I rolled into Durango at a little after noon. It was warm and sunny, and I was a little dazed. I found a place to park downtown then realized I only had a nickel to feed the meter. Hmm. 10 minutes. I decided to wander off anyway to find a bike shop and ask about what is open this year as of May 14.
I saw a bike shop, but it wasn't one I recognized. I wanted to visit Mountain Bike Specialists since that shop is part of mountain biking history. I wandered around, glancing at the sidewalk occasionally hoping to spot a dime or quarter, then finally saw the shop and jaywalked over to go inside.
Great shop; they were busy with a number of customers. One I overheard was an affluent-looking man in his late 50's agonizing over whether he could afford a $450 mountain bike. Soon a tiny woman came over to talk to me about trails. From what she said, lots was open. The Colorado Trail way up high, at least 5 or 6 miles worth of Hermosa, and of course the Horse Gulch System and the Test Track in Durango Mountain Park.
I had committed to seeing the low-elevation riding that I've never ridden before, but hearing that I could ride the Colo Trail way up past Junction Creek was compelling. I bought the Latitude 40 Durango map from her and headed up to the western terminus of the Colorado Trail.
Oh baby, climbing singletrack. I really enjoy riding around Salida, especially in summer, but dangit, we just do not have anything like the wonderful climb-able singletrack that characterizes Durango. What a joy it was!
I rode up past lots and lots of joggers and dog-walkers in the first mile or two, then saw fewer people. At Gudy's Rest I was asked if I had a tube or patch kit by a young dude. I patched his tube for him and talked with him. He was really thankful, and I can imagine why. It would be probably nearly two hours to walk a bike down off of that place, but just 15 wonderful minutes of riding it. He was helmetless, shirtless, wearing Vans and riding platform pedals, and of course showing 4 inches of boxer shorts over the top of his frayed shorts. I pointed out the wisdom of keeping a stocked seat bag and frame pump. When he rode off I noticed that his StumpJumper's saddle was as low as it could go and he was standing as he started the descent. Kids these days.
I climbed on up well past Gudy's. I was climbing for a little over two hours, and every turn of the trail rewarded me with views that made my heart swell with the realization that summer is right around the corner. Rocky Mountains in summer--the sweetest place to be that I know of.
After descending for nearly 45 minutes (being conservative though, since the trail has lots of folks on it that I didn't want to maim) I drove 3 minutes farther up the road to get a spot at the lovely Junction Creek Campground. After over five hours of saddle time, I was ready to eat like a pig, which is exactly what I did. Then I slept like a baby (not the screaming, wet-diaper kind--the other more relaxed ones).