Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Rain, Sun, Fire!!

Looking up the valley towards Mt. Crested Butte from the 401.

Craig and I arrived at our campsite up Cement Creek Rd. outside of Crested Butte late Thursday night. Our friend Peter from Durango and his buddy Jon were already asleep when we got there. We hit the sack after we set up our tent, happy to be away from Boulder and in Crested Butte. Friday morning we planned to ride the always fun and fabulous 401 trail with Peter and Jon before our show set up time for the Crested Butte Arts Festival. We had plenty of time and started out from Gothic early that morning. As we climbed Schoffold Pass Rd the clouds began to grow but we hammered on and jumped on the 401 single track from the pass. When we got to the top which is close to tree line it was obvious that we were in for some weather, it was just a matter of time. So we padded up and headed out on the ripping DH, hoping somewhat unrealistically to stay ahead of the imminent weather. There was another couple at the top as well, a man and women from Massachusetts on vacation for their wedding anniversary, they had eloped to Crested Butte a few years earlier. Their names were Susan and Uey (He is German and forgive me but I can't pronounce or spell his name, so I made a nickname up for him, Uey, which sounds like the first part of his real name.) We would come to see and know this couple over the course of the next few days.
A few minutes into the DH the rain started and it came down hard. The trail turned to slick as shit greasiness and traction wasn't something anyone was getting. The switchbacks were especially fun as the rain made this trail a completely different riding experience.

A quick stop to take stock and wait for Jon..Peter feeling the 401 vibe.

At one point on the descent the rain turned to hail and it got cold fast, I mean really cold. Lighting was hitting off around us and we bombed the trail to the nearest clump of fir trees. We were all very wet at this point, gore-tex helped but only so much. We decided to take cover, I was turning a bit hypothermic pretty quick. I didn't have a spare set of gloves or a spare long sleeve jersey, my mistake, I only brought my arm warmers and gore-tex jacket, even my space blanket that I normally carry wasn't in my Dakine. But I did have my pads thank goodness which helped with warmth a lot. As we huddled under the tree I began to shake pretty good, Peter ended up sitting in my lap with his arms around me keeping me warm and Jon kindly gave me his long sleeve wool jersey and Craig gave me his dry back up gloves, they were all cold too. I luckily thought to bring a second set of socks which I put on. As we waited for the rain to let up Susan and Uey showed up and took cover as well, this was epic for them. It's funny when you become cold, really cold, how other things don't register mentally with you, your brain functions begin to slow and your body uses all of it's energy finding a way to keep itself warm. I knew that as soon as I could I needed to drop some elevation and start climbing again to generate some heat.

Craig, once we dropped down and the rain had stopped, the sun was trying to make an appearance as well. He was totally soaked.

Craig and I. I'm feeling much better at this point, quick turn around. The sun had come out a bit, I was much warmer from the additional layers and it had stopped raining for the moment.

As we descended through the aspens and cabbage the sun started to try to break through a bit, it warmed our bodies and our spirits. The rain had transformed the dirt into a slick, greasy trail. I thought it was very fun trying to keep the bike from sliding all over the place, technical skills you don't have to work on much in Colorado. We waited at the first bail out spot for Jon, Peter and Susan and Uey. Peter, Susan and Uey decided to bail at this point and Craig, Jon and I finished the ride, it had started to rain again as well, no biggie. I felt great at this point, just very soggy but warm. It was an awesome, epic ride, loved it but will not come under prepared again!

Warm and Blissed out after the ride.

Craig's muddy mug after the ride.

Looks like someone threw him and his bike in the pond.

Craig said to make a funny face but this is all I could come up with..strange because I was very stoked at this point!

Luckily Jon had brought a small power wash with him, one of those things you use to spray pesticide or whatever with, you can pick one up at the hardware store for $20.00, you pump it up for pressure. Worked great, bikes were happy for that.

After the ride we headed to CB to set up our booths, Peter is a potter and was in the show as well. The sun came out full force once in town and never went away for the rest of the weekend. So we got lucky that morning on the 401, Hah! The show went well, sales down from last year, but well enough. CB is an awesome place to hang out as usual and we had our Secret Stash come Sunday night. There are so many Texan's and Oklahoman's in Crested Butte, they are generous patrons that is certain.
Monday morning Craig and I headed over to the Taylor River and rode Doctor's Park. We ran into Susan and Uey again as we began our climb up the dirt road and we rode most of the ride with them. They are such a nice couple, had a great attitude, love Colorado and they rode a lot of hard shit for folks from sea level. We parted ways for the 6 mile DH back to the river. No camera this day, forgot it in the truck. Though I wished that I would have had it for the views up top at Doctor's Park are amazing and wide open and we also rode directly through a prescribed burn on the lower half of the trail. Literally zooming past burning trees, the heat was intense. I don't think the fire fighters expected us by the looks on their faces but we were gone in seconds, Susan and Uey though had to dismount and wait 15 minutes before they could make it through so we got lucky. It was so surreal, it's not every day you ride through fire and flames. Apparently they were clearing habitat for the mountain goats.
It was a good weekend, good to be away in Crested Butte, doing our thing, putting my artwork out there and having a positive respoonse to it, riding our bikes, camping, hanging out with friends, meeting new friends, laughing and ultimately getting a head cold, yuck!


Susan Preiss said...

Great meeting and riding with you! Re-entry to MA (the work thing, the lack of vistas, and inability to go uphill for more than 15 minutes) has been brutal. Looking forward to our next trip to your fair state.


-- and I'm missing my bike - she's just in Nebraska and isn't expected to get home until Friday.

Carey said...

ah, good to hear from you Susan.
It was great meeting you and your husband in CB as well. Glad to hear you made it home safely. Being in CB is always so much fun and leaving even when you're just going a few hours away is always sad and you can't wait to get back..I hope you're bike arrives home soon so you can get out and enjoy the rest of the summer! We're going to Salida this weekend.

Susan said...

are you riding Monarch Crest? you are, aren't you... I am so jealous! that is such a great ride! I guess I'll be living vicariously through the riding of others.

*sigh* must go walk the pup before it gets hotter and even more unbearable. cheers.

Carey said...

Yeah, we're planning on doing Monarch Crest..I'll post a write up here.

Uey-Wan Kenobi said...

Hey oxygen deprived bikers! Love your writeup of our double meets. Can't believe it actually happened but hey, that's life! Working on an album with photos from the rides that I'll send you the link to once its online.

Hit a wall of high humidity here besides everything Susan already said. Bummer. Need .. to .. plan .. next .. trip .. to .. CO.

Carey said...

Hey, so can I refer to you as Uey until I actually learn to pronounce your name correctly? I know it's lame, but I've got pronunciation issues.
Would love to see your images of your epic CO trip, please send link when you can.
Bummer on the humidity, I hope fall weather finds you soon, you do have the best autumns in the NE. Be well!

Uey Dewey Louie said...

Sure! Maybe it'll stick ...