Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sunday - The Rest of the Story

Okay I want to write all of this down before I crash.  As I said earlier today was definitely an education.  Later in the ride I began to ask myself if rebooting my mountain biking career at age 44 after so many years away from it was really that bright of an idea?

Today worked me no doubt.  Pretty much from the word go there were issues.  I'd say mostly my biggest problem though was the road and trail conditions.  Everything that I learned today is as follows.

1.  The north part of High Drive is a mess to ride above the Bear Creek Canyon Trail cutoff.  The road is not packed at all right now and there is so much loose gravel (Pikes Peak Granite type) and it is so deep in spots that you just sink and stop.  And in my case, if an unplanned stop a subsequent tipping over.  I would equate to trying to ride up High Drive right now to be on par with trying to roller skate up a waterfall.

2.  Old Stage Road has the worse washboard on it that I have ever seen.  It was constant work to try to find smooth surface to ride on.  The washboard just made the bike undulate up and and it was not fun.  When I was finally able to get some speed at one point I thought that I was going to fall apart due to the violent nature of the rattling.  Secondly... Old Stage Road needs to be renamed to the white trash/redneck, NASCAR wannabe highway... Too much traffic on that road going way too fast.

3.  Trail 701 from Frosty's to Jones Park... damn.  This used to be a great trail to ride.  It was so nice that it made any and all of the work to get there well worth it.  Now it just sucks.  It is more of an eroded sand filled ditch strewn with bread loaf sized rocks or larger blocking the "channel" as it were.  Let me reiterate... it was like riding in a DITCH!  Like two - three feet deep in spots.  Dirt bikes have always used this trail in the past but my god I have never seen it do destroyed.   It wasn't fun riding at all.

4.  Trails 666 and 667 down Bear Creek Canyon were pretty torn up as well.  Not only was the trail deeply eroded and lots of large loose rocks littering the trail but more deep Pikes Peak Granite and sand which made it hard to have any traction.  Past the Buckhorn Trail cutoff (and below motorcycle traffic) things got a little better but not by much.  It wasn't until the last 1/2 mile of trail before hitting High Drive again that it was actually fun.  I had never been more glad to hit pavement than I was when I got back down to the caretaker's house.

5.  The bike and stuff... god I miss my little framed old Trek.  Plenty of times today I found myself to be uncomfortable that far up off of the ground.  Clipless pedals are a challenge as well especially on technical stuff and especially if I need to get out of them in a hurry.  I bet that I wrecked and tipped over at least a dozen times today.  I still need to get the suspension and lock-outs dialed in and set right for me.  In all of the deep and loose gravel I did not like the way that my front wheel/tire floated in the scree.  I don't know if it is a function of the 29" wheels or the nature of the tires that I have or just the crap they were on but their traction was less than optimal on the loose stuff as far as I was concerned. I felt the front tire wanting to "power-slide" a hell of a lot more than I would like.  My old Trek was a bit heavier too and I think that also plays into the traction issues that I experienced today.  Lots of times in a low gear and climbing the back wheel would slip and if I were up and out of the saddle I had to make sure that I was geared to help prevent slipping also.   Bottom line is I just need a lot more practice on the bike riding somewhat technical stuff and just getting more comfortable over all.  Just not this route.

6.  I should have bailed when I got to Old Stage and rode down to town and then home.  It would have been a shorter ride but I would probably have enjoyed it more.  I hope that Rampart Range Road reopens soon as I think that would be better to ride on.  The one upside with today's ride is that I learned where I won't go riding again in the future.  Especially up High Drive and everything up Old Stage and down Bear Creek Canyon.  

Lessons learned the hard way.  I learned enough today to know what I need to work on in anticipation of riding in Leadville next summer.  I know what parts of the trail I could have problems on and I need to start addressing that stuff now.  So while today was FAR from fun... it was a great experience, eye-opener and I learned so much so it was definitely worth it.  And hey... it WAS a good workout.  :)

Another view of today's ride.

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