Summer Solstice Fun

There's having plans that aren't negotiable and then there's going with the flow. Knowing when to pick which option is the important part. Three rides in Salida when the high trails aren't quite clear yet or two rides in Salida and then one in COS with friends? That was an easy choice! We still got some good riding in and got to go to Cam and Amber's summer solstice ride and part.

Friday was the CT from Blanks Cabin to Raspberry Gulch. Last time I rode that was September, at night. Things look very different during the day... We weren't sure how busy the camping up the road would be, so took one of the earlier spots that looked pretty quiet. It meant a five mile road climb up to the CT, but since that's part of the day come September - I wasn't going to complain. And wow - no wonder that road climb was so long! It's hard to see the steepness in the dark, but in the brilliant sun of the last days of spring, the elevation changes are clear. And then there was the Colorado Trail. Riding that in the day made it clear why it's so hard at night. There's a lot of steep pitches, babyhead rocks and tight corners. It's not really a trail to conserve lights on if you want to ride fast. I've only done it a few times - this was my third - and I still get turned around as to which obstacle is coming up next. I didn't even realize we were on the steep hike-a-bike right in the beginning until almost to the top! I almost made it all the way up, and Nick got even further. Surprising, but only because I haven't looked at a topo map much - it was actually harder coming back. I thought the climbing southbound wasn't going to end! But it's a fun trail and on a Friday afternoon, there was no one else out there.

Saturday found us on Rainbow. I'd wanted something a little longer, but knew Sunday's ride was going to be big. So it was a short and sweet little loop - up the Otto Mears Toll Road to the western terminus of Rainbow. I'm really starting to like Rainbow - it's just a fun trail. Once again, it was just me and Nick - without the entire Crest open, there was no one out riding. We were able to rip the descents and not worry. And when it's just Rainbow, even the steep hills aren't that steep. Now add on the rest of the Crest? Different story! That will come when the Crest is open.

Having some fun on the little hike-a-bike. Getting the carry down...

Then came Sunday - the first day of summer. We met up at Cam's house for a Jone's Downhill run. When I saw the group making the selection on Gold Camp Road, I knew I was in for a hard day. Cam, Flynn, Nick and me... When Nick stopped to make some water (it was already hot out...) I kept going. I knew I would need the time to ride at my own pace before trying to stay on the wheels of the guys. I almost made it up through our little hike-a-bike to St Peter's Dome before the guys caught me. I really hustled the hike-a-bike this time. I cracked a little from the heat on the final climb up past Wye Campground, but was able to hold it together until Frosty's Park and the start of the downhill. I've only done Jones two other times, so I'm not familiar with the trail. It was all I could do to keep Nick in sight - and he was riding at 3/4 speed so I could see him. But I wasn't getting the mental overload I've had the other two times we've ridden Jones and I was going much faster. I did leave an offering of skin to the trail gods at one point, but didn't let it shake me. The only issue with Jones is descending back into town is like dropping into an inferno. It's so nice and cool up at the start of the trail and you descend so quickly. The first day of summer was proving it's worth in heat and we were all out of water by the time we hit the top of the Chutes. Time to head home! I think I drank a gallon of water when we finished that ride!

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