Zen On Dirt

Rest, Restart, Go: Penitente, DH chainless races, and goats

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One of the things that’s come to the forefront of my consciousness during this summer of Scamping is the ebb and flow of everything – adventuring, friends visiting, events, energy, motivation, busyness. Sometimes I feel like it’s gogogo, visits from friends being scheduled around visits from other friends, big days in the mountains backed up against each other, trying to squeeze in some work here and there, and then other times, we spend multiple days in a row sitting in/around the Scamp, working, watching the days go by, going for short little runs and rides interacting with no one besides each other.

While the gogogo days with friends are one of the main reasons we’ve chosen Scamplife, I think it’s the mellow days keep me sane and healthy.

Ebb and flow.

We drove from the Great Sand Dunes, where we were camped in close quarters with multitudes of other people, across the San Luis Valley to Penitente Canyon. These trails seemed to be the rage, with many people pointing us in their direction.

As we drove there, I recognized a signpost. ‘This is the Tour Divide route!’

‘Really?’ Scott asked.

‘98% sure!’

I’d sat at that signpost at a 170 degree turn during my 2012 Tour Divide , pondering whether I should go off-route to the La Garita store or continue on to Del Norte. In all honesty, I had plenty of food, I’d just been dealing with my saddest day on the Divide, having spent the previous afternoon in Salida and then making the turn away from Gunnison/Crested Butte, my home at the time, and all I wanted to do was sit down and mope. Energy and motivation had been flagging all day, and the La Garita store had seemed like a good chance to break the solitude which had defined the day. I ended up heading to Del Norte and witnessing a beautiful sunset, but the act of sitting at the sign deciding what to do apparently had stayed in the memory banks.


The camping at Penetente was quiet and lovely. I could see why I felt so lonely out there in 2012. This time around, the feeling was appreciated.


The trails were a beautiful combination of fast and flowy and rocky and chunky. Big thanks to Tom for the tracks to follow!


We spent two days enjoying the mellowness of the place. Short runs, short rides. Lots of reading.


I needed a reset day or two…because there’s always something going on in the Ark Valley, and we were headed back so that Scott could visit his favorite dentist.


Tracey gave me exactly 23 minutes notice to go on a short afterwork ride. We were sitting in the Safeway parking lot eating watermelon when the text came. ‘Sure! Why not!’ I rolled back to camp afterwards ahead of a massive cloud of rain which never reached us.


We were camped at Salida East because of it’s proximity to town, not for its scenic location or solitude. Our neighbor had two goats (and a dog and a kitty) all living in a giant blue RV. This one, Marshmallow, looked mellow from a distance, but decided that I needed to be headbutted at a regular interval. Fending off a 140lb headbutting goat by holding on to her horns isn’t easy!


Kurt and Neil ended up intersecting paths of their travels in Salida at the same time. We camped together and dawdled our way up Bear Creek and along the Rainbow trail. I love it when our guests have the decency to show up tired.


We’d gone to see Janie and Jimmy’s Bikeweek talk on their Trans-Am race. I was the speaker at the event back in 2013, I believe. I was terrified, and it was fun to see other bikepackers take the speaking spot and nail their presentation. Janie and I went for a run the following morning on S-Mountain, leaving with the promise that I’d be there to spectate the chainless downhill race that afternoon.


I’m not really sure how I ended up in a kitty onesie with a race number already attached from a previous event, but I’d been upgraded from spectator to participant. It was benefiting the high school mountain bike team, so I guess I have to support that.


They hauled all of us up to the top of S-Mountain after Scot Banks secured our chains so that we couldn’t pedal, and off we went.


Terrifying? Exhilarating? I guess it was as good of a race as any to come out of retirement for.


Plus, there was free beer. I blame it all on Janie.


Craig and Scott had made plans for the following day to ride a trail that I had labeled in my head as: Really hard. Don’t go back there.

But it had been a couple of years since I last tried to ride it. Maybe it was less scary than I remembered?


Nope. Still terrifying. Maybe in a couple more years, I’ll revisit. Or maybe I’ll just run it. That seems like the more prudent and fun thing to do.


We’d been trying to get the Scamp out of Salida East for the better part of a week now. While convenient, the camping location leaves much to be desired. But then Pete Koski, engineer from Salsa, was passing through town and wanted to ride. There was an alarm clock involved, which made me unhappy, but we busted out a lap of Cottonwood long before we normally finished breakfast during our standard leisurely mornings.

After work, we finally hitched up and moved the Scamp back into the woods.


We seem to have a habit of attracting cute animals to our camp. Scott said that we couldn’t keep Fred, that he wouldn’t fit in the trailer, and my parents didn’t respond to a photo text asking if they wanted another pet. Eventually he wandered off to find his family and friends, which was probably for the best.

It had been a hilariously fun week in Salida. The leaves were starting to change though, which meant that our time was running out. It was time to say a final goodbye to Colorado.


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