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  1. #1
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    Big.

    Several weeks ago Captain Hike-a-Bike sent me a very direct email. He'd just finished the Colorado Trail Race and insisted that I "run, don't walk" down to ride and gawk on the Coney/Cataract section of that route.

    It took me 10 days to get it together enough to get out of the shop, but just a few days ago Moobs, Jabroni, and myself made it down there for an overnight bikepacking trip.

    The Captain was correct--it is worth running, not walking to.

    See for yourself:
    <object width="700" height="385"><param name="allowfullscreen" value="true" /><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always" /><param name="movie" value="http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=6403852&amp;server=vimeo.com &amp;show_title=0&amp;show_byline=0&amp;show_portr ait=0&amp;color=ff9933&amp;fullscreen=1" /><embed src="http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=6403852&amp;server=vimeo.com &amp;show_title=0&amp;show_byline=0&amp;show_portr ait=0&amp;color=ff9933&amp;fullscreen=1" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowfullscreen="true" allowscriptaccess="always" width="700" height="385"></embed></object>

    We started in Silverton and rode over Cinnamon Pass and down (almost) to Lake City before peeling off onto a doubletrack and climbing. And climbing. And climbing some more to intersect the Colorado Trail, which we then rode (after camping, the next day) back to Silverton.

    That climbing paid off with the views you saw above. What the views don't show is the amount and quality of *rideable* singletrack above 12,000 and even 13,000'. I'd guesstimate that we spent 8+ hours above 12k on the CT, and maybe as much as 2 hours above 13k. Just astonishing to be *up* that high and cruising along in your middle ring.

    Make no mistake--it's not a cake walk. Lots of hike a bike. Hours upon hours of steep, granny gear climbing. Limited filterable water up high. Huge (potential) exposure to t-storms.

    And worth every iota of sweat that it cost. This one will become an annual for me, no doubt about it.

    Cheers,

    MC

  2. #2
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    Awesome (as I expected)!!

    Mike Thank You for doing these threads!!
    "I ride to clear my head, my head is clearer when I'm riding SS. Therefore, I choose to ride SS."~ Fullrange Drew

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee
    ....That climbing paid off with the views you saw above.

    And worth every iota of sweat that it cost. This one will become an annual for me, no doubt about it.
    Gorgeous, Mike. And a big to the musical selections. Very, very well done. I feel like I just took time to smell the flowers and it felt good.

    Thanks for sharing. Big time!

    BB

  4. #4
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    Wow...spectacular. I'm jealous.

  5. #5
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    Wow!

  6. #6
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    Mike,
    Gorgeous scenery, great photography. Looks like a great trip. Thanks for capturing it.
    Barry

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    Wowzer...

  8. #8
    (was) Big in Japan
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    art.
    Ride.

  9. #9
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    This is what biking is about. For me, at least

  10. #10
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    Beautiful

    What a trip. I'd love to see a map of that route. How did you handle the camping gear?

  11. #11
    SSolo, on your left!
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    Quote Originally Posted by nitrousjunky
    Awesome (as I expected)!!

    Mike Thank You for doing these threads!!
    YES, and thanks!
    Get off the couch and ride! :)

  12. #12
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    I'm slowly chipping away at what there is in Silverton, but still have yet to go that direction. AMAZING stuff in all directions from there.

    Thanks for sharing!

  13. #13
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    One of my favorite areas to hike and ride in the world. I have a couple secret canyons in that range that I'm unwilling to share the location of because they are so special.

  14. #14
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    Damn you and your awesomeness.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by can't get right
    Damn you and your awesomeness.
    I agree

  16. #16
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    A great virtual ride..

    that I desperately needed since I missed mine this afternoon for a freakin conference call. Thanks Mike.

  17. #17
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    Thanks for sharing. You are making me wish that I lived in CO even more!
    "There are those who would say there's something pathological about the need to ride, and they're probably on to something. I'd wager though that most of the society-approved compulsions leave deeper scars in the psyche than a need to go and ride a bicycle on a mountain." Cam McRea

  18. #18
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    I'm speechless
    Brisbane, AU

  19. #19
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    endless
    wherever you go, there you are

  20. #20
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    Another WOW...beautiful!!!

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by can't get right
    Damn you and your awesomeness.
    That's pretty dang funny. Especially comin' from you. See you this fall...

    MC

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    Homesick for America...again.

  23. #23
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    Incredible. Looks like the ends of the earth.

    Question: Who builds/maintains these trails? Off-road cyclists? Hikers? Elk? They look immaculate, challenging, remote, etc, etc... How did they get there?
    I'm covered in beer.

  24. #24
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    sunumbeech...
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    DBs on Dirt since 2010

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    amazing wish I lived there

  26. #26
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    You win. I envy.
    Professional Amateur

  27. #27
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    dang Mike, that's awesome. Once again I live/ride vicariously through you.

  28. #28
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    another great post

  29. #29
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    Amazing photos.

    I am privileged to live in Lake City, and although there is a lack of easy accessible trails for short rides, the big epic possibilities are HUGE!

    What exact route did you take? Up Wager Gulch, then down Pole Creek?

    I need to dispatch of this route ASAP this fall.
    Thanks for the inspiration

    And if you passed a guy on a black rigid 29er without a helmet at the bottom of Cinnamon, that was me.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee
    That's pretty dang funny. Especially comin' from you. See you this fall...

    MC

    I was wondering if you were going to stop by our little Burg. I have $40 with your name on it in my pocket, chips and drink money for the drive.

    M

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by can't get right
    I was wondering if you were going to stop by our little Burg. I have $40 with your name on it in my pocket, chips and drink money for the drive.

    M
    Just waitin' for y'all to turn the thermostat down and the sprinklers up...


  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by campredcloudbikes
    What exact route did you take? Up Wager Gulch, then down Pole Creek?
    We climbed away from the lake on Slumgullion, then peeled off and went through Sawmill Park on the way to intersecting the CT on Jarosa Mesa. Took the CT all the way to Stony Pass from there, then descended Stony.
    <a href="https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/gG5p8KxPFC4D9QlrvsXcrQ?authkey=Gv1sRgCLzwtPjGpfXAc A&feat=embedwebsite"><img src="https://lh5.ggpht.com/_Z3iU73Uw_T8/SqB16Ek8ZqI/AAAAAAAALTk/1Vcbvw6vuYg/s800/catloop.jpg" /></a>

    Not a great map, but it gives you the idea. Not much routefinding up there--the CT is really well marked with cairns on the ground and carsonite or 4 x 4 posts at intersections. There aren't many intersections.

    Big bummer coming down Stony--you drop ~3k of vert in ~5 miles ( ) on dirt road, after all of that glorious skinny trail.

    The profile gives a better idea of how the ride shakes out:
    <a href="https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/0h78vBif6E_B8XB6nV6ruQ?authkey=Gv1sRgCLzwtPjGpfXAc A&feat=embedwebsite"><img src="https://lh3.ggpht.com/_Z3iU73Uw_T8/SqB16OVaUJI/AAAAAAAALTo/tVfKR0YIshQ/s800/catpro.png" /></a>

    One big climb to start day one, then a little more climbing at the end of the day. We camped at about mile 43.

    Climbs of every size, shape, and duration on day two.

    Quote Originally Posted by campredcloudbikes
    And if you passed a guy on a black rigid 29er without a helmet at the bottom of Cinnamon, that was me.
    I think we did pass you there on ~Thursday, late afternoon?

    Cheers,

    MC

  33. #33
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    I rode those sections also, about a month ago. I started at Spring Creek Pass though, so I got a bit more of that sweet singletrack.

    Funny the Colorado Trail Guidebook recommends that cyclists skip those sections (#22,#23).

    I presently have a proposal to a publisher to have a cyclists guidebook to the CO Trail put out. Everybody needs to know how accessible and beautiful that place is. In the 8 hours I was up there I didn't see a single other cyclist on the tundra.

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by campredcloudbikes
    Amazing photos.

    I am privileged to live in Lake City, and although there is a lack of easy accessible trails for short rides, the big epic possibilities are HUGE!

    What exact route did you take? Up Wager Gulch, then down Pole Creek?

    I need to dispatch of this route ASAP this fall.
    Thanks for the inspiration

    And if you passed a guy on a black rigid 29er without a helmet at the bottom of Cinnamon, that was me.
    I do not condone riding in Wilderness Areas but some of the very best singletrack in your neck of the woods is in the Wilderness Areas. Not like you will see anyone anyway. The slog to get to some areas like the north side of the Uncompaghre complex is so long and hard that most will not bother. I will say that the ride from Lake City up the Engineer Pass road, turning off towards Uncompaghre Peak campground, then up over the saddle down into the northern drainages is quite possibly one of the most breathtaking bike rides in North America. Hiking it would take many days, riding just an afternoon. Serious. That's where John Wayne filmed True Grit. Epic vistas and views.

  35. #35
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    Just to be clear, none of the route Mike (or me for that matter) took is in wilderness areas. North of Spring Creek Pass is (CO Trail Section #21), as well as South of Stony Pass (CO Trail Section #24) are in wilderness areas, but sections 22 and 23 covered here are not.

    The official CO Trail guide recommends skipping these because they think the sections are too difficult for cyclists. Wrong.

  36. #36
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    That route makes sense. I'll definitely need to ride it this fall.
    Way too many epic rides around Lake City, the list keeps getting longer.
    Not that that's a bad problem!

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by rkappius
    Just to be clear, none of the route Mike (or me for that matter) took is in wilderness areas. North of Spring Creek Pass is (CO Trail Section #21), as well as South of Stony Pass (CO Trail Section #24) are in wilderness areas, but sections 22 and 23 covered here are not.

    The official CO Trail guide recommends skipping these because they think the sections are too difficult for cyclists. Wrong.
    I should have clarified. I know and you know that the areas you rode in were not in Wilderness Areas. I should have pointed that out.

    But....if one were to ride through the Big Blue Wilderness, there is some of the most fascinating backcountry trails you have ever seen.

    To the Lake City guy: There is a trail called "The Alpine Trail" that goes from the Alpine Guard Station over to Ouray. This is not the Alpine Loop. Head like you are going to Big Blue Campground, where the road double backs on itself near the Guard Station, head due west. Awesome trail, legal to ride also. I have ridden it from town. One of the main draws is that behind the Alpine Guard Station is a hand drawn water pump with drinkable water straight from the pump. Being able to load down on water there is a major benefit prior to tackling the nosebleed elevation to the plateau above.

  38. #38
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    I'm waiting for 29inches to come in and figure out a way to rain even on THIS parade...

  39. #39
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    Bump just because this is amazing and I want more people to see it

  40. #40
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    Just found the Alpine Trail on the map. Looks nice. Maybe I could link up the Coney/Cataract into Silverton, ride to Ouray, then back on the Alpine Trail for the Grand Tour!

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by campredcloudbikes
    Just found the Alpine Trail on the map. Looks nice. Maybe I could link up the Coney/Cataract into Silverton, ride to Ouray, then back on the Alpine Trail for the Grand Tour!
    Here is the Alpine Guard Station photo below:



    The water pump is off to the right of the building in the "backyard" sideyard-axeyard. Good clean water.

    I wish I could live in that cabin. It is never used by the Forest Service for anything. I think it was built 80-90 years ago.

    It must be a solid 10 miles from Hwy 149 and the road takes you over two big ridgelines to get to it. I have forgotten how far north up 149 you need to go to get to the cutoff. Ask the people at the flyfishing store in town how to get to Big Blue. They will tell you.

    Here is a youtube link of some throttletwisters on a section of it:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dzqdxUXiYgE

    The view where they stopped is breathtaking, Wish they would show more of it.

  42. #42
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    Bump, cause this needs to be made a sticky in the Colorado West Slope section.

  43. #43
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    Beautiful!

  44. #44
    meh....
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    nice mike.

  45. #45
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    killer, mike... just killer!

  46. #46
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    Bump.

    Lots of beautiful Bumps up there.

  47. #47
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    well, I finally got out and rode the Alpine Trail. It's great and has everything Lake City mountain biking should be. If you're a curious local, you should do it.






    but personally, I prefer Colorado Trail sections 22-23 right out my back door, of which this thread is primarily concerned with. I rode some of that earlier this summer








    EDIT: For the Alpine Trail, the water pump mentioned by the poster above at the guard station is no longer there. Make extra sure to bring your own purification stuff.
    Last edited by campredcloudbikes; 07-24-2011 at 08:49 PM.

  48. #48
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    Damn. I really need to get to your state. Soon.

  49. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee View Post
    Make no mistake--it's not a cake walk. Lots of hike a bike. Hours upon hours of steep, granny gear climbing. Limited filterable water up high. Huge (potential) exposure to t-storms.
    So what exactly does one do if they get caught in a t-storm up there... ride, hide, mess your pants?

  50. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by kustomz View Post
    So what exactly does one do if they get caught in a t-storm up there... ride, hide, mess your pants?
    You can usually spot the cloud formations for a t-storm at least 30 minutes beforehand so be vigilant the entire time but especially as early afternoon rolls around.

    If you get caught or spot something in the clouds then start descending but don't take more risks then usual.

    I'd imagine you would be better off to keep descending rather than separating from bike and assuming a lightning position but no one really knows the odds I'd bet!



    When hiking at least and below treeline you want to spread out from others and away from deadfall/big trees and crouch like the picture above. It's not much fun!

  51. #51
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    T-storms?

    Quote Originally Posted by kustomz View Post
    So what exactly does one do if they get caught in a t-storm up there... ride, hide, mess your pants?
    Goodness, those T-storms sound frightening! Imagine steaming-hot tea pouring down from the heavens!
    Brisbane, AU

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