The Mountain Bike Ride

Mountain biking down a hill
Downhill

There’s a limit to the number of times your bike pedals will turn in your lifetime.
So, make them count.

Whoosh,
Damp and soft.
Fresh,
Smooth and fast.

Rolling,
Clean and free.
Feeling,
Strong and loose.

Leaves,
Yellow or red.
Trees,
Aspens, oaks, and pines.

Climb,
Up and onward.
Time,
Grinding and frozen.

Rocks,
Somehow over the top.
Ledges
That make you pucker.

Spin,
Faster, not harder.
Win,
Whatever that is.

Down,
Flowing and momentum.
Sound,
Silent, but alive.

Effort,
Easy or intense.
Curves,
Sweeping and weaving,

Turns,
Expect the unexpected.
Feel the trail
With your mind.

Adrenaline, fatigue, happy, and sad.
Confident, regret, proud, and glad.
Satisfied, worried, joy, and mad.

The destination– often unknown.
But no matter,
Cause the best rides never end.

Riding Through the Aspens

Re-finding the Silver Trail- Copper Canyon, Mexico

Hike-a-bike on the Silver Trail

From the mines near Batopilas,
To the bank in Chihuahua.
And then by train,
To El Paso.
Haul the silver,
Hide the gold.

125 miles of trail.
Trains of mules with steel shoes,
Tarahumara’s with none.
Five stations along the way.
Mountains with pines,
Canyons with rocks.
Following the path,
That leads,
To the wagon road,
At Carachic.

A generation of travel,
Stopped by time.
Trees grow,
Meadows change.
The route forgotten,
Except for what,
The mules cut,
Into the rock,
With their hooves.

Forgotten stories linger:
Pilares, El Patron,
La Laja, Los Conchos,
El jefe with the knife,
Teboreachi,
The piano,
Huajochi.

Eventually, the day arrives.
And we go.
60 years later.

Years of talk and wondering,
Turn into action.
How hard could it be?
Mountain bikes, walking, and camping
Many questions asked,
But few answered.
Is this the trail?

We do it backwards- from Carachic.
First to El Ojito, then on south.
Past La Herradurra,
Night with Gabino Flores at Huajochi Station,
Walk through the Arroyo de las Iglesias,
Camp at The Hot Springs,
The next night with support at Pilares Station.

On to Siquerichi.
Cold night at La Laja Station.
Camping near Teboreachic Station.
Past Coyachique,
Then down to the Batopillas River.
From there, it’s ten miles of gravel road,
Finally, we arrive in Batopilas,
And Casa San Miguel.

The trail re-found
Was it ever lost?
Reconnoitered, mapped,
Ridden, walked, photographed,
Written and talked about.

Then,
Like before, the Chabochis
Move on.

But the trail stays.

Morning Dawns in Huahochic

The Group Ride

Group Mountain Bike Ride

     The morning air was crisp and dry. Latimer barely had to pedal his mountain bike to maintain momentum. It was a gentle downhill, and since there was more down than up to each swell, it took little effort to keep rolling. The only thing that made his heart rate go up was the periodic sight of the Aspen trees in their finest Fall glory. The temperature was neither hot nor cold, so he was comfortable wearing only a long sleeve jersey and no jacket or vest. There wasn’t a cloud in the bluebird sky or at least one that he could see. And no matter which way he turned and rode, there was always a tailwind. Conditions had coalesced to create the perfect ride. Continue reading “The Group Ride”

Visualization

 

The American West

           It started out as a simple and straightforward thing to do. Lou took off, leading our group of British mountain bikers back to camp. Just seconds after beginning the ride, he rounded a corner and rode up on a four-foot Rattlesnake stretched out across the trail. Instinctively, he hit his brakes extra hard, which caused him to crash. When the dust settled, he was lying on the side of the trail, penned between a cactus and the rattler. The Brits had quickly stopped and looked on in horror as their guide and the viper were suddenly face to face, and only a couple of feet apart.

Continue reading “Visualization”

The Broken Handlebar

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Riding Downhill

It was a long downhill and flowed well. The section of the Colorado Trail we were riding drops slowly and steadily for miles as it winds its way down the Craig Creek drainage. It’s a fast, fun, and mostly effortless ride. Sure, there are plenty of obstacles along the way, such as unfortunately positioned rocks, encroaching Potentilla bushes, and washed-out ruts. But the only tricky spots occur where small creeks, thick with willows, come in from the sides. While you can successfully ride most of the trail by using a combination of vigilance and good riding technique, the creek crossings generally require something a little more. And with all of their mud, roots, and big rocks, those parts often end up being walked. Despite the downsides, it’s mountain biking in the wilds of Colorado at its best.

Continue reading “The Broken Handlebar”

Mine Riding

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Porfirio Diaz Tunnel

The entrance to a horizontal mine shaft that we could ride our mountain bikes into was music to our eyes. The stone opening to the Porfirio Diaz Tunnel sat solemnly on a hillside in the middle of a barrio in Batopilas, Mexico. Sure, it’d been abandoned for 70 or 80 years. But that was of no consequence to us at the time. The entrance was circular and at about 12 feet in diameter, a little bigger than we’d each envisioned it to be previously. A flat dirt surface/pathway- perfect for mountain bikes– led into the darkness. Even though the place had the ominous appearance of almost being eaten by the solid rock, its beckoning call was persistent and ultimately won us over.

Continue reading “Mine Riding”

Metabolic Acidosis (aka Bonking) on the Colorado Trail and Elsewhere

Mountain biking in Colorado
                                                    Mountain biking in the Tarryall Mountains

Ryan had never bonked before, at least in the metabolic shock/ overexertion sense of the word. When he started to bumble around and losing more and more of his edge, I knew that something was up and figured that’s what had happened. Not realizing what was going on, he kept on trying to mountain bike further up the Colorado Trail, although with diminishing returns. The big patches of snow that remained on the trail, even though it was June, were probably a good thing since they ultimately turned us all around. His disrupted mental and physical state likely made the retreat more palatable to the 13-year-old, since he wasn’t one to be prone to turn around before his goal was reached.

Continue reading “Metabolic Acidosis (aka Bonking) on the Colorado Trail and Elsewhere”

Thirst

A mysterious thirst is quenched.

PENTAX Image
Wild Copper Canyon

The sixteen empty soda bottles sat on the counter in the Cerro Colorado store for two days, before the shopkeeper finally stuck them down with the others. They were a good conversation piece while sitting out there in the open. But when he found a spider in one, and since he needed to move them anyway, he put them into some empty slots in the Fanta case down on the floor. After he tidied things up, he thought about dragging the whole box of empties out from behind the Sabritas rack, so that they would still be visible. That way, they would continue to be the talk of the town, but he realized that if he did so, they would just be in the way and would make things look disorganized. And so he just stuck the case in the back room.

Continue reading “Thirst”

The Ride Down to Sorata

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Mountain biking

We topped the ridge on the dirt road and began dropping quickly into the valley on our mountain bikes. We all knew that it’d continue to get warmer and greener as we descended from the Bolivian highlands, but our thoughts were mostly focused on what awaited us at the end of the ride. The anticipated post-ride rewards were different for each person- a warm bath, cold beer, hot coffee, a dry room. And so, we thought of those things, and little else as the town of Sorata came increasingly into view.

Continue reading “The Ride Down to Sorata”

Lost and Found on the Silver Trail

“You’re not lost, if you don’t care where you are.”

Mountain biking the Silver Trail

By this point, we were some 20 miles from the last little outpost of a town that we’d been through. But theoretically, at least, we were about to come to another. Jerry had the best available maps of the area loaded onto his GPS. But it only told us where we were relative to whatever data it was loaded with. The adage, “garbage in, garbage out,” came to mind and was soon followed by the vision of a web page that simply said, “no data available.”

Continue reading “Lost and Found on the Silver Trail”