The Extreme MTB Adventure
I was able to experience firsthand (and body) the recent torrential rains and aftermath of the Colorado mountains. Definitely, no cats comin' down in those rain showers--just plenty o' barkin', howlin', scratchin, ass-scootchin' dogs; a genu-whine dogpour. Last week was our friends-only-tour on the Colorado Trail. We camped Sunday afternoon at Molas Lake just a hop and a jump by tour van out of Durango. Merrily we set up camp under the sun and cheerfully prepared and enjoyed a kick-ass dinner while swilling beer and a bit o' tequila. Laughing, we sat around the campfire at night telling true tales that sounded more like tall tales
That fateful Monday we were informed by our leader, Kirstin Peterson of Rim Tours, "It's a two sandwich day!". If only we had had (I love that--had) the energy on the trail to consume those sandwiches...
GADZOOKS!!!!!!!!! What mud!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The first day was to be the "most difficult"; we were to traverse two passes at altitudes reaching 12,500 feet and covering approximately 21 miles. Well, normally you could see where it would be ridable, but with all the mud we ended up pushing our bikes a whole lotta the time. When we arrived at the summit of the first pass, we were treated to hail. Did not get too much rain (yet) while on the trail. Just tried not to get trapped in the sinkhole mud bogs. Grateful that my shoes did not get sucked off by the mud monsters.
Talk about wildflowers!!! I don't think I've ever suffered in a place quite so beautiful. Gorgeous green hills filled with brilliant blooms. I've never seen anything like it. It was breathtaking only due to the thin air in my Petaluma / Santa Rosy lungs. Gasp, gasp, gasp, wheeze.
Back at camp after a full (fool?) day, the torrents of dogs started fallin'. Out came the rain gear in earnest. We enjoyed another superb dinner under the tent/tarp (what are they called--somethin' eaze?). Then we drank cocoa with schnapps. Then cocoa with whiskey. Then we got out the Chamucos. Have I ever been so grateful for booze--after such a day?
Never--at least not till the next night. The morning greeted us to rock concert decibel thunder, GE-envious-lightning and another pack of the yippin', flea infested, monster dog breath dogpours. We broke out the "morale booster breakfast", huevos rancheros. Decided to abandon the Colorado trail and travel to Moab. Broke camp, with the plan to ride down, then up to check out the Hermosa Creek trailhead. We would ride on that if it looked ridable -- then down to Durango to motel rooms and a night out on the town.
Well, those dogpours followed us like a hound on the scent. Nobody would even look at the trailhead. O.K. We would just ride down on the paved road the 26 miles to Durango. We finally realized we did NOT want to ride downhill in the rain, cold, freezing what was left of our asses off all the way to town. New plan--rent a condo in Purgatory! Final decision made, the rest of the hounds were let loose from Hell to enjoy their last devouring of our biking souls. It was raining so damn hard that we literally could not see while shooting down the muddy hillside. Utterly, completely, no-doubt-about-it DRENCHED. We never would have survived on the paved road for 26 miles.
You have never seen such a group of people so happy to be out of the rain and mud. You have never seen such a group of people so happy to sit in the huge indoor spa Jacuzzi and steam room. You have never seen such a group of people so happy to drink (I swear). What a party; there were haircuts, more stories, and another hot tub visit to the outside Jacuzzi.
The Wednesday morning following the condo revelry was truly Purgatory. Somehow we all managed to awake, breakfast, gather our scattered belongings, and load up and pack out...all of this by 11:20 a.m. Our beloved bikes were in pathetic shape (miraculously overall the humans fared pretty damn well). Can you spell mud? What's bike lube? I thought it was mud that was supposed to lube your chain...
We had agreed to sojourn to Moab, scrub up the faithful steeds, then hit the Moab-mud-free trails for some actual bike riding fun--as opposed to sliding, slurching and schlogging through the Colorado slime. First stop would be downtown Duh-rango for some restaurant grub, which we heartily partook of. Dodging yet more showers, we darted from awning to awning as we hit the coffee shop and whatnot, before continuing toward the desert sun.
Sure 'nuff, when we rolled into beloved Moab the sun was a shinin'. We landed at Rim Tours, where we unloaded the truck and sorted out what goods we needed for the night's dinner and breakfast the next day. Then it was an intense couple of hours washin', scrubbin', and lubin' those bikes--everyone as intent on the job as a dog chowin' a steak n' kibble feast.
The dinner was to be tamale pie and a type of cilantro/cabbage salad--the brainchild of Petaluman Nate Belove (go West 'Luma!). The evening found us at Sean O'Neill's (of kick ass Chile Pepper Bike Shop) and Kirstin's home. It was another evening of a group cooking session--which truly is a fun way to prepare meals. Damn, we even could sit together outside in the backyard, with the candles warmly burning and the stars flashing inspiration down upon us-- the bike ridin', booze swillin', still smilin' jolly "campers". It's through such events that optimism prevails. We lifted our shot glasses for a tequila toast to celebrate our bonding through mud, rain and condo madness.
Onward to following wonderful, heartwarming, so-grateful-for SUNNY morning and a leisurely meal of breakfast burritos. Lo learns important life lesson. Do not put hot sauce on breakfast burrito while talking on the phone to valued friend (actually--no doubt not while talking on the phone to anyone at all). Our breakfast chef Steve Lewis generously set a plate of food in front of me as I was happily talking to Drew Bourey from Boure Clothing (purveyors of some of the finest bicycle wear available). I tooldled over and took a bottle of hot sauce from the table top (those convenient cordless phone wonders). I errantly proceeded to shake the sauce on my burritos, while still talking to my pal. Good grief... It wasn't exactly the ring of fire experience, but definitely a burnin' heap o' trouble as I later discovered.
The ride of the day was that of famed--and rightly so--Porcupine Rim. Damn right we had a shuttle to the trailhead--because Josh Ray proclaimed, "I want a shuttle!". The weird weather patterns of late gave us the opportunity to ride this rim trail starting at high noon. Yes, in August. Yes, in the middle of the desert. It was not sweltering at all; in fact, the breeze cooled us off! Miracles do not cease. Not only that, but we were the only folks on the trail! We did not see another soul the entire ride on this beautiful, perfect day.
We encountered a few mud puddles on our biking path. You can't believe how eager we all were to avoid these little insignificant spots. We carefully rode around them, circumventing any chance of the dreaded "mud" splashing our freshly washed bikes, laundered clothing and showered bodies. Naked mud wrestling is not a sport any one of us will be taking on soon.
Thus while riding the ball of fire erupted in my stomach, the result of afore-mentioned hot sauce. The harder I climbed, the greater the fire sizzled. Yikes! At the summit I proceeded to consume a sandwich (only a one sandwich day). This helped to absorb the devil's fire. Lesson learned.
Except for being somewhat plagued by flatolas; our group had a most pleasant and classic riding experience. We were unscathed by devilish quicksand pits, diarrhea mud slime, blinding dog showers, hail from Hell, or other Colorado Trail evils. Our tour together rightly so ended on such a happy note. It was indeed the "extreme" tour--the extremes being that of pain and pleasure, encompassing all activities; riding, lodging, weather and last but not least, drinking.
Of course, later that night was Carl Z.'s going away party...
Peace, Love, Sunny Bike Rides, Mudless Trails,