I don’t travel often anymore but each fall i feel a draw to see the changing colors of the aspens and visit the place i lived for the entirety of my adult life until about 6 years ago. The family of friends there has proved hard to beat and i’ve never felt more welcome and happier to spend a couple of days in the high country no matter what the weather held in store. We got lucky with a slower than expected low pressure system to have enough time to get out before the season’s first snowfall.
Day 1 i visited Timmy, Stace, and Karl in Golden and did a great allrounder loop on a bike i made Tim about 4 years ago, Nigel, who is now a drop bar 29er with a Salsa Cutthroat carbon fork. Timmy tinkers with his bike setup almost as much as me. We’ve both gravitated towards the allrounder style in our old age — dirt drop MTB’s and 650b allroad bikes. So when I visited all i had to do was drop the saddle and hop on Nigel. Originally a 29er built around a 100mm travel Lefty with sliders to go singlespeed (or for bigger tires with longer chainstays), he now is set up with FSA flared drop bars, a Knight Composites Trail/DT Swiss 240 wheelset, and SRAM Rival 1×11, Absolute Black oval chainring, and an e13 wide range cassette. The bike has a 2.6 on front and a 2.3 in back so it’s a pretty cush ride and can go pretty much anywhere especially now with the old lever-under-the-nose-of-the-saddle KS dropper post. The ride took us out his door and stayed on dirt, bikepath, suburban singletrack linking dirt roads and everything inbetween. I love these rides where you go and find a way to go via dirt to places usually only accessed by car and roads. Back at the house his kitty Karl was damn funny to play with. I’ve never been much of a cat person, preferring dogs instead, but man this cat was a crackup!
Day 2 I joined the Steel*Wool crew in their annual fall classic, the TripleX. The idea being the three X’s are three loops around the local trail network with pit stops at the end of each loop to include food and drink, usually whiskey and beer. Starting at Heyride’s rad new house we rolled out at the crack of 10 on the first loop – a mix of singletrack and dirt roads into town where we stopped at a bar to get the required shot of Jameson and a beer before starting the second loop. Heading west towards the Divide we climbed a good amount had some hike a bike and climbed some more to get to the top of Tennessee Mtn (10,000ft). At the top the clouds parted and the sun came out while we passed around a couple of flasks and told stories about past events showing how damn old we feel now.
Down and down we went to the second stop at the locale formerly known as the Stage Stop where we were greeted with a smorgasbord of drinks and foot – coffee, irish whiskey, and stuff to snack on before completing the last loop. On the last loop around a mountain of singletrack the clouds turned to fog and then that turned to rain just as we hiked and rode back to the starting point to a fridge full of food and beer.
There’s something about 7 hours out in the woods with new friends and old followed by a cozy house and warm fire with which to share stories. The snow started falling that night and we woke up to a few inches of wet snow and soupy roads feeling lucky the ride wasn’t a day later. The weekend I thought would be a total bust because of weather turned out to be the calm between the storms and couldn’t have been a better time to ride and experience fall in the high country.