Wait five minutes....
When I was growing up, the favorite saying was "wait five minutes and the weather will change." It was a reference to how hard forecasting the weather in Colorado Springs can be and how volatile the weather is. Well, today was definitely a "wait five minutes" kinda ride. We went to bed with the idea to go big and get another solid day in on (for me) some new, fun trails. Woke up to grey, overcast and a smattering of rain and those plans changes. We opted to still have a big day up in the mountains, but to not stray quite so far a Field. With the clouds and the off and on rain, getting miles from Gold Camp and a quick bail to home didn't seem all that smart. Meeting up with Cam in the Stratton parking lot and we all decided on the back-up plan. Still fun, but not as big a day.
Then came the weather changes. When we pedaled up the Chutes, it was grey, cool and windy. But at the top of the Chutes, the sun had chased the clouds away, revealing crisp blue skies. It was still chilly, but the sun was awesomely warm. Nick and I both took off our vests and I took off my arm warmers for the trek up Gold Camp. We went in and out of clouds as we rode - I'm sure the boys were riding pretty easy - I was really tired and wasn't feeling spunky at all. Up over St Mary's Tunnel and while we still had sun, the snow level was pretty low. If we went as high as we were still planning, we might hit some snow. That got the boys talking. We did a little side trail off Gold Camp, then our plans got changed for us.
The wind picked up, gusting freezing air through the trees. As we got back on Gold Camp, the air filled with sleet, visibility limited by the thick clouds and snow. Yeah - not riding any higher with that blowing in! Backtracking in howling wind and snow to Blue Columbine, we all bundled up. Hat, warm gloves, Gore jacket, the works. I was perfectly comfortable on the St Mary's drop, nice and warm with all my layers. At the top of the tunnel, the boys decided to head back up and drop a trail I didn't feel like riding on my HT. So off they went and I dropped down to Buckhorn. Still sleeting, still gusting wind and cold. I thought about taking a few layers off for the climb up Buckhorn, but decided not to. Clouds still filled the air.
Well, halfway up Buckhorn, then sun came out again and I was roasting. It was back to summertime riding and I was dressed for winter. Made it to the top still under full sun and decided to take my jacket off and put my vest back on. I knew I was going down for a while, but I was so warm with the Gore jacket. And the sun was still out and it was warm again. I had a comfortable and relaxed run down Jacks - not chasing Nick I was able to ride at my own pace. I stopped a few times to look at the clouds - to the north and west, dark and ominous clouds blanketed the mountains while to the east and south blue sky reined. I wish I'd had the camera with me - iPhone photos just don't do justice to the intricacies of the sky under those conditions. Just as I finished up Jacks, the clouds descended lower and snow started gusting in with the wind. I made quick work of Chutes and bolted home through Stratton. Home, safe and sound and all bundled up with some hot tea! I know the boys had plenty of warm clothes and judging by the grey wall across the mountains, they might need all of them!