On Sunday I went out for a scenic road ride to see some of the eastern Colorado Mountains and check out some of the local history. The whole of this area is pretty crowded with great place names centred around the late 1800's and the mining, cowboy trails, and ranches that dotted the area. I say 'dotted' but a ranch running from Arizona to Canada is perhaps a little larger than dotted! there's nothing like a 5 million acre back garden!! The scenery noticeably changed lifting itself from high flat plain to typical mountain pine scenery. Riding in the cool mountain air was wonderful and with the riding came a wonderful refreshing smell of pine trees flowing around rider and bike. A great relief from the baking and dusty plains.
I chose a simple scenic 70 mile road loop and got a guide sheet from the local library. A little rain didn't cause too many problems except a welcome cold feeling and the first half of the trail was ridden in a little over an hour and was really quite enjoyable. As usual I couldn't leave the route alone and decided to make a small 'modification' to allow a better view of some of the higher alpine meadows. Within 10 minutes of the route change the crumpled piece of newspaper I was using as a map deteriorated in the rain, but the scenery drew me onward.
One hour later I topped a 12000+ft pass in perfect sunshine and stopped. The bike was pretty unhappy in the thin mountain air and misfiring badly. I was beginning to feel the familiar ache in the top of my head which tells me I'm at altitudes I'm not immediately designed for, and my breath was decidedly short. But, the views were stunning and I was delighted to be back in high mountains and off the plains. Despite the altitude the bike had made it to nearly 13000ft and I could now tell Jon and Stef that the 13000ft extended Tomichi and Hancock passes (due in a few days) were at least possible on unmodified bikes. Although some news was great I now had other more immediate issues to deal with, my detour meant I was lost at nearly 13000ft and I had to switch on my GPS and use it to guide me in worrying sporadic dog leg trail sections back to Trinidad and food!!
Stef had spent his day searching for a route to the summit of a nearby hilltop where he could overlook the town and take some photos. Although he initially got lost in the suburban sprawl of Trinidad's less salubrious areas his trip had also been highly successful.
The nearby hilltop Dave refers to is called Simpson's Rest and gets its name from one Gearge S Simpson who fled up into the hills above Trinidad when confronted by 'unhappy' Ute indians in 1867. By all accounts he hid in the natural caves on the hill and evaded his would be captors for three days or so. Being a man of some standing in the community, he was burried on the hill upon his death in 1885, as was his wish. Today, there stands a monument to the man which successive generations of Trinidad inhabitants haven't always been too kind to judging by the graffiti that now adorns it. There is also a large Trinidad sign that gets lit-up at night and can be seen from some considerable distance.
Jon was not so lucky with his choice of outing. A quick trip to the Great Sand Dune national monument had resulted in a ride home through a severe rain/hail storm. Without waterproof trousers he was so cold after 70 minutes riding that on arrival we had to put him in a warm shower for 30 minutes to stop him shaking. Minor hypothermia was diagnosed and calories were stated to be the only cure, more food ensued!
I went out for a walk in the evening to stretch my legs fearing that lack of use and a permanently sore backside would result in nerve damage if something wasn't done to increase blood flow. I popped into a Bar on the way back to the Motel and somehow got caught up with four local teachers who had been enjoying a quiet beer for the last 2 days! A 2am arrival back to the hotel wasn't quite what I had been hoping for but then 'that's life'. I knew I was going to have to pay for this in the morning...