Ryan had never bonked before, at least in the metabolic shock overexertion sense of the word. When he started to bumble around and kept losing more and more of his edge, I knew that something was up and figured that’s what had happened. Not really 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 still littered 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, regardless of whatever difficulty he faced.
We topped the ridge on the dirt road and began dropping quickly on our mountain bikes into the valley. We all knew that it’d continue to get warmer and greener as we descended from the Bolivian highlands, but our thoughts at that moment were mostly focused on what awaited us at the end of the ride. For each person, those anticipated rewards were different- a warm bath, a 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.
The Rattlesnake had just woken up from its long winter’s nap and was just trying to slither peacefully over to the big flat sunning rock when all hell had broken loose. As it was, just moving anywhere until he’d had a little time to unwind was hard enough, but the still sleepy reptile had tried to giddyap especially quickly across the trail opening once he’d felt the vibrations approaching. Unfortunately for him, lethargy was all he could muster along all four feet of his bone, sinew and diamond patterned skin and moving any faster was just not something he could do at that particular moment.
“You’re not lost, if you don’t care where you are.”
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 old 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.”
Two trails, seven years later…
Old trails never die, they just get harder to see.
I remember those times of daily use well. Back then, many of the out of place rocks, logs, and limbs scattered along the way, were intentionally moved to where they ended up to improve a particular line of travel. Most people didn’t consider either of the trails to be particularly well-groomed, although they actually were. Regular maintenance was performed to keep them “clean,” and obstacles were moved around to create interest and make things flow better. But like many regularly used trails, both were mostly kept in their prime condition by constant use. Hikers moving fallen limbs out of the way, runners beating the tread in deeper, and mountain bikers flicking loose rocks off to the side with their tires all did their part. Any sort of unintended or unplanned obstacle that might get in the way of good trail time was not allowed to be there for long and was ultimately cleared out of the way.
Interesting events late at night during a 24 Hour mountain bike race.
Things got progressively weirder as the Utah mountain bike race, known as the 24 Hours of Moab, continued. It was an event where riders, in teams ranging in size from individuals to up to 8, rode as many laps as possible within 24 hours. I was doing it solo, which among other things, created some intriguing late-night moments. At some point in the middle of the night, two tandem bikes with riders dressed as frogs rode in from a direction that had nothing to do with the race-course. During the previous lap, I’d been concerned when another racer didn’t correctly yield the trail on a long climb. But by the time the frog thing happened, nothing of that sort was bothering me any longer. I was just pleased that they were stopped and waiting off to the side of the trail for me to pass before continuing. From that moment on, as I rode up toward the crest of that hill each time, I kept looking for the frog riders and continued to be concerned that they might be riding that same section of trail. I hoped that if so, they’d at least be going in the same counterclockwise direction as the rest of us.
A group of backpackers attempts to climb Lizard Head and learns the true meaning of climbing.
Lizard Head is a big peak just to the north and east of the well- known, long, and breathtakingly majestic line of mountains, ridges, and spires in Wyoming’s Wind River Range, known as the Cirque of the Towers. On one particular Outpost Wilderness Adventure trip, we backpacked with two groups of 7, via different routes up to Bear Lake. The lake sits just on the east side of Lizard Head and was the location for our backcountry base camp. Once there, we set up two close but separate camps. Each was located between the lake and the mountain. The plan was to use each as a base for exploring and adventuring in the area. Since it was during the Fourth of July holiday, we knew that there’d be a lot of people in the general area, but that few would venture into that particular neck of the woods. And, as a special Fourth of July treat, we brought along freeze-dried hamburger patties, a cutting-edge item back in the ’80s.
An interesting turn of events while mountain biking some Copper Canyon singletrack.
Afterward, we began to call it the Trail of Death.
For the longest time, Batopilas, Mexico, was connected to the small town of Cerro Colorado by just a little bit of dirt road and seven or so miles of trail, just barely wide enough for local burro traffic. Then, a few years back, that same dirt road was bulldozed all the way into the little Copper Canyon town. Most of the old trail was “improved” for vehicle use, although the last mile or so was left untouched where the road took an easier route.
Resbaloso, which is a Spanish word meaning slippery in English, is “that” word and also the name given to an infamous trail descent into the town of Creel.
Just seeing the word Resbaloso, much less speaking or hearing it, gives me an adrenaline rush. It’s a Spanish word that translates to “slippery” in English and is the name given to an infamous trail descent into the town of Creel, Mexico.
A race of sorts via mountain bike to the top of Batopilas Canyon in Copper Canyon, Mexico.
I set off from Batopilas, at the bottom of Copper Canyon, intent on riding my mountain bike up the 40 or so mile gravel road ascent to the intersection with the paved highway, as fast as I could. The unofficial record for doing it was 4 hours and my goal was to beat that. Whether or not my quest was realistic, will forever remain to be seen. Continue reading “The Ride Up from Batopilas”