The Yawp Company recently rode bikes in Steamboat Springs.
This is some kind of mass-produced chimney log. It burns when wet and makes a fire easy to start and doesn't put out much smoke. All I can think of as I watch it burn is what's probably the most famous doodle in Vonnegut's Breakfast of Champions.
Campfires notwithstanding, it was cold on top of Rabbit Ears Pass.
Despite the chilly morning temperatures, we were able to make our 9am start happen by 10am, which is pretty darn good.
There's a trail that starts at the top of Rabbit Ears Pass and winds all the way to the top of Steamboat Ski Area. It's a 30-mile, high alpine ride that ascends 1,800 feet and then descends 4,200 feet almost all at once. We had to put up with a lot of cliché scenery and good people, but we found the strength to persevere. Honestly, wildflowers, babbling creeks, and circling hawks? It has so been done.
It's kind of unfair that places like this still exist. For the urbanite who has to pick the Doritos bags and french fry cartons out of the landscaping every morning and who has to breathe smog and get awakened by sirens and sit in traffic, seeing natural landscapes that make one use words like gorgeous and beautiful without embarrassment is really kind of a downer. We should quickly bulldoze all of this so that we can forget it ever existed, and get on with pretending that concrete and litter is our natural habitat.
The trail is surprisingly flat, given where it is, but there are a number of short, steep climbs that--in combination with the altitude and rocky terrain--leave a rider feeling pretty tired. This ride is for expert snackers only.
The climbs get rockier and looser, by the way, as you go, and just when you think you've reached the ski area and are about to descend, you have several loose, rocky climbs to go.
This spot feels like the top of the world. To get here, you have to complete the day's toughest, loosest, rockiest climb, and it just doesn't look like there's any way to gain more altitude. You will, though. But then you'll be at the top of Steamboat Ski Area where you will enjoy one of the most spectacularly endless descents we've had in recent memory. You'll descend (probably) Pete's and Sunshine Trails for an eternity before you even get to the top of Rustler's Ridge, which itself descends for an eternity (or at least an age).
It's difficult to explain the quality of this descent.
Because every trail has a beginning and an end, every ride therefore contains a narrative. Many of the rides I often get to enjoy do have a story, but it isn't a story in the grand tradition of Don Quixote or The Grapes of Wrath. The narratives of most of my rides are similar to the episodic, rambling narratives a five year-old might tell. "Well, first there was this one part with rocks and then a sludgy uphill and then a bird with a yellow tail flew by and then there were roots and I picked my nose," and etc. Conversely, this trail builds slowly like a long novel. It builds purposefully yet indirectly toward a climax. Just when you think you can't take it anymore, you're rewarded with a short descent or a picturesque vista. It gets tough. It gets tougher. Then there is, literally, a climax. And dang, the Sunshine Trail is a satisfying conclusion. It wraps up your questions and concerns. It schools you about life and makes you into a better, stronger person.
That's not the end of the story. At the top of Rustler's Ridge, you can see the town of Steamboat there below you, and you expect Rustler's Ridge to be a short and predictable epilogue, a useless addendum. It's not.
It's one of the most enjoyable swoopy, jumpy, berm-ed out, shredfests that I know about. You descend and descend and the town of Steamboat never gets any closer. We considered bailing on our Sunday ride and shelling out the $39 per person for a lift pass so we could shred this trail ALL DAY. Insanity. In retrospect, we should've done just that.
Instead, we rode some Emerald Mountain trails just south of town on Sunday. Morning Gloria was a pleasant climb with a low grade, varied terrain, and two billion aspen trees.
We descended NPR (No Pedaling Required). It was fine. It was not Rustler's Ridge. Still, it was riding bikes, and that ain't bad.