Monday, September 17, 2012

100k in the Land of Enchantment: CO Day 5

Isaac and Dave had their fill of high country for a day or two, and the previous day's ride had our bodies begging for a less onerous riding venue. Durango is close to the New Mexico state line. There are a couple riding destinations less than an hour south in the Land of Enchantment, for which I captured a couple GPS tracks for just such a contingency. The elevation hovered around 6000ft (there'd be air to breath), and the min to max altitude change was less than 1000ft. Sounds like a recovery day to me...

First on tap was the Road Apple Rally race course in the area known as Glade Run rec area. This is BLM land. Most of it is open to moto's, primarily trail bikes. The soil also varies between sand and clay.  Some trails we ride around Crested Butte or Salida that are open to motos are pristine singletrack. Glade Run does not quite fit this description. Much of the trail is loose, quite wide and heavily whooped up. After a while, this gets a bit old. To be sure, there are fun parts, and the scenery is quite good. I like "see forever" views, even it is not from the tops of mountains.

The Road Apple Rally course

Parts had high fun-factor

On this weekday, we had the course to ourselves. Once we got away from the trail head in Farmington, NM, we never saw another trail user. The Road Apple Rally loop did not offer recovery, however. Once we got out to the clay areas, there were heinously steep grades to punch up. Short, but each one took a toll.

I didn't blow my legs up on this seriously steep grind. Dave and
Isaac both cleaned it.

More roller coaster fun. Dave and Isaac said they didn't need
to ride here again, but two times for me and again is not out of
the question.

The 30 mile loop gains upwards of 1000ft heading out, so that meant on the return, things would flow a little more quickly. It did. The route finished with a few miles of mint singletrack not churned up by motos.

Pretty clay formations. Looks like cross between Bookcliffs at Fruita
and Maah Dah Hey trail in Bandlands of North Dakota.

The weather was perfect for a desert ride. I suspect most of the year it is too hot to ride here. Temps might have reached the 70's by the time we finished. I logged 32mi in 2:40 riding time, a great first ride of the day.

After a quick refuel and heading part way back to Durango, we pulled off the highway in Aztec to ride the Alien Run loop. This loops passes the claimed UFO crash site.  I found some other interesting MTB tracks on Strava to bring the distance up to 25mi. Nothing like doing 50+ miles on a "recovery" day.

I didn't like where we parked. Heading north to Alien Run meant traverse several modest ridgelines. More climbing. We started on dirt oil well road but soon found ourselves on a purpose built singletrack called Mountain View trail. It was good stuff. Skinny, nice surface, nice wilderness feel to it, and decent flow.

Mountain View Trail

The trail crossed a road. Dave was leading and kept going on the singletrack even though we needed to head north on the oil well road to pick up Alien Run. Once we realized we were off the planned route, I encouraged continuing on, as the singletrack was so much more inspiring than a dirt road. But, the trail did not continue in a direction we wanted to go. I looped back around south and eventually popped us out on our route where we had been 30 minutes earlier. A 5+ mile boondoggle, but good riding. We notice many trail junctions here, so there is a robust network worthy of further exploration.

After several rolling climbs on oil well roads, we reached the Alien Run trailhead. The sign informed us there was now a "hero" extenstion to the 10 mile loop. We had not enough water or food to tack this on to our ride, especially after the 5mi boondoggle. I had ridden Alien Run a few years ago solo, and I rather enjoyed it. Lots of slickrock.

Slickrock on Alien Run trail

More slickrock

50 off-road miles into the day, we were all pretty much in a catatonic state. I was still having fun, but Dave and Isaac weren't as punchy off the front like the day before. I was even leading most of the time.

A tight squeeze on Alien Run

I didn't even attempt this

On a fast section coming back to the Alien Run trailhead, there was a long, skinny snake across the trail. I almost ran over it. Dave nearly passes out upon merely seeing a snake. The other two were right behind me before the snake, but I didn't see them again for quite a while after the snake. Isaac came up with some story it chased them. For all I knew, it looked like a harmless grass snake from back home.

Isaac nearly crashing himself while giving victory salute finishing
Alien Run

The prospect of riding miles and miles of hilly singletrack back to the car seemed like it would bury us all. GPSs are great. You can see where you started and can attempt beeline straight back if you want to cut miles out. problem was, my GPS had no info on rideable options other than breadcrumb trail we went out on. Fortunately, there is a fairly substantial grid of oil well and ATV trails out there. I totally winged a 6-8 mile route across rolling desert to get back to the car in a few less miles than the way we went out and in much less time.

We finished with 31.2mi in 2:47hrs for our second ride of the day. Over 100km total, and it was a "rest" day! For dinner, we hit Serious Texas BBQ again, which is nearly next door to our hotel. I could never get sick of eating here. Not exactly the kind of place to carbo load for the next day, but that's what Sonic malted shakes are for.

1 comment:

Bill said...

Riding looks great but I am seriously envious of the BBQ!