“Distance lends enchantment to the view.”― Mark Twain
And enchanted the view was.
Four of us set out from my house in the early morning; Chris, Eric, Fallon, and I. We drove out to the bottom of Coal Gulch road, where we were met by Jerry and his son, Aiden. That meant we were a group of 6: three grown ups (if you count me), and 3 high school kids. Awesome.
We rode the mile on the road, warming up in the frozen shade, and turned to climb the double track up to the Sarlacc singletrack. It’s about 2 miles of climbing with about 1200 feet of climbing. In the first few hundred yards we saw that Fallon’s lowest gear wasn’t working, so we struggled a while to get that to work for her. So rather than her suffering on this long, steep climb riding a bike in a higher gear, I gave her my 29er, and rode her bike up. It’s been a while since I rode a 26″ hardtail, and never have I ridden that long on pedals intended for cleats and I’m in flats. I took it as a challenge and had so much fun!
When I reached the top, Eric and Aiden were waiting. We talked, took pictures, and rode the few yards over to “The Sarlacc” sand pit. From that vantage point we watched the others top out, and joined them.
Before long we were flying down the flowing singletrack, nearly 2000 feet above the Grand Valley. It was cold and frozen on the North-facing slopes, but dry and hard-packed facing south. I wore short sleeves and shorts, and was comfortable. Hard to believe it’s November!
We rode and stopped for pictures and viewpoints, and to chat with other riders along the way. We took a long break for lunch at an amazing ledge, and rode on to the end of the singletrack.
When we got to the road, we had some decisions to make. The kids and Jerry decided to ride down the road, and drive over to 18rd to ride some PBR. Chris and I, on the other hand, had some work to do. We just had to know which direction of the Sarlacc singletrack was better. So we rode it back.
The ride with just Chris and I was different. We just rode. We stopped only twice to look at the view (once south and once north), and to pick up some pinflags that had been abandoned at some point. Mostly it was fast riding in companionable silence.
We flew down the doubletrack and back to the truck. We loaded up and drove to the 18rd TH where the others had just finished a ride. We caught up a bit, and determined that they could leave me because Dennis was on his way out with Mike so I could run shuttle for them.
So they left me. I was almost out of water and out of food, my phone battery was nearly dead, and I was getting cold after my big ride.
It was a BIG RIDE>
But when I called to see how long Dennis would be, he said they hadn’t even left home yet. So I made some friends who were willing to give me a ride into Fruita where I could wait for Dennis in the comfort of the Hot Tomato and a cold beer; but Dennis didn’t want to have to drive into Fruita to pick me up. So they left me, too.
Rather than sitting around waiting in the parking lot, I decided to do the one thing I could to keep warm: ride. So I left my bag of stuff tied up by the kiosk, and rode. Hard. Standing climb, up Prime Cut. I was surprised how well I rode even as exhausted and calorically deprived as I was. CHECK IT OUT>
When I got back to the parking lot, Dennis, Mike and the kids had showed up.
I spent the next hour+ trying to keep the kids from killing each other while shuttling Dennis and Mike up the road. I was still starving, though they did bring water. The kids were more than somewhat fussy, and didn’t enjoy being held captive in a Jeep. I was about to lose my mind when we got to the parking lot and I recognized my friend, Tom Eatwell. I begged a beverage off of him, and he obliged me. That was the turning point in my experience. Either the contents of the drink, or the gesture of a friend, or the combination of both; but it saved me.
We enjoyed a beautiful sunset, and the kids eventually settled. I drove straight home with the boys; and Dennis, Mike, and Trinity stopped at the market for dinner fixings.
Somehow, I eventually closed out the day. What a mixed experience. But all good.