Wow Sunday was an self asskicking of pretty epic proportions. I'm almost not sure where to begin. It's Wednesday and I'm still recovering although feeling much better today. We'll see how tonights TT goes. Now onto the story...
Starting Wednesday of last week I was riding a lot. Even after the CCTT, Lookout Mountain three times and the Deer Trail road race, I refueled, rehydrated and packed my singlespeed gear up for an epic ride Sunday. Still lightless, Marni took pity on me and awoke at 5am with me to drive me to the ride's starting point. Her pity was greatly appreciated as I was about to ride this route and this profile with one gear. I didn't need any less sleep and any more road miles in my legs.
Prepared for a dusk 'til dawn day in the saddle Marni, Turbo and I drove to the start as the sun was rising.I think the group was a bit surprised to see me show up on the singlespeed. There were seven of us counting me including two 29ers and a good mix of hardtails, softtails and full suspension. We began at White Ranch climbing up Belcher and Mustang at first light and descending down Longhorn. The riding pace was relaxed but not easy. The pack strung out and regrouped several times and I was happy to be riding solidly in the middle. A couple flats and clothing changes slowed our progress from early estimated times but it was a long day and the group rolled with all the punches.
Back at the parking lot the other guys resupplied from their trucks and I put on a bit more sunscreen. The stop wasn't too long and we rolled on towards the Fairmount trail, a dirt trail that led to Golden and our next trailhead, Chimney Gulch.Along the way we stopped to resupply our water and food. We also lost a rider who had to get home early so now the group numbered 6. The group strung out a bit on the way to Chimney Gulch with me spinning away at the back. When we got to Chimney Gulch though I regained third climber and worked my way up Chimney a bit at a time. Some walking and some climbing and a Starbucks doubleshot got me to the top. Chimney Gulch was basically climbing Lookout Mountain again but this time with singletrack and loose rocks. The view from the top really is worth it though and what lay ahead was worth it even more.
At the top of Lookout mountain and Chimney Gulch the group collected all it's members, ate some food and gummi worms and prepared to move on. From here we rolled to Apex, one of the highlights of the ride. Apex is wooded, techincal and fun as all hell, especially since we already earned the first downhill. I dropped into Apex 3rd wheel again behind the 29ers and smiled the whole way. The trail was narrow and tacky so you could really rail the turns and brake late. We climbed up Sluice Box to the top of another hill and then bombed another great descent to the Apex parking lot.
In the Apex parking lot one of the riders had dropped their Element (jealous!) and so it was waiting for us with delicious Gatorade. Two more riders decided this was the end of their day so while we reapplied the sunscreen and refueled again they packed up. From here there were 4 riders. 2 29ers, 2 hard tails and a total of 82 gears.
We climbed up over Heritage Square and tackled the next section of our day. A giant loop involving Red Rocks, Matthew Winters, Green Mountain and the Hogback. We started by dropping into Red Rocks and climbing up to the upper Morrison slide loop. I was feeling like a rock star and began to lead the climbs for a while. Red rocks came and went surprisingly fast for being on the bike for hours already and I was happy that 99% of it was rideable on the Monocog. We even got a comment from a couple hikers that we did the loop really quickly which made me laugh. No stopping in the parking lot this time and we pressed up the horribly steep climb on Matthew Winters. Here I dropped to the back as I could ride it all but I had to stand. I was getting a bit sick of my rear tire spinning and had to tackle the steepest section in shifts. After I got past that though I was able to climb the rest. Looking out over where we'd been and where we were headed was still an awesome sight.
The group took a quick rest but the clouds were moving in so we decided to get moving quickly. We descended down Zorro, one of my favorite new trails and popped out right at the Rooney road trailhead for Green Mountain. With clouds moving in we climbed up and around Green Mountain from the far North side on a loose technical climb. This was hard and I was a ways back from the group for a while. By the end of the climb I had regrouped and climbed back on board the train of the others. We ate some more food quickly and dropped all the way back down Green Mountain and along the rollers on the bottom as it began to rain on us. Even on the singlespeed I could keep up pretty good and we all really enjoyed this section. By the time we got back to the Rooney trailhead though one of the other riders was having issues with his knees.
He was going to ride up the road and meet us further ahead while we tackled going up Zorro this time. I felt great and could hang right on Stephen's rear wheel all the way up. The 3 remaining riders soldiered over Zorro and the Hogback, down to the road, up to the final top of Matthew Winters and finally back down to the road leading to Morrison. We even picked our fourth rider back up again and the foursome rolled into Morrison to debate our next move and refuel at the gas station.
At the gas station it was clear that things were starting to unravel for a couple riders. We refueled with candy, chips, water and gatorade. I also cleaned and relubed my chain as it was sounding unhappy with me for the majority of the last big loop.
I had another DoubleShot among my smattering of delicious calorie ladden gas station food. I ate the two Payday's and stuffed the rest in my pack, determined to keep riding until daylight stopped me. Our next stop was intimidating, Mount Falcon. The foursome pushed onword on the road out of Morrison but all the miles and climbing had taken the toll on another rider.
At the trailhead for Mt.Falcon another rider turned back for Morrison to go grab a table and a beer and wait for our finish. Three of us pushed up the 2000 foot climb. The beginning was hard. It was loose and I climbed and walked as traction allowed. We lost another rider to a flat tire and he fixed it and turned back to town. Along the climb, my friend Jim caught Stephen and I on his 4 hour afternoon loop. He rode with me for a while but when it got loose again near the top he chased up to Stephen and they waited for me. The climb up Falcon was hard and I rode as much as I could. The legs were strong but the traction in the loose stuff was frustrating when I stood to climb. I've got to get a better rear tire. I finally made it to the top, just as the clouds got darker. I ate a Clif bar while Jim took a few pictures with my camera.
We rolled back out quickly, hoping to ride a couple more hours without being stormed on too badly. Stephen, Jim and I set a fast pace up the remaining trail out of Mt.Falcon and Stephen led us the back way to Lair of the Bear and Bear Creek.
Bear Creek was another one of the highlights of the ride for me. Almost a dozen hours in with only 1 gear I chased 2 very strong riders up and down and through the forrest. Tight, tacky, and tree lined trails weaved through an area I'd never been. It was fast and I was still very much enjoying the ride. It was the 5 fastest miles of singletrack we'd ridden all day and we finally popped out on another road that dropped into Morrison. Jim bade us farewell and rode back another direction to his car at Red Rocks. Stephen and I descended a few more miles back into Morrison. The sun was setting but the rain stayed away for the most part and when we rolled into town his computer said 71 miles and 10,5xx vertical feet. No matter what the distance and elevation I had been out for 13 hours and still felt pretty darn good.
Marni brought me a change of clothes and the final four riders along with Marni and Stephen's wife all had dinner together. We all looked beat but the food tasted great. As I drove home in the dark past all the trails we'd covered I was satisfied with the ride. Someday I think I'll do it again. Maybe with gears though. Maybe...