Making the most of Fall

We've taken the shuttle to the top of Monarch Pass twice this year. Once for a ride of the last 50 miles of Vapor - the entire Crest trail with the addition of Starvation and Poncha Creek Rd. A worthy use of the ride to the summit. This time, the goal was the two creeks we hadn't ridden yet - Fooses and Greens. After last year's end of season exploring, we knew that we could make a good loop of it and get both descents on one shuttle ride.

Early morning shuttle ride meant I was able to catch the sunrise over S-Mountain while getting coffee
Surprisingly, the only shuttle time Nick was told when he was making plans was 8:00am. Mid 40s down in Salida meant low 30s on top of the pass - burr! I was not overdressed in my wool puffy and wind jacket. At the top, I even had overgloves and headband on - it was that chilly. We were ready for the cold, so when our bikes were unloaded, we were ready to ride. The three of us - Nick, Shad and myself, were the first riders heading down the Crest. I was hoping it would last - while I wasn't moving as slowly as my last trip down the Crest, I was feeling the effects of a lingering and nasty cold. Sluggish is a good word to describe how I was feeling! Which was okay, because the goal of the ride was to be smooth and enjoy the descents - not race the climbs and traverses.

Shad getting the Go-Pro ready for the descent down Fooses
A short break at the top of Fooses and then we dropped in. Fooses was a little damp from frost and the guys took it a little easier at the start. Easy for them - I was still focused and concentrating! Even feeling sick, I was much more comfortable this time down Fooses. Following Shad, I was able to see a few different lines and approaches then what Nick would take. It was nice to be able to follow a new wheel and then have to pick my own lines. Having a completely empty trail was also nice! Fooses is a fun and chunky descent - rooty and wet in places. I really didn't remember anything from the one other time we'd ridden it, so being able to clean the entire trail was a treat. Just as my arms were getting tired from the brakes and throwing my bike around, we popped out at the trail head.
Nick at the top of Fooses - "I can't feel my hands... It's riding time, not chatting time."

Time for the climb back up to the pass! North Fooses - aka the power line climb to the red gate after that first section of singletrack on the Crest. It starts out easy enough - a gentle double track rolling along the creek. But then there's nearly a 180* turn and the road tips straight up. I didn't even bother trying to ride. Just picked up my bike and started hiking. Soon enough, we were back at the gate. Dejavu - and time to tackle the rolling traverse of the Crest again. Legs feeling a little bit more sluggish this time - I just told the guys to ride. I didn't want the pressure of having to think I needed to keep up. It was just about 10:30 and there were a surprisingly large number of people on the trail. (We would find out later that there had be a 10:00 shuttle due to demand.) There were also a lot of people just sitting around on the side of the trail!

If Fooses is chunky, Greens is straight up rowdy. It's one of the more challenging descents coming off the Crest. Unlike Fooses, where it's a near vertical drop in high above the trees, on Greens it's into the trees right away. Rocky in spots, flowing in others, and plenty of roots to balance out the challenges.  Last year, I was on the limit trying to follow Nick down Greens at half speed. This year, it was the second big descent of the day and I was having fun and holding my own. Granted, Nick and Shad were still stopping and waiting for me in places, but I wasn't overwhelmed by the trail. It's a nice feeling - being able to ride something for only the second time and seeing all the improvement in skills, processing and line choice. I was thrilled with being out there and riding my bike, not scared of what was coming up around the next corner

 And that was only day two of our South Park Circle tour ...


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