails that I wanted to ride, I had replied the Ribbon. There’s just something about bombing down a giant slab of rock while you’re 2,000 feet above GJ that makes me giggle. So we made that our main mission for Saturday, with some extra trails thrown in before and after.

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After over four hours of riding rocks, sessioning moves that seemed impossible and went pretty easily after I stopped unclipping halfway through, and bottoming out my suspension more times than I’d like to admit, I started to feel the skills starting to come around. I also felt like I’d gotten away with murder on a handful of moves that I had no business riding.

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Day Two was more of the same Lunch Loops goodness, except this time on the other side of Little Park Road.

“Have you ever ridden Butterknife?” Jj had asked.

“A long time ago, I don’t really remember it.”

“It hasn’t existed for that long…”

“Well, it was spring or fall of 2011. Two years ago. That’s a really long time ago!”

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I paused to think of all the cool places I’ve gotten to ride since then. What a fun trip it’s been.

We played on rocks. I started to gain trust in the friction coefficient between my tires and rocks. And then my cranks came loose, a fact that I luckily didn’t notice until we were all but done riding for the day. Lunch loops is good for shaking any loose parts even looser, that’s for sure.

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Am I ready to face the rocks of Tucson? Well, if nothing else, I’m a whole lot more ready than I was before the weekend.


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The fun and games continue

Scott and I were going through his blog the other night looking at pictures from the summer. The actual reason we got onto this activity was because I claimed that the first ride I did on the Spearfish was bikepacking near Ouray and that we hadn’t been bikepacking since, on any bike. It was fun to look back on a summer, which I guess is why I make the effort, be it sometimes weeks late, to keep this litter corner of the Interwebs updated.

Being sidelined with a bum knee seemed so long ago. Going to the Durango Rec Center to swim laps? At least 17 eternities have passed since then. Sitting down by the Animas River eating watermelon and pointing excitedly at maps? A lifetime ago. Even getting sick seems like a bad dream that I’ve woken up from and gotten on with my day.

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Keeping track of time around here has been an experience for someone who’s had jobs that require attendance at certain locations at certain times for the past couple of years. The days blur together here, the mornings spent at the computer, the nearly daily trips for fruits and veggies at the store, the daily rides, watching far too much Breaking Bad while eating roasted veggies every night, and watching the high country get snowed in one storm at a time.

I go to the doctor this week which means that just about a month ago, I was completely pathetic in terms of bike riding ability. I was pretty convinced that I’d used up my lifetime allotment of bike riding and that I should probably learn how to knit. It’s strange to think about now, being in such a better place both physically and mentally.

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We’ve spent far too much time watching this family roam around. And the stray cats and kittens playing next door give a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘Time you enjoyed wasting wasn’t wasted time at all.’

Of course I’m going to get better. Of course I’m going to race my bike next year. Of course I’m going to spend the winter in Tucson marveling at the wildlife and plant life there.

Of course I’m going to make the most of this little riding binge in Salida before leaving the state for more than three months for the first time since 1991.

Somehow we got it into our heads that we wanted to ride Cottonwood Gulch again, this time from the very top. Unfortunately, when we got to the end of the pavement, we found the road closed for blasting. Unfortunately, I suggested that we take the other road up to the bottom part of Cottonwood to salvage our ride, so when the new road turned to a heinous hike-a-bike, I really couldn’t say anything because I was the one who suggested it. And then it started raining on us, which I also couldn’t say anything about because I was the one who declared that it wasn’t going to rain.

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It’s a good thing Cottonwood never fails to disappoint, because I’m pretty sure there’s no way I’d climb that rutted, rubbly excuse of a road again. At least not when there’s a perfectly grated alternative, on most days.

The winds picked up the next day and after carefully studying the flag blowing outside, I declared that we’d have a tailwind up the road to Cottonwood. Scott was skeptical, but after being turned around the day before, we were both itching to get a run at the very top section of the trail.

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The wind cooperated and while Scott still gave me a hard time about my description of ‘and now we climb a bit’ during the first time we did the ride in 2011, the 2,000+ foot climb seemed like cheating this time around. I’m pretty sure we’d have set some Strava KOMs with the winds at our backs.

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As far as we could tell, no one has ridden or worked on the top section for a significantly long time. And thus, an already steep and rutted trail turned into quite the sporty descent. I may have scared myself a time or two and gotten roped into riding sections I didn’t want to simply because there was no safe way to bail.

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Who am I to complain, we had a tailwind on the way up.

Starting to feel the effects of three weeks of consistent riding, we opted for a shorter, S-Mountain ride the following day with the intent of scoping out an unmarked trail that we’d ridden by several times but never mustered the motivation to actually follow.

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Whoever build that trail has an eye for interesting features and fun rocks. Endlessly entertaining and never an easy moment.

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Over three weeks of continuous riding around here and there are still new trails to explore. If it wasn’t for the need for knee warmers on nearly all the rides now, I don’t think I’d be ready to leave.


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Milking it

As a mountain biker in Colorado, there’s an impending doom that comes with the fall: The knowledge that winter is just around the corner. Now, this doom can be somewhat alleviated with the sport of skiing if living in the mountains, or road riding if living on the front range, but for all practical purposes, honest-to-goodness mountain biking gets shut down around here for most of the winter.

I’ve spent many a years riding on the road, bundled up in a million layers and still freezing. I spent several years backcountry skiing, much of the time terrified of the avalanche dragon. I spent the past two winters barely skiing and riding my fat bike in snowy places learning how to stay (relatively) warm and (relatively) comfortable, but it’s never quite given me the satisfaction of a good piece of singletrack. I’ve been mumbling about moving to Tucson for the winter ever since I first started road racing over a decade ago and learned about roadies going down there for winter training camps.

This is about the time of year that the mumbling starts. Regular storms. High country snowed in. Mud. And cold. The inevitable Facebook status update: I’m cold. I’m moving to Tucson.

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But, it’s not quite time yet. With a few more orders of business to take care of next week in CO, we’ve been milking Salida for all that it’s worth.

Lee and Joan dropped by for a visit during their final visit to Leadville. They’ve been taking advantage of the Tucson winters and Colorado summers for several years now and were the final reality check I needed: I’m going to be warm this winter!

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Scott had ‘work’ to do their first day they were in town (I know, he works, I didn’t believe it for years either based on reading his blog), so we went out for an afternoon cruise on the backyard S-Mountain trails when he was done. North Backbone – Sand Dune – Backbone – Frontside. Still definitely not even remotely bored of these trails. The evening light has a special way of lighting them up that makes me never want to come down off the side of the mountain. Well, at least until the sun goes down and the temperature plummets.

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With a full day coming up with no real obligations, other than making the most of the day, we headed up to Fooses Creek, yet another section of the Colorado trail that I hadn’t ridden (up) without bikepacking gear and the only time I’d descended it, I was chaperoning a bunch of middle school boys. That trip ended up with one of their frames sheared in half and a totally unrelated broken pinkie. A part of me misses working with kids, another part…not so much.

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It always amazes me how much easier it is to climb without being loaded down, and I guess without being on Day 3 of the CTR. The steep parts really weren’t that steep, the technical parts still had me on the edge of my discomfort/how did I not crash on that? level, but there wasn’t the frustration of the on-again-off-again that I remember so well from racing the trail.

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We knew that there’d be snow at the top, but when we hit mud after two hours of climbing, it didn’t take much persuasion to convince all three of us to turn around. Scott didn’t want to get his bike muddy, I didn’t want to get my toes cold, and while Lee had the brilliant idea of climbing up through the snow and descending Greens Creek, he didn’t seem too fussed about flipping it.

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That descent is nothing short of brilliant. End of discussion. And apparently you can loop it with a dirt road that goes up to the Crest to avoid the dreaded out-and-back.

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But that’s a project for next summer because after a few more rides around here, it’s time to point the cars south (well, north first to visit the good doctor, then west and south to hang out in the desert until our lease begins, and then finally south to the land of saguaro forests).

I’m going to Tucson! Talk about a decade-long dream coming true.


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Gift of Texas Ridge

If I had to distill my approach to life into one motto, it would be: Well, something’s going to happen.

Good, bad, success, or failure, you never know until you go.

In 2011, my final ‘big’ ride before racing the CTR was a little jaunt on the Timberline Trail and Texas Ridge with Ms. Jj. It was one of those rides that should have been around four hours according to the training plan, but since my GPS died and neither of us had a watch or phone on us, it ended up being closer to nine. I blame it entirely on not having a watch. It was amaze-balls and Texas Ridge became my favorite descent in CO.

In the summer of 2012, Scott and Chad made an attempt on the same ride but got tired before the final climb up to the trail so they turned down Texas Creek road instead. Sissies. Needless to say, Texas Ridge has been on Scott’s list since then, and it didn’t take a lot of convincing to have me put it on the list of rides to do before summer ended.

Then it snowed. And it snowed again. And Timberline is high, much of it north-facing, and in all honesty, a pain in the ass to get to from anywhere. There’s commitment involved. So we procrastinated until Sunday morning rolled around, and we decided to run the risk of getting completely shut down by snowy trail after a fairly significant drive. If the trail was dry enough, we’d be in for a hootin’ good time. If it was snowy…well, that would suck.

Something was going to happen. 

Because 9-10 hour rides were still ill-advised, we started on Timberline from Cottonwood instead of TinCup and immediately hit snow. But we had first tracks on it, it was still frozen, and was delightful riding. Chunky. Slippy. Exciting.

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We made it down to Texas Creek in no time where I announced: This isn’t going to be a big ride at all!

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Ummm…we still have a big climb to go. And we still have to climb back to the car from Taylor Park. 

Nah. We’ll be fine. 

Apparently I have a finely tuned selective memory because the climb was anything but easy. Steep, but not steep enough to justify walking (mostly). Chunky, but not unrideably technical (mostly). And drop-dead gorgeous (completely).

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We hit snow. We hit mud. We hit bone-dry trail. I remembered bits and pieces.

Oh, this switchback! We keep climbing from here!

I remember this switchback too! The trail keeps going up!

At the top I looked at my watch. Oh, that’s why I’m getting so hungry. So much for this not being a big ride…

We contoured along, commenting that while we’d prefer dry trail to snowy trail, the snow was really only making the going about 10% slower. And maybe slightly more cautious.

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Finally, the famed Texas Ridge. Only one way to go from here: Down.

For a while I thought that maybe the trail only seemed as magical to Jj and I because it was so unexpectedly smooth and flowy after a day of Timberline. But I have to say that even knowing what to expect, I was still blown away and how much fun it was.

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Scott was also impressed. I’m basing that purely off of the grin on his face whenever we stopped to exclaim how awesome the trail was. While we’d encountered a good bit of snow along Timberline, the Ridge was completely/mostly dry. Duffy. An exquisite gift from the universe.

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And the climb back up to the car? Let’s just say Hurray for tailwinds!

As for something happening? It happened, and it was good.


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Get it while it’s good

There’s been a sense of urgency in the air around here in terms of fall riding. The past several falls could be characterized as full-on Indian Summers with outrageous aspen colors and late first-snows finally shutting down the trails. This year has been different with weekly storms moving through depositing the white stuff on the high trails on a regular basis.

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There’s been a disturbing trend of mountain bikers in the area gleefully celebrating the early winter with their fat bikes. I don’t care how much fun it is to go careening down a hill on snow, ending in a face-plant in fresh white fluff, it doesn’t hold a candle to actual mountain biking. On dirt. And rocks. In the warmth. Winter is plenty long, there’s no reason to celebrate it coming early. In my (always humble) opinion, anyways.

Yet again, I digress.

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When I first started being able to ride again, Scott and I made a list of rides we wanted to do in the area before we migrated south for the winter. Silver Creek. Agate. Canyon Creek. Cottonwood. CT from Buena Vista to Princeton. CT from Blanks to Princeton. CDT. Texas Ridge. All 2-4 (or 5/6) hour rides. Many of them high, but we’ve been ticking them off, ride by ride.

But with each storm, we hold our breath. Was that it?

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We woke up the morning after the storm to relatively frigid temperatures. 30 degrees with a high temperature forecasted to be mid-50’s. We opted to stay low, to tick off another of my favorite Colorado Trail sections.

One of the problems with riding around here when in ‘recovery’ mode is the lack of loop-age off the Colorado Trail. Under Normal-Ez riding circumstances, I really wouldn’t think much of riding from home up to Blanks cabin, riding the CT all the way to the Cliffs of Insanity, and then cruising back on side roads. 70 miles? No problem. But we’re not quite up to normal operations. Yet. The 8-10 hour ride range is still a little out of reach. And anyhow, it was cold out.

So we had to make do, going so far as to ride an out-and-back to explore the aspen grove that we could see from town.

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It’s been fun to spend the summer riding all the different sections of the Colorado Trail that I’d only ridden on while racing. This section I’ve raced over five times, three during Vapor Trails in the middle of the night, and twice during the CTR early in the morning, loaded down with food for the long stretch to Silverton.

Riding it with fresh-ish legs gave me a whole new appreciation of how hard the Vapor/CTR really are. The 15-mile stretch of trail ridden in both directions certifiably made me hurt. Especially the uphill parts. I like the downhill parts.

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But the aspens were beautiful. The air crisp. And the ridings not over yet.


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Weird Week

It’s been a weird week. Weird as in worrisome, sad, with a constant overtone that life isn’t fair. It’s left me a little bit off kilter in my head, pondering the age old question of why bad things happen to good people. The pondering hasn’t really gotten me anywhere because I don’t think there’s a good answer to it. But it’s been a harsh reminder that life really is fleeting, and like the autumn leaves, can be here one day and gone the next. I hate reminders like this.

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The weirdness started with Jesse Jakomait’s wife going missing on a solo mountain bike ride earlier this week. It seemed like all eyes on Facebook were focused on finding her. She was found 24 hours later after getting lost alone on some game trails, hitting her head, getting disoriented, and spending the night out with day-riding gear. And how many times have I gone out for a solo ride with minimal food, clothing, no phone, and not telling anyone my flight plan? More often than I’d like to admit.

Some of the time I’m acutely aware that I really can’t screw up when I’m in a situation like that. Other times I make plenty of decisions that can end badly. Hearing that Alicia was missing, and having the whole day to ponder the risks that we take riding alone, and even more so as women (which I hate to admit), sort of sucked. I’m really glad they found her.

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While that was going on. we went and rode Cottonwood, a Scott and Ez favorite. When Scott asked if we should take the road over to the climb to save on ride time and effort, I told him that we should most likely take the trail instead. We are in Salida, after all.

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The next day, we parked the car at the Mt. Princeton trailhead and rode a windy loop taking roads to BV and then the Colorado Trail back to the car. In hindsight, we should have ridden the loop in reverse to take advantage of the wind and the starting and ending elevations of the trail, but somehow I had in my head that going south was more fun. We got in some steep, chunky, grunty climbing, and some delicious descending, but we definitely climbed more on singletrack than we descended. I should listen to Mr. GPS more often…

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While we were doing this, a family of five from Buena Vista was killed in a rockslide just a few miles from where we had parked the car. I looked up the trail on the map, it’s a half-mile long, gains 500 feet in elevation, and ends at a beautiful waterfall. A 13 year old girl was the only survivor. How do five people die on a trail that is recommended for families and beginners? Of all the times those rocks could have fallen, why then?

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The next day we went and rode with the Buena Vista High School mountain bike team. The sadness in the group was palpable but the kids rallied for a ride. They’re learning early that sometimes just spinning the pedals can lead to feeling better. Still…it sucked. Not the riding, just the situation.

It was still fun to see those kids ride. They’re right at home on trails that are less than trivial to ride. If they’re riding rocks like this in high school, I can’t wait to see what they can do in the future.

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The next day, with weather looming on the horizon, we made a bid for Silver Creek via the Poncha Creek climb. I’ve done this climb racing, not racing, on a hardtail, on a dually, with gears, on a single speed, in shape and out, and there is very simply no easy way to get up it. At least the colors were beautiful. The Crest was surprisingly snow free and the Silver Creek descent didn’t disappoint. It never does.

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Trying to be nice (and rational), Scott suggested that I could coast down the road and take the car home while he rode Rainbow trail and rode home. We’d already been out for over three hours and I really was trying to keep my rides well under the three hour limit for the sake of not completely draining myself. But skip Rainbow? Heck no. Luckily, I felt better on the trail than I had the rest of the day and had absolutely zero regrets about riding it. Anyhow, the weather was going to turn, so the next two days of riding were probably going to be short, if existent at all.

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(Un)fortunately, we awoke to bluebird skies the next day. Scott went to the dentist in the morning and I sat at the computer working, perusing the interwebs, and doing whatever else I seem to waste my time on. That’s when the news of Amy D’s death in Belgium broke and spread like wildfire throughout Facebook. It was gutting, unbelievable. I still don’t have words for it.

We all ride on the road. We all take risks. But why Amy? Why did the truck have to be right there, right then?

Every interaction I’d ever had with her had been positive. I don’t think I’d ever seen her not having a good time. I was so stoked that she was chasing her dream in Belgium racing in the mud and would check race results of cross races I’d never heard of just to see if she was there. Few people chase their dreams with that much verve and refusal to back down.

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We opted to go ride Agate Creek that afternoon, knowing that a storm was moving in that could shut down the high country for good. Fall was fleeting, not to be wasted. We tried to come up with some way to shuttle it in a creative way so I wouldn’t have to waste my ride time with a 17-mile railroad grade climb up Marshall Pass from Sargents, but we couldn’t figure a way to do it without two cars or me waiting in the cold somewhere. Anyhow, pedaling can be soothing for the soul.

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The colors were amazing. Knowing that heavy snow could take them down at any time made the golds and reds all the more special.

The descent was amazing. Minimal mud. Copious amounts of chunk. 20 creek crossings. One extended creek walk. 30 minutes of daylight to spare. But it was sad. Sad knowing that the world had lost a good one.

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Sure enough, the next day the peaks were covered in clouds. A cold wind whipped through the valley and we waited, looking anxiously at the mountains to see how much snow would remain when the clouds lifted.

I really hope that this next week ends up better because this last one hurt the soul.