Solo Salida

Sometimes, adventure is found in the most unexpected locations and even workouts become about the experience instead of the numbers. This weekend was a perfect example. My first plan was to get on the Fate and have my power meter going for this weekend. I'd just gotten it back and was super excited to finally be able to quantify my workouts again. Just in time for the next training block. But Friday when I got home from work, the weekend plans we'd made changed. I was home early and there was a decent group of COS riders heading south. So we loaded up the van and headed south to Salida for a weekend of riding. And with that new plan, the Fate stayed home and I opted for the Era. Full squish was calling despite the Saturday workout! I was going to want the fun bike for Sunday. 

Friday was an easy pedal in the lower Methodist Mountain trails. Nothing fancy, just enough to flush the legs from sitting and work. We met up with Blaine at Riverside Park in downtown Salida to plan the next two days. Nick, Blaine and Fred had a big day planned and I was dropping them off at the top of Monarch Pass to start out their fun. Then it was back to town to start my ride. I had originally wanted to ride up Bear Creek Road for my workout, then ride Rainbow Trail west for a bit before dropping back down into town. Nick and I had done that ride once before and I was confident I could handle it. But Nick didn't like the idea of me being that far out on fairly low use trails on my own. I couldn't convince him I'd be okay, so it was time to study the map some more. And plan B had me staying closer to town, doing my workout on Ute Trail, then playing in the Salida Mountain trails afterwards. Not so far out and more likelyhood of people being around. 

Not a bad place for some intervals!
So after dropping the boys off, I had to drive the van back down to Salida. Then it was time to ride. I had a general sense of where I wanted to go - but wasn't sure of the best way to get there. So I followed two guys up Frontside to the top, then peeled off down the road. No more turns, just pedaling. I started my workout near the end of the black top, with the intent to do the interval, ride down to recover for a bit, then start again. And the road was perfect. A nice steady grade with only a few steep segments and very little traffic. It followed a ravine deep into the hills north east of Salida, meandering among rocks and scrubby pines. I saw more big horn sheep and humming birds during that hour then people! Perfect escape for some suffering and I knew I'd have some fun single track at the end.

View from the road - just me, the hummingbirds and the clouds
After the workout was finished, I stopped at a forest road junction to check in and have a snack. I had Nick's spot with me and he wanted me to check in when I was done. So I behaved, took my time and was just getting ready to head back down the road when I saw the two guys I'd followed up Frontside rolling up the road. Huh. Where were they going? But they weren't being social - a wave was all they could manage. So I pedaled down the road, planning to ride North Backbone into the main park and then drop to the car. Well, plans can be fluid - the next switchback down the road, two more guys were pedaling up. And they were willing to talk. There was a trail off the jeep road where I'd stopped to eat - and they said it was super fun. I wasn't sure, but when they invited me to ride with time, I decided to take the chance.

Nice spot for a snack - I wonder where that road goes....
And the reward was worth it. A little more jeep road climb, then a turn onto a faintly marked single track. That trail was super fun - flowed down and across a gulch descending towards town. There were sweeping turns, built in jumps and plenty of options. I rode my own pace - settling in between the two guys. Smooth but with rocks and some techy stuff. Then a steep little climb up another jeep road to get to the next section of trail. And that one was even better. Grin inducing single track with no major consequences. Every time I got to a rock, I could see the A line and the B line. Usually took the B line - didn't want to take a chance that far out. There were two things I didn't ride - one I tried to, but chickened out and one I just didn't even try. No pride worth wiping out or breaking my bike. Then we were back in Salida Mountain Park and I was on my own to get back. I'm not sure which trail I took, but I was laughing the whole time! Big swooping berms, steep little drops, all cut right into the mountain edge. I could see Salida the whole time, downtown just out of reach across the river. 
Fully loaded since I was riding all alone
After the ride, I decided it was a good time for a run. The guys weren't back yet and it was a nice day. So I stashed my bike, changed into running clothes and started exploring on two feet. Found some nice easy trails and got to see downtown up close. It's a nice little downtown, with lots of shops and restaurants. I counted three bikes shops total! Then the reward for the day - soaking in the Arkansas River while I waited for the guys to finish their ride! Perfect way to cool off and recover for then next days shenanigans! Something fun, something big - Monarch Crest...

Another view of the mountains - a little washed out from the mid-day sun

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