ilanarama: me on a bike on the White Rim trail (biking)
[personal profile] ilanarama
I go to a conference every June in Breckenridge, which for me is partly an opportunity to listen to climate modelers talk about just how doomed we are, partly a chance to reconnect with my old friends from Boulder and remind my co-workers that I am more than just a mysterious voice on the conference calls and a response on the other end of the email, and partly an excuse to go mountain biking on some awesome high-elevation trails. :-) This year Britt came with me, since amazingly it didn't conflict with any of his meetings.

It's about a 5.5 hour drive[*]. We drove up on Sunday, stopping for a Father's Day visit with his parents who live half an hour away, and got to Breck in time for dinner. The conference sessions began at 1pm on Monday, so in the morning we tested our legs and lungs with a ride up the ski hill road. This is a steep road that starts out smooth and gets progressively rockier as it ascends - and of course it starts at 9600' so there is not much oxygen! Nevertheless, we made it to the top of "Chair E" about 4.2 miles and 1920 vertical feet up, and enjoyed the views we had earned.

Overlook from Peak 9 access rd. Top of E-chair

On Tuesday I got up early and did a short run on the paved rec path, then spent the rest of the day attending presentations. Britt rode the Peaks Trail, which is a great trail I've done three times, and then explored a few other places before coming back on the rec path. But the next day there weren't any sessions I was interested in or obliged to attend, so we decided to ride the Breckenridge to Baker's Tank route, a long mostly-singletrack loop connecting multiple trails. We had both ridden the Baker's Tank trail as a loop from Boreas Pass Road, parking at the lower trailhead, then riding the dirt road to the upper trailhead and taking the trail down, but this would take us from town up to the tank, which sounded very cool. I talked a co-worker into coming with us - he'd ridden with me on one of my Peaks Trail rides - but he ended up bailing early as his bike was having shifting trouble, and anyway I think his older, heavier bike made it harder for him to ride this relatively challenging route.

Not that these were expert trails; I think the 'intermediate' rating is entirely reasonable. But we were at high elevation, and though many of the trails are mostly smooth, there were some technical bits, and some short but steep ascents. It surprised me, though, how much I could ride. There were an initial set of switchbacks that had made me nervous on the map, but turned out to be wide enough that I had no difficulty, and flat spots after each one so I could stop and catch my breath before tackling the next. A long section was on the closed Sallie Barber road, which started out easy but then turned steep and rocky; we made it to the top, though, and were rewarded with beautiful views and a number of old mining artifacts. Signs told us of the history of the Sallie Barber Mine, which yielded gold, silver, and zinc.

Sallie Barber mine

Eventually we found ourselves on the smooth upper section of the Baker's Tank trail, which deposited us onto Boreas Pass Road at...Baker's Tank! Boreas Pass Road was originally a rail route between the towns of Breckenridge and Como, and tanks such as this were needed to refill the boilers of the steam trains. The pass was less than four miles away with a very moderate climb as it was a former railroad grade, so we decided to ride to the pass.

Baker's Tank Tenmile Range from Boreas Pass Road

We made it! This diversion brought us to 11,482 feet as per the sign, so a total elevation gain of 2680' over 11.7 miles.

Boreas Pass!

After poking around the historical buildings at the pass - again, there were lots of signs with historical information about the area - we headed back down to Baker's Tank. We got back on the trail system and wound our way downhill back to town, occasionally stopping to take in the awesome views or to rest our clenched brake hands. Total distance, 21.25 miles. Definitely a great ride!

Dual selfie

[*] except on the way back there was epic road construction, and it took us two freakin' hours to drive the ~12 miles between Antero Junction and Johnson Village, argh argh argh.

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Date: 2016-06-25 02:19 am (UTC)
traveller42: (Default)
From: [personal profile] traveller42
I've been out there and I forget how far apart things are.

Great story and photos, as always!

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ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (Default)
Ilana

August 2017

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My running PRs:

5K: 21:03 (downhill) 21:43 (loop)
10K: 43:06 (downhill)
10M: 1:12:59
13.1M: 1:35:55
26.2M: 3:23:31

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