Ok Here you go!
While I am not doing much racing, I’m still dreaming…and scheming. My brain just simply does better with crazy things to think about. I sort of hatched the Gunny Loopy Loop a few weeks before last Labor Day. I didn’t get organized enough for anyone else to join me, but I rode a good bit of it and decided to give this year a go.
I’ve been fine tuning the route, working on little bits. Thing I keep realizing is how hard it is going to be. There is a reason I ended up being the crazed cycling masochist I am, I cut my teeth, here in the Gunnison Valley. So many trails, so much climbing, endless route possibilities. I’ve hiked, biked, and skied much of this wonderful ass whooping country, it has changed me, made me stronger, tougher. Now want to share some of that.
So Welcome, welcome to the Loopy Loop. Actually, Two Loops! I’ve got the Shorty Loop just about set. I rode it this past weekend. I have now written the cues and I should have a GPX in a few days. It is hard, kinda heart breaking hard in spots, lots of hike a bike, endless climbing. Gorgeous, oh it is beyond words, so many mountains, creeks, flowers, green grass, rivers, rocks, bears, elk, hawks, and porcupines. A rough and rowdy world just a bit farther out there, ready to reduce one to humility and reward you with peace!
The Biggie Loop is set in my head, but sill needs to be ridden. I hope to get to ride it entirely the end of July, and then have cues, GPX and final warnings. The Biggie is gonna crush each and everyone of us that attempts it. I’m not being macho, I’m just being honest. I chose some of the hardest riding around and linked it together with some easy and some questionable bits. The sum is going to be easily as hard mile for mile as the CTR and AZT.
So which Loop? Having just done the Shorty, I can say it can be done in under 24 hours if someone raced it, perhaps much faster? It could also be done over 2 or 3 nights by someone strong and in for good long days. The Biggie could take 2-3 days at full race pace, perhaps 5+ days if someone isn’t pedaling much into the night. So bite off only what you can chew! Read the Shorty Cues, in a few days look at the GPX track. Do some research on some of the known riding thats on course. Both Rides will Start; Saturday September 1rst, 2018 at 4:AM. Gathering at Rock N Roll Sports at 608 West Tomich, in Gunnison, Colorado. (Both rides, upon completion, will bring you back to Gunny.) Neutral Roll Out To Hartman’s Base Area, then Game On! DIY style rules, meaning Do It Yourself. Commercial Services/Available to Everyone Only! Stay on Course, If you mess up, fess up! Trackleaders and Spots should be available. If you aren’t sure, ask me?! I’ll keep rolling out more and more info as I get it finalized. Enjoy!!!
Start: Rock N Roll Sports, if doing GD, sign in at start and finish.
- Go South past Loves on S. 12th St. (Loves is open 24 hours)
- Turn Right/West onto Rio Grande Ave
- Just before intersection with Hwy 50 go Left/South between Schmaltz and Motel.
- Immediately Turn Right onto gravel road. Pass RV Dump, Follow Fenceline/Path.
- Stay on bike path as it curves around airport fence, to Gold Basin/CR 38, Take 38 as it goes East, Then South.
- Mile 3.9: Turn into Hartman’s Rocks Recreation Area.
- Take Trail next to bathroom, climb Jack’s Trail, pass thru cattle guard veer Left.
- Top Out, Short DH on Dirt Road, veer Left.
- Climb up “mainstreet“RD3525 for just 1/4 of mile or so
- Turn right/west up becks trail, Top Out/Wiggle Left/Then Right onto Rocky Ridge.
- Take RR up & over. Veer Left/South at intersection.
- Climb up Broken shovel trail, Turn Right/W/SW onto dirt road.
- Take Dirt Road 3570 W/SW to RD3550 to Back In trail to RD3575
- Turn Left/South onto Outback trail, At End of Trail, Veer Left back onto Rd3550 and descend.
- Stay LEFT/South at intersection of roads. Take another Left onto Skull Bypass Trail
- At end of Skull Bypass, turn Left/South onto old double track, after 1/4 mile look for trail on right
- Mile 11.5: Cross tiny plank bridge over S. Beaver Creek, take ghosty trail North along creek
- Turn hard Left/SW onto Aberdeen Loop/east side, Climb, Roll, Climb.
- Mile 17.7: Hit Dirt Road 3585, Turn Right/West. Continue past West Side of Aberdeen, stay on dirt road towards Uncompahgre Peak.
- Turn Left onto RD3054.
- Pass Seasonal Spring, at cow trough. Stay Right and curl Northward/DH.
- Merge with RD3043/CR31 Continue North to Hwy 149
- Mile 24: Take Hwy 149 N/East to HWY 50, Take 50 east thru river canyon.
- Turn Left onto Dirt Rd3113 and climb above single trailer home.
- Descend, turning R/North and climb up Beaver Creek Valley
- Mile 30: Turn Right onto RD3089/Steers Gulch and Climb out of Valley. Begin LONG Hard Climb!!! Stay Left and on main Rd, Climb and Climb!!!
- Mile 37.7: Pass Thru Gate/Cattle Guard, RD becomes FSRD 726. Climb, Roll, Climb.
- Mile 45.25: Top Out!!! Take a break and look around, one of my favorite spots.
- Turn Right at end of RD, into trees, look for vague trail thru the grass.
- Descend Little Mill Trail455 steep, gnarly, downed trees, be careful!
- Mile 47.83: Hit “ditch trail” turn Left/North, follow ditch.
- Turn Right/North off ditch trail down last of Little Mill/Lowline descend steeply
- 48.8: Hit RD450/Mill Creek Rd, Turn Right/West, DH. RD becomes RD3118.
- 52.25 Hit Paved RD730, Turn Left/North, stay Left/NW. 55.6: 730 turns to dirt.
- 59.6 Pass Spring, great water source, on the right after a short DH.
- Climb Ohio Pass, 10,056′
- 68: Top Out, descend towards Kebler Pass, Just before merging, look for trail dropping right into willows, Take Wagon Trail 606, across meadow, thru double track, cross Kebler, continue on Wagon Trail 606.
- Merge onto Kebler CR12, DH into Crested Butte.
- 74.5 CB!!! take any way thru CB that works. Short Loopers head West on Elk as you exit town to get to Tony’s Trail.
- Climb Tony’s, Turn Right/South onto Upper Loop.
- Take Upper Upper to Whetstone Vista to Left Onto Brush Creek Rd.
- Climb Brush Creek Rd 738 heading West/NW.
- Mile 83.5 At Switchback going left, take single track to the Right, Death Pass, after about a mile, merge back onto main rd.
- RD becomes Brush Creek Trail 400. Climb and climb up steep, sometimes loose and potentially heartbreaking trail, all the way up to 12,300′!
- 92: Top Out onto Star Pass, holy moly look at where you are!!!
- Descend steeply off East Side, after only 1/4 mile or so look for intersection going Right/South, Traverse on Crystal Peak Trail 583 to another high point. Descend Steeply for 2.4 miles.
- Turn Right/South onto Cement Creek Rd 740
- At Hunter Hill Intersection, leave Cement Creek RD, Cross Creek, take Cement Creek Trail, rolling descent, along open valley.
- Trail hits Cement Creek RD, Turn Left, Climb Switchbacks. After 3rd switchback, Leave RD, look for bike tracks. Climb/Traverse on Trail back to RD, Turn Right On Reno Divide Rd 759, Climb!
- 105: Top out, Continue straight, pass thru gate, look for Flag Creek Trail to the East.
- Descend Flag Creek. At T intersection Turn Right/S, Cross Creek, Climb.
- Top Out on Bear Trail 415, Turn onto RD, Roll along to continue on Bear Trail 415, Mile 112.5, descend.
- 114.7: Veer Left/South onto Deadman’s Trail 420. Descend crossing the creek many times.
- 115.5: Stay Left at intersection with Rosebud, trail becomes rough double track, RD744.2c.
- Hit Spring Creek Rd744, Turn Left/N/NE up wide gravel road. In about 1/2 a mile look for a road crossing the creek on the right.
- Drop off main road and cross creek, begin climbing Dr’s Park Rd454. Climb!
- 120.5 Top out on Road454, start Singletrack, TRL424.
- 120.75 Turn left and climb the “bypass“, Top Out in an amazing high point, drop in to the right, begin a rolling set of ups and downs as you work back to the north.
- Merge back in with Dr’s Park Trail, Descend!!!
- 128.5: Hit North Bank Campground. Turn Right and ride out thru CG
- 129: Turn Left on Taylor Canyon RD(paved), Cross River, look for next Right.
- 129.3: Leave Taylor, headed South/Right on RD585/One Mile. Begin really tough climb. (Next 10 miles are stupid hard, it is the only real dirt route back to gunny, so we take it!)
- 131.5: Pass CT Spur Sign, follow contouring single tracks whenever possible!!!
- 132.5: Cross Beaver Creek(another different beaver creek) Continue on main rd, climbing steeply and descending steeply, over and over.
- 137: Hike A Bike Singletrack, veers off to the Right. Steep cow trail that cuts off a bunch more stupid rd.
- 138.2: Top Out, hit Lost Canyon Rd743. Descend to the West. After 1/2 Mile look for RD to the Left with Green Gate!!!!! Pass Around gate and turn downstream, look for ghosty trail following creek on other side.
- 138.7: Descend old CT Spur Trail. Vague, but still there.
- Cross Road continue on fence line trail with no motorized sign. Hit high point, cross fence, turn right and then left onto RD604.1a. Descend. Look for CT spur Signs.
- 141.5: Veer Left, climb to gain ridge. Now on top looking across Signal Mesa and the last 11 miles or so to get to Gunny. From here stay on ridge, rolling along trending towards the Right/West. Staying on RD3108. Pass thru many gates, some may be open.
- Pass CT Spur Sign, Turn Right and cross another gate. Look for Right onto unmarked single track, look for bike tracks! Begin rolling, twisting descent on “first woods” trail.
- Hit Saddle with road, continue Left/NW on more trail, “shoelace” after another 1/2 mile cross road, continue on more twisty tight single track. Curl to the Right and back onto the main double track. Roll along “Ridge” double track, looking over the Gunnison River valley to the west. Descend.
- 149.5: At saddle look for unsigned trail dropping to the left, “rasta gulch” is super fun, descend. At Intersection at Bottom, Veer Right. Take Contour Trail 3213 Right/West.
- After roll over, stay left, climb slight rise, stay left again on CT Spur. Descend old doubletrack. Look for trail descending off to the left. Hit Road, either take gravel path down and under Hwy, or exit to Campus thru gate in fence due West.
- 153: Gunny. Take any way you wish back to Rock N Roll, sign in with your time. Go get a cold one and some rest. Nice work!
- All Milage Approximate, Descriptions are the best I can do, conditions are bound to change.
For me it started with spending lots of time on my feet. Once I got over the fear of the unknown, I became entranced by it. Getting around the next corner or over the next hill became more important than feelings of hunger, fear, or exhaustion. Fulfilling one goal after another, an almost endlessly satisfying march over the next horizon. Seeing new and old places, all filled with surprises.
Big days became something I craved, I needed these ass kickers every so often to remind me how small, we and all of our problems can be. When I started riding bikes again, it immediately spilled over and took on a life of its own. For on the bike I felt a bit more rewarded for the hard work of navigating through these rocky mountains. I still clawed up the trail, but now able to cruise easily for miles at a time, grinning wildly. I simply can not get enough of this combination of focus, adventure, mountains, and the end result of complete depletion.
Living here in Gunnison, there is an amazing amount of crazy rides one can string together. Its ridiculous and addictive! I’ve been dreaming up trail connections here for 24 years, and still, the unfolding of a map makes me giggle. So much to ride, just have to make the time!
Yesterday I got the chance to ride with friends in Taylor Park and then rode home via trails, gravel, and pavement. The day was spectacular, barely a cloud to be seen, hot in the sun, cool in the shade. Being the month of June, the day was long, the sunset endless. Being a dry and low snow year we are able to ride way up high, on some amazing trails. Pretty special to be out in these mountains on such a day, grateful to able to spend so much time on my bike.
Already dreaming of next weekend….
One dream I haven’t made time for in recent years is putting on my own ride. Based right here in the Gunnison Valley, using some of the routes that I have learned and trained upon for the past couple of decades. Places that crushed me to get to, but have since opened my eyes.
There is such raw beauty out there in this world. It comes in many forms, sometimes it is just a quiet stand of aspens high on a ridge top in the middle of nowhere after a long, hard climb. It is a wonder that I forget, and quite regularly that life is much the same way, greatness does not just pop into your hands, it must be pursued and earned.
Un-rideable mud, tangles of down trees, endless climbs to rough, arm wrenching descents and more, and more. Tough, brutal even, but all of it with a backdrop of breathtaking beauty and a core of love. A playground with lessons in self knowledge and soul testing grit around every corner.
I rode a bit of this on Saturday. My whole body is still sore, I’m not the trail crusher I once was, but I’m still keen to get back out there again. To keep listening to the wind whispering wisdom through the trees. To keep digging deep into myself, finding both strength and weakness. For these lessons don’t stop teaching, so long as we keep listening.
Be wise, respectful, and humble, but do not be afraid.
Dark, Hot, and Delicious, thank the universe for the little things. This morning the coffee is doing more than making me wake up, its giving me something to hold on to.
I woke up this morning sobbing into my pillow and I just can’t seem to stop.
To be honest I cry pretty easy, I may not show it, but I’m a sucker for the heart string pulling stuff, dog rescue videos, beautiful babies, weddings, sappy moments in movies, etc. I don’t cry much over my own shit, that I tend to turn into anger and bitterness. So why am I crying? I keep asking myself the same. I don’t think its because I feel sorry for myself, although maybe I do. I just can’t stop thinking about how much of my life is based on the physical. Work, Play, Creation, it is all done with my hands.
For the record I can still do everything with my hand that I ever could, it just comes with a price. I can ride, even still pull off some good hard techy stuff, or ride 145 miles in a day. I can still wrench, cranking out bike after bike, turning turds into functioning machines. But, I hurt. I awake in the middle of the night with my wrist throbbing. I can barely operate a computer mouse with out cringing. I find myself riding with one hand, way too often. I can not do trail work anymore. I can barely write with a pen.
I can’t stop thinking about all the folks with greater disfunction than me and how they can deal and move on. Makes me feel like a wuss for not being tougher, more resilient, more adaptable. Guess I am still getting there. But this transition, or whatever it is, makes me cry. I am scared, I am afraid to let go of what I know. It flashes me back to when I was younger and stronger, but still could sense that it wouldn’t last forever, I thought, “well when I can’t do it anymore, I’ll just move on”. Now that I am there I find that I am terrified, more than riding into the darkest unknown, surrounded by reflecting eyes hiding in the bush. Guess that this is just mental, spiritual version of that.
I want to believe that there is more, more to me than the physical and I am trying to open up to it. Yet it is also hard to imagine doing any of it with out my hand and therefor without pain. Guess that is one of the hands dealt by the harsh side of life and we never, ever seem to be done paying our dues.
Again, I am looking through the drying tears and seeing the coming sunrise through the open curtains, feeling the hot coffee flow through my bones, the fuzzy nuzzle of dog noses on the backs of my knees. Little things, can be the steps to more powerful things, I keep telling myself, even if I don’t feel it yet. I’m not giving up, that is for sure. I really do want, no need to give more to this world, but god damn it sucks to wake up crying. I’ll just make another press of coffee and keep on trucking.
Been awhile since I sat down to write. A long long while.
There are times when I want to open up my heart and share whatever it is that is happening in there, good, bad, or ugly. For the past few months it has been such a mess and too much to think about, much less form into words.
I’m still living, but sometimes it feels like I am more zombie than my old self. The reason is that the next big thing has been missing. Due to injury, then surgery and the prolonged recovery, I have been disconnected from my dreams. Fact is I battle with depression, have most of my life. There were times when I thought I had it beat, done, gone forever. But thats not how it works, it lingers till you are weak and then it grabs you my the throat once again.
I found ways to deal with the everyday battle, I dreamed big, I went at it hard and that focus kept my head above the grasp of that dirty fighter in the back of my mind. Having that huge, daunting mission ahead of me, did wonders for my brain. I still got beat up and dragged down, but I’d bounce back in a few days or weeks and get back at it.
Then around 2015 my hand started to really hurt. It really hurt to ride, it was really hard to race. I still stubbornly managed to do a couple more biggies, but it was obvious that time was ticking. I really hoped that surgery would put me back at it, that I could return to the life I knew of planning for the next big ride. But 16 months post op and I’m still aching, unable to ride without pain and definitely unable to ride hard day after day.
I’d been ignoring the winds of change as much as I could, meanwhile drinking and smoking way, way too much to try and compensate. It has not been a fun experience, I felt like I was rotting from the inside out.
There have been some very strong slaps to the face recently. A few friends and friends of friends have left this world by their own hands. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t had the same thought. Its something that many of us fighting depression have to deal with. Yet, I can remember one of the most powerful moments of my life, riding along the Continental Divide way back in the 2011, TD, outside of South Park City, WY. It was sunset, the sage hills were glowing into seeming infinity one one side, the remaining snow covered mountains alight with an amazing colors on the other. In that moment I felt so wonderfully strong, alive, and in love with what I was, and what I was doing. I think about that moment and I refuse to give up on myself.
Yet I want to return to that same feeling with the same experience, but I have to wake up and realize that it might just be time to move on. Ultra racing might be a thing in my past, and that has haunted me for the past 2 years and it has made me angry and bitter. That is a waste of time and I am attempting to grow and seek another avenue to explore. I have been waiting for something new to find me, bite me in the ass, and change me. That hasn’t happened, I got to do it myself.
I am trying to quit drinking and smoking, I am going to read more, write more, create more and spend less time torturing myself with social media. Life is big and it doesn’t just mean big huge miles on a bike, I keep reminding myself that I am capable of so much more. It just requires starting anew and working to get to another place where I feel strong, free, and in love with what I am and what I am doing. I hope we can all find that thing in our lives, it makes living a lot more fun.