The Colorado Trail – A Few Segments and That’s It

The mind is a powerful tool. The mind is an Evil Weapon. The mind can save you. The mind can destroy you.

At times the pain & suffering is all in your head. Sometimes it’s not. As a single speed freak that thrives on 24 hr solo races – it’s hard to know the difference.

Our end-to-end attempt on the Colorado Trail (unsupported = CTR ITT) ended in total failure. Physical issues? Mental Issues? Who knows. Maybe I’ll go to the Dr and gather more data. Maybe I won’t.

Anyway, I entered the adventure under the weather. I felt ‘weird’ for a few days leading up to the ride. But I’m tough, I’d survive. Well, all I know is that my body completely broke down around mile 17. I spend the next 40 miles suffering AND trying to convince myself that I am the biggest wimp, wuss, loser in the world. Maybe I am.

I almost had myself convinced that ‘The Condition‘ was a mental condition that would soon go away. Then we headed out of Bailey on FSR 109 and up Hwy 285. It became apparent that my legs couldn’t turn over the cranks. Yes, I was rolling a 32×20 and that hurts on a fully loaded bike. But, I was done, the pain wasn’t normal. My physical condition was clearly not ALL mental. (Maybe.) So, we turned around and headed back to Bailey. Just to think it over before we hit the high altitude trails.

The Morale Chairman discussed my symptoms with The Madre. (I had no desire to text away due to my personal battle with The Demons that sensed my weakness and were forging a full on assault.) The Madre was freaked out to say the least. She convinced me that I was one bad decision away from a long vacation – a vacation 6 ft under.  So I called it. Game Over.

Time will tell what really happened. I have a serious phobia of Drs – because I don’t trust those pill pushing freaks. (Ok, they aren’t all freaks – but I rarely find that time in a Drs office is time well spent.) And I have some major physicals coming up – required for work duties. So I’ll find out sooner or later if it was a low grade fever / flu that blew up due to single speed induced pain on the CT or if it is some major issue.

Well, life’s rough. The correct plan was to delay our start by a week… yep, history says we should’ve delayed the start until I felt 100%. But it’s not always that easy for us middle aged dudes. We are owned by The Man (or The Woman) aka The Job. So it was a now or never situation. Ok. It was a now or next year situation. And I’m not a patient person.

The only guarantee right now is that The Morale Chairman & I will return to the CT, like soon. And we will give the CTR ITT a go in 2012. I plan to start ~ 5 days before the super freak racers. It will be a blast to watch them fly by in the high altitude segments near / around / after Lake City / Hwy 149.

And for Fun – Participate in the Quitters Quit Poll:

The Summary:
Victory at the Back of the Pack is always based in our Alternate Reality. But defeat is very, very real. Therefore we must have a sense of humor about all this. We must just wake up every day and keep those cranks turning. Dude. Dudette.

The Gatekeeper on Segment 1 – The Long Hike-A-Bike
The Burn on Segment 2 – get through here before the afternoon sun!

Lessons Learned:

    • 32×20 ain’t that cool. Next time 32×21


    • You don’t need to experiment during the early segments. Deal with the strategy for the later segments when you get to the later segments.
      • Ex. we rolled out with 4 days of food. The early segments have resupply points separated by 50+ miles. Basically. So, we were trying out our packing strategy for the Buena Vista to Silverton segments. If we were smart we would pack for light and fast. (Yeah, light and fast. Funny.)
    • Down jacket? Really? I may ditch it. Maybe.
    • New Tires. NO MATTER WHAT! I rolled out with a hundred miles on my tires. I never thought I was cheap. But I guess I am. Bad decision. I was worried about the tires the minute I left my house.
    • Check the water filter (functionality) before any trip.
      • And fix it when the flow rate is SLOW or non existent.
    • Hit the start of the CT before 7am. Get out of Segment 2 (South Platte to FS-550) before the heat of the day.
    • If a mouse wants a piece of you in the middle of the night. The dude (or dudette) will get a piece of you in the middle of the night.


The Raw Data:
Segment 1: Indian Creek to South Platte
Miles: 12.5 (Water Canyon to South Platte is about 4 miles longer & 1000+ more vertical)
Ascent: 1814′
Descent: 3087′
Moving Time: 2 hrs 34 min
Stopped Time: 15 min
Hike-A-Bike: ~ 4.5 miles
Comments: Watch out for the Eagles!

Segment 2: South Platte to FS-550
Miles: 11.5
Ascent: 2241′
Descent: 957′
Moving Time: 2 hrs 45 min
Stopped Time: 1 hr 8 min
Hike-A-Bike: ~ 5.0 miles
Comments: Ride Early. Avoid the afternoon sun.

Segment 3: FS-550 to Wellington Lake Rd (FS-560)
Miles: 12.4
Ascent: 1689′
Descent: 1446′
Moving Time: 2 hrs 22 min
Stopped Time: 39 min
Hike-A-Bike: ~ 2.5 miles
Comments: Nice camping, nice stream around mile 8. But you should make it past this on Day 1! Yes, you REALLY SHOULD make it WAY past this point on Day 1.

Bike Bypass #1: CTR Bypass – Not the CT Bypass
Miles: 28.2
Ascent: 5615′
Descent: 3700′
Moving Time: ?
Stopped Time: ?
Hike-A-Bike: ~ 1 mile
Comments:Estimate based on bike + car data – only experienced 1/2 of the route on the SS

The Ones Zeros in Graphical Form:

Segment 1 – Alternate : Indian Creak Trailhead : The Trail
Segment 1 – Alternate : Indian Creak Trailhead : The Profile

Segment 2: The Trail
Segment 2: The Profile

Segment 3: The Trail
Segment 3: The Profile

Bike Bypass #1 : The Trail : Estimated via Bike & Vehicle Data
Bike Bypass #1: The Profile
A Few Pics:
The Morale Chairman? Cracking a Smile?


The Start of Segment 3 – FS550

The Morning after the Mouse Attack. No Joke

Climbing the Road in / around Bailey

A Private Battle with The Demons.
It wasn’t a lone, renegade Demon.
It was a Battalion of Demons.
A Frontal Assault and an Assault on the Left & Right Flanks. Brutal Battle!

2 thoughts on “The Colorado Trail – A Few Segments and That’s It

  1. Oh man, I wish I knew that you had planned running that 20t….yeah, major mistake. Skip the 21t next year and go straight to the 22t.

    But awesome effort out there regardless, way to find some adventure! Umm, Rico-Telluride 100? 😉


  2. Hey Matt. I hear you about the 22T. The brother and I may make another attempt at the Colorado Trail in a week or two. Either ride the 250 miles that we haven't been on… or go for the end-to-end ride again. So, definitely ditchin' the 20T.

    I've been thinking about the Rico 100. I signed up a while ago. It depends on our return to the CT. So we shall see. It's definitely on the list as the SW corner of Colorado is my favorite spot.


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