Happy at Hartmans

With the Growler fast approaching, it was finally time for a road trip to Gunnison for some fun in Hartman Rocks. I had a shorter day at work and Nick was able to leave early so we were on the road 2:30 Friday - heading southwest. Our first stop was actually just outside Canon City to explore the Section 13 trails. Nick was riding and I was running, and the trail system was perfect for a little escape. There's not much there yet, a long lollipop with a crisscross in the center of the loop. I ran the lollipop as a figure eight, managing to run up the steeper side on each little loop! It was a fun run with some nice rock features, a great view of the city and Pikes Peak. I think it's better for running or a less experienced rider though - Nick said it took him about 35 minutes to ride the entire trail system. But there is potential in the hills and the BLM knows it. We had a ranger stop by as we were getting organized to ride to ask if we liked the trails! Then it was back in the van for the rest of the drive over the pass to Gunnison.
Nick powering up one of the steep hills at Section 13 in Canon City

Saturday morning was chilly but clear. I warmed up breakfast as the sun peeked over the rock formations of Hartman Rocks. We took our time getting ready to ride, allowing the warmth to permeate the sage. It was time to pre ride what we could of the Growler, check out the counter clockwise course. Armed with the map, food and plenty of fluids, we dropped the Notch into the base area. Can't skip Kill Hill, even on the pre-ride! Nick took off up the hill on his single speed and I plodded my way to the top, already wishing for a 30. There is a lot of road on the first lap going this direction, hopefully enough to spread out the field. I've only ever ridden south on Luge and discovered exactly why it feels like a long climb during 24 Hours in the Sage. It's a fun and fast downhill riding north! Then some more road before hitting the start of the real course on Top of the World. And it's aptly named riding this way - I felt like I was climbing up to the top of the world. A few rock obstacles right in the start of the trail that I think might cause some issues during the race, but otherwise it's just a fun trail. I love the descent on the backside, rocky and flowing. A few more road sections, then the bulk of the single track fun.

It's easy to feel tiny in a setting this expansive. Alone, just me, my bike, the sage and the mountains

And then come the rocks - lots of them. Some easy, some not so easy
Gateway, Josie's, Buddy Bear, Dave Mos and Enchanted Forest. All fun with more then a few challenging sections. Nick and I practiced a few lines in the big rocks. One section I didn't get, but I could see the line. Just not enough umph to get up and over. Oh well - something to keep working on. That stretch of trails is just fun riding. Lots of rocky section and plenty of climbing this direction. Long steady grinder climbs that were fun descents the other direction. It's almost nicer having the long climbs instead of the super steep punchy climbs. There's better flow on many of the trails counter clockwise. We didn't get to ride anything south of the power line road due to closures for the sage grouse, so there will be some surprises come Growler weekend. The Skull Pass climb and Back In are both going interesting. We finished out the rest of the lap with Skyline, a ripping descent down Josho's and the big rocks of Rattlesnake. Nick gave me some line pointers on Josho's, despite me balking about taking the rock face. After Rattlesnake, it was back onto Becks and the Notch. I've ridden those two trails I don't know how many times from 24 Hours in the Sage and they never disappoint. Our plan at that point was to ride the start of the second lap - Tailpipe and the Ridge. But Nick was having some issues with his chain - he'd just single speeded the bike and it was slipping. So he went back to the van to fix the problem and I headed back out in the Sage. It was good for me to finish the ride alone - I get a little complacent sometimes just following Nick's lines.

One of the long steady climbs on the counter clockwise route

The tight switchbacks climbing up Gateway

Sunday was more of the same. A shorter ride with fewer stops to practice the technical sections. I was  working on staying focused on the long climbs and not soft pedaling. It's an issue I have - I'm super focused on technical and during workouts, but can get distracted in the easier trails and when climbing. And that's one reason I lose time in the longer races. It was actually a really good day on the bike - my legs were heavy from the week's workouts - more then I would have on the second lap of the Growler. And I was still able to get the power and body English to muscle the bike up and over the rocks. Hopefully I'll remember everything come the end of May! Otherwise - ride my bike, eyes where I want to go and keep it smooth. I'm looking forward to a fun but long day on the bike at the Growler. My bike is awesome and I've gotten the training in. And I love riding at Hartman's Rocks.

Finally making the tight left into the notch consistently after how many attempts?

Eyes on the trail, focusing on the next obstacle in the Notch

Nick playing on rocks, taking the A line


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