Mtn. Biking in Steamboat Springs

Due to the excessive consumption of Dandelion Wine the night prior, the 4am Crew didn't rise until 8:30. But hey... it was 4am somewhere in the world, right?

Surprisingly, no one appeared to have an honest-to-goodness hangover. No headaches, no vomiting, no blood-shot eyes. Either we didn't hit it hard enough, or the Dandelion Wine is the PERFECT alcohol. Stay tuned for more experiments.

Gates nuked some bacon, while Rom broke out a huge frying pan and made scrambled eggs en masse for an Army Chow Line style breakfast. We ate and poured over possible biking routes. Eventually we decided on a 30 mile ride over three loosely linked trails. Gates' mother would drop us off then drive the Truckster back to town. We would ride over three large climbs and three beautiful down hills: Mad Creek Loop, Hot Springs Cut Off, and the Spring Creek/Buffalo Pass Loop.

My only concern was putting Debbie, Gates' mom, in harms way. She'd be required to navigate the Family Truckster back to Steamboat, not fully understanding that this particular vehicle might spontaneously combust at any moment. If it blew up in a mini-mushroom cloud would she have the foresight to pull over and jump out in time? Or would panic set in, causing that fatal moment of hesitation?

I said a short prayer to an imaginary deity asking to watch over her. Then left on the ride.

Our first order of business was a slow and steady uphill notched into the side of a canyon. A hundred feet below on our right was a beautiful river flowing through tall pine trees and some patches of aspen. Later, where the trail widened, we encountered ferns that gave the landscape a Northwestern feel.

Eventually, the trail leveled out for a while and we made our way through the field of an early 1900's ranch. At the far end, just before the next section of uphill, we stopped at a wood bridge to stick our heads in the creek.

The next couple miles of climbing was an overgrown single track with some log crossings. Then the trail met up with a small tributary which was fed by Hot Springs-- our first pitstop. This section was a well worn hiking route with the occasional outcrop or root, allowing us to speed along at a good clip.

At the Hot Springs the weather began to change. Small storm clouds began to spit on us, but only a few drops. We used the bathrooms to refill water bottles and the parking lot to compare our stationary hopping skills-- bouncing sideways on front wheels and trying to do pitch-outs. No one knows why this stuff happens, it's just something guys do when they're busy wasting time.

Thus far it had been a good ride-- Everyone was riding strong and there had been NO crashes.

We headed up the dirt road hill out of the springs, stopping to look at a shack-style home with a personal ski lift. Gates told us that this is the home of the guy who founded Moots Cycles. The ski lift is actually a wintertime lift system for access to the property when the snow gets too deep.

After a wonderful open-road downhill, we began climbing Buffalo Pass Road. This was a long grind with little reprieve. Cody and Adam marched up like a couple of Lance Armstrongs. Gates did fine too, but I was beginning to feel the burn from this long trek. Rom was dragging behind a little and finally admitted that his balls were hurting.

The group stopped at a curve and I broke out my tools. Together we changed the pitch on Rom's seat, in hopes of saving his future fertility. For those of you unfamiliar with what I just said, let me paraphrase: I stopped the seat from mashing his nads.

Problem fixed, and we were off again. But three quarters of the way up I hit a brick wall. My energy level simply dropped and I bonked. It was time for a powerbar and a few minutes of rest. Aparently, today was my day to be the weakest link.

The final downhill was a killer single track of 3 or 4 miles. Nothing difficult, just fun sweeping turns with an occasional bridge crossing that would appear out of nowhere. Tons of fern undergrowth lined the forest and opened into a few cuts through aspen groves. The scenery was full-on beautiful Colorado Rockies-- twenty shades of green, dotted with wildflowers and tall white of aspen trunks. Since it was a Kodak moment, we stopped several times to take some pics (see below).

Overall, a wonderful ride! No gravity checks, no mechanicals (other than Rom's seat/scrotum fix) and we were back in town after 3 hrs 40 mins-- a little burnt out, but no worse for the wear.