Zen On Dirt

CDT Day 29 – Lessons (most likely not) learned

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There have to be some lessons that we learned today. Lessons such as: Just because there’s one tree cut out at the beginning of a trail doesn’t mean it’s going to be cleared, or Just because a set of horse prints go down the trail, it doesn’t mean the trail’s going to be good, or Just because you’re already a half mile in when you start to hit deadfall, it doesn’t mean that you have to keep going.

All lessons that we learned today…and are most likely to forget because apparently when we see a trail, all common sense goes out the window.

The morning was spent doing…ummm…not quite sure but before we knew it, it was 11 am and time to check out of the hotel. We must have had some breakfast, I wrote a blog post, we packed bikes…but the morning definitely flew.

We opted to send weight forward to Durango, including Scott’s laptop, a package of mashed potatoes that were doing us no good without a stove, some oats, also no good without a stove, and my broken saddle. So Stop 1 was the post office. Stop 2 was on the other end of town at the bike shop to get a second spare tube. Stop 3 was lunch at the Colorado Cafe, the only Meh food we ate in Pagosa. Should have gone to the brewery.


We climbed out of town and turned into the Turkey Creek trail system. We’d bought a map for $1 at the shop with the assurance that Newt Jack was a “sweet” trail. It was a dirt road. The same kid had said to his shop buddy, “Did you see what Trek released today? The Fuel Ex 27.5. Sweeeet. I’m so stoked.” He then told us that Middle Mountain was “way out there” when it reality is was less than 10 miles from where we were.


We bailed off the road onto some perfectly smooth and buff trail. Not the most exciting thing ever, but trail is trail, and it only added a few miles.

Then onto a “primitive and unmaintained” trail. We hiked down it. We crossed the creek at the bottom. We hiked back out the other side to gain the road that would take us to the top of Middle Mountain.

Here’s another lesson: Just because I feel good doesn’t mean I should go ride on both “rest” days in town. I was wiped. Micro doses of Skittles got me to the top, but it wasn’t pretty.


The road turned to a lovely two track twisting and turning through dark, green woods. Delightful. A few rocky descents kept us on our toes until we got to a trail intersection. Dudley Trail, we decided. Horse tracks that we’d been following went that way. All the ATVs went straight. We followed the horses down the single track.


The first meadows were lovely. Flowers of purple, yellow, white, some wild roses. And then the trail went to shit. And we hiked. And hiked. And hiked. And fought through some trees, and hiked some more. The mosquitos didn’t miss the opportunity to dine on some slow moving mammals. And as quickly as it had turned to shit, it turned good again, 2 miles later. But not after some quality frustration.


Halfway down the switchbacks, my rear brake rotor fell off. A bottom bracket tool isn’t in our Oh Shit Kit, so we hand tightened it back on. The trail turned beautiful, almost as if it were apologizing for the middle 2/3 of it. I almost forgave it.

Finally down on the road, my rear tire went flat. I almost laughed. Almost. I aired it up enough to get us to camp. Too late to go to the hot springs we were gunning for, we set up camp at the top of the trail down to the river. Soaking could wait till morning.

Would we ride Dudley again? Heck no. Am I glad we did? Yeah, because otherwise we would have been cruising down the ATV trail wondering what the trail would have been like. And really, what’s the fun in taking the conservative way anyway.


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