Oil Well Flats

Canyon City really has something neat just north of town - Oil Well Flats. We first rode there last year, after the Growler and the trail system has been expanding thanks to the tireless work of the BLM and the local cycling community. On the last Saturday in April, Nick and I went down there with Shad, Stephanie and Sharley to ride (or run) as much as we could get away with. Nick and I were also hoping to be able to camp down there and ride some more on Sunday, or even dart over to Lake Pueblo on Sunday. But that would be weather dependent...

Steph and Sharley took the maniac otherwise known as Ned the dog and headed off for a run. I was left with Nick and Shad and the prospect of a few hours of very hard riding. And they did not disappoint. I was working hard from the start of the ride, as we headed up the Fire Canyon climb. There were plenty of other riders out and we were constantly keeping an eye up canyon for descending riders. It took me a bit to warm up and get settled at the pace the boys were riding and then I was fine. Not quite keeping them in sight during the descents, but feeling much smoother on the chunky rocks of Island in the Sky. A quick regrouping and they were off again. As we climbed up the double track between Fire Canyon and Unconformity, I was feeling better. We hit the singletrack and while I wasn't on their wheels, I was holding my own. And having fun. It's one thing to just ride the trails - it's a completely different thing to have the guys up ahead and knowing I can fly without worrying.

As we started the descent down Anticline, I was a little worried. The last time we'd ridden at Oil Well Flats, I'd had some issues with one of the A-lines built into that trail. We were riding much faster then that last ride and I was pushing myself to keep up with the guys. Would I balk at the A-lines again or would I just ride right down them without a second thought? Well, there was a second thought - but not long enough to keep me from committing. And as I rolled down the rock face, I had to laugh at myself. What had I been so scared of last time? There was nothing to it! Just a kinda steep rock with a little bit of a blind entrance...

I was starting to jump the little rocks at this point and try to launch the larger ones. I did whack my rear wheel pretty hard one time, but the guys did the exact same thing at the exact same spot, so I wasn't worried. Bikes are meant to be ridden. And that was the biggest difference I noticed between this ride and the last ride down at Oil Well. Instead of just pedaling the bike and steering at times, I was riding the bike. Leaning into corners, moving my entire body with the bike, floating through the rock gardens and over the rocks. It's something I've been working on for the past few years and I finally felt like I had achieved unity with my bike during that ride.

And then it was over. tongue dragging on the ground, completely exhausted yet thoroughly exhilarated with the ride. With clouds moving in and heavy rain forecasted, we hung out for while then bolted for home. Both Oil Well and Lake Pueblo turn to cement clay when its wet and it wasn't worth the risk of getting rained out.

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