After our Sunday hike Kathy (who knew I wouldn't mind having one more chance to ride before we headed home) offered that she might just be into finding a sunny spot and reading a magazine if I would like to go hit the Kokopellis loops one more time.
I re-filled my hydration pack, mixed up a bottle of HEED, ate a cookie and loaded up the bike. Twenty minutes later I was on my bike rolling out of the parking lot headed for the beginning of Mary's over the hill. It was about 1:45. I was hoping to get up onto Mack Ridge, and really hoping to see the new trail they've cut that drops off the back side intersecting with the Lion's doubletrack. I told Kathy I'd bring my phone out on the ride, would call if something came up, but that otherwise she should expect me back at the hotel by 4:30.
I covered ground pretty well, riding right past the Horsethief Bench and Steve's Loop options to get started on climbing up Lion's Loop. There were a scattering of riders who all seemed to be heading back to the trailhead. It was mid-afternoon on a Sunday in the early spring; the front range visitors would be loading up and heading back.
Looking down on Steve's from Lion's.
The forecast was for the wind to pick up as the afternoon wore on, and possible rain and snow overnight. It was breezy for sure, but nice and warm and it was great to be out there.
A nice bit of Lion's Loop.
I got to the beginning of the doubletrack part of Lion's about an hour after I started. Quicker than I expected, but I didn't have a really clear memory of how long these things took. I've ridden the whole trail system in the past, but never really timed it. And it's been a while since I rode Lion's or Troy Built.
I saw the new trail coming down on my right, exactly where Troy Built headed off to the left. Time to think about options. What I wanted to do was ride Troy Built around the corner, climb up the doubletrack onto Mack Ridge, then maybe go out and back on the Mack Ridge Trail a ways, then back down the new trail. That would leave me to ride Lions and maybe Mary's back out. Is there time to do that by 4:15? It's 2:45...
That's when I remembered I had not grabbed the phone when I left the car. That meant at a minimum I had to be at the car by 4:30 to call.
OK, so what would be a quicker option, just to guarantee I be out at 4:30? Skip Troy Built, climb up onto Mack Ridge using the doubletrack? Down the new trail and back out on Lion's? Plenty of time to do that...
Or I could ride Troy Built then climb up onto the Ridge, and if time was looking short just ride the normal Mack Ridge trail out the normal way. I wanted Troy Built. I turned left and rolled on out that way.
Troy Built was longer and tougher than I remembered (and really fun). It took me about 45 minutes. And the fact that I'd hiked for 3 hours that morning and eaten a cookie for lunch, and that I'm really not very fit; well I started to fade a little. But it was time to get up onto that Ridge, so I attacked it.
That doubletrack climb was longer and tougher than I remembered (sound familiar?) and it was after 4 when I came to the intersection with the new trail descending off to the right. Out. Of. The. Question.
I had less than half an hour to be back. How long was the Mack Ridge Trail? By now it was dawning on me that my memory about how long these trails were was quite imperfect, and clouded by the fact that last time I rode there I was as fit as I get. It started looking like a pipe dream that I would be back at the car by 4:30. The only saving grace was the wind. It was really really strong, and it was at my back. How often does that happen? A tailwind when you really need one?
I snapped a couple fast pictures from atop the ridge, and then got down to the business of getting off there and back to the car.
The view upriver from Mack Ridge.
The Mack Ridge Trail was a blast, especially riding it with the urgency of a late person. I got off it with a good measure of suspension slamming quickness. Then got to the saddle where you can drop back over to Mary's or hit Moore Fun, or pull the plug and get on the service road back to the lot. That last one was the option I chose.
Thanks to the wild tailwind, I was rolling up to the car at roughly 4:30:48 PM MDT. I dropped the bike into the dirt, peeled off my pack, got the key out and unlocked the car. I started rifling through it looking for the phone. Not. In. There.
I had left it back at the hotel. Load bike. Go.
Got back at 4:45. Kathy was fine, she hadn't started worrying yet. All done, all good.