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Day 26: The Colorado Trail on a Rigid Bike

Updated: Aug 30, 2022

I left just after Leslie went to work in the morning. The previous night I was doing some last minute route planning and edits. I was originally planning on doing the Colorado Trail segments in three days, but since it was only 150 miles, I decided I would shoot for two. That meant I had to cover more than the roughly 35 miles of single track I had planned for the day.

Leslie lives only 5 miles from the start of the trail segment, so it was an easy ride to the beginning of the dirt. Riding up, I see a series of switchbacks going up what nearly looked like a wall. I knew I was in the right place.

Climbing up the switchbacks, that’s when I knew the Colorado Trail might take more time than I anticipated. Not because it was incredibly difficult, but because it was so fun and cool compared to the road, I was forced to stop and film every couple minutes. The trail itself was actually nicer than I anticipated.

I would be climbing over Kenosha Pass, which Leslie warned was like two passes in one and very cold and windy. But at least in the lower sections it was warm enough and incredibly fun riding. I’ve never really ridden much road before (beyond commuting) and being on the Colorado Trail reminded me why I generally stick to dirt back home!

When I wasn’t riding in the higher plains and shrub bush, the trail would take me through beautiful forest with tight trails, and made for some fantastic riding!

But, of course, good things can’t last forever. I cleared the first of the two passes, but at the base of the second one I ran into some hikers. They warned me that the next three miles to the top of the second pass was incredibly rocky and probably un-ridable… They were nearly right as the next two miles or so were basically impossible to ride.

However, having done Imogene Pass, which had more than 3 miles of walking all above 10,000 feet on loose rock and higher grades, the walking I had to do didn’t even seem that bad.

About a mile from the top, though, things began to look a little more ridable. It’s a good thing because the afternoon rain clouds were developing overhead and I was starting to feel a few drops. I tried to rush over the pass so I would be less exposed since I was above the tree line and didn’t want to be caught out in a thunder storm. But the only thunder I encountered were three jets that flew low overhead and caused the ground to shake with how loud they were.

There was also substantial amounts of snow left on the mountain, despite it being late June. Not something I’m used to in California! And this year is supposed to be a low snowpack, which was lucky for me, but it would be interesting to know what a normal year looks like!

Kenosha Pass was now over with and it wasn’t too cold or too windy. The rest of the day would take me mostly downhill on some relatively smooth trails through aspen forests. I have rarely, if ever, encountered Aspen trees before, so it made an awesome trail even more enjoyable for me!

I crossed over the point where I was planning to stop previously and continued on since I needed to make at least 50 miles if I had a chance of doing the segments in only 2 days.

Part of my last minute rerouting was realizing that bikes were not permitted to ride through a 20 mile stretch of trail that ran through a wilderness area. The detour around the section would be around 85 additional miles and 65 of those miles would be on dirt roads as opposed to faster pavement. I wanted to get as much of that section out of the way as possible today, so I didn’t have so much of it to ride the next day.

I ended up getting another 20 miles in before it was past sunset. I just quickly set up my tent on the side of the highway. One of my concerns with the Colorado Trail is I don’t want to deal with hanging my food from bears. The highway was between two barbed wire fences, and I hoped that would be enough to keep bears away. I still put all my food away from my tent, but it was just on the ground.

(Photo from the next morning)

I escaped the rain that day for the most part, but it rained that night. I fell asleep to a gentle drizzle.

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