Unlike most of my road trips, this time I’m staying completely in one state: Colorado. After a few days in Salida, I was off to Alamosa (a little over an hour south) to meet up with my family. It was a nice change of pace to sleep in a hotel room and eat at a restaurant, and meeting up with my family halfway across the country is always fun.
The first real destination for the family trip was the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Zach and I were determined to do a ride from the park, so we set off on a dirt (well, actually, sand) road toward Medano Pass. It ended up being a lot more challenging than anticipated, and we had to hike quite a bit in the sand. After airing my tires down to about 10 or 12 psi, I was able to ride a little bit more, but there was still a lot of hiking. Thankfully, the road got more hard-packed as went along and we were able to ride most of it as we approached the pass itself. The road kicked up quite a bit – probably around 20% grade – and I had to briefly get off and walk. That being said, I surprised myself with how much I was able to ride, especially at nearly 10,000 feet elevation.
|Patch of snow just below Rolling Pass, a good cover picture|
|Great views from the cliffs|
We checked into our AirBNB after the ride, which was a large house just outside of town. It was far too big for the five of us, but it was all that was available when it came time to book.
|Great views along Hermosa Creek|
Next up was a long descent back to Hermosa Creek called Dutch Creek Trail. It was a fast, steep, and technical descent through pines and aspen. We even saw some free-range cows at the top of the trail.
|A good picture with Zach and my dad on Animas Mountain|
|Old Lime Creek Road|
It had a few climbs on it, but nothing too bad. The real climbing started in earnest once we finished that first road. To get to the Colorado Trail at Molas Pass, we had to climb up the highway to the pass. It was only about a 1,000 foot climb, but it felt much longer. I started off steady, but eventually locked myself in to a pace that had me suffering to the top. One of my rules is that once you set a pace, you don’t back off until the top or you blow up. I didn’t blow up.
The crux of the day was Rolling Pass, which sits at 12,450 feet. The climb was surprisingly rideable – even for me on singlespeed – but as we neared the top, the thin air took its toll. I had to get off and push a few sections, and it felt like I had no power. That said, it was actually better than expected, and the breathtaking views at the pass were well-worth the effort.
After taking some pictures, we started down the other side. It wasn’t as technical as I expected, which meant I was able to look around and take in the views. I could ride a trail like that every single day of my life and it would never get old.
|Almost to Rolling Pass|
Unfortunately for some, the climbing wasn’t over yet. Of course, I joke, because actually, Zach and Nicky both crushed the ride. That still didn’t change the fact though that we had one more 700-foot climb on the Colorado Trail until we got to the last downhill. To make matters worse, it was a lot of hike-a-bike. And, I had a minor crash just before the climb, but it was merely a flesh wound.
|A nice sandy trail on the last day|
My brother and I kept tooling around on some more trails for another hour or two, before heading back to the AirBNB. I didn’t really talk much about hanging out at the AirBNB, because if I did, this post would be twice as long, and really this blog is supposed to be mostly about biking. But, it was a great time hanging out with family, having some good food, and sitting by the fire outside in the evenings.
|Zach in the Animas River|
The next morning, my family packed up early to hit the road, and I left for a short ride the same time they left to drive home. Recovery for Breck Epic was starting, so I just did an easy hour cruise and got back to the AirBNB before checkout time to take a shower and pack up.