Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Colorado Trail Race Day 3.

This is Part 3 of several long posts of my Colorado Trail Race Adventure. 
For Part 1 preview go here.
For Part 2 Days 1 and 2 go here.
For Part 4 go here.

Day 3 Bonus..... Route navigation! I thought I'd take a moment to talk about the signs you use to follow the trail, when its marked....


Most of the time the trail is marked at an intersection with a sign like the following on a tree or sign 20m or so down the fork of the trail that you are supposed to take. So it is key to watch for intersections and then search for the marker, especially at night. They are easy to miss in the dark.
Much of the time two or more trails were on the same route you would get a marker like this,
Even better you might get a sign like this that can't have the marker torn off. Many of them seem to have gone missing off the tree or post. It seems that the higher in the tree a marker may be the more likely it will still be there. Much of the trail past Molas pass later on was "marked" by posts like this one with out any mark on it at all.

 Markers like this one were prevalent at copper mt.
 Many of the markers were on the flexible posts like this. Many times the sticker was missing or the post was broken in half.
 The best was an actual sign.
And much of the time the trail was marked by large piles of rocks or cairns in the high country...... So there ya go.

My Day 3. I was out the hotel door and riding up towards Cottonwood pass by 4am. I reached the Colorado Trail and hit it in the dark. The trail after this had me a bit worried. You have to cover a lot of very remote and rough trail with out any towns until Silverton, which isn't very big. And then I noticed that I was having a hard time riding through a rocky section. Sure enough low blood sugar. I have a Dexcom 7 continous glucose meter but didn't bring it as I didn't think the batteries would last and sometimes it just doesn't work well. So I had a glucose meter in my pack. The time to check wasn't too bad unless I did it a lot. (foreshadowing hint hint). Hmm I sure hope I have enough food to get me to Silverton.....

Some single track.
After a little while, I caught Jerry from the store the day before. We said hi and I rode on ahead. A few miles further, a baby owl was right in the middle of the trail. I stopped and picked him up and set her on a rock. There he is--camera didn't work for some reason.
I went to get back on my bike and my front wheel wouldn't turn......I looked it over and sure enough my break pads had worn too thin and the metal spring was stuck in my rotors. OK I'll pop my spare pair in. I got out my multitool and what??? It doesn't have a 2.5mm allen! and then I look in my bag and no spare brake pads. Houston we have a problem. As I'm thinking of ways to file one of my other tools down with a rock and get the metal part removed along comes Jerry. And low and behold he has a tool kit with the right size allen wrench. I got my wheel rolling without the spring. No way was I going to ride all the way to Silverton with out good brakes so I rode just a little bit further to just above Princeton Hot Springs and rode the road back to Buena Vista. I got to the bike shop pretty quickly. It was closed until 9 and it was 8. I ran into Cat again at the bike shop and I helped her get a hose set up and we sprayed off our bikes. She was waiting for the post office for a package. I went to a restaurant a couple of buildings down and grabbed an omelet and pancakes. I also called the MTB cast and wished Anne a happy birthday.... I had also been on a long ride on Mother's day. Isn't she the best. Finally the shop opened and I bought two pairs of pads and put in the new pair in the front. And I was off. I made it back to the hot springs 3 hrs after I left to come to town. It also put 17+ miles and about 700' of climbing on my ride.Here is the profile of my day without the detour.....
 And the route with the detour
The next section I had ridden at night in the opposite direction during the Vapor Trail race the year before. It had a gnarly climb and then some good single track. Getting closer to highway 50 that goes over monarch pass I passed some other CTR's at a raspberry patch so I stopped and ate some. There was several piles of bear scat in this area.... I passed them and after what seemed a long time finally arrived at the highway. It had rained just before I got there and I just got a little of it as I started riding up Fooses Creek. I met many hikers along here that had counted racers and put me in 6-8th place. They were all friendly. 
Common bridge. I wonder if I could ride this?
The flowers on the whole ride were crazy.

Picture doesn't capture the flowers.....
 As I pushed the bike up the last very steep pitch of Fooses and onto the long awaited Crest Trail, I saw Jerry going over the top. I caught up to him at the small shelter a couple of miles down the trail where John from City Market the night before is laying in his sleeping bag and getting ready for a nap. We chat for a minute and he says another rider is just ahead. It is windy and starting to sprinkle. Jerry and I decide to head on. The storm passes and it gets warmer as we ride. I enjoy the Crest while I can before we hit the next section. I rode with Jerry until the trail starts to climb again after the Silver creek junction. 

Having fun on the Crest

And the sun began to set.....






It was dark. The coyotes howled--not yipping like the normal unpossessed variety. My huge front wheel darted back and forth through large white rocks trying to find passage like lovers' tongues. The darkness was pervasive.  The large eyes of  bovine in the middle of the trail shone unmoving until the light from my headlamp created shadows that spooked them off. The partial moon dropped behind the ridge. And the rocks and roots continued....... unrelenting. I ran into Jerry later and he saw a mountain lion in the middle of the trail here.....
Representative sample of the next 25 miles.
 I had ridden much of this awful trail earlier in the summer and it just sucks in my opinion. And most everyone else's opinion. I was just glad I had 29" wheels. I saw a light a few hundred yards ahead. Who could that be? I finally started to get a bit tired right at the top of Sergent Mesa so I laid down between some trees with my rain tarp at 10pm. The coyotes began howling again and made my dreams crazy.  It started to sprinkle. 

The day had gone OK....not quite as far as I'd liked with the mechanical but.. Vital stats: about 92 miles and 13,700' with ride back to BV. Tomorrow would be another day.

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