Monday, December 15, 2008

Over the Great Divide

From July 20th, 2008

I had three days off this past weekend and wanted to make a bike vacation out of it, but none of my co-workers were able to go. I wanted to go and get a lift ticket at a ski resort and take my bike up the chairlift since I moved to Colorado but nobody could ever go and since I didn't have a car, that goal has been on the backburner all this time. Another thing I had heard of people doing is riding mountain bikes over the continental divide to Winter Park, which is probably about 30 miles of mostly rough jeep roads some of which are too rocky to even ride a bike on. They have lift riding there.

So, I thought "to hell with everyone else", filled a backpack with lots of food, clothing, maps, and other essentials and left for Winter Park. I'm generally a wuss when it comes to longer rides. 4 hours is usually enough to drive me straight into the ground physically, and yet here I was, embarking on a journey of indeterminant length and difficulty.

The trail snakes from behind Eldora Ski resort (which is closed during the summer) up to the ruins of an old rail grade over Rollins Pass above tree level at 11,660 ft above sea level. You have to cross some railroad trestles dating from the late 1800's where the train would have to plow through the snow with a massive corkscrew plow on the front of it. Now the train passes under the divide through Moffat Tunnel, built in the twenties over several years, resulting in 38 worker deaths, and one bankrupt mister Moffat, but I digress. From there, you can pick up about 15 miles of dirt roads leading down the other side into Winter Park. The weather was cooperative and sunny and the ride went off well. I took everything at an easy pace and was pushing my bike up incredibly steep, rocky, slopes for much of that time, which ironically enough, saved my riding legs. Though the ride took six and half hours, I arrived in Winter Park feeling relatively good.

I got a hotel with a shower, cable television, a pool, and a hot tub, stuffed my face at a local restaurant, washed my riding clothes, watched the Tour de France stage and went to bed. The next day I rode a couple of miles to Winter Park Ski resort, bought a lift ticket and did some downhilling. It was some pretty fantastic riding, with huge bermed turns, jumps, wall rides, and wooden bridges, and I rode just about all of it. At the bottom they were busy building the freestyle course for Crankworx, a huge mountain bike freeride festival, with the huge jumps to go with it. When I went over to take a few pictures, I realized one of the guys working on the course was a pro freerider who appears in all the crazy videos we play at the bike shop, John Cowen, so I got to meet him too.

Today was the dreaded ride back home. I thought my legs would quit on me before I even got back up to Rollins Pass, but surprisingly, they felt pretty good once I settled into a good pace that I could hold for awhile. Storm clouds moved in and started raining on me as soon as I reached the top so I donned raingear and started the rocky descent down into the valley below.

There I saw the first biker on that route all weekend and he turned out to be the guy that used to live next door to me at the cabin. He took wrong turn and was just about to find out he was going the exact opposite direction he wanted to when I found him. We rode together through multiple puddles and creek crossings en route to Eldora Ski Resort where he convinced me (in spite of my fatigue and better judgement) to do this crazy downhill back toward town. I hadn't done it on my new bike and was anxious to try it out down the super steep boulders that the trail was known for and the bike got me down it with out wrecking, although I had plently of opportunities.

Now, here I am back at the pizza place in Ned, inhaling a cheese bread until I feel sick, and writing about the tree. I must say, as tired as I am, I'm feeling pretty damn good about myself right now having survived so much riding without completely bonking and ending up trudging in agony all the way home. I wish I were always that lucky.



Full Cycle said...

Killer trestle shot RC.

Anonymous said...

Hot damn that is a cool adventure

Post a Comment