Sunny Salida

Nick had last Friday off, so instead of battling the cars and crowds of the road ride and COS singletrack, we opted for a trip to Salida. I had to work, but had worked my schedule to be off by noon. Nick had everything ready to go, so when I got home, it was off. Salida bound for some fun! I just needed to run so Nick had a ride to himself on Friday and headed up Bear Creek Road. He found a new (old?) trail and decided to explore a little since Rainbow was still snowed in. Me? I just did an out and back easy run. Can't get lost doing that :) After Nick for back, it was time for dinner - Boathouse Cantina as usual. The food is awesome and they donate money back to Salida Mountain Trails. Even better, since that's a really great place to ride with lots of variety of trails. We did do some exploring this time - driving around and learning the lay of the city. Going to be important later this year...
One of the reasons we usually eat at the Boathouse Cantina - that and the food is really yummy!

Saturday was riding and riding only. I was skipping the group road ride, so needed to do some kind of workout. Ute trail seemed like a good place to put some effort in, so that's where we went. I was secretly hoping that the upper entrance to Cottonwood would be clear so I could show Nick that fun trail. Well, we pedaled up Chaffee County 175 up and up and up - meeting cold, snow and plenty of wind as the clouds moved closer to the city. After the workout, we did a little exploring and finally found ourselves on 181. Only to be greeted with mud and snow. Lots of mud and snow. Since I wasn't sure I could find the trail, we opted to turn around and just ride the raise down to North Backbone. A trail I've only risen once and back then it seemed so hard - so challenging. Well, this time I had fun. I powered over the rocks and ride the descents with a grin. North Backbone is a great warmup for Arkansas Mountain Trails - a little of everything. I didn't make the tight switchbacks - still a little tired from the workout and having the manual the Stumpy around was a little much for me. Oh well. I knew where Nick was headed when we turned left and up after finishing North Backbone. Unkle Nazty... Last time I rode it I was almost in tears walking down the rocks. This time? I was actually looking forward to testing myself again against the challenging rocks and technical lines of Unkle Nazty. I walked two places, had Nick spot me on a third and generally had an awesome time on my bike. All of S-Mountain was fun and despite my fatigue from the week, I was grinning from ear to ear. Wow. I could actually ride some of that now! After the ride, we had a small meal at PloughBoy (everything labeled for Nick's convinence! Safe and yummy.) and tasted some ciders next door. Then back to the campground for an early bed. Clouds were covering the mountains to the west, snow spitting just a little and we hoped we'd be able to ride again Sunday. 
Chilly Saturday as the clouds were moving in. We tried the upper entrance of Cottonwood - too much mud and snow!

Fresh snow on the mountains on Sunday - but the trails were still dry!
There was fresh snow to the west when we woke up, coating the mountains in brilliant white. The sun was shining bright, hinting at warm temperatures to come. Nick actually regretted not bringing our winter clothes - we could have ridden in the morning, then hit the slopes in the afternoon! But just a ride was in order - fun trails, some climbing and having fun. We started out North Backbone again - I had something to prove on those switchbacks! With plenty of body English and a little lecture to myself, I rode it all. Pretty minor, but I was  really proud of myself. Then came time to explore. Instead of Unkle Nazty, we took Sanddune down. Yay! More fun to me then Unkle Nazty, but with one spot that snuck up on us. Nick examined the lines and showed me where to go, but we both opted to fight another day. Sanddune was a great trail - I wouldn't have said that two years ago, but now? I could ride laps of that trail and not get bored. With another hour left to ride, we decided on an out an back up Cottonwood Gluch. We hadn't gotten in from the top, so coming in from the bottom would have to do.

Nick on one of the tricky little rock gardens on the Cottonwood Climb

It was steeper then it looked from where I was sitting!
A nice steady climb with some rock gardens, a few patches of mud and a little snow. But nothing that we couldn't get through. We made it past the Kiln, to the tree and up past the waterfall. Nick stopped at each obstacle, getting more excited each time. Some of it wasn't something he wanted to ride with just me around - we were a ways out if something went wrong. But I could sense that a boys trip down Cottonwood was already in his mind. With no one else around, we got to fly down Cottonwood. Fast, flowing and really fun singletrack. We took a left where we normally went straight and were treated to a trail we hadn't ridden before. Undulating, quick turns and rolling fun awaited us. And that trail wasn't even on the map yet! There are still trails we haven't ridden - something for the next trip!
All smiles on the Cottonwood Climb, but looking forward to the descent back into Salida!

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