The Grassy Hill of Doom (NOTE: This post written by Cody)
This article has been written by me (Cody) in Rob’s absence. He’s requested an additional rest day, so I’ll do my best to fill in for him. Though I must warn you, I don’t proof read or revise. Yes this report is published in rough draft format with no regard for correcting spelling mistakes of grammatical errors. The sponsors for todays ride are Timex, The Pickle Barrel sandwich shop, and Bangtail Cyclery.
I wake up at 8 AM and wander off with Colin to an internet cafe to update my latest adventures. When I finally get back at 10 or so, Rob is gone and the others have just woken up. After brief consultation, we decided on doing something for the day, anything really. Rest days are for driving across the state in my opinion.
I was in need on professional advice from the locals in terms are where the good riding/climbing was. So we headed for Main Street in search of a climbing shop or biking shop. We stumbled across Bangtail Cyclery fairly quickly and went in for advice. Where do we go? Where’s all the good trails? He directed us to a useful foldout map that showed most of the biking and hiking tails in the area, recommending the Grassy Mountain Trail. I bought the map in order to augment the size my huge collection of guidebooks. I’ve already bought three on this trip and would have gotten one for sinks canyon if they’d had it at Wild Iris.
The first trail he informed us about was the Grassy Mountain out and back. But two hours seemed way too short. So he recommended the Grassy Mountain loop. Park at the Brackett Canyon Trailhead, ride 6 miles down pavement to the Stone Creek Trailhead and ride back on 23 miles of singletrack along the Bangtail mountain range. The next suggestions were simply variations on the same ride: skip the pavement and ride 46 miles of singletrack as an out and back, ride the pavement out from town as the common “super” variations as we call them in Boulder. The second option sounded good ... except for the “like 35” switchbacks at the start of the singletrack. Oh well, they couldn’t be that bad. Could they?
Colin gave us the use of his ancient truck as a shuttle vehicle. A 70s Ford F150 that cost him $100 as an initial investment. Rom handed me a roll of duct tape and told me to put the muffler back on. Apparently, we were supposed to secure the muffler before taking it out. The van bed is occupied by an ancient TV that probably doesn’t work anymore, being saved for a special occasion. The cab had three separate gun racks in it, one for the handgun in the front and two for the shotguns in the back, the right side window is not opened by a conventional handle, instead, a pair of pliers are attached to the knob where the handle should be. The car’s handling is incredibly loose, turn the wheel 45 degrees in either direction and the wheels don’t turn, the brakes are very loose as well. But hell, at least it started on the first try and ran, for the most part. A vast improvement over the Truckster, who met its untimely demise yesterday.
My bike gear smells really bad. Need to find a laundromat pronto. And drill some holes in that tupperware I keep it in.
Finding the trailhead was no problem. We got ready and started at noon. ETA: 6:00 by Adam, 3:00 by Me, and 5:00 by Rom. We started on some six or seven miles of pavement and then started the real trail at the Stone Creek trailhead. This first hill was endless. Containing what felt like 1,000 switchbacks, we started counting backwards from 35 at the bottom and I got to about 4 before I gave up. It literally took us 3 hours to ride up it and I felt inclined to name it the Hill of 1,000 Switchbacks.
The hill that wouldn’t quit didn’t suddenly top out on some peak, leaving us with a horrendous scree slope to bring us hurtling back to the car. Instead in followed this ridge for about 7 miles, alternating between downhill and uphills. With every downhill, my hopes were raised in the delusion that this hill would keep going, only to be shattered by another short uphill that my legs were quickly burning out on.
For some reason, Adam and I are inspired to do some single speed biking. So, we did most of the first hill in middle chainring and 3rd easiest in back. I went to granny mode when my legs threatened to explode on me (about mile 18) but I think Adam actually pulled it off.
My hopes for actually finding some downhill were completely shattered by the time we hit the 8th downhill or so. I was convinced that we would keep ascending until we found a new hidden peak that exceeded the height of even Everest. Luckily, while I was daydreaming about this, I realized we had actually begun a long stretch of downhill. Rippping at mach speeds through a dense an twisty jungle on pine trees. Switchbacks jumped out with no warning, and my brakes were given quite a workout. I only almost crashed twice: once in to a big tree that got in my way and another time off in to an abyss marked only by a brick wall on the other side of the abyss as you came careening towards it.
The hill had been rained on recently, so there were lots of puddles that Adam and I were playing the “who can avoid getting muddy” game. The game is simple: bunny hop over every puddle and mud hole while traveling at excess speeds while avoiding the ever present wipeout. Fun game, unless you crash. Taking jumps off of sudden drop offs and water bars are also counted as bonus points.
During one slower section of downhill, I was being flirted with by a butterfly and I thought of these song lyrics.
Why are you following me?
Don’t you know
I’m not really a flower?
All bright and shiny red.
But there’s no nectar here.
Go away please.
Rom, who was typically the slowest of the three of us, pulled ahead during a photo session. When we finally caught him, he was lying about 15 feet off the trail in a bloody heap.
He says, “damn this hurts.”
I reply, “Uh, we should get moving before that starts hurting.”
“I hurts right now.”
“It’s only going to get worse. Let’s get moving.”
Luckily, we made it to the car before the stinging set in and Rom lay in the car moaning in pain. A good ride all in all. We completed the ride in approximately 5 and a half hours. The bike shop guys wasn’t lying when he said, “Us mere mortals can do the loop in 5 to 6 hours.
When we got back, I gave Rom some pain killers and Colin asked Rom if he wanted some beer with that whine. I laughed.
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FOLLOW UP BY - ROM
So to tell this crash story from my part of view....
I decided that the final downhill would be a good place to show the other boys just how good of a cyclist I've become. I went tearing past them as they took pictures, dead set on tearing through those last 6 miles and Being sitting in the parking lot sipping on my water bottle when they got down.
Things didn't go quite as planned. While pedaling on a straightaway downhill as fast as I could, I dropped into a little loose rock patch and promptly lost control. I flew over the handlebars, and the bike flew over me. I bounced once on the singletrack and promptly flew about 15 feet down an embankment on the side of the trail. By the time Adam came by about a minute later, I'd already made sure things were working and was slowly climbing back up onto the trail. To add insult to injury, at the bottom I discovered in addition to big scabs on my elbow and hip, I'd somehow managed to cut my nipple through my shirt.