Saturday, September 13, 2014

Final Ride: Hartman Rocks

Even though I buried myself during a brutal 6.4hr ride on Thursday, I wasn't going to get cheated out of a couple more rides I had planned for the trip. That meant a double on Friday. You can always rest when you're dead, right?

My last post featured photos with some commentary from the morning ride. The Reno/Flag/Bear/Deadman loop is a worthy ride in its own right. How was I physically and mentally going to do a second ride almost as hard in the same day? At least Saturday was a travel day, so I didn't have to awake in a beat-up state and ride.

After a four-course chicken dinner for lunch, I headed over to Hartman Rocks. A stomach full of heavy food does not seem to bother me riding, especially after blowing 2000 calories during the morning ride.

I've ridden Hartman Rocks just outside Gunnison a couple times already. It is a pretty cool place to ride, especially for the less gravity gifted set who like technical riding. There is no shortage of tech at Hartman Rocks. Trail designers went out of their way to weave singletrack through every rocky outcropping poking out of the sagebrush desert. There are many big commitment moves out there. With tired legs, tired mind, frail bones and generally lack of skill, dismounts were frequent on a couple of the trails. I rode a few trails for the first time, like Ridge and Top of the World. Non-stop rock features is the best way to describe these trails.

The soil seems to be decomposed granite, so when you get away from the rock outcroppings, things roll smooth and fast. That's what I was looking for on this ride, but I pulled a loop from Strava that seems to be a local favorite linkage of tech trails. It was anything but smooth and fast.

Starting this ride late in the afternoon meant I was not going to have enough daylight to do the full planned route.  I was more than ok with that. The lower and upper parking areas had lots of cars, but I encountered other riders only a couple times. Hartman Rocks is a pretty vast riding area. As I was bailing on remaining singletrack and taking a double track back to the trailhead near dusk, I noticed my shadow stretched out far to the east. How fitting to end my longest Colorado cycling trip to date.  Led Zeppelin's lyrics from Stairway to Heaven came to mind: "Our shadow's taller than our soul." Yeah, I was feeling pretty depleted, in a good way. I needed an extended break away from work. My shadow was no doubt taller than my concerns in the corporate world, a faint memory at this point in the trip.

My Garmin logged 23.3mi with 3000ft of climbing in 2.9hrs of riding. That made for 6.7hrs with 7200ft of off-road climbing for the day, my biggest day of the trip. Going back into the office grinder on Monday is going to suck.

Gunnison from Ridge Trail

Ridge Trail. A couple places offered serious exposure.

This was probably Top of the World Trail. Lots of big rock moves here.

Nothing but a sea of sage at the height of land. Bombing down Skyline Trail was an absolute rush.

Shadow's getting tall. Time to head back.

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