On Day 2, we all spent little time feeling as if we should have tackled some additional single track instead of the standard route of 28 miles. I know we somehow felt that we had to take on all available miles for us to feel accomplished on the trip. To compensate, we added a ton of singletrack options to our Day 3 route, incorporating the Rim Trail and then the Aspen Loop to Hornet Spur.
The Rim Trail turned out to be a pretty rocky and steep trail, and actually offered less views than anticipated, but did help us test our technical skills. Aspen Loop initially appeared to be eerily similar, as it began with a steep punchy climb littered with large and loose rocks, but quickly flattened to a fun, flowy trail. Somewhere along this trail, I had a flash of realization of how far my technical skills have come this past year. I also had a much deeper realization of how my motivation to ride well had shifted.
For the first year or so on my mountain bike, I feel I generally was pushing myself to keep up with friends, or more often, with guys I was dating, one in particular. For a long time, every accomplishment out skill I gained or obstacle I overcame on a bike, I immediately thought how stoked this guy would be that I could keep up better or be able to ride more with him.
While this motivation served me well, it was great to realize that something had shifted within me and I no longer associated my gains to a bygone relationship, and began to see these as my own. I started to see all the new places I could go as I grew stronger. My abilities no longer were a guide to what I could do with someone else, but what I could do on my own. I had begun to ride for myself, not anyone else. It was a truly liberating feeling.
As we ended the Hornet Spur trail and rejoined with the road, we stopped for a lunch break, and Jess split from Kristin and me to ride the last bit of Hornet while we continued on the road…or so we thought.
We had misread the map and didn’t realize we were on Highway 90, not the Divide Road. Long story short, 5 miles and multiple stops later, we hit cell reception and checked Strava to see our location, and realized we were more than a little off on location. Kristin and I turned around and began the long ascent back to where we first went astray.
As we arrived back at our lunch spot and headed in the right direction, we bean to feel a little better. We shortly met up with Jess, with about 10 additional miles under our belt, and headed towards the hut with the agreement that we shouldn’t split up again…that way, worst scenario, we are at least all lost together.
By the time we arrived at Columbine Hut, we had logged 49 miles and were spent. It was the perfect hut for a mellow evening. We relaxed in some camp chairs on the deck of the hut, and unwound from the day.
The night went quickly, just enjoying a badass bacon olive pasta thank to Kristin’s ingenuity, and of course, some IMT rosé in a can. Sleep came quickly that night after all those miles, and we all looked forward to Day 4. Despite our exhaustion, we planned to again take the alternate route and add on what appeared to be some epic single track. Stay tuned for Day 5: The Never-ending Singletrack….