Colorado light; we were already losing it the evening we started riding. Each pedal stroke brought us closer to the darkness, but the feeling was far from it. We had an energetic cadence as each rotation took us farther from the parking lot and closer to the singletrack. “Any expectations?” I asked as we meandered up the gravel road, curving around another river bend. “Just to ride home… or at least as far as we can,” replied Brett.
The idea for the trip emerged in the last year of my graduate program. It would be about 600 miles or so and some logistical challenges but I figured I could ride from Colorado State University in Fort Collins to my home in Durango. The majority of it would be along the Colorado Trail as it runs all the way from Denver to about 8 miles from my house in Durango. I envisioned the feeling of propelling myself towards home as I worked my way up and over passes, across mountain meadows and along rocky ridges through the wild vastness of my home state. Many long weekends of work were spent daydreaming about the elation and freedom of weeks on the trail—uncluttered time without my laptop, without deadlines, tests, or papers. Most frequently, I dreamt of everyday time, the moment to moment kind, where I could reconnect with my partner after a couple of years of residing on opposite ends of the state.
Life had other plans, however, and my feet tapped a different kind of pedal as my bike tires spun aimlessly in the wind, strapped securely to the rack on the back of my Toyota Corolla. I drove home after graduation. An early internship and the acutely painful loss of my mother rerouted our trip for another year. Time moves as time moves though, and once again summer rolled around. It was the weather this time, however, that almost sent us on a detour to Montana where we wouldn’t have to worry about fires or sacrifice our lungs to ride through smoke. Fortuitously, the rain gods delivered just a few days before our scheduled time off from work and our Colorado Trail ride was on!
I knew the destination well, but not the journey, so my only intention was to take in as much as I could. To watch and appreciate the Colorado light in each wave along the day. To feel gratitude for shelter when lightening electrified the road less than a mile away. To stop and stare at layer upon layer of vibrant color streaking through a blackened sky. To have a fancy cocktail at a dive bar along a roadside pitstop. To soak sore muscles in healing hot spring pools. To meet new people and trail angels. To give and receive random acts of kindness. To challenge my fitness with 12-hour days of riding, pushing, and stumbling along an awe-inspiring trail. To watch beavers build, cows graze, marmots scurry, and birds soar. To be experiencing it all, riding along with the one I love. To just be riding. To just be.
As Brett and I finished the gravel beginnings of the Colorado Trail and cruised onto the singletrack with the last of the day’s light slipping away, so were any expectations I was unknowingly harboring. Like Brett, I just wanted to ride home.
To see additional photos from Diana and Brett’s journey home, visit The Lesson Collective
About the Guest Blogger, Diana Davis:
I grew up with a restless energy that could only be extinguished with mass amounts of movement, preferably outdoors. In childhood, my roller-skates turned a concrete suburban grid into a never ending playground. I spent my youth trying new activities and bounced around from gymnastics to karate, soccer to basketball,l until settling on running. As much as I like playing sports and racing, I prefer the freedom of a new destination and an unexplored trail. I used to adventure by foot either hiking or running, now I am fortunate to have discovered adventure by bike.
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