Saturday, January 1, 2011

Go West Old Men

ep·ic [ep-ik] noun - an episode in the lives of men in which heroic deeds are performed or attempted: the epic of Scott's expedition to the South Pole.

Agreed "heroic" may be pushing it, but for half a dozen middle-age dads on the east coast who spend much of their lives behind a desk or shuttling kids to lacrosse practice, June is looking pretty damn epic. That's because 164 days from now we head west for five days of mountain biking and camping under the stars in the rocky mountains.

The idea has been germinating for a while, and with my 50th birthday staring me in the face took on a sense of urgency last summer. We looked at over 20 itineraries from 7 different tour companies, and settled on a custom trip from Hermosa Tours. We chose Hermosa because the fit felt right, we liked the camping format (versus hotels), the point to point itinerary, and the van support which allows us to focus on riding while Hermosa focuses on humping our gear from place to place. Oh and the food - Hermosa has clearly put a lot of thought into this.

We designed a five day itinerary that starts in Durango Colorado and ends five days later in Moab Utah:
  1. Options include advanced singletrack on the Colorado Trail or intermediate on Hermosa Creek Trail. Day ends with downhill into camp. Mileage 30-50 miles.
  2. A very pretty 40-ish miles past the Lizard Head Wilderness into Uncompahgre National Forest and our camp at Miramonte Reservoir.
  3. We work our way along the rim of Paradox Valley and then into Utah near day’s end.  As we enter Utah we’re be making our way up the east side of the La Sal Mountains.  Mileage is about 35.
  4. We continue climbing up the east side of the La Sal Mountains toward Geyser Pass.  This is an underrated part of the route for no other reason that people just don’t go here!  True solitude.  We end the day high in the La Sals ready for a big day 5.  About 30 miles.
  5. The Whole Enchilada.  28 miles of some of the best mountain biking in the world.  High alpine singletrack all the way to the Colorado River 7000 feet below.  Must be ridden to be believed.  Shuttle back to Durango after the ride.
The ride will be physically demanding for us east coast flat-landers. Six to seven hours and 30+ miles is more that we have done on a mountain bike, and we will be doing that on five consecutive days.  And the altitude (day one takes us through 11,000 feet) adds a huge wrinkle.
Little know fact: There are 40% fewer oxygen molecules per breath at 12,000 feet than at sea level.
So we have loads of work to do and my new beater bike will be a big part of that. Training will be a big part of the next 164 days, and my blog posts will turn towards things like conditioning, outfitting, nutrition, altitude sickness, and tour operators instead of the usual drivel about local trail conditions and biking mishaps.

"It is the most selfless way to see the world around you. There is no gasoline, no power steering, and no seat belts. You move forward as one should move through life: by sheer will and determination."
     -- author unknown

No comments:

Post a Comment