Friday, July 21, 2006

Durango - Days 6 - 11

Cam Kirkpatrick

Day 6 – Sunday, July 16

Woke up in the morning, the wrist was still a little sore so I decided to do another road ride, same as yesterday. Legs felt really good and finished the ride a little quicker than I did yesterday. HR monitor is still on vacation so I have no idea what my efforts were, other than hard when going uphill, a little less hard on the flats and as easy as possible on the descents. So some redneck that was totin’ a trailer full of four wheelers passed me as I was going up the backside of Coal Bank Pass. I passed by the summit and headed back down the front side. A little ways down I caught back up to Billy Bob haulin’ the four wheelers. The road was somewhat ‘surpentine’, so I decided not to pass. On one of the straights I caught a little bit of a draft off of Billy Bob. I took a look at my speedometer and it said I was going 57+ mph, saweet! It was a pretty cool rush, but I figured I better back it off before the dude brake checked me. Didn’t want to end up on his trailer with his redneck vehicles.
Got back to the cabin and a buddy of mine, Shim, from Omaha was throwin’ down a few cold ones with my old man. I hit the showers then we went out for some grub. I watched Shim and my Dad drink more beer. I told Shim that he was going to be payin’ more than cash for all the beer he drank the next day…

Day 7 – Monday, July 17

Woke up, got out of bed and discovered that my wrist felt like it was back to normal. Saweet! My Dad decided to drive up to the Hermosa Creek trailhead while Shim and I went out to do some dirt lovin’ ourselves. After throwin’ down some grub and coffee, we headed up to the Dry Fork trailhead, about three miles from our cabin. We took Dry Fork up to the Colorado trail and rode down into town. I was leading as I knew the trial pretty well. On the way down some of the descents, I ran through some cow crap and kicked it up all over Shim. Surprisingly enough, cow crap brown went well with his red and yellow kit.
We rolled through town over to the Telegraph trails and pretty much did the same loop that I did the other day. Shim called the ride ‘Kirkpatrick’s Durango death march’. We did lot’s of climbing and most of the trail was out in the open so we were backing in the sun. Shim’s computer said it got up to 102. All you cats in Iowa aren’t the only ones suffering like dogs in the heat. Though I gotta say, the weather here is so much better than there, dry, nice and cool at night, pretty near perfect for camping.

Day 8 – Tuesday, July 18

My Dad took off for Texas yesterday and another buddy, Mike McGrath, showed up from Colorado Springs. Today we decided to do the grand daddy of Durango mountain bike rides, the Kennebec Pass loop. In the past, it’s taken me about 5 ½ hours to do the loop, so we headed out early to avoid the afternoon thunderstorms that usually start brewin’ around high noon.
We hot the road at about 8:30. The first part of the ride is all uphill, going west on highway 160. We hit a side road that heads north out of Hesperus. It’s a flat asphalt road that went on for about 30 minutes. That road eventually turned to gravel and also turned uphill. From that point it was 2 solid hours of climbing on gravel and very rough, very steep, technical jeep roads. There were a lot of spots where I had to dump it into my granny gear.
After about 3 hours of climbing, we finally arrived at Kennebec Pass. Kennebec Pass is notorious for its’ breathtaking 360° views of the mountains of southwest Colorado. Words cannot describe it. After marveling at the views, we hit the trail for 28 miles of sweet Colorado singletrack, mostly downhill. I felt fantastic the entire ride, legs felt good, wrist felt good, and most importantly, my back and my arse felt pretty good. This was the first trip that I’d brought a full suspension bike to Colorado and I will never ride a hard tail here again. It’s like night and day.
So after about 6 hours in the saddle, we arrived back at the cabin. I felt pretty good and wanted to continue my ride down the Colorado trail into town. I had two pinch flats over the last couple of hours and had already bummed a tube off of Mike. Shim flatted also, so we were out of tubes so I figured I’d better head back with Shim and Mike. Didn’t want to flat in the middle of nowhere and reward myself with a long, beautiful walk home.
The last segment of singletrack to the cabin is Dry Fork. As I had mentioned earlier, there is a lot of cow dung on the trail, which means there are a lot of cows runnin’ around in this neck of the woods. So were flyin’ down the Dry Fork, I round a fast corner, and there sits a bunch of cows hangin’ in the sunshine, BS’n with each other, or whatever it is that cows do when they hang out. One of them started buckin’ like a bronco and went after Shim, damn near T-boned him. I’m guessing it was a heifer because she goin’ after Shim like a cow in heat.

Day 9 – Wednesday, July 19

Shim and Mike were pretty cooked from yesterdays ride, especially the upper body region. So we decided to head out for a road ride and that meant only one thing, to Silverton and back. Again, we got a pretty early start in hopes of avoiding the afternoon t-storms. After about a 20 minute warm-up, I turned up the throttle to base/tempo effort. After about an hour of flats, we hit the first series of climbs that led up to Durango Mountain Resort (DMR, formerly known as Purgatory, home of the first MTB world championships in 1990, won by Ned). Most of the climbs at this point average around 5-6% and were enough to knock me into my 25 in order to maintain a decent cadence. I could here Mike behind me panting like a steam engine, he was working pretty hard. Shim was working pretty hard to, I think he only had a 23 and he was kinda payin’ for it. Shim was going throw some cramps and dropped off in an attempt to alleviate them. Mike stuck with me until just before DMR. He pulled off to get water and I thought he was planning to turn around at this point so I kept motorin’.
Again, I felt really good and was pushin’ my 25 up a lot of Coal Bank Pass, which varies between 6 and 8%. I was making good time and rolled into Silverton about 5 minutes faster than I ever have before. On the way back, I saw a semi truck that was pulling a flat bed trailer laying in the ditch on the outside of a switchback corner. Dumbass overcooked the corner and rolled his rig.
As I was riding back, the clouds were once again gathering for a little pow-wow. I made it back to DMR and sure enough, the skies opened up a can of whoop ass on me. I rode in pretty heavy rain for about 20 minutes and the eventually hit dry pavement again. I made it back to the cabin, Shim and Mike were hangin’ at the pool, shootin’ the shite with some geriatrics from Texas. I made it back in about 5 hours and 45 minutes, my fastest time by about 5, saweet!

Day 10 – Thursday, July 20

Mike had to hit the road at sunrise, work was callin’. Work sucks. Always getting’ in the way of fun. Shim and I decided to take it ‘easy’ today. So we headed up Dry Fork as easy as possible and then rode over to Durango Mountain Park, also known as ‘Test Tracks’. It wasn’t much of an easy ride, lot’s of climbing in the granny gear, but also lot’s of fun. Rode some pretty crazy stuff, that had my knees knockin’ the first time I rode it a couple of years ago. Didn’t seem as bad this time. Flatted again, rolled over a piece of glass. Kinda pissed me off because tubes are freakin’ expensive here.
After the ride we rolled over to Bread, ate one of the best sandwiches ever. Bought two loaves of bread and ate those also. Didn’t have much of an appetite at supper time, so we went to the local sushi house and had a light supper, followed by more bread, some ice cream, some chocolate chink cookies and a couple of glasses of wine… I think I also ate a peach and some grapes in there somewhere. Yep, I’m a pig.

Day 11 – Friday, July 21, 2006

Can’t believe my vaca is almost over. I figured that two weeks would take a long time… no such luck. Shim’s plan was to hit the dirt for a few hours then hit the road. So we decided to head up Dry Fork again, then head north on the Colorado rather than south into town. This would take us on the same route that we rode when we did the Kennebec loop a couple of days ago. Once again, my legs felt incredible so I rode a pretty hard pace going up the long climb of Dry Fork / Colorado. About 90 minutes into the ride Shim turned around and headed back. I was sorry to see him go, had a great time ridin’ with him. My original plan was to head back with him and then ride into town and do the Log Chutes trails. I was feelin’ good and I was jones’n for another high altitude ride up to Kennebec, so I kept motorin’ north towards Kennebec Pass.
As the ride progressed, the climbs became tougher, to the point where I had to hike-a-bike a few of them. My heart was thumpin’ so hard that I thought it was going to jump out of my throat. I managed to keep it down and eventually arrived at Kennebec Pass in after about 4 hours of climbing. I took a little side trip near the top to this old mining shack that was perched on an outcrop at about 11,000 feet. Ran into some old dude and his wife that were hiking and BS’d with them for a while. I was enjoying the conversation and the view, but the clouds were gatherin’ and I was getting eaten alive by these mutant flies. These things were enormous, looked like flying roaches. They were taking chunks out of my legs so I bid farewell to the old dude and the amazing view and headed back the way that I came.
Ended up getting about 6 hours in today, another epic ride. This will be my last night in Durango. I’ve been coming here for about 6 or 7 years and it gets more crowded every year. The downtown area has a lot of really history with the buildings and all, but it is slowly becoming overwhelmed by a lot of new construction coupled with tourists choking up the streets and sidewalks. Despite the growth and crowds, I still love this town and already can’t wait to come back again next year. It’s pretty easy to escape the masses when I hop on the bike. It’s pretty cool that I can sit here in this coffee shop in the middle of town amongst all of the chaos of tourism, and know that I can achieve total seclusion in a matter of minutes on the bike. I love my bikes.
Not sure what I’m going to do for my last ride of the year in Colorado . I’m sure that I’ll figure it out tomorrow.

Thanks for reading,


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