I started off the day on the wrong foot…Didn’t hear the alarm at all (and I had set three times on my watch) so I over-slept and got a late start. It was right after 7am when I started from the visitor’s center in Georgetown (8,500ft) and still a bit chilly compared to the morning temps in Denver.
Up the road and by the RR station to the bike path and then the pungent smell of burning brakes.
That didn’t last that long at least and it was on to the Pavillion Point RR trail. The first part of the trail is two-track but then it turns into this wonderful singletrack that meanders along the railroad grade. It gets tricky in spots where the short trussels are gone or the drainage as eroded back to its former morphology.
It connects at the point to a road that traverses the hillside-with a few ups and downs- to the Argentine Pass road. Argentine Pass is also a railroad grade converted to 4x4 road. It continues at a consistent grade all the way to the abandoned Waldorf Mine (11,600ft).
Above the Waldorf, the road gets more difficult to climb. It’s loose and rocky plus the air gets quite thin. I reached the top of Argentine Pass (13,200ft) in just over 3hrs and was greeted by a group of hikers that had come up Argentine from Peru Creek. That was great timing. I wouldn’t have wanted to meet them on the Peru side of Argentine. I didn’t spend much time on top with the group…
This first section is really loose scree but it’s wide and rideable. Just don’t fall to the right…I don’t know when you’d stop tumbling (notice that the camera’s a little tilted towards the rock I’m leaning against—think I’m a little nervous?). The rideability of the descent waxes and wanes. There’s no way I can even picture myself trying to ride all of it. I think there’s always sections I’ll walk.
Some sections are nice singletrack and then other sections are boulder fields. There’s even one step that requires lowering the bike first (ensuring that you don’t tip it over because it’ll tumble off the trail), then climbing down the 5’ step.
Last year, there were a couple of large snowfields that I had to kick in some steps but this year there was barely any snow at all—only one 10’ section.
Didn’t take long to get to Peru Creek and the ride down the road was uneventful. When I reached the bottom of Lenawee, I ran into an older guy whom I stopped and talked with for a few minutes. Then this golden retriever showed up and walked with me up the trail. I don’t know whose dog it was but he had this big note on his collar so I figured he was a local just out for a stroll. Up the trail we went.
After climbing a bit, I realized that my balance wasn’t quite on…Maybe it’s because I hadn’t ridden much technical trail in a while or I was just having an off day, regardless I just couldn’t seem to clear obstacles that I know I could clear. At one point, I lost forward motion and started rolling backwards, tried to put my foot down on the downhill side only to tumble off the trail over a downed tree and come to rest upside down attached to my bike. I walked a little bit more than I needed to after that. I was really starting to feel the climbing when I rounded the corner into the basin so I stopped for a few minutes. I had set a goal of reaching A-Basin by 6hrs into the ride…It was already at 5hrs and I didn’t think there was a chance. I knew there was still some climbing to do.
Once on the traverse, my mood switched around and it started to look like I could indeed make 6hrs so I started pushing a little harder.
Just before the last switchbacks, I ran into biker coming down and we talked for a couple of seconds. I told him where I started from and he gave me a big high-five and seemed more excited about it than I did. It was just the boost I needed to finish off the climb with fortitude and perseverance. My traveling companion turned around and headed home.
I reached the top right at 6hrs WOOOHOOO!!!
Then it was riding the brakes coming down A-Basin. I hit the pavement only to be greeted by mobs of road bikers coming down the pass…I mean MOBS…It was a never ending stream of spandex and flapping jackets that consumed the entire downhill lane, sometimes 3 to 4 abreast. Cars coming downhill were overtaking them on the wrong side of a double yellow line coming straight at me…NOT a good feeling…and the roadies wouldn’t scoot over one bit. At one point, I heard a semi coming up behind me and the downhill lane ahead was full of 2-3 abreast riders. They weren’t going to give him an inch so guess who ended stopping their bike in a ditch until the semi passed? I thought about stopping and getting water at the Snake River above the road but I still had about a quarter of a 100oz bladder and I really didn’t want to stop. I crested Loveland Pass out of the saddle and accelerating. I wanted to get beyond the mob as quickly as possible. I was able to keep up with traffic all the way down the pass. Then it was on to the Loveland-Bakerville trail (which looks like they built it to be a road).
Even though it looks lame, after all the climbing done it’s nice to have a long gravel downhill that requires little pedaling and barely a touch on the brakes. It wasn’t long before I reached Bakerville and headed out on the road only to pick up a 3-inch nail. I dinked around with the tire and tube for way too much time. I pinch flatted my replacement tube trying to get the tire back on so now I was down to patches. I really don’t like those self-adhesive patches…They’d hold just enough to get it pumped up and then blow out…But I finally got one to hold long enough to get back to the car. I knew I should’ve done the chamois cream on the bead from the start but I was lazy and didn’t think I needed to…lesson learned.
In the end, I was way ahead of last year’s time until the flat. But I still managed to better my time by 5 minutes.
Here’s the stats:
Distance: 45.6 miles
Climbing: 8919 feet
Total Time: 8:11
Stopped Time: 1:09 (40 minutes for that stupid flat)