< Day 0
Funny how different Monday morning feels when it’s the beginning of a vacation week… Hotel breakfast, I’m not exactly sure what I’m looking for, but I don’t see anyone that obviously seems like they’re also going on the trip. I wonder what everyone else is there for. (But not enough to ask anyone.) Some do seem vacationy, others more like work.
Trundle all my stuff outside, no red van and trailer yet, but there is a nice looking fellow with a mountain bike and gear. What are the odds? Yes, he’s here for the trip. Jeremy, from Portland. He drove over.
John, one of the guides, comes over and lets us know they’re there, just fueling up the rig as the gas station next door. Cindy appears, she’s driven over from Denver, and then the German contingent, Thilo and Christian, to round out the guest list.
Josh is the other guide, he and his (now wife) Mary were the guides on my first Western Spirit trip on the Umpqua River. That’s fun to see a familiar face. And, they’ve got minions! Er, trainees, Chris and Jon. Tanesha, another guide is along for the ride on her week off.
We make our lunches, then load up and roll west to the town of Fruita. Dinosaurs seem to be a thing.
Priorities! Stop at the liquor store. Hmn, what am I going to feel like drinking this week? Well I should at least get something from Colorado, since I’m here. End up with some Oskar Blues’ Mama’s Little Yella Pils (I know that works with bike riding, thank you Murphy) and Vanilla Porter from Breckenridge Brewery (yes, it was as good as it sounds.) (Oh and just had the thought bet it would be dang tasty as a float!)
The van with a fleet of bikes on top and trailer aren’t exactly low profile. A woman from the thrift store next door it out dealing with leavings from the weekend. All the things people didn’t sell at their yard sales. She’s friendly and chatty, wants to know where we’re from and where we’re going to be riding. She rattles off a few different areas and trail names, but I don’t know any. It doesn’t phase her, she seems to be of the it’s all good school. We’ll, you’ve come to paradise.
With that benediction, we continue a little further west on 70 to our trail head for the day. There’s some folks either coming back from or starting out on a hike. A man on a four-wheeler rolls up from somewhere. No helmet, two small children (also unhelmeted) sitting in front of him. Yes Toto, we aren’t in California anymore.
The Germans and I are using loaner bikes, so there’s some dinking around to get those set up. Specialized Cambers. Still with that new bike smell. And oh, they’re 29ers, which – duh – I don’t quite realize until some time later in the day.
John rides with us, Josh takes the rig on to camp then will come out reverse course to meet up with us along the way. There’s a bit of gravel road to start, and that big ole ginormous sky. It’s just about perfect riding temperature.
We cross in to Utah. Woot. Twofer for the States of Dirt. It actually doesn’t feel any different from Colorado.
Zion Curtain trail. Not Iron Curtain. heh. Oh sandy… wrong gear wrong gear. Gah.
Someone needs a bike adjustment. One of the minions deals with it. Does anyone else need anything while I’ve got the tool out? uh, excuse me? ohnevermind
This is not Colorado Rocky Mountain High (yeah, I know it’s not even Colorado), but then I wasn’t expecting that. High desert? maybe would be the word for it. Definitely lots of cool rocks, but there is vegetation too, and things in bloom! The paintbrush is a super vivid red, and there’s cactus in purple and red, and a yellow here and there.
It’s a moto trail, so there’s a couple of spots with whoops that probably would be more fun with a little more horsepower. But most is plenty good times with the pedal version.
Some of the sections look like Disneyland. No wait, this is what they’re trying to re-create. So.Cool.
We have it to ourselves. My face starts to hurt from smiling so much.
Oh I guess we were climbing a bit. The place we stop for lunch has an amazing panoramic view. WOW! Thank the guys for putting up such a nice picture for us to look at us to eat. It’s almost unreal it’s so amazing. Is that? Yes, snow! The La Sal Mountains in the distance. Salt. The Spanish thought it was salt – too hot for snow. They named it and turned around and went home.
Since we’re stopped I get a couple little tweaks on the bike. Who are you riding? What? All the bikes have names. Oh, no one introduced me. And you just got on? Sure. Why do you need to know a name? Turns out I have Moto. Chris has the cutest little ratchet with changeable bits. Super nifty. And now the reach on the brakes is more like I’m used to. Yay!
More fun trail along the top of the mesa, then yeah this must be the part John mentioned where we might want to consider our life choices. The trail drops down the side of the mesa, and there’s a crux. Or two. What is the plural of crux? Cruxes? Seems like it should have something fancier.
Steep. I came here to ride. Think about it too much. Yeah, I came here to ride, so I don’t need to launch myself on Day 1. It’s loose. Urgh, in some ways would be easier to ride. If I could just get out of my head.
Oh well, there’s more fun (rideable) trail that scrolls around the valley floor. Great scenery. I’m riding my bike, in the middle of the day, on a weekday, somewhere new. Winning!
They’ve been warning us about the climb at the end. We’ve got to get back up onto the mesa to where we’ll be camping. It’s a bit of a grunt, but short. When does the climb start?
Sweeping panoramic views, and hey there’s the van and trailer! Unload, set up tent. I’m borrowing that too. I feel like I do OK with figuring things out, but it doesn’t quite obey. Cindy had gotten some help and has hers up already so I go to double check. I was on the right track, but she comes over to help me. It does go much quicker with two people.
Change, have a beer, enjoy the view, read a bit. The wind is kicking up. Megan, your tent is blowing away. Oops, better go deal with that. There’s a solid layer a few inches below the surface, so I can’t get any stakes down in a meaningful and helpful way, but fortunately there are some good size stones that I can tie off to.
The wind is the edges of a storm cell that passes to the oh east? (I’m not familiar with what direction is where here) with thunder, lightning and rain. We just get the wind. And appetizers! Then fish tacos for dinner.
I go for a bit of a walk. A pickup with a camper shell had rolled up before dinner, stopped and chatted a bit then found a spot back down the road a piece. The woman of the couple is out with their dogs when I go by. They are on their way from Bishop, going to visit their daughter in Crested Butte. She – the daughter – is a mountain biker, and they found out about this location from her. She said there’d be no one here. heh. you’ll have to have a word with her about that.
Nothing too dramatical, but nice light on the clouds as the sun sets. As it darkens, I can see headlights on the highway. Well I guess it can’t be too far from a road, since the van is up here, but it just seems a little incongruous and unexpected. Feels like we’re in the middle of nowhere. But there are cars going by. In the distance, but yeah. Well, it may as well be a different world.
Go back and enjoy sitting around the campfire. Although, WHAT?! No marshmallows? How can that be? Yeah… we get those for the kids’ trips. Didn’t realize it was BYOM.
It’s just past full moon, and it is coming up as I’m heading off to bed. I watch for a bit, it lightens the clouds but doesn’t make a full appearance while I’m watching. A little anticlimactic, but still pretty.
Pop myself into the tent and fall asleep almost as soon as I’m inside the sleeping bag. Full night of wonderful peaceful rest.
Day 2 >