Most of us have a stack of crazy ideas somewhere. Things you thought of once or twice but never made them happen. I’m guilty of it in droves, My Brain pulls things out of thin air all the time. Most of the time I critique it down to stupid/dumb/waste of time, real quick and toss it to the back of the pile. Then sometimes that idea just sits there on the back burner and simmers till it is ready.
I’ve wanted to put together a single day epic, or a mulitday adventure, here in the Gunnison Valley for years. We have so much access and so many trails it is a wonder we don’t have more races/events based on this amazing infrastructure. For me, there have been a few things that slowed that process down, #1 I’m usually busy trying to ride every trail in the valley or train for some race and never have time, #2 There are already too many events to chose from, and #3 Everything that catches my eye on the map ends up looking way too damn hard.
For years I have signed up for events that turned out to be solid type 2 fun, maybe it was in the description, maybe it was assumed. I have also seen, both first hand and through the experiences of others, that the rewards of pushing through tough sections and hard situations can be worth it, often the end result is incredibly powerful. With all this floating about in my brain we went on a hike that explored a route I have always wanted to use, but feared its would crush people. On this hike I was blown away at the beauty, uniqueness and sense of space that this spot contained. It dawned on me, right there, that suffering makes us better, it opens our eyes and demands what we normally never deliver. In this case it could take folks to places they never knew or could imagine.
So I did it. I drew up two loops on the computer. A Big Loop and a Mega Loop. I did lots of homework with maps, GPS, even flagging. I realized pretty quick that the smaller loop, yes called the big loop was possible, the Mega would have to wait. I made a GPS track, I made cues, I flagged some obscure trails, just in case anyone wanted to show up.
Yesterday, Friday the 25th, at 4:AM, I showed up at Rock N Roll Sports ready to ride/race/or hold hands. Instead I ended up heading out alone with the goal of completing the course, getting on the ground GPS data and vetting the course I strung together. It turned out to be a grand ole day. I rode 147 miles, gained and lost 24,000′ of vert and spent 26.6 hours out there with only a quick 10 minute nap to keep the eyes open.
The Big Loop is big. Lots of remote routes, tons of hike a bike, so many damn rocks! It is so hard, that I may look into a couple easier route choices to keep it fun and not too serious. That being said, it goes to some cool spots that can not be visited without doing the extra work. You simply can not feel or experience these places and things without making the effort to get there. With plenty of easy things out there, I am heartened that there are the things that make us curse, scream, and shudder to ourselves. The latter makes us grow and evolve, the former leave us to become slobs. Bottom line, some things are worth every bit of effort it takes.
I bet old Mike Hall is setting in his saddle in Heaven looking down and smiling at you….saying, looks like a good day in the saddle mate! Now about that mega loop….LOL, Ride On, Jefe, Ride On!