Zen On Dirt

CDT Day 27 & 28 – Pedaling Pagosa and soaking in hippy springs

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When I was little, I wanted to be a truck driver. I thought that I’d get to see so many cool places while driving my big-rig around. I was then informed that all you get to see are the interstates, and that driving that many miles is potentially not so great for your body.

Later, I stated that I wanted to do races like Tour Divide, Stagecoach 400, etc because I wanted to see the world by bike. What no one really told me was that when you’re racing, you only see what is readily apparently from following the little red line, and a good chunk of that is at night.

While we’re still following a line on this trip (a line that we are somewhat making up as we go along), we’ve had the chance to dig deeper into some of the places we’re passing through.

Having a three-night layover in Pagosa gave us the chance to get to know this down a little bit better.


Normally, we’d take the time inside to rest, but we’d just spent two days off the bike in Chama relaxing and I’m not so great at sitting still. Plus, there’s a trail literally out the door from our motel room, just begging to be ridden.


When work ran out for me on Saturday afternoon, I decided to make the trek across town to buy a new seat. My seat rail had snapped on the way down Elwood Pass, and while it was okay to ride on, I didn’t trust it to get me to Durango, where I keep promising my bike real maintenance.

As I’ve said, I’ve driven through Pagosa Springs several times, but in a car, you don’t really notice the HUGE hill between Pagosa east (where we’re staying) and Pagosa west, where the shop was. With a headwind, it took me nearly 40 minutes to get there. After buying a new seat, it took me 15 minutes to get home. Yay downhill!


I then proceeded to jump up and down and clap my hands until Scott relented and came riding with me. The Reservoir Hill trail system has about four miles of trail, a solid variety of steep and challenging and smooth and flat. We rode what we could, avoiding the giant bluegrass festival venue and camping areas in the area. It was a good little climb and after riding most of the trails, we sat at the overlook watching the sun set while Scott kept an eye on his phone to make sure nothing was blowing up with work. The ultimate office.


After talking with Gary and Patti at Kips (BEST tacos I have EVER eaten, seriously, try the Estaban or the Pilewski, maybe best MEAL ever), we plotted out a ride for the next day. A fair number of miles on dirt roads, but the promise of 1-track through aspen groves as a reward. Plus, the dirt roads started just a mile from our home base.

Pagosa Springs is cool in that the moment you turn off the main road, you’re in beautiful rural country. Grassy fields with a backdrop of giant mountains. The San Juans really are the most impressive mountains in the state.


We climbed happily until Scott rolled over a pile of sticks. A large crack resulted in a broken spoke and a tire that wouldn’t seal. Turns out, after nearly 1,000 miles, we don’t have sealant left in our tires. Go figure. So he tubed it, told the clouds to stay away for just a little longer, and we kept climbing. I think we went backwards on the singletrack portion of the trail based on the directions I’d written down, but it was beautiful and amazing riding.

Super fun to ride unloaded. I’ve joked that I don’t even need my bigger ring (I’m running a 32/22) for most of this trip as I spend so much time in my granny gear getting up climbs, but without weight, hills no longer seemed as intimidating.


The rain held off. We rolled back into town and headed straight out to get more tacos. We’d gotten a half-off coupon for the cheap hot spring in town, giving us the motivation to walk downtown. While searching for the building, we found the hippy spring, a ring of rocks right off the river fed by a gushing pipe. We decided to save our $12 and soaked in that instead, watching the sunset reflect off the raging river. It was way better than sitting in a rooftop.

Two days of riding trails. Two visits to the Pagosa Bakery to get half-off breakfast burritos after noon. Pomegranite margaritas at Kip’s to celebrate a successful tracking weekend. Yeah, I’d come back here to hang out again.


One thought on “CDT Day 27 & 28 – Pedaling Pagosa and soaking in hippy springs

  1. >you only see what is readily apparently from following the little red line

    yes… The only way to actually see the world is by Google maps satellite. Went to visit my Dad’s old school on Saturday. It was raining so hard that I really thought Google maps satellite and street view might make for a clearer view… and we wouldn’t have had to spend 1.5 hours in the car each way… 🙂

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