Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Two Dogs go up the Hill


by Paul 

After months of planning and playing schedule tag we finally managed to pull off an epic ride in the La Plata mountains near Mancos, CO.

There ended up being only two on the ride due to schedule conflicts like looking at skinny roadies or knee injuries etc. Chuck and family ended up in Mancos at Paul’s house the night before and once again Night Guy was nowhere to be seen. (editor’s note:  This was two days before the reappearance of Night Guy in Crested Butte.)  Perhaps he is burnt out for the season or needs more practice?

Just as well, since we needed an early start to avoid thunderstorms building in the afternoon. This ride starts at 9,000 feet and goes upwards from there.
We were packed to the gills with water and clif bars, an extra 4 compartments were added to Chuck’s camelback so that the sandwiches would fit.

We knew that it was going to be a long day in the saddle so the pace was leisurely as wound our way up the Aspen loop trail to join the West Mancos trail. It was a nice cool morning and the forest was looking great.

Soon enough Mt. Hesperus started looming over our right shoulder as we climbed up to Shark’s tooth trail head. After 2 hours of mostly granny gear climbing we finally crested the pass at 11,900 feet and stopped for lunch.
Chuck was jealous when he saw 8 clif bars fall out of Paul’s camelback, he wasn’t able to fit any into his 34 compartment behemoth.

We were sitting on top of the world admiring the view with no one to be seen when a super fit female runner comes cruising up from the other side of the pass.
She didn’t even stop, just plodded along while we both had a befuddled look on our faces.

Bombing down the other side into Bear creek was the highlight of the ride, loose scree and boulders line the trail on the way down. Hang on tight boys, easy on the brakes, keep it upright. After descending for a while we were still at 10,000 feet with the valley walls towering above us.

The Bear creek trail is a fantastic meander of 18 miles all the way down to the Delores highway. Single track winds gradually down and the creek lived up to its name as we saw an adult bear with two cubs next to the trail.
Once at the bottom we stopped for a break to prepare for the horrendous climb up the Morrison trail.
This climb started at 8,100 and topped out at 9,600 after only 2.5 miles.

The reward after that slog is a beautiful aspen forest single track towards the starting point of the ride. The legs were feeling it and the camels ran dry at this point.

We were pleased to see the trusty old Subaru at the trail head, a cooler with refreshments was a welcome surprise too.
All in all we covered 42 miles with 5,600 feet of climbing which took 6 hours.

The beers and pizza tasted heavenly that night!

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