We usually try to spend our weekends in one place, getting after a big objective one day and relaxing the next. This weekend was a crazy mashup of epic days, travel, and relaxation, all rolled in to one!
It started on Friday when we left Boulder to meet some friends in South Platte. We tried to get out of town early, but were immediately mired in Front Range traffic… it took over an hour to get from Boulder to Golden! We’ve gotten really spoiled by the traffic-free small towns we’ve visited, and sitting in traffic in the bus is no fun.
We finally arrived at our turnoff to Turkey Rock about three hours in to our drive and quickly discovered that the bus was not going to make it down the 2.5 mile dirt road to the campsite. We have pretty good clearance, but steep, narrow rollovers are impossible for us to clear because of our loooooooong wheel base. We backed out (slowly, and almost hit the gray water tank in the process) and camped on the main road instead.
The next morning we jogged up to the campsite to let everyone know why we couldn’t make it. The outer left edge of my foot, towards the back, has been bugging me since last Sunday’s 50k. This ~6 mile run made it really cranky, which worried me that it might be more than a strained muscle.
Will really wanted to bike nearby Buff Creek, so we headed ~an hour back down to the trailhead. I decided not to ride due to my aching little foot, and set up a little shade oasis in the parking lot. Over the course of the day I met a lot of people, from bike merchants demoing their product to looky-loos curious about the bus.
The most awesome connection was a group of three women and their small children. They were watching the kids while their husbands rode (don’t get the wrong idea here – they got their three hour ride in first!) and didn’t have any shade. I offered to bring over our shade structure and we hit it off immediately.
It’s a good thing that I decided not to bike. One of the women turned out to be a doctor and happily checked out my grimy, blistered foot when I mentioned it had been bothering me. She manipulated it in all sorts of ways and concluded that if it was a bone issue, I should be in significantly more pain when she put pressure on it. It might be sore for the next few weeks, but doing activities wouldn’t make it any worse. Green light to bike!
That evening we drove to Salida, CO and camped in a free campground along the Arkansas river.
The next morning we got up early and headed to the High Valley Center, a gas station / deli / bike shop combo that runs bike shuttles from Poncha Springs up to the top of the Monarch Crest. For $40 we both got to ride ~4,000 feet up to the start of the ride without driving the bus or worrying about having to hitchhike back.
The workers were a crackup – obviously having fun with their jobs rocking out to heavy metal and cracking jokes as they loaded bikes onto flimsy trailers. I wish they would have been a little more serious about the driving portion, but all in all it was a good experience, and highly recommended. If you have the opportunity, you might try to ride the Crest on a weekday… there were almost 30 people on our shuttle!
The Monarch Crest is a ~35 mile point-to-point ride, starting at the top of the crest and ending back at the High Valley Center in Poncha Springs. Our last two Sundays are remarkably similar, yet so different.
Without going into too much detail: it was a brutal ride. This was my first ride since my big crash in Jackson, so I was dealing with some serious head games. I was able to keep the worry away for most of the ride, but once the fatigue set in I started to get slower, and oftentimes slower on a mountain bike means more dangerous and scary. There were some tears and some choice words between Will and I, but we made it down in one piece and learned some valuable lessons in the process: recovery is not to be taken lightly, nutrition is as important on a bike as it is on a run, and jumping into a technical 35 mile ride after taking a big fall might not be setting oneself up for success.
All that being said, it was positively gorgeous. If you’re going to beat yourself up, at least do it in a breathtaking setting!
We ate some raviolis for lunch (parking lot kitchen for the win!) and headed to Crested Butte.
We’re now in CB and are staying at the most beautiful campsite we’ve visited so far. It’s a haul down a long dirt road to get here, but the views just can’t be beat! Fall is starting to take hold in the mountains: the hillsides are ablaze with yellow aspens and the air has a crispness that calls for down vests and snuggly sweaters. Fall just might be my favorite time of year!
Tomorrow I’ll be sharing photos and stories from our backpacking trip in the Wind River Range a few weeks ago, along with a special giveaway for a gift certificate to Garage Grown Gear. Don’t miss it!
PS – how do you like this new, sidebar-less layout? The photos are bigger, but I think it’s also a little bit harder to read. Let me know in the comments!