New Trail Day

I love my circle of friends. Most of them are always up for an adventure and willing to try anything I suggest at least once. So when I had the great idea of riding up Crank Case Alley, then a short little jaunt on Pipeline and then up 720 and back down on Jones, I knew just who to ask. The route, inspired by my long run last week and the boy's Solstice Death March ride in June, seemed kinda crazy on paper, but had been just fine on two feet. I knew there would be hike-a-bike, both up Crank Case and then again on 720. I didn't know how bad it would be on 720, but it really hadn't seemed that ugly on my run.

So at 7:30, Amber, Emily and I gathered our gear - our race gloves and our hike-a-bike shoes - and headed up into the canyon. We had a lot of climbing to do just to get to Crank Case and it was supposed to be a rather warm day. Thanks to the dry weather and hot temperatures, the decomposed granite that makes the canyon awesome in the winter was quickly building into deep piles of scree. It would be an interesting day! The pedal up Gold Camp to Buckhorn was pretty quiet. I think all three of us just wanted to get off the road and safe from cars. It's always an interesting ride up Gold Camp and this time was no different.... The Buckhorn lot was already in three row mode when we pedaled through at 8:30 - it was going to be a busy day!

We actually didn't see anyone until we dropped down to Bear Creek. Several large groups of hikers had gotten just as early a start as we did - the first group was at the bridge, taking photos of all the butterflies. They gave us a strange look as we headed UP - not turning down 666 like most riders would do at that point. The second group had made the loop from Seven Bridges, and after hiking up Seven Bridges, across the short chunk of pipeline and then down Crank Case, they wanted to know if it was something a "strong beginner" could ride. Most likely not the best of ideas, but have fun!

Once we got a little further west, the trails were empty. It was just the three of us, the birds, butterflies and trees. So quiet, so peaceful. We were high enough up that the temperature was comfortable, even while pushing our bikes! Yes, 720 was much easier on two feet without dragging the bikes along for the hike. We did some riding, some hiking, and burnt plenty of matches trying to ride more. But it was still fun - and I think I found a great place to do some training for Poncha Creek Road...
Emily and Amber, plotting how to enact revenge for my brilliant idea
 Once we got to the junction of Jones, it was time for a snack and then pointing the tires downhill. Yes, we did actually get to ride downhill for a little bit! The descent into Jones Park is always worth any crazy ideas I might have...

Yay! Downhill!

One of my favorite sections of Jones - Amber sweeping through the aspens.
Emily's turn!
 
While the loop might have seemed better running, I still think it was a fun time riding. Sure, we didn't get as much of Jones as we would have with the gravel grind up Gold Camp and Old Stage, but we had no cars to deal with and just a few hikers in the beginning and end of the ride. We got to link some trails together and generally just be out in the woods! And while there may have been some grumbling as we were hiking with our bikes, we were all smiles when we were riding.

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