Yesterday my buddy showed me the route to actually mountain bike from Boulder. Boulder has a zillion hiking trails right in town but all are closed to mountain biking. So we met at 2:30 at the far west end of Mapleton Avenue, which is incidentally the Mt Sanitas trailhead as well as the mouth of Sunshine Canyon. I was a bit apprehensive about riding on the road, and I still am. There’s no sidewalk or guardrails or even shoulder to get off the road, so you have to rely on every single car seeing you and giving you a wide berth, or at least a berth. I was quite happy to notice there was very little traffic on the road which was comforting. I ride a mid-fat Specialized Fuse hardtail which I love, but it is a bit slower than regular-tired bikes. That plus the fact that John is stronger than me and pretty soon he was out of sight and I was left on my own pushing my way up the mountain. I passed 3 or 4 side street turnoffs, none of which were “Poormans” which I was looking for. Up and up and a really tight hairpin turn and up and then off in the distance was John waving his arms and yelling encouragement. I pumped a fist and hammered it a bit harder and I was there. It wasn’t so grueling really, and I don’t think more than 20-30 minutes or so. Next leg was downhill, all the way to the end of Poormans on a dirt road, then it emptied out onto another paved road, Four Mile Canyon, where we took a right for another 5-10 minutes of climbing, then on the left side of the road behind a guardrail was a little dirt track, our trail, the FourMile Link connector trail. Blissfully downhill, I hadn’t ridden my bike since we had done the Whole Enchilada in Moab a few weeks before, where I had rented a Pivot for the day – and had gotten used to it. So I was bit wobbly and timid. It gradually wore off as we reached the bottom and a beautiful river flowing with a small bridge across it. Apparently the bridge had only been installed for a few weeks, you used to have to wade through the river, bike in tow. No longer.
Another uphill on the FourMile Link through tight pine forest up up up to the Benjamin Loop with a fat arrow sign pointing clockwise (it’s changed periodically and you can get ticketed for not following it). We were running short on daylight, with a sunset of 4:50, having left at 2:30, so we didn’t do the full Benjamin Loop, only half of it. Also note we were in the shade ever since Poormans, sun was hiding low in the south over the mountains – which meant chilly. We rode, uphill again, to the Loop Link trail, completing half of the Benjamin Loop. We took the Loop Link trail – with some oncoming traffic which addled my brain a bit until we got to the end of it to the Canyon Loop and I looked a map and realized traffic obviously goes both ways on the Loop Link. Then we were onto the Canyon Loop, with some downhill and around a bend into some glorious warm sunshine where I had to stop and bask in the beauty of the canyons and mountains spread out before me and enjoy the sun on my skin. More fun downhill then more up on double wide track, and then finally finally the end of the uphill. Which was great but I wasn’t all that upset about all the uphill, I rather enjoyed it and the adventure of the trip. Plus the added wildcard of the sun going down gave a bit more spice to the outing.
And it was a brief down on wide easy trail… and then the capper for the entire ride – and for the past few weeks, the incredibly fun and exciting and flowing and steep and fast and beautifully laid out Betasso Link trail. I whooped with exhilaration and joy as I flew down it, turning and turning and turning again, sailing down over big rock gardens, banking around turns, absolutely glorious and one of my new favorite trails on the planet. I gave another involuntary “woooo!!” and was answered by John up in front of me somewhere. Down and down and gloriously down and then popped out into a small parking lot in Boulder Canyon, John cheering me on for the last bit. Giant grins on both our faces as we talked about how crazy fun that was and both so happy to have had – or rather be nearing the end of a great adventure on a Tuesday afternoon. Then a short ride down Boulder Canyon on the pavement – not pleasant with no shoulder, but we made it maybe 5 minutes and then we were able to turn off onto the Boulder Creek path and fly down it, barely pedaling and still talking about how much fun we had on the Betasso Link downhill section. Pedaled into town, down Pearl street for a stop at Spruce Confections for a coffee and a local Max Bar, sat and chatted about life, kids, adventures, business. And then we were off, pedaling back home and I carried my big grin with me the rest of the evening. And it was still a bit light out as I rolled into my driveway.