I participated in the Bikepacker first annual Bikepacking Summit in Golden, Colorado this past weekend. It was great stuff. Lots of super cool presentations that showcased the many, many ways one can explore via the bicycle. Met and chatted with so many cool people, learned so much and in turn, I am inspired by them all. Such a wonderful event.
From there I spent a couple nights, and a day, with my Mom, in Brighton, Co. We sat with the dogs and cat, drank beer, watched the clouds roll by and the rain drops fall. All the while I prepped my bike and gear for the ride home. I watched the weather constantly, but no matter it didn’t improve, it looked like a wet ride home. My Mom tried to convince me to stay and let Rach come pick me up. As comfy and warm as that sounds, I needed to ride, to travel under my own power.
So early Tuesday morning I got dropped off at Waterton Canyon, the start of the Colorado Trail and started my ride home. I did the first segment of the CT to the South Platte, where I turned south and followed the canyon towards Deckers. I planned most of the route without knowing exactly what was on the ground, I was hoping to do mostly gravel and dirt roads as my hand hasn’t been up to rugged singletrack. Unfortunetly, this dirt road soon turned to pavement a bit too soon, but was still a lovely bit of country.
I then climbed back up on dirt towards the Tarryall detour of the CT, then turned south to 24 and eventually Lake George and the Eleven Mile Canyon. This was all new and gorgeous terrain. Huge granite rocks jutting out of the tight twisty river, all while gathering clouds made the sky a swirl of sunshine and darkness. I then took couple of shortcuts that turned out to be dead ends, county roads that didn’t go like they looked to on the map. Despite the waste of energy and time, I didn’t get frustrated and instead laughed and carried on…all the way north to Hartsel.
There I racked my brain and my eyes to find the Tour Divide route south towards Salida. I had drawn a GPS track, but didn’t get the right one loaded, so by now I was going off of memory and general direction/instinct. I managed to stay on route all the way to Ute Trail where around midnight, I finally found some trees to hide from the rain and get some sleep. Despite a minimal sleep system I got in some quality rest, at least 7 hours of sleep! I stayed in my bag till almost 9 and then packed up in the rainy mist and made my way to Salida.
After hot coffee, salami and refilling my feed bags I headed out and eventually up Marshall Pass. The riding was kicking my butt, despite mostly good dirt and more pavement than I was planning, my hands were hurting, as well as my left knee. Still I climbed away, knowing that home was getting closer and closer. The clouds stayed low and dark, but the light was amazing. Bright yellows, golds, pinkish peach, red and orange leaves glowed against the dark ominous sky. I stopped so many times to attempt to capture how gorgeous it was out there, my pictures do not come close to reflecting how amazing it truly was!
After Marshall Pass I took HWY 50 home. I really wanted to be out a bit longer and spend another night under the stars, between the weather and my aching hands, I needed to get home. It hurt a bit inside to take the short easy way, but things have changed and I have to make smart decisions…damn that sucks! Ended up with about 237 miles, in about 36.5 hours. I wasn’t “racing” and took tons of breaks, lots of pictures and slept 7 hours!
I really miss these big rides (and races) and I want so bad to get back to doing them. Fact is my hand hurt the entire ride, even on easy stuff. Sometimes I want to plan for a return to all kinds of endurance shenanigans, but rides like this remind me not yet. I’m still hoping it will get better and better, yet right now I fear that big stuff might be only in the past, cause it hurts that much. Staying positive and looking forward!!!