Having a backlog of photos and adventures is a good problem to have. I still believe that summers are for playing (and falls, and winters, and springs, but especially summers). The nature of tracking events is such that there are lots of them in the summer. I love tracking and helping, in a small way, to tell the world’s adventure stories, but I’m not so sure how I feel about all this ‘work’ in the summer!
Backtracking a month, back to Durango. Knees still recovery, ramping up the riding, it was a glorious July full of high country riding for us. My eyes were on my biggest goal for the summer: completing the Wasatch 100 course. I needed to test the knee on a long ride, and test my stomach on a ‘race-like’ effort, since it had failed me on both AZT attempts in April. I had to sit out the Durango Dirty Century, with one bum knee and one very sore leg. But I intended to ITT the route when a good opportunity presented itself. Rains were increasing, monsoon moisture was here, but I went for it anyway, on the 24th of July.
There is something indescribably magic about rolling out from home, in the pre-dawn silence. Click on the lights and pedal through empty streets. River’s chill, dropping down into town. Nothing normal about this day.
I increase speed, right into a headwind. Feels good.
Before I reach the Hermosa campground, it starts spattering rain. Really? At 6am?
The Hermosa Trail is wet, and getting wetter, but it’s brilliant at speed. It’s been too long.
Upper Hermosa in under 3 hours. Right on pace for a very fast loop, but it’s raining harder, and my thoughts turn to long exposure on Indian Trail Ridge. I’ve seen too much lightning and seen too many big storms building on the La Platas in the past few days.
I stop to treat water and stuff sugary goodness in my mouth, delaying the decision that’s weighing on my shoulders. Turning up Hotel Draw will save me an hour or more, and increase my odds of beating the storms to the ridge. I start losing motivation to chase a fast time on the big loop after fumbling in the creek trying to get a mostly full bladder. The DDC has aid stations, so it’s not a level playing field for an ITT.
Pedaling away from the last access to Hermosa Creek, on Bolam Pass, mother nature helps me in my indecision. It starts coming down hard. I turn left onto the DDC “B” loop — a mere 86 miles and 12,000′ of climbing. The easy loop.
My legs crush the Hotel Draw climb, and the temperature has yet to read anything above 52 degrees. At least I won’t be running low on water!
Turn south on the Colorado Trail. It’ll take me all the way back to town! Stealing a glance to the north, over thick purple flowers and at Blackhawk Pass, I don’t feel like I missed out on much. I was just up there a few days ago. Time for some new trail.
Indian Trail Ridge. I’ve only ever been here at the end of CTR in 2009. That day I had the most unbelievable weather — clear and not a hint of a cloud. Today the clouds are threatening, but it seems safe enough to push on.
Pushing, literally, at sometimes. The hike-a-bike seems really easy to me. I’m filled with such gratitude for good weather, health, strength and the beauty of the day, that nothing can get me down.
Not up here. No way, no how.
Even better, the weather seems to be clearing, not getting worse! I don’t need my ears for thunder detection, so I plug in the headphones. I’m not really sure what I’m listening to, but it’s pure crack. I’ve been lucky enough to have such an awesome riding partner this summer that I don’t think I’ve brought music along for a single ride.
Pinch me. Time to lay in the flowers, take photos and simply enjoy all the universe has given me.
Oh wait, I’m moving fast too. Knee and stomach are still holding, let’s see if that will continue. Keep riding it for all it’s worth.
I got fooled by the false Kennebec Pass again. Memories and sensations of ending one of the best rides/tours of my life (CTR 2009) are being called up, visually, olfactory, geographically. An absolute pleasure.
As was the endless downhill singletrack. One of the longest descents anywhere. Even if my back and hands got tired, and at one point I *almost* wished it was over, it was still such a thrill to feel the pull of gravity all through the last 15 miles of the CT.
It was hot climbing through town and back home to finish the DDC B loop in under 10 hours. 2nd fastest times for that loop from what I can tell, but Jesse J. had done the big loop nearly as fast this year for a new record, too! Yikes.
After a little rest, Eszter had time for some adventure, but unfortunately the weather did not cooperate. My energy level was reduced, and especially my tolerance for the rain. Yet it was fun to follow her out of Silverton into the rain, and figure it was good all weather conditions ‘training.’ We rode up high, saw no end of moisture in sight, so found a small awning to try to camp under. It actually wasn’t a bad night, and watching the mist and fog crawl slowly up the valley was a sight that captured the imagination.
We kept rolling upwards, intent on making Telluride, until my knee started hurting and I questioned the sanity of pushing through all this beautiful terrain and not being able to see any of it. We flipped it and instead ate a big breakfast with our tails between our legs. Another attempt at a big ride from our campsite at the Hermosa campground also failed. The trail was a mess and our goals were not too clear. We ended up back at camp again.
The camping part went well — it was nice to be out and away from the computer. We stayed in Durango long enough to ride with a high school group from Texas, and so that Eszter could attend a showing of “Ride the Divide” as a special guest. They were quite the group of students — great riders and great attitudes. Maybe one or two will find themselves in a 2,700 mile race some day in the future. I bet so.
Animas mountain became our last favorite as we bummed around Durango, working at the library or coffee shops.
It’s a rocky good time. Our last ride on it turned into a mud ride after a brief shower. It was enough to convince us that it was probably a good time to move on — find somewhere a little less rainy.
Bye bye, southwest Colorado and Durango, it’s been fun and we’ll be back!