Waking up at 2:00am on the Sunday of the weekend St. Patrick’s Day festivities in a drinkin’ city seemed a strange way to begin a trip. I needed to go from the North side of Denver, through the South side, without incident. And then far beyond.
Plan: ride the bicycle from the back door to the Barr Trailhead ~90 miles away in Manitou Springs, CO and immediately begin the 13 miles hike up to the summit of Pikes Peak, for a winter ascent of a Colorado 14er, before it ain’t winter no more (mere days away). And of course carry all the gear that’s probably going to be needed. Which is really unrealistic, so just take what’s absolutely necessary. Which probably means, a different pair of shoes.
Then, take a few winks and ride back home, in perhaps a bit more scenic (read: more difficult, mountainous, less boring) route.
The road that travels up to the summit of Colorado Springs’ resident 14er, Pikes Peak (neé heey-otoyoo) @ 14,115 feet would be open to bicycle travel for the first time for an extended period: the entire month of September on an exploratory basis. In the recent past, the road has only been open for one day, for a bicycle race up to the top.
This road needed to be ridden to, from Denver and summited, before the end of September came; before the road was again closed to such noble of transportation options.
Justin Simoni speaks of the challenges of riding the Tour Divide mountain bike race as he works on his bike at The Outdoorsman in Butte, MT.
Kelley Mattingly and I did a fairly casual interview about the Tour Divide, training, etc while I was at the Outdoorsman, outfitting my bike for some drier terrain, with less changes of resupply that I was to hit up in the coming days.
About… 10 days? before the start of the 2012 Tour Divide, I decided to look at plane tickets and found one affordable enough to get to Banff, Alberta and give ‘er another go, this time on a Single Speed.
To my complete surprise, I not only finished, but was the first one-speed-wonder over the line from the Grand Départ at 23 days, 5 hours and change.
I am perpetually amazed at what adventures lay so close to home, taken on by just strapping on some clothes, tools, food and a sleeping bag to a cobbled together bicycle and just going for it. Last weekend saw me ride from Del Norte, along the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, with the goal of getting to Breckenridge and from there, taking the I-70 corridor back home to Denver.
This weeks plan was to ride to the Summer Trailhead of Grays/Torreys, hike up both, and ride back, all in one fell swoop. I mean, why not? It’s ~55 miles and 9,000 feet of elevation to the Winter Trailhead, 3 miles of hike-a-biking on the dirt road to the Summer Trailhead and 8 1/4 miles of hiking to both peaks and back – and then that 55 miles back home.
OK, fairly ambitious, I admit – I brought along my sleep kit, just in case.
I certainly don’t like living a life that contains much nostalgia. I’m far more interested in the here and now, or the coming soon, than what’s past. I don’t hold onto many things material. So, it’s always a surprise to me, when nostalgia hits me in the face and I feel an intense emotional response.
One of the magical things about the Tour Divide is the MTBCast call-in service. If you can find a pay phone on the route – which are actually still, “plentiful” in the areas the GDMBR wanders through, you can call a 800 number and leave a message, that will then be posted up by MTBCast for everyone to listen in.
One of the final parts of my entire Tour Divide kit that I got together was my photography equipment. Like the rest of my gear, it had to fit some fairly extreme constraints: not too big, not too heavy and able to survive the trip.