A trick of the schedule and just pure luck handed me 4 days off in a row. OMG! (who am I to complain about time?) Well I would love to go somewhere, but after a long race season I feel like I have used up all of my dog sitting privileges. Plus it is actually quite gorgeous and dry enough that staying in Gunny ain’t so bad at all. After reluctantly working on my bike on what was now, my “Friday”, it suddenly hit me, I have 4 days off! I was giddy riding home, what to do, what to do? It didn’t take long before the idea of a binge weekend came to mind, Why not celebrate this wonderful extended end of season riding by cramming as much into the next four days as I can?
I started off yesterday. Riding with fellow Griggs Orthopedic riders, Beth and Sean out at Hartman’s. We cruised around in the cloudy coolness, rode some stuff I don’t ride much, holy smokes the McAbe’s halfpipe is so fun! Good times with good peeps. They needed to do some chores, (I should be doing some too) instead I headed out for some more, determined to crush myself. While I pondered my direction, how much time I had and such, my front wheel kept making turns for me. Next thing I knew I was crossing Beaver Creek and climbing up the Aberdeen Loop. I kept checking the watch, did I have enough time for this? I had a meeting that I did not want to be late for and I was now out in the middle of nowhere. Thinking about the options for a speedier return to town I just kept riding. Will I be able to make it? Unsure I hammered the climbs hard. I cranked out the loop, up out of Beaver Creek and out to Bambi’s. Ended up with time to eat a sandwich and let the dogs out, Yeah! Also managed to get in almost 49 miles and 4700′. A good start to the bingeing!
Last night I debated the plan for the rest of the weekend. So many ideas rolled around in my head. There are some limiters for sure, there is snow up high, it is pretty damn cold in the am, I do have to get the dogs out. With all things considered, one of my favorites, the Los Pinos Loop, popped into my head. I like to do it at least once a year and hadn’t been up there except for the CTR. It looked like it might have snowed up there, but that didn’t scare me too much. The loop could take about 9 hours on the SS, this meant a cold start or finishing in the dark and it was hunting season, hmmmm…still it pulled me, it needed to be ridden.
Hit the road at 9:13 AM, almost on target. The clouds still hung, the air was cool, bordering on cold. It is all climbing for a couple hours so not a deal. Traversing the massive Sawtooth Mountain on it’s Eastern flank, rolling down and up out of several drainages, in and out of aspen groves, through expansive parks. The sun streamed through breaks in the clouds steaming off of the snow covered peaks, pretty damn awesome! I just kept spinning my one little gear, eating my food, loving every minute. Eventually I turn and drop east down to Highway 114 and roll south, up the canyon. Turning off onto gravel a few miles later, heading towards Cochetopa Pass, then turning west, onto the long gradual climb up to Los Pinos.
Now my bags and jersey pockets are full of clothes, the sun is out, the air is warm, the wind is not too bad. It has turned out to be a real nice fall day in the mountains. This little pocket of Colorado is something special. Quiet, removed, very very low population density. After turning off 114, a couple ranch trucks and a few hunters pass by. Miles and miles of gravel road rolls under my tires, hours and hours go by. The country side rolls out in all directions, sage covered hills, rock crag topped canyons, brilliant snow covered peaks. The sun casts golden rays upon it all, setting the grass in the huge open parks aglow, filling the canyons with deep shadows, making the rocks turn impossibly red, contrasting the snow filled chutes and ridgetops with the black rock cliffs high in the La Garitas. I have been through here countless times, riding, racing, camping. It takes my breath away every time, it makes me want to come back more and more often, it begs me to stay.
Despite the wonder of the moment, the glory of this slice of the world, it is a long painful day on the singlespeed. Too much sitting down, with miles and miles of flat smooth road my butt gets real tired of my bike seat! With good bits of wash boards, lots of washed out jeep roads and livestock hoofs pounded into the road, my already sore hands are pissed off. After yesterday’s singletrack hammering my back is singing death metal in my ear. Yikes! Still a smile smooths over my cringing face. Joy graces my soul with such a magnificent day spent totally outside, with such a good friend, my bike. After 8 hours and 56 minutes, 101 miles, 6300′, I complete the loop and arrive at home, to a crazy welcome from my two wild dogs. What a great day…now what to do tomorrow…..