On Wednesday, the eighth day of a more-or-less solo mountain biking road trip, my friend Dan was to join me in Crested Butte. He said he was getting an early start and it’s a five or six hour trip, so I figured he’d roll into town around four or five that afternoon — that’s the way Dan’s early starts usually end up. We could then go for a late day shorter ride; this would give me a rest day of sorts and give him time to acclimate to the 8875′ altitude.
Because of this tentative ‘schedule’ I felt no need to rush when I woke up — for the first time during this vacation I didn’t set an alarm. (Why set an alarm, you may wonder. To get a ride in before the common afternoon mountain storms.) Went to bed at 10 the night before and got up at 7:30. Made my first-ever camping coffee and an egg breakfast. Put a camp chair next to the Slate River and enjoyed a chapter of a book.
I also sat for a few minutes and watched and listened to the river and petitioned silently for, among other things, the removal of fear of financial insecurity. The previous few days involved some coolant issues with my car and as an inexperienced car owner I have some fear around catastrophic engine failure, a fear that was exacerbated by the five hours between me and home.
So once it began drizzling in the late morning I left my beautiful campsite and headed to an auto shop that was recommended to me by Nichole at Townie books. The mechanic was busy but once I mentioned his referral he agreed to take a quick look. We discussed the previous days’ coolant happenings and he couldn’t find anything wrong. He gave me some simple (and also easy) recommendations and concluded with “Enjoy your time. Keep an eye on it. What’s the worst that can happen? It might cost some money — and I know nobody wants to spend money — but that’s it.”
Fears assuaged (and prayers answered?) I went to a coffee shop. Update from Dan — running behind (shocker), wouldn’t be in CB until nighttime. Outside it was raining hard, not even a remote chance of riding my bike at that moment so I started this blog and wrote my first blog post. Switched coffee shops after several hours for a change of scenery.
At 5:30 the sun came out and the weather was perfect, if your idea of perfect is 75 degrees and cloudless. I was on my bike by six.
I chose a 20 mile loop from town, the statistics of which closely approximated Betasso, my Boulder two hour ‘backdoor ride’ (any suggestions of a phrase to describe a default ride?), and I figured that even with stumbling through the directions I would be back before dark. After a full day’s rest, relaxation, and productivity, I was feeling phenomenal.
After some of the usual missteps and poking around I found the trail, rode some rolling singletrack, then came to this sign and couldn’t remember which way I was supposed to go:
As I was pulling my guidebook out of my Camelbak I noticed that someone already answered the question, crudely but definitively.
After a mile of fairly strenuous climbing the ridiculously smooth beautiful flowy aspen-lined singletrack began. This particular vacation day’s culmination is why I love mountain biking.
In that slightly blissed out state that for me comes from doing something I love and know that I’ve become proficient at, I finished the Strand Hill trail and was about to head back to town. Then I read this sentence in the guidebook:
“To get a bit more singletrack riding in after riding Strand from town, try riding the Upper Upper Loop trail….”
So much for getting back before dark.
A perfect vacation day.