James lives in Lakewood right off of Green Mountain and Jon lives up north within striking distance of the Dirtiest Bismark. We're getting a fair representation of the entire Front Range/Metro area!
I'll not trouble you with the details of our logistical snafu at the trailhead(s). Suffice it to say, "west" does not mean the same thing to everyone. As in "I'll meet you at the west trailhead."
I headed south when I realized the mixup and they headed north. We met along the trail. A quick verbal itinerary was drafted (James: I do NOT want to do the fire road) and we took off southward on the Green Mountain Trail.
Initially I believed James had a touch of wussness due to his aversion to ride the fire road, the climb I referred to as the Green Dragon's tail a few weeks ago, and was then surprised at the stout pace he set as we skirted the huge pile of dirt called Green. Was he allergic to suffering? This whole posse thing might not be such a good idea.
His weakness was revealed soon enough. We approached a short, steep climb over one of the numerous shoulders on the south side. James was halfway up and standing on his pedals. Without thinking too much (I'm unaccustomed to following others) I followed suit. I stayed in my middle chainring and high cassette cog and stood up on the pedals. By the time I reached the top of the short climb something odd was happening. I was breathing hard and seeing spots.
And then we were bombing down again. Shortly (no time to recover) we hit another hill and the cycle repeated itself. Except...
As I jumped up on my pedals I noticed something very strange about James' bike...all his gears had fallen off!
I wanted to pull him to the side of the trail and point out the obvious structural deficiency in his rig. Only one gear left! Who can ride such an obviously deficient machine? Maybe we should go back and look for his cogs and derailer...
I didn't pull him aside, not because I feared hurting his feelings, but because I was gagging on the little bits of my lung that kept coming up making it hard to speak clearly.
Due to my inability to communicate verbally (Please stop!) we continued on to the real climb without slacking off the pace significantly. By the time we turned north onto the Hayden Trail I was flailing as a direct result of oxygen depletion. James stood up on his pedals and climbed into the prairie sky (wow, how he must have been suffering!) and Jon was closing up the gap behind me. I gasped on through the first switchback.
My brain was scrambling to come up with a manly reason to collapse on the side of the trail when my glasses serendipitously fogged, completely obscuring my vision. My safety, and the safety of the entire ride, was instantly compromised. I had to stop.
"Couldn't see a thing!" I said as Jon rolled past, hoping he could see the offending moisture on my lenses.
They guys thoughtfully leap-frogged the next section--each of us taking a turn at stopping for various reasons--I'm sure in an effort to spare my fragile ego.
We possied on to the summit road and then picked up the Summit Loop on the east side overlooking the suburbs of Lakewood. The sky was overcast gray and the landscape was obscured by foggy haze. The air was cool, much cooler than the 60F the meteoro-fascists had predicted, but nearly perfect for a bike ride. The cold air slightly numbed the pain.
It was somewhere on the approach to the top that I remembered that every time I ride Green Mountain I remember how much I enjoy riding Green Mountain. I only seem to forget when I'm not riding Green Mountain.
Hopefully I won't forget anytime soon.
The Summit Loop Trail is great. It goes on for a good distance contouring along the high eastern slopes a few dozen feet below the ridge crest. Jon lagged, but I'm sure it was just because he was taking in the magnificent suburban vistas, not because James and I were dropping him.
Toward the north end it's rocky, warming you up for a descent of Box o' Rocks. Considering my "undefined" technical skill level, a trail with a name like Box o' Rocks could be a pleasant romp or a contusion-filled nightmare.
Somehow it was neither. It was rocky, surprisingly there were no boxes, and eventually it smooths out. I took the point position for the descent. James and Jon both agreed they were going to get beat up pretty bad due to their full rigidness. I can't give them grief because I never rode suspension prior to 2010. Rigid mountain bikes are for real cyclists.
Me and the Cannonball at Guanella PassNo one mentioned that my being on point had anything to do with my relative mass and potential velocity on the descent. I appreciate that.
before it was paved
before it was paved
Back at the bottom we parted ways. I believed I had to head back to work for a meeting at 6pm that had already been cancelled, and it was getting on towards dusk. It was a good ride, enough of a push that I still felt it in my lungs yesterday, but not so hard that I couldn't continue on home 11 more miles when I realized there was no reason for me to be in Golden anymore.
I'm glad I decided to stop being anti-social. I hope this whole posse thing works out. If not I may have to ask my mom if she'd go back to paying people to be friends with me. Worked pretty well when I was a kid.