My lack of activity here does not mean that things have been boring. My training for this years Colorado Trail Race continues to go well. I have still been a bit skeptical in my own ability as to whether or not I can tackle that beast on a singlespeed bike but I become more confident every ride and I begin to enjoy riding with only one gear each ride as well. Just recently I did install a suspension fork on the Salsa as I have been doing some very technical sections of the CT the last few weeks and my neck has been hurting quite a bit.
On Saturday I was supposed to leave for a 3 day trip to test out some things and get an idea of how things are progressing. I wasn't planning on leaving until early evening so I was napping the morning away. At about noon, I woke up and came down the stairs to see a huge plume of smoke over the hills just south of town. We have been having a lot of issues with fires this summer and in particular this past week in my town. Authorities suspect that we have a serial arsonist at work up here and he, she or they have started about 20 fires in the same fashion just last week. Fortunately, people were able to get to them pretty quickly and get them put out (sometimes just home owners equipped with shovels). I think we all feared it was only a matter of time before one of them had more time to grow. I actually drove down the mountain to get a closer look at knew this one had had enough time to breathe and it would be big.
I called my wife and expressed some concerns about leaving for my trip but she said I should go (which I did not expect to hear). I felt really anxious in the early afternoon while gathering gear. Reluctantly, I started pedaling towards Denver at abouy 5 and 4 hours later I was setting up my bivy and making some dinner. I slept horribly that night because I had made some pretty drastic last minute changes to my sleeping system to satisfy my curiosities. They were satisfied at 2 in the morning.
I had a delicious breakfast consisting of a cherry fruit pie smothered in coffee grounds and hit the road. I saw two huge bull snakes in section 2 of the CT (seen more big Bulls this summer than in the last 5). The first was a 5 footer and was probably the meanest damn snake I'd seen in years. I didn't even pick it up. It was pissed off and put on quite a show. The second one was much more docile and I did pick that one up and check it out for a bit before moving it off the trail. I was making killer time for me and riding an ideal pace. At the end of section 3 is about a 10 mile fire road to Bailey and a climb that I have never ridden. I cleaned it easily. It's not a hard climb so I can't say why it always gives me fits but I know it's likely just because I'm in pretty good enduro shape right now. I made it into Bailey and stopped at the first bar because I had to have a salad. Within seconds of turning my phone on I had several text messages about the fire and our safety and a voicemail from Heather. I called her and she wanted me to start heading home because we had been placed on Precautionary Evacuation.
I wolfed down my salad, had 5 Cokes and a pitcher of water and then grabbed the grilled chicken sandwich and took off and started pedaling. About 2 hours later and now only 25 miles from home I hit my Help button on my SPOT so Heather could come and get me. I made it into Deckers and stopped. I drank the best damn 24 ounce Tecate in the world, grabbed a Coke and hit the road after talking briefly about how spandex just makes me feel so damned sexy to a toothless guy in an old Ford pickup. I made it almost out of the canyon when I finally saw Heather come around a corner. Her car was already loaded with important papers, pics, and PC's.
About 3 miles further down the road, we saw 2 planes and a chopper and tons of people pulled over checking out a fire just about a quarter mile off the road. It eventually torched 20 acres before they got it under control. As we got closer to town we could hardly see much at all. Since then, crews continue to fight the blaze and it continues to creep towards us. As of this morning it was 5.5 miles down the mountain.
Today alone there were 4 additional fires nearby but they were all put out. The main fire is now called the Waldo Canyon fire. It has now burned about 4500 acres and is 5% contained. We have ust been sitting in the house watching news. We can't go anywhere really. The highway leading to Colorado Springs is shut down because a portion of the fire is very close to jumping the highway. We also need to stay close to home in case we do get evacuated. I have discovered that it is incredibly hard to look at things throughout my home and determine what gets to come with me if I'm told I need to be out in 30 minutes. Most things have some sort of sentimental value.
This is the fire creeping closer and closer to Garden of the Gods.
This is highway 24 at the bottom of the pass that leads up to my town on Saturday.
Things are pretty crazy right now. Colorado has wildfires in Fort Collins, Leadville, Durango, Colorado Springs, and many other places as well. Smoke is everywhere and new fires are popping up every few hours. None of the CT is actually on fire right now but it will certainly be interesting to see if that changes and how the CTR is impacted in the next month. I know several people that have already dropped their name from the start list due to issues with smoke at the least.
Hope you're all fine and safe. Thanks for looking.