Tuesday, September 2, 2008

1/2 Epic

We came, we rode, we bonked.

But we did it. Last Saturday Mike and I packed up the bikes and did 16 miles of the Blackhawk trail. It was a warm day starting out in the 70s and ending up in the 90s.

The goal was to get out and test our skills, our aerobic fitness, and evaluate our plan. Keep in mind that we're both deskbound during the day and fathers of four at night. More often than not riding ends up on the back burner.

That said, this is how it went from my perspective:

Blackhawk is a nice ride. It's anywhere from 16 to 20 miles of amazing singletrack. Curvey, skinny, beautiful singletrack. When you come out in the open the views are amazing and when you're under the canopy you're riding among huge pines and slender aspen. The first 10 miles of the ride were far and away the nicest. After being on the trail longer than we had intended, we decided to forgo dropping down into Holman Creek which in hindsite was a good idea for reasons I'll go into shortly.

From the trailhead to Blackhawk campground the trail was a pretty smooth ride as you can see by checking out the topo. We dropped down into the campground and refilled our waters, grabbed a bite to eat and then fumbled around on the tarmac until we picked up the trail heading toward the area above Beaver Dam Creek. The trail guide indicated that this was the most difficult part of the ride, but wouldn't agree with that. The trail, for the most part, ran parallel to the topo lines and therefore I didn't find that part of the ride to be all that aerobically strenuous and wasn't all that bad technically. We ran into an old cowboy who was riding the trail with two horses ("so one doesn't get too tired.") He proceeded to give us a breather by giving us some unsolicited statistics about the mountain we were riding. Bless him.

After Old Timer let us go we were passed by six bikers going in the same direction. Mike struggled a bit with this part of the trail and encouraged me to go on up and we'd meet at the pavement before continuing on. I rode on and caught up with the other six riders who were fixing a wheel that was having some trouble. I chatted for a minute and then doubled back to catch up with Mike. Turns out his chain broke and we spent the next half hour rigging it back together. (Have I mentioned how much I hate the only chain tools available on the market? Yeah, they are retarded.)

We finished the last of our food, calculated we had roughly another 6 miles to go and proceeded to head up to the next trail head: Rock Springs.

I expected that most of the trail would be down hill but was sadly mistaken. The first two miles were a rocky downhill that gave our lungs the rest they needed. We leap-frogged our way down until we found ourselves climbing again. At this point we were pretty much out of gas. I'd left our PB sandwiches in the car (doh!) and we both ran out of water. Combine that with the toasty sun beating down on us and we both hit a wall.

Rock Springs was far and away more difficult than the trail above Beaver Dam Creek. The don't call it Rock Springs for nothing. I swear every basketball-sized rock the world over made an appearance. Not until we reached the Jones Ranch Creek intersection did it let up. A small climb over a last hillock and we made it.

Ok, I didn't quite bonk, but I knew I was getting close: when we got back to the car, it took me a full ten seconds of looking at my key ring to figure out which key opened my car.

All-in-all it was a great trail and a good time hanging with my brother.

Next year I think we'll better align our expectations with our eventual goal: which is to make a long distance ride, not a long technical ride. I think that translates into more doubletrack, jeep trails, and a smattering of plain old dirt road. We'll pick a ride we can put in some serious miles. We both decided that the CT is likely out. The Telluride to Moab trail is certainly on the short list.

1 comment:

Sailor said...

Good story, and nice pictures. I wish you luck with next years ride. :)