ilanarama: me on a bike on the White Rim trail (biking)
[personal profile] ilanarama
It's been pretty hot here in SW Colorado, so Britt and I decided that if we were going to go mountain biking (which we wanted to do) we'd have to gain some altitude to do it. So we drove up to Molas Pass to ride the Colorado Trail. Which was awesome.

Ilana riding

The Colorado Trail is a 486-mile trail connecting Durango and Denver. Of course, we didn't ride the whole thing - just one short segment. We've actually biked or hiked bits of it before. But this part was new to us.

The first thing we noticed was that there were way more mountain bikers than hikers. The reason for this became quickly evident: it's a FANTASTIC mountain biking trail. While parts of it are steep, parts are technical, and parts are sustained, it's usually just one out of three, rarely two, and never all three difficulties at once. Probably 85% of the trail was 98% rideable (for strong intermediate riders) - we'd have to dismount briefly to go over a step, say, or stop to catch our breath and then walk to a flat spot to start again, but that was it. The other 15% was one longish section, narrow and rocky with a steep drop-off, where we walked our bikes perhaps a third of the time.

And we were smart to do so. About six miles in, someone had had a bad wreck and fallen down the cliff a ways into some rocks. His friends were obviously prepared, because when we passed them (outbound) they had a call into Search and Rescue, and the victim was wrapped in a space blanket and just hanging out. They said they thought he'd fractured something. We resolved to be extra careful.

It wasn't just the prospect of smashing ourselves on the rocks that slowed us down. The trailhead's about 10,860 and it only goes up from there. (Okay, it goes up and down, but after the initial ascent the low point is something around 11,380.) The altitude kept us cool but also made us work a lot harder - especially on the climbs, but I think just doing the technical bits was a bit harder at altitude, too. The highest point was just a bit more than 12,100 feet.

We rode for 9.25 miles, to where the Engineer Trail comes in past Jura Knob to join the Colorado Trail. We'd hiked that with a friend years ago as part of a big loop. Now we restocked our water supply from a pretty little creek, had some chocolate, and admired the wildflowers before heading back.

the bikes made it!

When we passed the wreck spot again, S&R was there and working to get the hurt guy on a litter. A bit more than a mile farther on (basically, the first flat spot!), we saw a post with flagging ribbons tied to it, and heard and saw the helicopter circling overhead, so we stopped for a snack and to watch it land. The pilot took a couple of passes and then hovered for probably 6-10 minutes, trying to find the proper spot and attitude such that he would be flat enough for take-off.

0701121556 Flight for Life heli landing

After it landed, the pilot came out and we chatted with him a little - he's a mountain biker, too, and has ridden this trail many times, he said. He told us they usually have one or two evacuations each summer. We rode back to the trailhead very, very carefully. Well, okay, not really - the last two miles were a screaming downhill on a fairly smooth dirt surface, and except for our sedate descents down the limestone steps we'd carried our bikes up, we zoomed.

It was fun! See, we are smiling!

britt on the trail Ilana and mountains

Hee, you can really see the difference between my crappy cellphone photos and our Actual Camera photos, can't you. Also, the discerning eye will notice that my icon is me on my old bike. I should crop this last photo of me and make it my new biking icon.
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ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (Default)

August 2017

131415 16171819
20212223 242526

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

You can reach me by email at heyheyilana @


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