Friday, August 21, 2009

Fruita, Without The Drive

Glade Run Trails, Farmington, NM
45.3 miles
3040ft vertical (Garmin)
3hrs, 56min moving time (less than 4.5hrs total)

Having trails kick my butt the last couple days, I opted for a change in terrain today. Durango sits right on the edge of the mountains. An hour south, you are in the desert. I brought a Falcon MTB guide book with me and was skimming through it last night. In Farmington, NM, there is a trail system called Glade Run. The guide book broke it up into three separate rides, the longest being 20 miles. I figured I could head down there and ride the whole place and make a day of it.

As a bonus, near record highs were forecast for Friday. I need some heat stress riding for my race in two weeks. How many folks go out into the middle of the desert, mid day, in August, to ride for hours? At least it is a "dry" heat out here. The forecast was calling for 98F. Sweet. Maybe it will toughen me up for the next Mt Washington race.

Ride started lower left, loops ran CCW.

It takes about an hour to get to Farmington from Durango. It was already warm at 9am when I started riding. I did not need to pack warm layers for this one! The nominal elevation was around 6000ft, about the summit of Mt Washington. Despite being much lower than my previous four rides, I could still tell I was riding at altitude.

Glade Run sits right on the edge of town. It is all BLM land with hundreds of natural gas wells on it. I've read the motoheads created these trails in the 1940's and to expect lots of whoops.

I first rode Anasazi Trail, a three mile loop from the Lions Amphitheater. What a blast. Mostly hard as rock narrow singletrack. Just a few loose bits here and there. The soil here has bentonite content. It cures like pavement, but will render your bike inoperable in seconds after it starts raining. It has been a long dry spell now without a cloud in sight. Loose was more worry than sticky clay. The terrain was fast non-stop dips and peaks. My Camelbak was constantly slamming me in the back of the head.

After this initial loop, I went out on the big loop, hitting trails named Road Apple, Imperial Walkers, Kinsey and more. At the furthest point out, I was about 15 miles from my car, and man was it getting hot. In 90 minutes, I was quickly depleting my 100 oz Camelbak.

Imperial Walkers section

I hadn't realized that the whole time I was heading out to the most northerly point, I was gaining elevation, 600ft worth. When I started back on Imperial Walkers Trail, I thought for sure I was in Fruita bombing down the famous Zippety-Do-Da Trail. The scenery was almost identical to the Bookcliffs area of Fruita, the trail surface the same, and huge sphincter pucker factor drops. What a riot. This was positively the kind of ride I needed after yesterday's slogfest. The trail back towards the car involved only infrequent pedaling and was a non-stop amusement park ride.

Alas, all good things come to an end. I dropped down into the valley that separates the two sides of the trails and had to climb back out to my car. With only 30 miles and 2.5hrs riding time, I was still wanting more. Rather than hit Alien Run on my way back to Durango, I decide to refill the Camelbak and hit another 10-15 miles of stuff I hadn't hit yet.

It was now noon, and the temp had risen into the 90's. The nice breeze in the morning was gone too. You could feel the direct heat from the sun and the heat radiating from the hot earth. Double heat. I wasn't going out too far this time. I hit a trail called Seven Sisters. Had a little trouble finding it, as none of the trails are labeled out here, just signs that say "Trail" with an arrow pointing. But with no trees and big sky views, you could always kind of tell where you were heading. The lower part of Seven Sisters kind of sucked. It was lower elevation where sand collects. I had one eject but didn't hit the dirt.

Apparently I road Seven Sisters backwards, as it proceeded to go up a series of plummets. Most I could ride, one had a work-around, one I had to push up. I would love to ride the trail the other direction next time. It is another Zippety-Do-Da kind of trail. At the top, I picked up Kinsey Junior (online map calls it Rigor Mortis). It parallels Kinsey, sometimes no more than 20ft away. Kinsey and Kinsey Junior are unidirectional trails. The track in the Google Earth plot is correct, there are two separate trails that almost run on top of each other. Kinsey Junior is much more technical, recently built IMBA singletrack. The motoheads haven't gotten to it yet.

With the temp approaching 100F, I wasn't feeling so good anymore despite moving fast most of the time with unzipped jersey. I had been riding nearly 4hrs and never saw another person on the trails. I would never have expected this with so much residential area near the trails.

That was one of the most satisfying spontaneous rides I've done. When I come back to Durango, I'll have to hit Glade Run again. They run a race in October here, called the Road Apple Rally. I pretty much rode the course, missing Bong Rock Trail, and I rode it mostly in reverse. Looks like a scary fast, fun race. The first three hours of my ride yesterday netted a 3.8mph avg. Today, the first few hours averaged three times that.

I'm worried about getting home on Sunday. It appears that Hurricane Bill with be at its closest to New England about the time my flight arrives in Boston. I may do an abbreviated ride Saturday morning so I can drop my bike off at FedEx in Durango. The FedEx here closes at 1pm on Saturday and is not open on Sunday. Dropping it off at FedEx in Denver on Sunday leaves very little margin, and I want to get to the airport early in case flights east are screwed up. There is a nice loop that involves a piece of Junction Creek Trail that I rode a couple days ago. A "P" shape ride can be put together with Junction Creek/Dry Fork/Hoffheins. Horse Gulch across town is another option. Have to see if my legs have any climbing ambition when I get up Saturday.

Oh, the monsoons are supposed to return starting Sunday. Man, did I luck out this week.

Imperial Walkers Trail with La Plata mountains near Durango in background.

Section of Imperial Walkers with giant whoops.

Section of Seven Sisters with plumets like Zippety-Do-Da.

Kinsey trail. Looks just like stuff at the Bookcliffs in Fruita, doesn't it?

Electrolytes. I should scrape these off and put them back into the Endurolytes jar from where they came. Green thinking, eh?

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