August 9th was another early morning for us, mostly because we stayed up late having drinks and hanging out at the pool the night before. Luckily the days are long in Colorado during summer. It was the 5th day of riding so everyone is starting to get tired and really feel the miles we have covered. No worries though, I still felt like a kid on Christmas morning at this point.Ready to go take on the next location. The previous day had given us enough free time to load everything up and prepare for the next day without needing to do anything in the morning but climb into a truck and go. So we made a quick breakfast and stopped by the grocery for lunch food, then hit the gas station for fuel and off we went back in the same direction as Walden.
We passed by Rabbit Ears once again and cut the highway short of Walden to drive about 10 miles of dirt road over to the next highway, and our driver thought it would be hilarious to drift his truck and see if he could get some air off a little ridge. all the while my 300 is on the hitch rack in the rear. Real comforting stuff. This put us in Rand, Colorado which has a post office and not much else. From there we cruised south for about 10 miles to the parking area that is nearly 3.5 miles north of Parkview mountain. The guys begin to get unloaded nad prepped for the ride ahead and our host, Austin, is messing around flying down the dirt road and comes skidding into the lot and high sides into another bike for the most hilarious get off I have seen in my life. What a way to start the day! After everyone is finished rolling laughing we hop on the bikes and get going down the road.
Our first trail is about 4 miles of single track that starts out in what looks like a cut over but I cant really tell because it was so grown over, if not then there were a ton of deadfalls. The trail would snake its way into a stand of pines and then back out into the open, but it was such rough terrain you had to really maintain the trail or risk getting booted from your mount by a hole or a log. It started off as a very fast trail but also pretty dusty so we had to space out a bit. There were a few trees over the track so that introduced another element of fun or danger depending on how you feel about crossing logs. The trail continues like this in and out of heavy woods back into the open. The thing about Colorado trails is that they only cut enough tree off to get a bike through when they have a tree fall in the way. This makes it really important to stay centered. I managed to whack the tip of a log laying beside the trail and it kicked me off in the rough and I just held it wide open and managed to stay upright somehow. There is no telling what all I ran over, 15 minutes into the day, so I went ahead and got my heart rate up and all the fear out right then. The end of the trail brought us back out to the main dirt road that skirts the area.
We all met up in a lot just across the road to get our breath back and regroup. My buddy Josh on the CR250 had a rough time with that trail but decided to soldier on. From the lot we had to use a short piece of road to hit the next trailhead. I thought it would be a fun thing to pull a fast wheelie down the open road except it had a sharp curve and I ran off the road and into a tree in the ditch like a total goon. Came out okay and received quite a few laughs. This time the trail starts out in a very open field but soon dips into the woods. This mountain is a totally different terrain than Hahn's. It is really open in the trees and much more even terrain, no huge drop offs or boulders to contend with. This trail was shorter at bout 2 miles and dumped us out onto the main road again, but this time the view is spectacular. We were in a valley with a stream running through totally surrounded by peaks on every side. As we looked up to the south there was a bare spot on the mountain that Austin said we would reach later.
This is where we were: https://goo.gl/maps/3tgam62Mtr62
As we left that point the trail headed out across this bare valley and was 5th and 6th gear speed and up beside the trees until we got to the single track that slowed us down and started to switch back and forth. I always loved getting to open the bike up after being on tighter trails for a while. This was definitely the most fun set of trail we rode. The elevation change was constant. The trails were tight and challenging but then they would get straight for a little seed run. The whole time branches are in your face or you're having to duck if standing. There weren't too many rocks to contend with. It was just a very flowy single track set. Periodically the faster guys would stop to wait on everyone to catch up as this piece of trail snaked up and down the ridges several times and ended up being about 10 miles long. We did eventually reach that bare spot on the ridge and it was covered with rocks. I'm not sure if it is natural or man made, but someone had brought in granite to shore up the trail at this point so it wouldn't wash away. Again, the view was great. You could see the whole valley that we had just come out of and I will have pictures of this below. The climb up to this spot was a little gnarly but it was so fun. As long as you held on the throttle you were fin but it was rocky enough to throw off your balance if the wrong line was chosen. Everyone got up it without incident though and it gave the less experienced guys some much needed confidence. We used this spot to take a long break and get pictures, have a snack and drink a morning beer just because we could. I remember the awe of the moment, my bikes, my friends, me all together in this amazing place and the freedom to do so. That is something that will never leave me.
We decide it was time to move on and took the remaining part of the trail back down to the valley and the main road to figure out where to go for the remainder of the day. Josh was having trouble with the forks on the CR at this point and decided to the the main road back to the truck which at this point was 8 miles back around the north side of the mountain. Its great how long the trails are there to not be that far from the truck. We decided to head back in the direction of the truck to get to some slower more technical riding on the mountain since we had plenty of daylight left as opposed to just taking faster trails all the way around the mountain but being basically unreachable if something were to happen. We started off on single track but soon came out onto fire roads that snaked through the ridges. These were a blast. They were fast and had water breaks in them that made great jumps for a bike. They were covered with loose rocks making for an interesting feel at speed. It was similar to sand but shakey. These took us around to the very north side of Parkview just down below the tree line.
The trails here are like nothing I have ever seen. There was not much undergrowth because the trees made it so dark. The soil was moist even though it had not rained in a week and the ground was covered with leaves and needles from the trees. The rocks were slick as well as the roots. It was tight and slow going as the trail wound up and down, back and forth. There were rock sections with jagged edges all sticking up and there were ledges that had to be hopped up. nothing here was washed out or too muddy. The trail would get steep and then turn off camber and dive back down into another corner. This bit of trail got everyone pretty tired. I managed to smash my right foot between a stump and my footpeg for the most painful event of my trip and later it turned some ugly colors. Turns out riding bots are not indestructible! I couldn't estimate how long the trail was. It seemed like it took forever tho get through but it was a blast! We all popped out on top of a low ridge overlooked by Parkview. The ridge had been used as a camp and a logging location in the past. Looking up at the mountain it looked fairly easy to get up on one side and I so wanted to ride up it to the top like we did Hahn's. While we were resting I pulled out my hone to look for the best way up and it turns out the continental divide trail runs the top ridge and it was just a couple miles of fire road over to it. I just couldn't convince the other guys that was the way to go. They wanted a more direct route through the trees. So we tried to use an old logging road but there were just too many down trees for everyone to pass. We spent nearly an hour trying to go this way before someone decided that we didn't need to get too far and get caught in the dark for a second time in one week. We turned around and went back to the logging spot. At this point it really was late enough in the day to be getting back to the truck.
I was desperately disappointed in our attempt to get to the top, we didn't even get close and I know if we had just followed a good trail we could've reached the summit in time. I was mad that the guys would listen to me, I mean we had a satellite map right there to look at for reference. I'm still grumbling about it typing this 5 months later (LOL)! I guess this just means I have something new to look forward to when we go back this year. We hopped on more single track going back to the truck and it was mostly down hill and easy enough to manage. Everyone was fairly tired though and I didn't have the energy to put towards riding it fast anymore so I was just cruising enjoying the scenery. The trail began to widen a little and open us up to some nasty cliffs and dangerous sections that required care to stay on top of. We crossed over the main road a few different times and finally came to a stop to rest. Austin gave us the option to continue or just take the road out and we were split about half and half. So Austin and 2 other guys kept riding trail as the rest of us took the road out. I swapped bikes with one of the guys so he could have my 300 for the trails and I took my 450 SX bike back for the open roads. Honestly, I was having a blast ripping the big thumper on the mountain roads. Maybe more fun than I would have on the trails at that point. We all got to race a little bit coming out of there and were just having a good time riding. The dirt spit us out onto the paved county road and at that point there was no other option. So we all got in a line and headed north up the paved road. I had never ridden my bike on a paved road before, I was not aware how much fun it really is. I wouldn't do it again for the obvious legality of the situation unless faced with a similar circumstance. I knew I could hold a wheelie well on dirt but man is it easy on pavement, especially with the big 450. My buddy used his trailtech to measure the distance of my longest at 0.78 miles. That was fun. No doubt, I don't need a street bike. The big sweeping turns were fun too and luckily we never passed any vehicles before we made it to the parking lot.
We found Josh safe with the trucks and trailers. Once again we had a successful day out of the trail and were ready for food and bed. On the drive home I was again struck by how good it felt to be there and doing what I love. It is all hard to put into words. I cannot think of a happier time in my life.