Experience to learn from….
After a year of prep / lots of riding with a loaded down bike, many ride2rock climbing sessions (the fun way to cross train) and pre-packing my gear / I headed out to the Colorado trail with intentions to ride it’s 550 mi length over the course of 7-9 days.
Entering the trailhead I encountered the first of many trail beasts: the mighty mtn goat. (The gatekeeper) Planted in the center of the trail we had an extended staring contest as I stood catching up my breath. I turned my head away and pushed my bike past him only 10ft away off trail. As I passed, he went back to chewing away on tasty mtn veg.
This first day had my heart racing as I plodded my way up 11,000′ of climbing. Trying to establish my elevation for the trail miles to come hoping to reach my 60mi a day personal minimum goal.
Mile 19 or so I crossed a great river and after scrambling down from a bridge I refilled my water from the bank. This would be my last water supply until mile 26ish. Unfortunately, this was not going to be enough.
This section seemed to never end. Maybe it was my acclimating to the lowered oxygen of the Colorado mountains, or all the boulder scrambling and hot rain forest conditions earlier in the day, but I could not get myself in a good rhythm.
Trudging on I made it to an openning in the treeline and then finished out the section in full sun while rationing a half bottle of water. I had underestimated my increased hydration needs in this section as well as how much longer it would take me to climb this section then the equivalent back at home. Poor hydration combined with heat and all the climbing resulted in less then comfortable opportunities for getting food down.
At mi 26 I spun over to the mtn top firestation for a refill on my bottles. Downing a full bottle and then settling into a whole avocado I started to feel better.
Back on the bike I passed lots of perfect campsites and happy groups of hikers settling in for the night. I continued on having to get off and push at nearly any incline. I can’t really relate how low I felt…
Mile 40 I hit the dirt road and started a cold descent. Layering up knee warmers and a raincoat I spun out the next 15 mi in the dark. On one climb in a moment of true aloneness I got off to push. The moon was shining through fast flowing clouds and I felt like I was being watched. Flashing my headlamp 360• turned up nothing and as I pushed past the next set of bushes…
A herd of mule deer bolted across the road and bounded across the treeless mountain.
The next day I woke up and felt broken. I was still dehydrated. I couldn’t get food into system. I looked on my trail guide and noticed a 50mi stretch of exposed dirt road ahead and climbing. Little to no water on the map for resupply besides Goose creek and Tarryall lake. I was broken I knew that my 60mi a day goal was not going to be possible this year. I knew that today I would not recover to a stronger place if I saddled back up. Emotions welled up. It was time to call it and recover. A very low moment…
I gave myself 2 days to recover and I planned a new trip, a trip that focused on achieving my most important trip goals : mentally prepping for a transition to fatherhood and enjoying the trail touring experience.
Did I give up to easy? Should I have pushed through? Deep down I knew my body and though my ego had me wanting to trudge onward I was not there to prove anything. I was there for enjoyment and personal growth. The series of events to follow had so many serendipitous moments that it seemed to me the universe knew all along what my path would be…
To be continued, with lots of photos of the resulting adventure!