Obligatory Riding

Dyke Trail

First riding day in Crested Butte. Fell asleep in my tent last night reading a guidebook and still had a hard time deciding on where to ride this morning — first world problem, embarrassment of riches, etc. Pored over the same book during breakfast, cross referencing with a website that’s extremely useful (14erskiers.com) but the authors are a couple of CB shredders, which I’m definitely not. Finally decided on a ride called Dyke Pass which starts with a length of road ride out of town. Right before leaving my breakfast spot a line in the guidebook caught my attention:

“For an epic day, ride the Dyke Trail from town. Climb up to Kebler Pass from Horse Ranch Park after the Dyke Trail descent…Ride Carbon and Green Lake Trails, as described above….”

I have a problem: when a goal is presented in situations such as this, I feel compelled to complete it, no matter how offhand it was mentioned or whether it fits into what I want for my life at a given moment. I attended a conference where Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, presented her observations on four personality types — Upholders, Questioners, Rebels, and Obligers. Within her framework I’m  an Obliger, and though this goal-completing behavior doesn’t fit squarely in Rubin’s own definition of an Obliger, it makes sense to me. I felt obliged to finish the linked rides.

some people drive to this point
Some people drive 6.4 miles to this point, and they’re okay with that

So I rode the 6.4 miles out of Crested Butte on Kebler Pass Road to the turnoff for the approach to the Dyke Trail. The trail was teeming with wildflowers. Feeling so good, I was fantasizing about my casual response to the locals who were going to ask me where I rode today. “Um, Dyke Trail, then Carbon and Green Lake.”

narrow path through Aspens
Hard not to feel a little mystical riding through aspens; notice the narrow path

Then came the one mile of the Dyke Trail the guidebook describes like this:

“Begin a challenging set of climbs with very little break in between.”

Being completely impressed with myself during the first half of this ride, I knew these climbs existed and thought I rode them already, I had encountered a series of downs and ups that I found fun. “These aren’t that big a deal, I must be in much better shape than the author and the people she’s writing for.” Wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong. The climbs referred to were, in fact, brutal. And though I’m happy with how I performed — only once did I get stopped, at which point I was completely bent over gasping, acutely aware of how thin the air is at 10,500′ — my general worldview after these climbs was significantly different than before them.

Lunch from Teocalli Tamale
Stopped to eat lunch from Teocalli Tamale
as close a I got to the trail's eponymous volcanic rock formation
In the distance, the trail’s eponymous volcanic rock formation

A quick lunch and several miles of wildflower-filled, technical singletrack later and I was once again on Kebler Pass Road, the same road I rode out of town, except now I was on the other side of the pass. Although mountain passes are passes by definition because they’re lower and easier to traverse than the surrounding mountains, they’re also by definition the high point of whatever’s on either side of them, e.g. the road. So…four miles up Kebler Pass Road to the pass itself.

At the top I stopped. I could see where I left the road a few hours ago and I could also see Ohio Pass Road, the path I would take to the epic-(and legend-?) making Carbon Trail. I was tired and there were things I needed to take care of in town. I calculated mileage in my head and read trail directions. I stood there for a few minutes debating, then compulsively headed down Ohio Pass Road. I stopped again, debated again, completely agonized, and continued on, feeling obliged to do so. I shifted down as the road started climbing.

I love climbing. I mean, I really really love climbing. But I was not enjoying this easy climb at all. I realized that I wouldn’t enjoy any of the climbing; and though I would probably enjoy the killer views, I would also be too tired to enjoy the descent. I would just want to get back to my car so I could run some errands and start this blog.

Reluctantly I turned around and rode downhill seven miles to Crested Butte. And I’m okay with my choice.



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