Wednesday, September 19

Tripping the Unfamiliar

Took a mental health day today. Then I grabbed hold of opportunity and wrestled 'im to the ground.

I rode The One up to school in Westminster, hijacked Gump, and drove up to Betasso Preserve in the foothills west of Boulder.

I didn't ride in Betasso (bikes are not allowed on Wednesdays and Saturdays) but only used the TH as a parking spot for my scouting ride.

I dropped back down to Sugarloaf Road and turned west up the moderate slog to Labelle Road. I've been in the area a couple of times, first an attempted ride on the Switzerland Trail with the kids--got rained out--and then back hiking with Boone to the top of Sugarloaf proper. So I know the main roads. It's a "mountain" suburban area, and therefore, not straightforward to navigate.

The ultimate reason, Dear Readers, for my trip today was to familiarize myself with the final leg of the Cougar Slayer. Now I have complete confidence that I won't get stymied by route finding challenges. And believe me, that section was a doozy.

The first half of the four mile section went smoothly. Now, I never get lost. Let me iterate that up front. There is a knot of roads and driveways at Arkansas Mountain Road. I remembered the area well from the Strava map, and I was pretty sure I was in the right spot, but a "private road, neighborhood access only" sign made me doubt. I had no 3G service so I couldn't consult any aerial imagery to confirm my location.

Finally I pushed on into what seemed to be someone's driveway. I was going to play the "lost" card should I be confronted. Thankfully I quickly discovered I was on the right trail. Hurrah!

From that point on I was 100% confident I was on the course. The second sign read with a more fascist tone than the first, upholding the supreme sanctity of private property, but then the last sign at the top of the descent addressed mountain bikers and urged caution because of high pedestrian and equestrian traffic. Finally! Real confirmation I was on route!

However...the descent from Arkansas Mountain to Weaver Road was a bit hairy. Steep is an apt description. Piled high with decomposed granite baseballs accurately describes the "trail" surface. "Seemingly abandoned" rings true. A great wave of relief washed over me though as I cruised down to Weaver Road and returned to the trailhead. I'd ridden 11 miles total and had shored up the logistics for a particularly confusing route segment.

On one hand it seems a bit cheap to preview the route. The rock climbing parallel would be "blowing the onsight." But the confidence of knowing that tricky section far outweighs any cheapening of the sense of adventure come September 29. There'll be plenty of new trail to ride despite my preview today. And, I've ridden all of the Switzerland Trail of which the Cougar route utilizes a good portion.

This is going to be awesome!

Sugarloaf Mtn from Labelle Rd

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