Sometime in October you start to see it coming. The last leaves fall, then brown on the ground. Frosty mornings become the norm. Out of town crowds start to fade, and not just when it rains.
There's an incredibly sweet and ever shrinking window around here--after the trails empty out but before they get buried.
Skippy and I rallied to leave braaaaaap marks in the hero dirt on Tuesday, knowing that the weatherman had said it could all come crashing down that night.
One for the record books: December 3 at 5500' near the Colorado/Utah border:
Alas, the weatherdude was right: Buried.
Can't hardly complain--the season was long and good, and we *need* the moisture.
We gave it a day to freeze and settle, then tentatively probed the edges of the backyard to see what we could see.
All in all, not bad, not awesome.
It *is* riding, albeit not the grin-inducing stuff we take for granted much of the time.
We saw precisely zero other riders during our few hours out. My guess is that they, like me, need a few days to recalibrate themselves to the new normal, to dig down into the depths, or wherever it is that our motivation goes when it gets cold and sloppy and slow. When maintaining traction while pedaling uphill starts to feel closer to powerlifting than spinning.
I don't have a smarmy, cliched, Norman Rockwell way to tell you that riding is still worth it in winter.
Except to say that yes, Virginia, it certainly can be.
"Ruby had heard stories… ...and had come to understand that it was a godless land, or rather a land of only one god, and that was money.
The report was that under the rule of such a grabby creed people grew mean and bitter and deranged until, for lack of higher forms of spirit comfort, entire families became morphine-crazed.
They had, as well, invented a holiday called Thanksgiving, which Ruby had only recently got news of, but from what she gathered it's features to be, she found it to contain the mark of a tainted culture. To be thankful on just the one day."
An early start. Crisp autumn air, long sleeves. An empty parking lot overarched by cerulean skies and framed by ancient domes of petrified sand. Perhaps most noticeable to all: the acrid scent of torched legs.
We took our time on the early climb, patiently unraveling it against the protests of our wilted bodies.
We all flailed on simple stuff--the kind you'd do blindfolded while juggling on a 'normal' day.
Chunky and odd--just the way he likes it.
Playing on some B lines, more of an up-turn-off skills drill than anything else.
The move I'm on above is the same move Eric is on in the next two pics. Narrow janky ledge entrance to a steep roll with a twist.
Looks like not much. Depends on your 'eyes' whether it is or not. I pedal kicked it, but I was not remotely 'on' so it looked chunky and ugly as executed.
Not wanting to risk the near-stuff I'd done, Eric manualed off. He made it cleaner but his rear wheel took a beating as a result. That's their job, right?
Bonus points for E in making it back up cleanly.
With a long drive and expectant family to tend to, Eric flipped it here and headed back from whence we'd come. Jeny and I napped for the next ~hour, then resumed our day at an even more leisurely pace.
One track? Yep--mine. Any more on this route and I'd be plain disappointed.
We've tried everything but we just can't seem to get her to cheer up...
Linking dome to dome entirely on cairn-free, paint-free, and rideable rock is an enjoyable game, made moreso by the views near and far.
Earning every inch.
Stopping to savor the where, when, and who.
You can see and hear the difference, but the quality of the rock under your tires *here* has to be felt to be believed. Call me a rock-hugger--the shoe fits.
Eventually we made our way onto Captain Ahab. I gasped my way up the climb, silently chuckling at the wreckage of bodies and egos as Jeny picked off everyone in sight and left us all struggling in her wake.
'Welcome to my world' is all I can say.
She waited for me where the trail tilted down, then we played a prolonged game of cat-and-mouse on this delightful descent.
The ride ended at the parking lot, but the glow followed us to the brewery, back onto the interstate, and throughout the ensuing workweek. As it should be.