A first for everything: Getting high and dirty- Part 1
Ok I admit. I've been dirty before...
It was the first time I have ever crossed that border, from Utah to Colorado. I had waited years for my first Xterra (more to come on that), months for this particular race, and weeks for the road trip to finally hit my doorstep. So you can imagine my frustration at my two unfortunate set backs when it was finally the week of starting my journey.
- My bike was in shambles
- I was sick.
Thanks to my last mountain bike race, my chain alignment was out of wack, seat-post... broken, and forks? Shot. Ok maybe there was more to blame than just my last race. A combination of cheap parts and negligence might have also contributed, but thats all another story for another day. Thanks to Adrian at The Bike Shed, and a number of doses of daytime flu medicine, I was ready to rock and roll on Friday morning. I left Friday with a smile on my face and a list of trails I needed to hit on my way to Avon. What the drive to my first destination lacked in views, it was more than made up for in boyish excitement. Just over 3 hours later I was at my first destination. The canyon rim trail.
Colorado National Monument.
Now the drive was getting more interesting. The road up the monument was everything you want a good road to be: scenic, curvy, and full of tunnels. I was kicking myself at this moment for not having my tri bike with me but I also knew I had a very specific plan as to what activities I was allowing myself to do. I started to jog and could immediately tell the oxygen was starting to get thin. After 4 miles of exploration on the flat "trail" I returned to the car to head to a bucket list trail.
Instagram put this one on my radar long ago, and after seeing it was right on my path to Avon, It was a must do. I was told that this trail is busy, and overly stuffed with people. Those aren't lies. Hanging like is a highly trafficked trail... but for a good reason. The trail to the lake was beautiful and offered something to see every step of the way (2.9 miles out and back). It was a steep climb (sorry pre race legs... sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do) and had rock staircases with a number of bridge crossings. I was able to "jog" most of the way up. Pictures don't do this place justice. #nofilter is a thing and the millennial in me would probably (definitely) be offended if someone felt the need to heavily filter this place.
Onward to Avon
Gas? Check. Snacks? Check. Phone battery.. depleted. I was ready to move on. The rest of the drive was stunning. High canyon walls, and all along the Colorado river (which by the way has a trail that runs alongside it for miles and miles) with all of the green; a color I start to miss in the dry foothills of Utah after the harsh reality of a desert climate fade everything to a pale yellow.
I kept expecting the geography to open up and see a huge valley littered with cities and suburbs packed as tightly as my car was when I started my trip (which was already becoming a nice pile of sweaty clothes, shoes and gear on my passenger seat). That never happened. City after city that I rolled through was just as nestled in the mountains as the next. It was almost claustrophobic at times. I pulled into the resort right in time to pick up my packet before it started raining. I met up with a few friends I was looking forward to seeing who had much more Xterra experience than I. The resort was beautiful, quaint shops and boutiques with a stream running right down the middle. The Xterra branding was all set up including the finishing arches and the race vibes started hitting me full force. I was high as a kite. The 8,000 foot elevation helped make sure of that.
After dinner with friends it was time to head to my bunk for the night. I picked up a small airbnb 10 minutes from the resort in a town with no stop lights (or stop signs for that matter) After I got all set up at "The Bunkhouse" I went out for an evening stroll. The river runs right through the middle of town and a red wooden bridge separated the outskirts and visitor parking from the rest of Minturn. Unfortunately all the pictures I have no longer exist in a space I can access them.. besides my head. I returned to the Bunkhouse to get some rest. Tomorrow, we ride (and swim and run).
... to be continued.