Zen On Dirt

The fun and games continue

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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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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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