It is hard to get acclimated but this year didn't seem to bother me much. We immediately drove to Keystone the morning of our first full day in Colorado. You can do runs at the bike park if you pay a 35 dollar all day fee for the lift, or, if you are like most flatlanders equipped with cross country bikes (not the big hit stuff with armor), you can ride a couple trails and jeep roads up and about the area. That is what intern Dave and I decided to do. Intern Dave, by the way, is working his way up to cycling fitness. He has played tennis all these years and says he wants to make the switch. So I exposed him to some of the reality of climbing.
A couple years ago we did a trip out to Keystone with BLM, Ploch, Little Buddy and Robert Metz. We climbed Keystone Mountain and suffered greatly. Perfect for the intern. While we did not make it to the top, we found some decent singletrack up high and traversed our way down from midpoint. I wanted to give David the feel for the thinner air and the type of conditioning that one would need in order to do the hills at all in Colorado.
Next it was off to Beaver Creek for time around the pool, the air was thin while playing bocce ball.
Down at Jim Butlers place in BV, I demanded that I break out on my own and talked Jimmer and Judy to taking me on their ride up on Mount Princeton. This is a loop from their house up to the Colorado Trail and back down in to town. While the singletrack is superb, the climbing to get up there is a bit of a pain. An hour and a half later we reached the trail head and began the long sweeping goodness to the other side of the mountain. I left some in the tank and felt deprived of oxygen the entire time. I knew the feeling would be with me all week. It was a great ride and Jimmer and Judy joined us for dinner later before we retreated to Liars Lodge over by the Arkansas River.
The next day we packed up and headed up Cottonwood Pass towards Gunnison. While I thought it might be a good idea to run up to the top of Doctor Park along the way, passing Hammels Lodge was the only reminder I would get of that killer piece of goodness. We headed out to Telluride where I would jump on the bike and do a couple laps around the town in preparation for the next day.
In Telluride they now have a bike park that is FREE! The gondola is free and so are the runs. There are four runs, two blue and two black. I ran the blacks a couple times. The first was a bit of a surprise due to the jump and 4-5 foot drops that I would encounter half way down. I was able to bi pass this stuff but railed the long berms leading up to the sketchy sections. This was some good stuff. The T-bone and No Brainer blue courses were fun if you took them fast, so I made a decent effort out of this for most of the week. I couldn't get much satisfaction out of the blacks because of the lack of full suspension. Ain't my thing. There were some pros there most of the week doing their thing. Dudes were off the hook. I could hang with them on the speed and didn't really see anybody challenging me. just sayin.
My epic ride for the week was riding up Tomboy Road to Imogene pass around 12,500. I knew that there was a way to get to Ouray without taking the 40 mile ride around the Umpanpagre mountain range by car. I headed up for the two hour climb to the old mining town of Tom Boy and got up to the pass. I was the only one up there besides a couple jeeps. I would return the next day by jeep on the other side (Yankee Boy). I didn't make the descent to Ouray because I didn't want to climb back up the other side in the same day. I wouldn't have made it anyway. The four hours of riding that day pretty well took a lot of energy. Climbing to 12,000 feet should have its rewards. We shall see at the Dirt Crits this Thursday.
The next day we went out to explore Bridal Veil Falls. Another grinding jeep road to the top. Intern needed a good burn so he was pumped. Again, we were the only riders up there. Lots of people hiking, driving jeeps and other 4 wheel drives. I thought it to be pretty easy grind and was looking forward to continuing on to the other pass again. Intern didn't have the energy. We made it above the falls and took some good photos, around 11,000 feet. I didn't think he would make it that far but he did. Bravo to digging deep.
The rest of the time was spent riding around the singltrack in town. Telluride has a decent blend of trails that, if you are of interns ability, you can have a lot of fun. I was a little subdued in my riding in order to train him up a bit, but the bike park downhills made for good fun and it is great that Telluride Mountain Village embraced the concept of Free.
Telluride is a different place. A tad uppity if you ask me. We hung out with the fire chief and some other locals from time to time, met a few pretty interesting travelers who shared the same lust for adventure. We met Dante, Tellurides version of Lewis Greenberg, the eccentric whom everybody loves but won't admit. We enjoyed our service people, those hard working souls who travel in from the outside to serve the pretty people in their Ralph Lauren. Those workers who can't afford to live on the inside of Telluride.
There was rumored to be a free concert in the park by Jackie Green, a local favorite. This was part of what Telluride calls the "wine festival". The wine festival was nothing more than the very over the top wealthy getting together in the art galleries around town promoting the art of their artists, and alerting those buying the expensive tickets to the importance of medical marijuana. We smelled skunk outside every gallery where pretty people were holding over sized glasses of Malbec. Liberals with money to burn. We saw a couple celebrities but who gives a rats ass?
We declined paying the 130 bucks to go in to the fenced area (a boycott of sort) to see Jackie Green and set up shop just outside in our own lawn furniture purchased at Lowes in Ballwin MO. Very few people attended the concert and it was likely a testimony, as I could see, to the indulgence created by the few mega wealthy folks not wanting any lay people at their party. Well it backfired. Jackie left the stage without saying thanks or goodbye after an absolutely wonderful 70 minute concert from afar. The promoter must have been disappointed as evidenced by the 10-1 ratio on Porto poddies.
Nope, Telluride didn't push me over the edge. It is a really neat place with an absolutely wonderful place to hike and ride. It is a tad stuffy if you participate in the pretty people thing. Even though we could masquerade a tad, both Natalie and the intern look like movie stars, I found the place a bit pretentious. This evidenced by the chick staying next door to us who made me move my car from my parking space because it was too big. She likes a Chardonnay and has happy hours with her personal pottery maker...
I am doing another visit in late August. I will fly out and meet whomever wants to drive and/or go with. Going to rent a full suspension instead of pounding my self in to submission on a hard tail. Anyone?.....