Day two of our trip, as in the past (yes, we're still dumb), was to be a leisurely ride somewhere in the area where there wasn't A) Snow B) Rain C) Mud. Hmmmm, that left us the driveway of our condo and some parking lots around town. High alpine riding was out of the question so after a confirmation of a 50/50 chance of rideable trail from the local bike shop, we arrived in Salida around 10:30. We rode there last year again due to late spring snow in the high country and had a great time and since we weren't sure about the mud situation at other trails nearby, we opted to go back to the same system on S Hill, knowing it was probably our safest bet.
They sky was filled with large, dark clouds. They floated by all morning so everyone packed their rain layers just to be safe. All 9 of us took to the trail in some sort of achy tiredness but there was single track to shred and daylight to kill.
Up, up, up. Who put this hill here? And that rock? And that one? It took me a bit to warm up. I slow pedaled in my smallest gear. It didn't take long and we were high enough to start looking down onto the town of Salida. There was a folk music festival happening and many folks were kayaking right through town on the Arkansas River that runs at the edge of the town. Within the first 15 min, the sun started playing hide and seek. Riders were starting to disrobe, both from the heat of the sun and the heat of their bodies from having to climb. In Colorado, you have to earn your fun.
We came across a nice couple at a parking lot stop. They had NE plates so of course we had to be all "Nebraska Nice". They were visiting their son who owned the local guesthouse.
We rode North Backbone as an out n back. It started to get pretty gnarly and there was a lot of walking due to tired everything, so we turned around before the end-point and took a different trail that was much more flowy, but still with some good challenges. After getting to a trickling spring bed that we rode down last year, we had to decide where to go next. People were starting to get grumpy and more tired and instead of risking having to ride higher we turned around and went back to the last trail intersection to see where to go next. A native gave us some local info, which was to go back to the creek and take it to the bottom. It was a blast and we had some great flow and speed and views.
We returned to the car pretty stoked but it was still pretty early so a few of us went back out. Same route only skipping the Backbone, instead opting to go higher up the trail so we could bomb back down Uncle Nazty via Cottonwood. The climb s.u.c.k.e.d. It was a slow grind of the worst kind, but knowing we would be rewarded with fun descents helped us keep a positive mind set.
Fun is a relative term. It was fun if you had a dropper and/or long travel. I was a frightened mouse. Big waterfall drops in rocky crags. I walked a lot but Powderpuff doesn't do drops. She's delicate that way. (LOL)
We found some pretty fun stuff. Flowy single track in between rocky, technical bits. In one techy climbing bit, my pedal caught a rock and in the process of trying to maneuver out of it, I once again tipped over, this time right on my left knee and soft part of my palm. If was 40 years younger I would have cried. And not a small cry, but a gasping for air cry where... you... can't... talk...and...you...just...gasp. Yes, it freaking hurt! Oh and to really drive the point home, a bar-end dug into the top of my quad. I had to walk it off with controlled breaths to keep from screaming in pain. Why ALWAYS ALWAYS in the slow dumb places!? I slapped on a bandage and off we went, continuing our quest for killing daylight in the unknown.
There was one part that was offering up some good flow. Adam backed up his rig to get a head start on what was a very xc-like descent. He was flying, as Adams does. Ryan tucked in behind and then suddenly we hear Ryan yelling, "Rider down! Rider down!" I was picturing the worst with Adam lying at the bottom of some cliff. Dr. Larry was down in a flash and once we got sight of them, Adam was sitting up blinking and his face was bloody. Seems his tire washed out in the corner and sent him into the ground face first and then into a tree. His specs caused the gash between his eyes that was bleeding pretty good. The rest of him seemed fine. We could see where the edge of the trail got pretty soft thus grabbing his tire as he leaned into the turn taking the bike out from under him. So glad it wasn't any worse. As we all started to get back on our bikes, the carnage continued. I was standing on the edge of the trail, sort of up mountain, and as soon as I took one step, both feet came loose and I landed all my weight on my left posterior and yes, a very pointy rock. Are you kidding me?! There was soft dirt all around except for where I landed, as Mr. Obvious, Mark, pointed out. If I wasn't pissed before, I sure was now and I just wanted to be done. (Update: It's been a couple weeks and the bruises are probably 4" across and all kinds of purple).
The return ride back to the car was a hoot'n-toot'n good time. Flowy, techy to sketchy, ridgy back to flowy. I said it then and I'll say it again-that was one way to kill a Sunday, even if it was kinda hard on a couple of us.
Celebrations were on tap but first Adam had to face Jenni. I watched her from inside the van as I was changing out of my gear. I didn't need to hear her to know her reaction to her husband's wounds. Her face said everything - wide eyes and dropping jaw. Adam looked like he had been in a fight and totally lost! His cheek had started to swell and the cut was still kinda bleeding. Though we were super glad it wasn't worse, it looked kinda bad ass.
We clinked glasses and stuffed our face in a local bar n grill right on the river. It had large windows that opened up garage-door style so we could continue to smell and hear the mountain air. With time almost up, we didn't want to miss a second of it. It had been a long few days but when you don't have much time, you have to make sure to pack it all in. After a couple rounds, I took stock of our MTB Crew. Tired, dirty and bloody, but smiling - which in my book, is the only way to end a mountain bike trip.