So after the East coast trip I had planned to take a ten-day mini off season in an attempt to try and locate my will to live. I’d been home four days and things were going great; my bike was still packed snugly in its box, lots of ice cream had been consumed, and I’d eaten shit trying to go for a trail run, which is embarrassing. At least when I fall biking it means I’m going for it- when I fall running I just feel clumsy. Which I guess won’t surprise many of you.
Anyway, I’d really been enjoying living in the real world for a few days, and I was psyched to catch up with some friends I haven’t seen in far too long. After all, sometimes it’s nice to talk about stuff besides bike parts, and sometimes you just need to buy a new shirt. I was starting to feel like a human again, and it was lovely. Yet on day five, my mini off season came to an abrupt end. I was on a double date at the Walnut Cafe (with my mom, Kay, and Draza) when Kay mentioned that she a group of her friends were going down to ride the Monarch Crest trail. I didn’t even give my poor legs a second thought- I was in.
For those of you who don’t know about it, Monarch Crest trail is a rather dull, small section of trail in Texas, that for some reason has become incredibly popular. You may hear that it is in fact located near Salida, Colorado, or that it contains in 35 miles every kind of riding you could ask for, including some you didn’t know to ask for, (River riding, anyone?) and you may even hear that it’s worth going to see- but this is all wrong. Monarch Crest sucks, tell all your friends.
Ok so that’s a lie. But only because the one gripe I’d have with this ride was the crowds. We saw group after ten-person group up there, and it wasn’t difficult to understand why. Right from the first turn onto singletrack I knew I was going to love this trail; it was flowy, aesthetic, and challenging without being intimidating. It followed the natural contours of treeline for the first half, leading us across lord-of-the-rings type landscapes before finally dropping down into the trees. We climbed and descended for a while in the woods before making the turn into the final descent, which incorporated every climate and trail-type you can imagine. Mud, roots, rocks, scree, drops, water bars, switchbacks, aspens, pines, meadows- it all began to blur after a while. At one point the trail ended in a shallow river, which we rode down for maybe 300 yards before popping back up onto dry land. It was both terrifying and exhilarating to feel my tires float-sliding over rocks I couldn’t see- if you
ever get a chance to ride down a river, take it. The trail was alternately buff and rattley; there were sections when it was all I could do to just hold on to the bars and hope for the best, and there were other sections where jet noises seemed not only appropriate but necessary. Kay does a good turkey-gobbling noise, which also seemed appropriate in certain sections.
All in all it was a pretty miraculous day. The weather could not have been more beautiful, the trail was in excellent shape, and among the seven of us there was not one mechanical, which I’m finding is quite the feat, especially on a long, technical ride. The group was fast, strong, and fun to ride with- supposedly they’re all about the same age as my parents but you’d never guess it. They descend with total disregard for their hips and are living proof that you never have to stop playing, cracking dirty jokes, or making turkey noises.
Best of all, my will to live has returned! One day spent riding colorado trails accomplished more than five days of shopping and socializing ever could- go figure.