It’s not often that I get to get away for a weekend without the thought of training on my mind. Although training didn’t completely escape my mind this past weekend, it was a nice treat to pack up the mtn bikes, camping gear and dogs for a short getaway to Salida. I’d been waiting for some “free” time this road season to hit the dirt and I finally found it last week…a couple days on the CX bike and a couple more on the mtb. Very refreshing to say the least.
The Rainbow Trail in Salida is beautiful. On Saturday Ben and I spent about an hour climbing up fire road until we hit some sick singletrack that ebbed and flowed up and over water crossings with rock gardens, through dusty pines along the ridge and wind swept, high desert terrain. It was my first day out on the mtb this year so I was a little bit shakey and hesitant but loved it nonetheless. I have to admit I wasn’t thrilled with the leg torturing climb to start things off (my legs felt like absolute crap) but the fast singletrack and awesome scenery made it worth the burn.
Sunday’s ride was even sweeter, faster, more beautiful. From Salida we took Hwy 50 to Poncha Springs and then drove out on 285 to 200 where parked near O’haver Lake. We rode out on the fire rode for several miles before hooking up with the trailhead to the Rainbow Trail (obviously a different section then yesterday’s ride). This time Haka and Kohi joined us and they were going nuts from the get-go, so happy to be able to run free on the trails. I did warn them that they better save something for the end because it was going to be a long day, but did they listen? Noooooo, they were off and running in total ecstasy.
We had just entered the edge of the San Isabel National Forest so we were surrounded by fresh pine and the invigorating aroma that comes with it. It was hard to not stop every couple k’s for a photo op, especially when we’d roll into a clearing and see yet another peak, most likely one of the ubiquitous 14′ers, jutting high into the sky. Luckily for the dogs there were many water crossings for them to take a quick ice bath and drink. It wasn’t the hottest of days but the cold water was refreshing for us, too.
Towards the end of the ride both of the pups started to slow down considerably. Ben took the lead and I pulled up the rear so that I could keep an eye on them to make sure they were doing ok. I was starting to get a little concerned for Kohi because she was really dragging. On walks at home she’s usually the one scrounging for food rather than running after the ball so she’s not the fittest of the two so she’s the one to slow down first but she was way off the back now. Once we got down to the bottom of the switch backs (which would have been screaming fast except Kohi kept my speed to a slow crawl) I noticed that Kohi’s paws were bleeding. Upon close inspection I realized that her pads, and Haka’s, were completely raw. Running on the sandy trails and over the rough rocks had ripped their padding right off. No wonder the poor kids were creeping. The decision was made for me to wait with them at that spot while Ben rode another several miles to get the car and pick us up. They were smoked but I’d like to think that they would do it all again if given the chance. Although next time they’ll be running with booties on their paws so as not to get so raw!
On the way out of town we stopped at Amica’s Pizza and Microbrew for a finger licking good pizza and cold beverage before driving back to the Fort. If you are ever in Salida you must stop at Amica’s. Besides offering a plethora of good food and drink, the owner of the restaurant, a charming woman, not only sponsors the Salida Omnium but also a local team. She said to us that sponsoring the event and the team was the best marketing decision she has ever made because cyclists know good food and beer!
You also must stop at Absolute Bikes. Thanks to the gracious employees there we found wicked singletrack and a perfect camping spot.
Ahhh, I needed that little get away on the mtb – it did wonders for the head!