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 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.

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The Ride Down to Sorata

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Mountain biking

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.

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The Rattlesnake in Palo Duro Canyon

mountain biking
Group Mountain Bike Ride

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.

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The Meatgrinder and Puke Loop

Two trails, seven years later…

Base Camp area trails
The Puke Loop

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.

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Mountain Biking The Trail of Death

An interesting turn of events while mountain biking some Copper Canyon singletrack.

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The Trail of Death

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.

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Resbaloso

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.

The Resbaloso
Riding down the Resbaloso during the La Onza bike race in 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.

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