Day 1 - Molas Pass to Bolam Pass
Our first day was from Little Molas Lake, at the top of Molas Pass to Bolam Pass. The ride follows the Colorado Trail & is 99% single track.
Day 2 - Bolam Pass to Black Mesa
Another hard day. We opted for the alternate route and were rewarded with many more miles of incredible single track. The last several miles we on forest service roads and were almost entirely uphill. Moving from sun to shade, alternating between hot & cold, the last climb seemed to go on for ever.
Day 3 - Black Mesa to Dry Creek
Kind of a day off. A relatively easy ride from the top of Black Mesa, short stop at the Reservior and climb over the pass before 2 mile downhill to Dry Creek.
Day 4 - Dry Creek to Wedding Bell
The first part of this ride is great - plenty of subtle downhill on double track desert dirt. And of course there is hope that the store at ... will be open. When we came through this town a few years ago we stopped for a few cold beers and some even paid $5 for a shower. This year, no luck. We'll have to wait for the Bedrock Store near the end of tomorrow's ride near Paradox for our next shot at commerce.
Part 2 of our ride is simple gravel road riding, weaving around the gas mines and leveraging their roads. There were a few jibs and jabs of alternate single track to break things up, but our course seemed pretty set - follow the gravel beneath the ridge line all the way to Wedding Bell. We turned left onto a patch of single track near the entrance to another mine, just as we had done a few times already today. But this one opened up to an incredible stretch of single track. Rocky, moderately technical, big climbs and rapidly changing scenery. This was the desert. I managed to lose my GPS device somewhere on the trail, but another guy in our group miraculously found it. The trail went on for much longer than any of us were prepared ("just 3 or 4 more miles"), we found a stash of water with about 10 miles to go. Massive steep climbs. And approached Wedding Bell hut from below.
Day 5 - wedding bell to Paradox valley
We woke on day 5 with concerns about the weather. The desert is the desert for a reason, but it still does rain from time to time, especially at this time of the year. Generally speaking, rainy days in the desert are beautiful. From a distance or the stationary perch under a cliff the rain brings the desert to life. From the seat of a mountain bike however, rain in the desert can spell disaster. Mud. Impassable and clingy. Derailleur ripping. In truth we didn't really have any options other than to continue, but still we deliberated just of the sake of it.
Day 6 - Paradox valley to La Sal Mountain hut
Maybe one of the best days ever. Not great riding, but the fall colors were exploding, the elk were bugling and the team soaked it all in.
Day 7 - La Sal Mountain Hut to Moab
Beautiful start, big climb up to Burro Pass. Start of the Whole Enchilada. Wind. No brakes for Chuck. Bailout.