How does one cope with the crushing reality that 5 days a week you have to get up and be a responsible adult and go to work? Well for me I cope by taking a random weekday off and going on a high alpine epic ride.
Three of us, John "Polka Dot Jersey" Perry, Jamie "Don't brake till you see God" Cutler and myself threw caution to the wind and headed to Summit County for some singletrack soul searching. We met up in Silverthorne, then proceeded to drop a car in Breckenridge before heading over Hoosier pass to Kenosha pass near Southpark, CO to begin our ride.
The ride starts around 10k feet, and rolls up and down for 6 miles before starting a grinding ascent towards the nearly 12,000 foot Georgia Pass. As we rolled off on the Colorado Trail, the hot day was upon us. Bright blue skies and mid 80 degree temps had us sweating like crazy as we knocked out the first 5 miles of ups and downs on some glorious tight singletrack.
And then the unexpected happened...
At about mile 6, the skies darkened rapidly, thunder was heard and then it unleashed. Regrouping on the climb, the three of us were forced to take refuge under trees as hail and rain fell in large quantities. The hail got to be near marble sized, bouncing off our helmets, bikes and bodies with rapid succession. Gone were the sunny warm temps, it was now dark, cold and despite our rain shells we were getting soaked in a hurry. The temps dropped rapidly, going from 85 degrees to a frigid 45 degrees in a matter of 30 minutes.
As we gazed at the trail, the ground was totally white from all the hail. Our thoughts of getting over Georgia Pass were severely dampened. When the hail finally let up, we started up again thinking we'd at least get to tree line and hope for the best.
When we finally got moving again, the trail was slippery and wet. Roots became treacherous instantly, but we pressed on. As we emerged from the tree line, things started looking up. John and I assessed the situation and deemed we had a small window of time to get up and over Georgia Pass before more storms and lightning moved in.
The final push above tree line was tough. Its deceiving how far the last stretch is, but I climbed steadily as John crested the peak first. I stopped to grab a couple pics, but not staying long as I didn't think it wise to be standing above the trees on an aluminum framed bike.
Once over the top, the fun began. The trail became super narrow, fast and flowy. I let it rip on the much anticipated descent, eagerly awaiting finding the spot where John had picked to stop for lunch. We regrouped, ate some lunch and then hit the downhill again. The pecking order was reversed for the climb with Jamie up front, me chasing behind and John following me. The downhill was too much fun for any pictures.
When we got to the bailout, we did the unthinkable and took the road back. The singletrack trail featured another monster climb, and not only where we pretty whooped but we were also behind schedule due to lost time from the storm.
We finished up with about 26 miles of trail and somewhere around 3600 feet of climbing. It was a pretty adventurous day, and at several times it looked like peril was near but we were rewarded for our perseverance. These high alpine rides are so unpredictable, but so gorgeous and fulfilling that they really define what mountain biking is to me.
And it sure as hell (or should that be hail?) beats a day at the office...
The obligatory elevation graph