Smiles, Ice and Stars

Every so often, even when most trails are a mess, you have to escape and get out side. I suffered through a good but data-less workout inside on Tuesday because of the ice and slush on the roads. Yesterday, with springlike temperatures, the last thing I wanted was to spend another hour inside. But where to go? Stratton was a mess, Palmer Park and Red Rocks even worse. Nick was waiting on Todd to ride - they were going to head up the canyon and down Columbine. That trail had the best likelyhood of being clear - mostly south facing and exposed. As much as I didn't want to ride up the canyon on my mountain bike, the rest of the ride sounded like fun. So I tagged along, knowing I had to keep it easy on the climb.

We left in the light of the setting sun, heading into the coolness of the canyon. I had my Exposure lights mounted and all my warm clothes in my pack. I followed Nick and Todd to the mouth of the canyon and watched them ride away. I had no desire to even try to ride their pace. They quickly vanished around the corners, leaving me alone in the growing darkness. It was deserted in the canyon, only a few cars coming down. As the darkness descended, the shadows growing deeper, I switched on my lights. The frost glittered on the blacktop - tiny stars revealing how cold it really was. I could hear the creek bubbling under the layers of snow and ice. All so quiet, still and peaceful. I climbed higher, the cold intensifying with each pedal stroke. I was maintaining a steady tempo so didn't feel the cold. I could see the frozen puffs of my breath with each exhale. Near the top, I saw a fox walking down the middle of the road. The fox was puffed up, its fur fluffed out for insulation. Frost specks sparkled on its pelt, revealing just how cold it was.

But then I reached the top where Nick and Todd were waiting. We bundled up in anticipation of the fun awaiting. There were some spots of slush and ice on the dirt road. Nothing sketchy - but point and shoot fun. We were headed for the middle drop into Columbine. A patch of snow marked the entrance - I was forced to unclip in the snow. Then the drop - down the one rock, then into the single track. Nick's premonition was accurate. Other then a few patches of snow and ice, the trail was in great shape. Best I have seen in years. The gravel scree was tight and fast - the normally loose switchbacks tacky and easy. I made all of them this time under the cover of my lights. I wasn't keeping up with the guys, but I was holding my own. It was the perfect ride. We were all grins and giggles when we reached the end of the trail. Perfect single track therapy with friends! Hopefully enough to get through the next storm that supposed to move in this weekend...

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