Got on the bike this morning and started riding to Chicken Creek Nordic center. Its a 40 minute rode from my home that starts on pavement then turns into a nice dirt road ride. I ride there a lot because it’s close to my home, and gets me into the San Juan National Forest the fastest. Today I started off thinking I would go for a two and a half hour ride. Seven hours later I rolled back into the compound with a new route completed.
For most of the summer I have been riding into the Chicken Creek Nordic center, and then riding up Chicken Creek road. These rides range anywhere from 1 hour to 3 hours depending on how far I go. One ride that I have been thinking about is using Morrison 610 to connect to Highway 145 and then creating a 60+ mile loop back to the small town of Dolores and then home:
The big issue was that I haven’t ridden any of Morrison 610, and my only food was a package of ShotBloks. The good news was that I had plenty of water, and when I got to Dolores I could stop for Gatorade, potato chips, and candy bars. If I got to Dolores…
The temperature was chilly but not cold. With a skull cap, light jacket, and warm gloves I lost some feeling in my fingers but overall was comfortable. After one and a half hours of riding I was too warm for the jacket and gloves. 30 minutes later I switched the cap out for my regular headband. I was feeling very good, but also knew I had a long way to go.
One issue I immediately had with the Morrison 610 trail is that it’s a multi use trail. This means that ATV’s and dirt bikes can ride it. I have friends that tell me dirt bikes help break a trail in for mountain bikes. Yeah right. More like they break a trail.
The issue with anything with an engine is that it can spin it’s tires out anytime. This erodes the trail and leaves large roots and rocks which are not fun to ride a bike on. Personally I don’t see the need for recreational vehicles. If you want to recreate then get a bike or go for a hike. </rant>
The silver lining is that the 560 forest road kept criss-crossing the trail. The second time I crossed it I stopped and check my Trailforks app to see if the 560 forest road was a valid option. Sure enough it was and I could avoid riding the worst eroded part of Morrison 610 by riding on a mostly nicer road for about 4 miles.
The aspen trees in our area have been changing color for a few weeks, but it seemed like they were at peak color today. Half the forest was bright yellow and beautiful. The views definitely helped distract me from the climbing. Eventually I got back on Morrison 610 a short distance from the downhill to Bear Creek Trailhead.
The downhill section of Morrison 610 into the Bear Creek Trailhead on Highway 145 is only 2.5 miles but it has 1800 ft of elevation loss. There were a few trees that had fallen across the trail which I had to dismount for. Part of making a 60+ mile bike ride fun is not falling on a tree, or at all.
It was breathtaking in a few ways:
Once I reached the bottom of the downhill and made my way to Highway 145 I still wasn’t even halfway done with the distance. However the majority of the climbing was complete, and I would be on pavement for the rest of the ride home. I poured my 2 reserve water bottles into my Camelback bladder, and ate my last ShotBlok before heading for Dolores.
Highway 145 is a road Kate and I have biked before, but in the other direction. 4 years ago on Labor day weekend we biked the San Juan Skyway. On day 1 we biked up Highway 145 and today I quickly recalled that there is no shoulder on this road. The majority of drivers gave me plenty of room when passing, and a few slowed down if there was oncoming traffic. So, that was nice.
My butt was beginning to get tired of being on a bike seat about this time. Fortunately I was listening to the audio book Can’t Hurt Me during the start of David’s ultra marathon career. Compared to what he went through in those races my day was looking really nice. It is fascinating how much the mind will get you to quit something because it is hard.
Once in Dolores I stopped at the first gas station to get some calories. At this point I was 6 hours into the ride and had eaten 200 calories in shotbloks, which are just fancy Gummie bears. It was time to consume calories. My preference is for a 32 oz bottle of blue Gatorade, Lays BBQ potato chips, and chocolate bars. This station had Kind bars which make me feel like its kinda health food. I had 2 of those and grabbed a Cliff Bar for security in case I needed more calories before I got home.
Dolores to home is about an hour ride taking it easy. The good news is that at this point easy was the only gear I had left. Since I have biked this section a lot it was much more routine than the prior six hours of riding had been. My butt was definitely over riding bikes for the day but overall I felt good. I stayed well hydrated the whole ride and reserved my energy well.
Next step will be expanding the route to go over Sharkstooth pass and drop down the entire Bear Creek trail. That will add at least 2000 more vertical and at least a dozen or more additional miles. Should be fun.
Stats from Apple Watch:
- Riding Time: 7:01:19
- Miles: 65.22
- Total Calories: 3,805
- Elevation Gain(ft): 4,035
- Average Heart Rate(bpm): 123
- Average Speed(mph): 9.2
- Elevation Min(ft): 6,901
- Elevation Max(ft): 9,738