It's been a bit since I've updated so I'l do a bit of that now. A few days ago I was supposed to do 40 minute hill repeats so I headed over to Buena Vista and rode them on Cottonwood Pass. I felt great. The weather was moving in so instead of doing 40 minutes and then waiting 20 to recover, I ended up just pulling off to the shoulder and waiting about 3 minutes and then starting the next one. I made it all the way up but I did get wet.
Today I rode 6 hours. This is the first ride in about a week that I have not gotten soaked while doing. Finding places to ride around here is getting to be a challenge because a lot of stuff is still off limits. I wanted to ride Rampart Range Road all the way up to Indian Creek (38 miles) and then come back but, to my surprise, crews were heading that way as I made the climb and then found a Forest Service worker up at the top shaking his head at me. We chatted a bit and I thanked him for his efforts and for saving my small home and headed back down trying to figure out where to go. I rode up towards Divide and then back in towards Tranquil Acres. When you say that name around here people generally cringe. While there are some nice houses back there I think the stereotype is that folks live back that way to be off the grid. I counted 8 people that waved to me and that surprised me. Not because I think they're sketchy but because everyone is still on high alert here looking for strange people in there areas. Guys wearing lycra automatically qualify as strange. Even I know that.
I hooked up with a really worn out Jeep trail that was heading north which was where I wanted to be. I passed through some of the 717 (this is an amazing network of moto trails right outside of town that I would love to take a moto on but they scare me so instead, I make Brrrrrrraaaaappppp noises while riding my singlespeed). I saw one guy on an enduro and three others shooting guns further back in and that was it. I had ridden this road several years ago in the winter and eventually you enter into the area that was scorched by the Hayman fire in 2002. Even 10 years later there is still not much. I'm sure this area was incredible before the incident. This is looking due west.
Standing in the same position looking north. I would ride right to that mountain in the distance.
Eventually, I popped out at West Creek and found my back to Highway 67 which takes you right back to Woodland Park. I took my time eating Jelly Bellies and Sour Worms the whole way. Not too far outside of town I started thinking about how nice a cold beer would be. I looked at my watch and saw that I had been riding for about 5 hours. I'd be in town soon but I had to hit 6 hours. Then I thought I'd climb all the way back up to where I started the day and that would give me the 6 I wanted. Normally I love this climb but my legs felt like poop today. Everything was forced and I was crawling up. I kept changing the deal. "You can't walk. You can get a beer on the way home but only if you clean the entire climb." I cursed myself. I started burning matches by climbing pretty hard out of the saddle. In the end I made it but it was not pretty. I was all over that bike. At the top, I chatted for a bit with another Forest Service worker and took a picture of this weed before heading to town to claim my prize (Original Coors). Sometimes ya gotta drink a classic. It was glorious.
I am now almost 2 weeks out from the start of the Colorado Trail Race. The one thing that I have tried to complete on a bike in my life that has alluded me. Not just alluded me but spit at me, pushed me down, kicked me in the nuts, and called me balled (that's just wrong). Today I went back and forth a little bit on bike choice when I was really hurting. Is it stupid to try to do this on one gear? I don't know. I don't think that a piece of equipment (a derailleur, a cassette, or a shifter cable) is what has kept me from riding into Durango. It's been my fat head. This year I feel like I have not allowed the magnitude of it all to snowball out of control. I respect the whole thing but I just can't approach it like a total jackass anymore. We're getting a little long in the tooth for that sort of thing.