ADVENTURE BY BIKE®
Adventure is not in the guidebook and Beauty is not on the map. –Terry & Renny Russell
Last weekend I found myself with two unexpected days free of obligation. No deadlines to meet. No social engagements. No one to which I had to be accountable. Two days can be a short or long amount of time depending upon how one looks at it and what they want to accomplish. Forty-eight hours was the perfect timeframe for a bikepacking adventure…to get myself lost and explore some new trails. Wahoo!
My steed of choice for this adventure was going to be my Fargo Ti. Over the winter I had outfitted it with a suspension fork—what better way to test this “do it all” frame than by putting it through its suspension-corrected paces on some high mountain singletrack. Two days of food and the usual camping equipment found its way on the bike. After an additional bottle holder was hose clamped onto the fork, I was ready to roll. Now where did I put that map?
The Fargo ready for some high alpine bikepacking...
Some friends were heading up to a climb a peak in the area that I wanted to explore, so I caught a ride with them to the trailhead. My plan was to ride back to home linking together some of the area’s classic high alpine trails. Once totaled my mileage for the two days would be around 80 miles with 90% of it being singletrack.
My ride began with a steady climb up from Coal Bank Pass (10,680’) to the Engineer Mountain Trail. High pressure dominated the atmosphere as there was hardly a cloud to be seen and the mountain wild flowers were basking in the abundant sunshine.
The Colorado state flower - Columbine...
Within an hour or two I crested the 12,000’ mark and intersected the Colorado Trail (CT). The CT is an old friend, having ridden it in its entirety in 2009 (http://www.coloradotrail.org). My journey from Denver to Durango was my first big taste of off-road touring and opened my eyes to the world of mountain bikepacking. Many lessons were learned along those 535 miles from bike setup, to the essential camping equipment needed, to how to carry it on the bike. Oh, how far I have come!
It was still early June, which is typically a little early to be riding the trails of the Colorado high country, but given our minimal snow this year, combined with the spring’s above average temperatures and below average moisture, and the CT was in prime riding condition. Nonetheless, as I approached my first major pass of the day I hiked through my first snowfield of the journey.
Just a little bit of snow...
Descending from Rolling Mountain Pass (12,490’) was pure fun. The suspension fork made the Fargo playful as it soaked up terrain on the descent to the Cascade Creek drainage. The Fargo is quickly becoming the most versatile bike in my arsenal. Outfitted with a rigid fork, the bike easily provides a stable platform for touring on pavement and gravel roads with occasional excursions onto singletrack. With the addition of a suspension front fork and some fit changes, the bike becomes an off-road machine, making it easy to hold lines through technical singletrack, as well as comfortable for a long day of rugged riding.
Taking a break along Cascade Creek...
After a quiet night under the stars, I began my morning with a beautiful sunrise on a ridge high above the famed Hermosa Creek Drainage. The Hermosa Creek trail is considered by many to be one of Colorado’s top rides. My goal for the day was to descend to the drainage on a little, obscure, no-name of a trail, followed by a climb back up to the ridge on another trail I had never ridden before. Once back on the ridge I would travel a few more miles on the CT until descending back to Hermosa Creek on the Corral Draw trail.
Corral Draw looking into Hermosa Creek...nearly 2000' of downhill fun to come...
Both the descents and the climb were sweet with the Fargo performing like it was meant to: a singletrack machine. I ended my day riding the flowy singletrack of Hermosa Creek to the final couple miles of pavement to my house. As I reached down to lock out the front fork for those final miles, a smile came over my face. I had maximized those two days of freedom and gotten out to find adventure and beauty alluded to by my map and guidebook...a fine weekend indeed.
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I grew up in a military family where we moved 13 times before I left for college. Consequently, I have the continual urge to explore and travel having climbed, kayaked, and biked all over our amazing planet. My passion for the outdoors drives me to seek out adventures which often times combine multiple modes of travel or activities (i.e. biking to a wilderness area and then backpacking in to climb a high peak). "Keeping life simple" is a guiding motto of my life and for me, bike travel epitomizes simplicity.