Originally Published in my column for RoadRUNNER Magazine on: 7/24/2014
Heading out of bounds : The Blindside (Part 1 of 2)
It’s our first full ride day together and we are getting a late start. I have been up for a bit, but have yet to see my riding partner. Perhaps brought on by a bit of altitude sickness, perhaps the spirit of my dad keeping things at a slow and easy pace, or perhaps one to many getting to know you beers. I see Luke for a few moments, offer up some coffee, but it is clear; we will not be hitting the trail anytime soon.
A few hours later Luke wakes up as if nothing happened; a Christmas miracle in August? More likely it is the fact that, while I am in my 40’s, Luke is in his 20’s . . . but not for long. He is body is perhaps more suited to quick recovery. We packed our gear and head into Fairplay to fuel our bikes and ourselves. Stopping at the Java Moose for some awesome home made breakfast sandwiches just in time for lunch.
With such a late start, you would think we would try to make up time, but instead I select “road” 307. A detour between Rt. 285 and Salida – a beautiful ride that turns into a Golden Aspen Tunnel in the fall. The first half of the TAT was all-new to me. I was alone. But now, again, with a riding partner, I feel compelled to share why I love living and riding out here. It was my greatest joy each year, planning and riding with my dad on a new adventure out west. Colorado, Utah, Nevada, California. There was no greater joy than being with just him. Riding free.
It is Luke’s first time riding out west. He has ridden all over the world, but this are of the US is new to him. For this reason, I intend to take some liberties with this part of the trip and share some of my favorite parts.
As we start off on road 307 we get to experience a mini-tour of Colorado. Starting with mildly deep sand, which turns into hard pack and eventually more rocks than dirt. To add to the excitement we also receive a typical afternoon, Colorado thunderstorm, which carries with it a bit of snow. Gotta love altitude! The rain has made the trail muddy, but the excitement of starting the second half of the TAT outweighs the urge to take it easy as we fly over the rocky section. Luke like a gazelle, and me and my loaded down bike, like a Defensive American Football Player that shouldn’t move as fast as he does but somehow defies physics.
This is where I make a fateful mistake. Any rider knows that your bike will go in the direction that you are looking. For a while, I gracefully bounce off of rock after rock. Like Michael Oher, I toss them aside, foolishly forgetting about my own blindside. In an instant, a medium sized, perfectly placed rock makes contact with my front tire. I immediately and involuntarily change direction from the trail into a forest of Aspens. There is no doubt I am headed out of bounds . . .