Tuesday, April 24, 2012
The interlude between spring and summer here is called Mud Season. Normally, this is due to the ‘muddiness’ caused by all the melting snow. This year, we are seeing a shortage of both snow and mud, but Mud Season is still here. How do we know it? Because the town has emptied out, and everyone has taken their bikes to Moab.
It strikes me as funny, the thought of going on vacation as an entire town. Personally, as a beginner mountain biker, I would rather ride around Steamboat than go with everyone else to Moab. By beginner, I mean I can count the number of times I have ridden a mountain bike on three fingers. This means that if even one trail is dry enough to attempt to ride locally, I will be having an adventure. The benefit to my logic is that since the town is emptied out, there will be no one around to watch me make a fool of myself.
Last night I loaded my bike and my dog into my truck and waited for my boyfriend John to arrive so we could head towards Emerald Mountain to ride Blackmere Drive to the Quarry. This would be my first ride of the season, and fourth ride ever. Blackmere is only a 1.9 mile ride up, but I was nervous about the grade. It starts at an elevation of 6,800 ft. and climbs to 7,800 ft., so you have 1,000 feet of vertical gain. John assured me this was doable, but I had my doubts. MAP
John arrived, and gave me a skeptical look. “I thought we would ride our bikes to the Quarry… it is visible from here.” I’d made the ultimate mistake; thinking we would drive the two miles to the trail head to unload bikes and ride two miles. I blushed, and took my bike out of my truck. Now however, I had to deal with the problem of getting my dog through the traffic of Highway 40, and then up the back streets to the trailhead. Leaving her behind was not an option, and while leashing her on a trail is one thing, riding through traffic is not really the best option.
John has the perilous mission of dating an obsessive Dog-Lover. Yes, I am self-proclaimed. Steamboat is full of other dog-addicted people; people who think their dog should be allowed in movie theaters and should enter all shopping stores with their owners. John knows better than to suggest I leave my dog at home, especially when we are going to be playing outdoors. After a little thought, we solved the problem of dog-transportation by attaching a kid-wagon to my bike. I would rather have to pull her full 60 lbs. on to the trailhead than leave her behind. You might say I looked like a college kid from Boulder, (stereotypical of course, but it was suggested) as I rode my bike through traffic with my pooch towed behind me.
The actual ride up Blackmere Drive was not as bad as I expected. Grueling, yes, but also doable. Because the trail (road?) is so wide, there was plenty of room for my erratic riding skills, and the nicely graveled road meant I didn’t have to worry about conquering natural features on my first day of trying out the sport of Mountain Biking. An added benefit is that there are other trails that feed off of Blackmere, so John, an advanced rider, could still have a little fun and meet back up with me to coach me up the hill.
I’ll admit it. There was a man walking his dog who beat me to the Quarry and passed me numerous times on the way up as we leap-frogged each other. I’m slow. I would like to note that I put in a last minute bit of effort to pass him at the last ten feet so I could feel like I won the race up. Technically, if we were being competitive, he won, but I had to make the effort. The Quarry is the designated ‘top’ of the ride and gives a spectacular panoramic view of almost the entire valley. There are great ‘sitting rocks’ for tired legs, and a beautiful view to rest the mind. The Ski Mountain and town are laid out in a beautiful arch in front of you; this is probably the most photographed view of the Mountain. You can even see Buff Pass and Sleeping Giant, which last night has beautiful rain clouds hovering over it that turned crimson red. It was the absolute perfect place to watch the sunset. The ride down of course was a victory lap. I would highly recommend Blackmere for an advanced rider to teach a beginner how to ride, and a great place to get the dog some exercise or watch the sunset.