James Peak Adventurita

Over the years, I’ve developed a bit of reputation as someone who can’t be counted on for a ‘normal’ bike ride.

The first time I realized this was after planning a ride with a good friend sometime mid-college. We’d met at my house in Boulder and rolled up the street when he said, ‘Oh yeah, Peter wanted to ride too. I invited him along.’ We rolled up to Peter’s house and waited in the driveway until his front door opened. Peter took one look at me and walked back inside.

We stood there dumbfounded until he reappeared with three more bars and a gel in his hand. ‘You didn’t tell me she was coming.’

True to form, I got us lost in some snowdrifts high in the mountains and those extra bars came in useful.

Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate the friends who understand my particular brand of crazy, yet still come out and play in the mountains with me, because I’m fully aware that there are many people who come on one of my ‘I just want to check this trail out’ rides, and then never ride with me again.

Earlier this summer, I’d come up with an adventurita that involved climbing James Peak from Winter Park, Colorado, via bike and foot. Winter Park has an impressive downhill riding scene and a wide variety of XC bike trails, but Wilderness areas and the James Peak Protection Area limits the high alpine riding in the area. Plus, there was still snow up high.

I wasn’t to be deterred, and I roped both Scott and an old friend, Bama, into the adventure. Bama, never exceptionally fit but always determined, has partaken in many of my death marches over the years. Two hours ride time up, a two hour hike, and then we’ll ride trails back down, I promised. I would like to think they both knew better.

After a not-so-alpine start of 11 a.m., we rolled up newly built trails through the Idyllwild trail complex to Rollins Pass road, the old railroad grade that connects the front range of Colorado to the Grand Valley. The plan was to ride to near the top of the pass, past where the road was closed to cars, and take Rogers Pass Trail until the start of the James Peak Protection area where we would ditch the bikes and scamper up the peak.

Photo courtesy of Scott Morris…

It was a great plan until we hit snow far sooner than expected. Swapping riding shoes for running shoes and helmets for hats, we resigned ourselves to an extra two-mile approach on foot.

At treeline the snow (mostly) disappeared and we practiced riding air-wheelies, wishing we had our bikes.

Three hours into our supposedly two-hour hike, we reached the top of the prominent peak on the Winter Park skyline. I was the only one with a watch, but I suspected that the boys were onto the fact that I had, once again, grossly underestimated the total time this was going to take.

And we still had to get home.

Photo courtesy of Scott Morris…

Luckily, downhill is easier than up, even on foot, and we were able to skate down many of the snowfields that stood in our way. Still, by the time we got back to the bikes tucked away into the trees, most of our food was gone and we were pushing seven hours of what I claimed was going to be a sub-six hour day.

Bama looked wrecked. Scott looked hungry. Whoops?

Photo courtesy of Scott Morris…

We got on the bikes, coasting quickly down the railroad grade until we hit trail. Immediately, fatigue was forgotten. Hangries disappeared. We rode trails without a stop for the 1,500 vertical feet back down to Winter Park and back home. It was definitely the part of the day that pegged the fun meter the highest.

I have no pictures. None of the best descents have pictures of them.

When I posted a picture from the day on The FaceBook that night, Bama left a comment, ‘That was awesome, but never again!’

The next morning, I woke up to an additional comment on the photo. ‘I changed my mind. More, please!’

It’s not everyday that you find people who you can count on to go on silly, bike-based adventures, so when you do, be sure to be completely honest with them about your adventure plans so that they can learn to trust you.

Or, just be 100% inconstant and underestimate everything, and if they still come along, you know they can be counted on for any silly day in the mountains. These are definitely the best kinds of people to have around.

This post filed under topics: Eszter Horanyi Explore Mountain Biking Sponsored Riders

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Eszter Horanyi

Eszter Horanyi

When Eszter Horani was in second grade, living in Tucson, Ariz., her dad bought the entire family Schwinn mountain bikes; she’s been riding ever since, dabbling in racing disciplines from road, to cross, to track and mountain biking. Most recently she’s loving adventurous long rides, bikepacking and exploring the world from two wheels. zenondirt.wordpress.com

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