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2012 COLORADO EXPEDITION - CHAPTER 5

 

The day after Reno / Flag / Bear was a long one: we would ride 401, perhaps Crested Butte’s most famous trail, then have a scrub up back at the lodgings before departing for Silverton.

I had ridden 401 about 20 years ago, and was keen to see if it lived up to my memory of it, but as it turned out whatever I had ridden all those years ago was a different trail, no idea which one. The ride started with a big, high altitude climb on a gravel road, then turned off onto singletrack at Schofield Pass, about 600m above the carpark. Steep and twisty trail led to a huge meadow with views in all directions but the most interesting was probably back down the valley, where we knew the trail must go. It looked a long way down, and it was.

Very fast, very exposed, dirt trail snaked away down the side of the valley through a profusion of summer growth. The wildflowers were there, not in the masses the area is famous for but nice anyway. An amazing variety of plants crowd the trail but they are low and there were great sight lines all the way.

The trail finished with  another stiff climb then another long fast descent. Brian was following me and reckoned I almost ran over a snake, I didn’t even see it.

We arrived at Silverton late, and checked into a Victorian era hotel in great restored condition complete with period furnishings and fittings. It was a bordello in a former life, but for now it is a nice place to stay in a genuine Western mountain town which probably would have disappeared when the mines played out except for a steam train that brings a load of tourists from Durango every day. It lives on as a quirky little tourist destination with a added aspect of its location making it attractive to Jeep safaris, Harley riders, and mountain bikers.

We were to leave early the next day and ride Hermosa Creek, then return in the evening for the night. Hermosa Creek is another jewel of a trail, over 30 kms of singletrack following a canyon, mostly downhill, sometimes very narrow, always surprising with rocks and roots in abundance. Mike, Gregg and Eugene all tested the firmness of the dirt by falling on it, and found it satisfactory.

Now we are in Moab, Utah, red rock canyon country and very hot and dry.

Early this morning we rode the famous Slickrock Trail, it is only 16km but it took over two hours and climbed over 600m, most of it in short, incredibly steep pinches that defy gravity. the rock is fossilized sand dunes, and it is like unfinished concrete with huge amounts of traction available. My bike developed a drivetrain problem which late in the ride proved to be a broken derailleur hanger, meaning I was walking the last bit back to the car. By the time we had got back to town the thermometer said 35, a good reason to make sure rides around here should get underway not long after sunrise.