Wednesday, September 12, 2012

First Blood: CO Day 3

A bit of weather moved though the western states today. The forecast for Durango was abysmal, with 100% chance of rain by noon and flash flood watch. Chilly too. The sun was pokng through a bit at 7am, so we decided to ride local until weather chased us off the trails. A recovery day would do our bodies good anyway, with three epic days planned the rest of the week.

There are many trail systems accessible from town. I had a modest loop planned for just such a contingency. We'd climb up to Fort Lewis College, wrap around to Horse Gulch, ride over Telegraph Pass, then cut through town over to the Test Tracks trail system, now called Overend Mountain Park.

Overnight rain left the trails perfectly tacky, taking the dust down. My legs immediately rebeled on the rim drive climb. We stare at these switchbacks from our hotel balcony. They look so sweet, but hurt so bad on tired legs. Up on the college mesa, we ripped along the rim with morning rush hour buzz way below us. Riding conditions were perfect.

Animas valley from the rim

Riding along the rim

We decided to cut out the long Raider Ridge portion of the ride. It is quite techy and would have added a lot of time to a ride that we might have to pull the plug on at any instant. We went right for Telegraph Pass, which peaks out about 1000ft above town. Nice and quite in Horse Gulch with several other bikers and runners out before the rain moved in.

Dave failed to clean Telegraph Pass (on two attempts, he-he)

The descent from Telegraph Pass on Crites Connect and Carbon Junction is a blast. This was my second time riding here, first for Dave and Isaac. It would have been great to go much deeper into Horse Gulch, but the skies would surely have opened up on us if we did. I suspect the clay based soil would quickly render bikes inoperable in rain.

Bombing down Carbon Junction trail

We crossed part of town and headed into Test Tracks. I've never ridden in this area. I didn't know how the trails flowed. I simply linked bits of GPS tracks to make an interesting route much in the same way a geneticist stitches DNA together to engineer new tomatoes. I had no idea what phenotype my GPX DNA would produce.

Dave pretty much cartwheeled over backwards and slid on his
back down these rocks. Cuts on hand.

I do not know all the names of the trails we hit, but some were clearly ridden the wrong way.  Around one particularly tight switchback, Dave decided to topple over backwards, nearly landing on Isaac. He's quite lucky to escape relatively unscathed given how far he fell, pretty much on his back side. I had to catch his front wheel as it came at my face. Good times. Pretty much all of the trails here are benchcut into extremely steep terrain, are buff, and a riot to bomb around on. I definitely have to explore this area further.

Climbing in Test Tracks

We finished the ride with 24.4mi in about 2:33 riding time. There were ominous clouds around the high peaks, but nothing in town. The rain didn't come until 2pm.

This gave us some time to bum around town, pick up some gifts for spouses, and check out the local bike shops. While we were admiring all the vintage bikes at Mountain Bike Specialists, Ned Overend and Greg Herbold walked in. We managed to snag HB for a photo while Ned snuck away to a meeting downstairs. A great shop, essentially a museum of bikes and jerseys from world champions going back to the 1980's.

Isaac talking with HB. This shop is essentially a MTB Hall of Fame.

With the weather system moving out, we should have clear skies for the rest of the trip. Hard to say if there is snow right now above 11,000ft. We saw lots of pink on the radar north of here. It is a risk this time of year. Either way, it will be much colder and probably a long layers ride. Hope to hit a long section of the Colorado Trail above treeline north of Durango on Thursday.


The Warrenator said...

Yo Doug. Regular reader, but I rarely comment. Just returned from a week in Italy & Switzerland from where I planned to send out a daily email summary. All I got around to were a couple of brief notes, fotos, and a short video clip.
Then I see your blog and it is really impressive how you manage to find time to post really good content and fotos while getting in some epic days on the trails. Nice work, keep it coming.

Rami said...

Great trip—thank you for sharing. Please post the GPX tracks if you get the chance. I can understand that you want to spend more time on the trails and less so on the keyboard. Enjoy.

Hill Junkie said...

Rami - I'll comment in later post how to extract GPX tracks from Strava links. I don't know why Strava doesn't let you do this directly, but there is third party website that lets you do it that I use all the time: