Monday, June 9, 2008

Hall Date Night, National Trails Day and Red Feather Lakes

Surprise, surprise... we had another busy weekend playing (and working) outdoors!

On Friday, we met up with four other couples (Kim/Dan, Cynthia/Dave, Tracy/Jason, Chuck/Niina) to do what we hope becomes a regular Friday Night Date Night Ride. We met up at the Bitterbrush side of Hall Ranch, wishful that the previous two days of rain had dried out. It mostly did, but unfortunately the water seemed to stick around all the techy sections, making them even tougher. It seemed to take all of us off our game a bit. I was especially "off". We all still had fun though, as evidenced by Jesper and Kim/Dan's posts.

I had taken most of the day off and done a 63 mile road ride with friends Sue and Betsy. We climbed more than 5,000 feet. Needless to say, the road ride, which was a great ride, cooked me pretty good. I wasn't anticipating feeling super strong for the Hall Ranch ride, but I ended up feeling worse than I expected. At the top of Hall, I started feeling an eensy bit woozey. By the time we got to Oskar's Blues, I was dizzy, nauseous and my skin was crawling. I forced myself to eat and didn't even drink a quarter of my beer! I have never left a beer unfinished at Oskar's Blues. I finally started feeling better when I got home, after the food started working it's way through my system. In retrospect, I simply did not eat enough during and after my long road ride. Lesson learned.....

I felt 100% the next morning as Jesper and I rose early to head out to the Picture Rock Trail for National Trails Day. We worked on a crew with Tracy, Kim and Dan, putting in 400 feet of the new connector trail that will join Heil Ranch with Lyons and Hall ranch. Over 225 people in all showed up for this event and put in an astounding 8,400 feet of new trail! Our section, lead by Kristen (aka Catzilla), had a totally cool rock feature that we put in. It'll be fun going down and a tad tricky going up.

Jesper checking out the handy work on our rock feature

It will be a super fun trail that hopefully will open this summer. Trail building is tiring, so after some fine BBQ from Oskar's Blues, we hit the hay soon after dark in order to be rested for the next day's fun.

On Saturday, we got up early once again, this time headed for parts north. We met at Tracy and Jason's house, hoping to have Cynthia and Kim join us too, but "stuff" kept them from coming. However, we were joined by Cynthia's friends Mark and Tom and Jason's buddy Johnny. Our group of seven piled into two vehicles and we drove up to Red Feather Lakes, which is practically in Wyoming. Jesper and I had been to this area to get a Christmas Tree one year (very far to go for a tree!), but we had not ridden there yet. Jason had planned out a long, five-hour-ish ride for us that would combine jeep road and singletrack. It sounded yummy!

As we approached the trailhead, we could see that the area had received a fresh dousing of snow, probably the night before! Some nasty clouds were looming in the distance. I made a wish for NO PRECIPITATION during our ride. This could get ugly!

We began under sunny skies with crazy snow coming down. How weird is that? It was windy, but we soon were in the shelter of the trees as we ascended a jeep trail that would take us up to a singletrack descent that Jason was practically drooling over. We never made it to the singletrack descent. As we climbed up the jeep trail, we encountered more and increasingly larger snow drifts. We rode up what we could, some of the trail very fun rocky up sections, but were forced off our bikes when we hit the deeper snow drifts. Not that we didn't try to ride through them!

Jesper and Tracy slogging through one of the many snow drifts

We finally reached a point were the snow drifts took over the trail completely and we decided to abandon the ascent and head back down the way we came.

Snowy bikes resting while we decide what to do

Amazingly, everyone was still smiling and happy, even with this turn of events.

Happy group, even after slogging through snow - notice how the trail ahead is completely covered

And why not? The slog up through the snow drifts had us all giggling and giddy. We were out in a beautiful and remote forest. The sun was shining. There were no other people around. We were (mostly) on our bikes.

The descent through the snow drifts and over the rocks was super duper fun! Mark couldn't stop talking about how much he enjoyed it. When we got back down to the car, we wanted to do more riding and Jason had a suggestion for a Plan B option. We could do a little gravel road ride to a downhill on a trail called Seven Mile Creek Trail, followed by a kinda long gravel road ride back up to the cars. It sounded good to everyone except Johnny, who had a massive headache and opted to snooze at the cars.

I have not laughed so hard on a ride in a long time! After the uneventful gravel road, the six of us tucked into the woods. The trail started out as a rocky doubletrack downhill with some nice, banked turns. Fun, fun, Fun! Jason warned us that we would encounter multiple creek crossings and we should expect to get wet. The first creek crossing wasn't too deep, maybe 6 to 8 inches, and we did get a little wet. It didn't seem so bad. We had no idea what was coming! Creek my ass! The next crossing was deeper, up to or over our hubs. It was a river! Then the trail itself joined up with raging meltwater, turning the entire trail into a fast-moving river. This is when the laughing began.

Imagine riding down a rocky, technical downhill with large rocks mostly obscured by fast-moving water. It was almost like riding down Class IV rapids. It took a fair amount of technical skill and momentum to not go OTB, as Jesper found out; no injuries, just one wet boy! As we continued down this raging river, we would periodically encounter additional, and deep, creek crossings. Tracy got the award for tenacity in making it through every creek crossing!

I felt great on this descent. My lack of mojo from Friday night was completely gone and I did some of the best riding I've done in awhile; I was loose, focused and in the flow, allowing me to go fast enough to follow Jason's lines! Gotta love it when it when that happens.

After loading the back up at the cars and getting into warm clothes, all seven tired riders stopped at Coopersmith's in Fort Collins for some beers and grub. It was a great end to a great weekend.

Oh - we will be back to Red Feather Lakes when the snow is gone!

I took mostly video on the Seven Mile Creek Trail, but Jesper took a lot of pictures.

1 comment:

Kim & Dan said...

Sunday's ride looks like it turned into more of an adventure than a ride :) We need to plan another outing out there, maybe a nice camping weekend when it thaws out a little more!?