I took a break from writing blogs and riding for a few months. I feel like this season was very taxing for me mentally and physically and I needed some time off the bike to sort things out in my head. I have regained the desire to ride again and I am slowly trying to improve my ruined fitness. I don’t want this update to seem like one of those pointless updates so many people seem to make about random things from my personal life. I am not going to pretend I am that interesting or joke myself into thinking any of you actually care what I did with my weekend. I just figured I would give you an idea why I have not been updating with new epic rides. The main reasons are Kayla and I recently bought a house and also recently added a puppy to our lives. I will leave it at that. More ride updates to come.
Yesterday 7 of us set out to try and find the mystery Douglas creek trail that we think could connect us into the ridge above the scar with the plane crash. It was my idea to get everyone together for this ride so I sent out emails a week before hand letting people know the basic route and ride although I am not sure everyone that showed up fully understood what they were in for. I take full responsibility for that. It ended up being a long hard day. Longer than anyone expected. I can only hope everyone had fun. The ride had some really hard parts to it but I still had a lot of fun with my friends. It was an adventure for sure!
We rode up rampart range road past the lookout and headed up towards the boys camp area. We left early and avoided the heat on the climb but we had some exposed hike a bike sections to deal with later on.
After reaching a point in the road where we though we would encounter the ridge we needed to jump on we started bush wacking and consulting the map. We ended up finding a trail that looked promising and after a fair amount of arguing we decided to follow that trail thinking it was the douglas creek trail we had been seeing on the atlas.
The trail has been mostly used by horses but was really fun to ride. Unfortunately it was not the douglas creek trail. It was just another feeder trail into Queens canyon and we ended up in the same spot we were last time. We accepted out fate and rode down queens. The trail down Queens canyon is so pretty and lush. Its a great trail and with some work to add some flow it could be a ton of fun.
Before we started the hike a bike from hell out of queens we stopped and Jon filtered water for everyone and Joey found a geocache of some sort next to the water fall.
We hiked up in the same general area as we did last time. I thought the hike would be easier since we know that we had some sweet payoff at the top. That did not make the hike any easier. At that point I was feeling bad that I suckered everyone into this wild goose chase. We all struggled on the hike and reach the top with little motivation to look for the douglas creek trail. Jon set out by himself up the trail and came back after a while said it didn’t look very promising. We all hung out in the shade and rested for the sweet descent we had ahead of us.
The ridge was just as awesome as I remember it being. We stuck together all the way to the scar. I hope everyone else enjoyed the trail as much as I did. At this point I was super excited just to be back on trail we could ride.
After reach the scar we ate a little and headed down. I ran out of water right as we reached the scar. I went through a full 100 oz camel back and 4 24oz bottle that day and I felt like I could have drank more. We didn’t see any big horned sheep while coming down the scar. I was a little bummed about that. By the time I got back home I had been out for 9 hours. What a day! We have a big one planned for next weekend as well. No searching form trail on this one but it will be pretty tough. Lets hope everyone comes back after the death march we had yesterday.
Yesterday me and 4 other single speeders did the entire ring the peak trail system (well as much of it as is open currently). This ride has in some ways been in the works for years. Everyone has been talking about doing it but we have sort of hoped that they would open the missing sections of trail and allow access to the sections that are off limits right now. I think eventually Jon grew tired of always talking about doing that loop and never actually doing it so he nailed down a date and let everyone know. I was pretty on the fence about it at first because I wasn’t sure I was up for it or not but Joey talked me into it. The more web research I did about the trail the more excited I became. It seemed like it would be a really fun adventure and it would be nice to check that ride off my list of rides to do. We met up at Jon’s house at 5:30 in the morning. The group was me, Jon, Paul, Joey, Doug and Eric. The only person I didn’t know was Eric and he was from Denver by way of North Carolina. We were all on single speed mountain bikes but Eric was riding a vicious cycles motivator set up as a fixed gear with only a front brake. I have ridden with a few fixed mountain bikers and watching them ride technical stuff was never very pretty so I questioned how he would do at first. He quickly proved he was more than up for it. I rode behind Eric on a bunch of really technical stuff and I was beyond impressed with his technique and ability on that bike. Here is a quick run down of every ones bikes.
My indy ti deluxe
Jon’s ground up 650b
Eric’s fixed gear vicious motivator
Doug’s 88 marin
We left Jon’s at 5:30 sharp and by the time we reached the Ute pass trail Joey had some bad luck with the sidewall of his tire and hand to boot it and change a flat. It was still pretty cold at this point. I remember when we stopped I noticed steam rising off everyone.
After fixing waiting for joey to fix his tire we reached a split in the trail. Technically the ring the peak route follows the Ute pass trail the whole way but there is a single track to the left that stays a little more level and is way more fun to ride so we opted to take the single track.
Once we reached Highway 24 we made pretty good time up to green mountain falls and easily found Picabo Road which was much steeper than any of us expected. The Mt. Esther trail head was pretty over grown and could be easy to miss if you weren’t keeping your eyes peeled. It is a pretty intense hike all the way to the top. Most of the reason we left so early was so we could get that hike out of the way while the sun was still pretty low. The hike came and went and wasn’t as bad as I had expected. At the top we stopped and ate for a few before taking a right on the single track at the top.
The section of trail from the top of Mt Esther to the crystal creek reservoir was great. It was a little over grown from all the rain we have been getting but all the climbs were doable and the downhills were techy and fun. Once it spit us out on the road we had some rolling service road climbs over to the Catamount reservoir. Once we reached Catamount we were faced with another option. We could either stick to the service road or take the single track that goes around the the reservoir. We again opted for the single track instead of jeep road. It was not a choice we regretted. The single track around the north side of the reservoir was fast and fun. It eventually dumped us out at a feeder pipe for the reservoir that was was spewing air and water about a foot into the air.
After that the trail dumps you out on some double track that rolls for a while through some meadows. We reached the base of the climb and decided this would be a good place to filter water, eat lunch and consult the map.
The climb after we stopped picked up pretty steep in spots and was a pretty hard push up and over the top. We had rollers after that and soon enough we were descending down into the Crags camp ground. The Pikes Peak hill climb was going on that day so the side of the road was lined with parked cars from people that were hiking up the Crags to watch the race. Once we reached the trail head at the top of the crags camp ground we ran into a family camping with a screaming child. She was standing near the edge of the trail screaming at the top of her lungs. I remember being able to hear her for a good portion of that climb. It wasn’t very pleasant sound to hear when you are already in your pain cave.
After that climb on one of the descents I noticed one of the largest uprooted trees I had ever seen. I got a bee in my helmet and had to stop so I figured I would snap a picture of it.
After that we had a bit more climbing ahead of us. We stopped just before the switch backs and ate. Doug and I relaxed on this really soft moss next to the trail. I felt temped to lay down and take a nap but that whole area was swarming with mosquitoes so I am sure that would not have worked out.
After we ate we had a gut buster of a climb that was a good mix of smooth and technical single track.
After we crested the top of that climb we had a really fun rocky descent down into Horsethief Park. After the rocky section we passed through this meadow that had an amazing view.
After that section we quickly dropped down to 67 and started the dreaded road section up towards Gillett.
Gillet has an awesome spring on the side of the road and we filled up and got water. I drank a full bottle in no time and filled up my other two bottles and we headed out.
We then headed up 67 to the turn off for 81 and took that for a while until we hit the turn off for gold camp road. Gold camp was mainly flat with some slight downhill sections. It was a fun little push. Everyone was in good spirits and we joked and talked the entire down to the turn off for FR 379. We turned left and started the death march climb up to 7 steps road.
The Climb up 379 starts off mellow and soon gets really steep and doesn’t give you an inch of breathing room until you crest out a mile or two from the turn off for 7 steps. I was in deep into my pain cave up that entire time. I kept thinking about how nice it will be when the full ring the peak trail is finished and we can connect pancake rocks over to that area and bypass 67 and gold camp. I hope that land swap goes through soon because it would add some much needed single track to the loop. We stopped and at at the base of the climb and rested and ate. The jeep road climb up from there was a brutal loose hike. I was cursing my rock filled sidi shoes the entire way up.
After a few miles of hike a bike the road mellowed out and rolled in the meadow at elk park near Alamgre. At this point the air was pretty thin and you could feel it in your legs and lungs. We all rode pretty mellow through that section. After that we sort of traversed the side of Almagre and then hit the jeep road down to Jones park.
It was nice to be on familiar ground at this point. We sat on the log we always sit on and ate and talked for a little before heading down pipeline. we all warned Eric about how rocky it was but he proved me be a much better technical rider on that fixed gear than any of could have ever expected. He rode that whole trail like a champ. I rode behind him on the rockiest section and watched him pick his way through the boulders like he had ridden that trail a thousand times. I also watched him air it out off a decent sized drop pedaling in the air and landing smooth. I have never seen anything like it. I am not really into the whole fixed gear thing but Eric is a impressive rider for sure.
By the time we reached the 666 trail I was super happy we were on the home stretch although I was quickly reminded we still had to climb Palmer trail up to Section 16.
We stopped and filtered water near High drive and then headed on down to the Palmer trail climb. I have never walked that climb and I didn’t plan on it that day but it took everything in me to keep the pedals turning up that climb at the end of the day. By the time I reached the top I was super tired and was ready to put the ride to bed. We ate headed down the Section 16 trail towards the Intemann Trail.
We rode the Intemann trail back to crystal park road and headed back into the springs. We stopped for a minute and said goodbye to everyone and headed back to the downtown area with Joey and Doug. It was a great day and I think it was my favorite ride of the year. Joey kept my spirits high by riding with me when I was hurting. I am glad I am glad I decided to go. We are already talking about doing it again next year.
I have no clue on exact mileage or time. I sort of lost track of time but when Paul downloads the info from his gps I will update this with all of that info.
Sunday Jon, Brett, Joey and I hit the trail pretty early to explore a trail that Jon discovered on his moto. We did most of the usual climb up to jones park but near the wye camp ground we continued on a jeep road around Mt Rosa to a gravel pit. Once we hit the gravel pit we found a faint piece of single track that took us to a more defined trail. The trail itself was very fast and rocky. It was a challenge to keep a high speed with my rigid fork. It was shaking me so hard that I could feel my socks creeping down my legs from the vibration. It was still a total blast. The trail ended up hitting St Mary’s trail a ways down. Aside from the large amount hikers on the trail coming down St Mary’s was a lot of fun. Joey was back in town for a week after being in Europe all summer. It was nice having him around. He is always a good addition to our group rides. I will be happy when he is back for good. We are talking about doing the ring the peak trail system next week. I am still on the fence about it. Not sure if I am up for it right now. We will see.
Mary and I both had a full day off yesterday so we headed down to Salida and did the monarch crest trail. For me the first crest ride of the year always seems to be the most fun. We got up to the pass a little late so we decided to try and motor through the ride to try and avoid the rain. We didn’t do a lot of stopping and tried to keep a good pace as best we could. I didn’t find my legs until we dropped below timber line. I always seem to struggle with those alpine climbs. It just always feels like I am moving in slow motion when I am up that high. Marshall pass came and went with no problem. I felt super strong up that climb but was kind of dreading the descent down silver creek. In the past for me riding down silver creek with a rigid fork has always kind of done a number on my arms. This time around I tried to stay as loose as I could and that seemed to help a fair amount. It still baffles me how loose and rocky that trail is. At points I find myself shaking my head because it seems like the trail contains more rocks than actual dirt. We hit the rainbow trail with a fair amount of gas in our tank still and motored through the rest of the ride pretty quickly. The entire day we only encountered 2 riders and that was with within a mile of 285. It felt like we had the crest to ourselves that day. Doesn’t get much better than that.
I usually don’t like bike related tattoos but this one was funny.
On Friday I rode elk park to jones park with Mary and Betty. It was a lot of fun it felt good to get out on my mountain bike again but for whatever reason I had a really off day on the bike. My balance and confidence felt all sketchy so I spent a lot of the ride second guessing my riding. I just took it easy and tried to enjoy the trail with my friends. It was a good ride and I am glad I went for sure. Betty convinced me to get a gravity dropper seat post and I placed an order for it today. I can’t wait to try it out. I think it will be pretty useful for steep technical downhills.
On Sunday I went and did the same loop plus some extra with my Dad and Ryan. This time around I felt like I was on my A game for sure and had a lot more fun on the trail and cleaned all the sections I struggled with before so I was pretty happy about that. We hiked up to the old mine and checked it out since Ryan had never seen it. On the way down we ran into some guys that work with us. We rode with them for a bit. It was a lot of fun. I was really impressed with Ryan’s descending skills that day. I felt like I was going super fast and he was never very far off my pace even on the super techy stuff. After we finished jones and 666 Ryan and I decided to do palmer trail to section 16 to redrocks. It was fun and the extra climb made feel feel better about all that downhill. Here are some pictures from Sunday.
Jon and I decided to test our our multi-day camping gear on the emerald valley trail system. We rode up after I got off work on Thursday night. I was able to fit way more than I expected in my bags and when I weighed it with full bottle cages my bike came in at around 29 pounds. Doesn’t seem too bad but riding a riding with with weight on the front and back of your bike is more difficult than you would expect. The climb wasn’t too bad. We made it to the camp site right as it was getting dark and we quickly unpacked and got a fire going. I ended up not having to use my bivy because it was so nice out so I just slept in my sleeping bag on top my bivy and stayed super warm the whole night. The next day we descended down into emerald valley and followed the old pipline up to old stage and then took the mcneily trail back towards town. It was a lot of fun. I wish I had more upper body strength so I could ride with a little more finess when my bike is loaded down. I felt like i was just bull dogging through some parts I should be flowing through. I am sure it will come with time. Here are some pictures I took along the way.
Jon started this ride a few years ago where we rides from our front doors in Colorado Springs to Aspen on our single speed road bikes. This was my 2nd year doing the ride. Here is a picture of our crew from last year.
Everyone who went last year came but we were missing one key person. My best friend Ej. I thought about him a lot during this ride. I would have given anything to follow him up independence pass again this time around.
We had the largest group to date. All the Salida guys came out in force. It was really cool to see such a big turn out. The ride was around 170 miles and went over 4 mountain passes. I spent most of the day in my pain cave thinking about Ej. I was glad to put this ride to bed. Not sure if I will be doing it next year or not.
Here are some pictures from this year.
A few weeks back a customer bought a new bike and left her proflex here to throw away. We couldn’t bring ourselves to throw it away so it became the shop lunch bike. We did some interesting upgrades and I think it is now a homeless persons dream bike.
On Thursday I went to the sand creek race at bear creek to cheer on some of my friends and take some pictures. It was more fun than expected. Jon showed up and yelled hilarious stuff at all the racers so I spent most of my time there laughing and taking pictures. Doug won the single speed class by a good margin on a Marin from the late 80s. Pretty stoked about that. Here are some pictures I took.