Oh sweet relief: right before, and right after finishing the Moab Red Hot 55k! Thanks to everyone involved in putting on this event: the organizers, volunteers, 4wd enthusiasts manning the aid stations, and everyone else! Mucho thanks to @ultimatedirectionusa for helping me get to the starting line and making me look so damn good running the canyons while running *in* the @scottjurek Canyon Colorway Ultra Vest! #runwithud #trailrunning #moab #ultraendurance #ultrarunning #nicelegs
“Dude. What happened?”
I remove myself from my shallow moving meditation, “What?”
“Look at your leg!”
And so I do:
Starting from mid-thigh, it looks like I’ve managed to scrape a four inch wide section of my skin until the top of my ankle.
Road rash par-excellence.
What else does a newly tuned up bike need, except a nice MUD BATH! In typical @longrangerjustin style, I literaly ran across town with all my bike gear in my @ultimatedirectionusa Fastpack 15 to catch a bus to Golden to pick up the Sherpa Bike aka Surly Ogre aka Adventure Buddy from @goldenbikeshop, and took ‘er on a 50+ mile curcuitous route back home featuring some nice gravel roads, a LOT of climbing, and a little bit of unavoidable slop- but I’ll take it, as it’s February and I’m riding bikes in a #cyclocross skinsuit #onesie, and life’s pretty good while riding bikes. Oh, and I got this amazingly dorky bright orange safety construction hard hat helmet thing to further enhance my visibility on the road. I actually think it goes well with my UD Fastpack- and beard! Thanks to @goldenbikeshop/@bentgate_mountaineering for helping me get a bike rolling as I get through all the not so fun accident stuff. Be good to your bike mechanics!
Looking a little grizzly while overlooking Bear Peak today. Conditions were a little windy, but not too bad out there! Trying my best to ramp up my weekly mileage, but bopping up and down mountains just isn’t the easiest way to do that. I cant help it, too much fun! …even though my quads protest. #boulder #osmp #trailrunning #trailrun #runwithud
No bike? No problem. Run to the gym, climb-climb-climb, run to the store, load up my @ultimatedirectionusa Fastpack 15 with goodies and comfort #food and do a quick #hypergravity run back home (and earn that ice cream!). No matter your situation: you can make it work, and you can fit it all in. Maybe I’ll do my next #ultrarace next month? #tootoughtodie #postaccident #utilityrunning
The GDMBR in yellow; alternative in red
The Great Divide Mountain Bike Route is without a doubt one of the preeminent off road touring routes in the US/Canada. Now that I’ve ridden the route essentially twice and have done some extensive touring within Colorado, I can’t help but think how one could enhance it.
Personally, I enjoyed my time more when the route stuck close to the actual Continental Divide, rather than opting to drop down into a relatively easy going valley or basin to gain some mileage towards the end goal (finishing!). I always greatly anticipated gaining the summit of the passes, then rocketing down. Knowing Colorado a little more intimately now, it’s a shame how much of Colorado is missed with the relatively easy path the GDMBR takes.
The GDMBR has many goals, and one of the most important one is to get a heavily laden bicycle and rider (cyclists on a mountain bike, pulling a trailer) eventually to the end of the route. If the route is too long, too hard, and/or with too many Divide crossings, it’s just never going to realistically happen for a good majority of people. If we throw these constraints out of the window, and focus on the goal of staying as close to the Divide as possible, while also keeping the route terrain somewhat similar: gravel roads to 4×4 trails, we start drawing out something a little different.
Below, I’ll be describing a route that takes you off the official GDMBR just before Ute Pass, and rather takes you up and over the Continental Divide at Rollins Pass, parallels the James Peak Wilderness as you travel south to Idaho Springs, then brings you back west to go up and over the Continental Divide again at Argentine Pass, finally depositing you once again onto the official GDMBR in summit county. It circuitous and it’s a whole lot of fun .
Slowly, I roll to the gate. The Park ranger sees me from afar and returns to me only a tired stare. He himelf walks slowly to the entrance booth, not resting his gaze. I now roll towards the booth even slower, nervous. I feel as if I’m performing a border crossing, rather than just entering a National Park. The guard just continues his stare – his eyes looking right at mine; the rest of his visage saying absolutely nothing. I offer a hello, but get no reply. Meeting him at the booth, he continues his vacant look. Is he looking at me, or past me? I don’t know, but I hand him the entrance fee I just made change for at the coffee shop in town that I stopped at to regain feeling in my hands and feet after making that chilly descent into Estes Park. Having climbed out of town, I’m much warmer now. Unseasonably warm. Finally,
“Oh. Day Pass. Map?”
I accept, and that’s my entire interaction with this guy. It’s also the first time I’ve ever paid for entrance into the Park in my 5+ years of visiting it. It feel almost wrong. Some things, I ponder, shouldn’t be bought.
Gerry Roach’s Longs Peak Radical Slam as described in his 14ers book: top out on 7 summits in the Longs Peak area: (Meeker, Longs, Pagoda, Storm, Mt. Lady Washington, Battle Mountain, Estes Cone), topped off with 50 push ups at the trailhead. I’m admittedly pretty terrible at push ups, and this has always been the crux of the day (if one can believe such snobbery).
The thought popped into my mind to do the Radical Slam as my October tick for my own Longs Peak Project (The Longs Peak Project: summit Longs Peak each month of the year, via a different route). But let’s change things up just a little bit. My Longs Peak Project is going to be self-powered from Boulder: I’m riding a bike, rather than driving a car the 40 miles from the end of town to the Longs Peak trailhead. That may not sound much, but it’s 6,000+ feet of elevation gain roundtrip tacked on to actually summiting the peak. To put that in perspective: you basically double the elevation you gain summiting the peak by starting in Boulder. FUN!
Also, I’ve actually done the Radical Slam already this year (including the bike approach/retreat). Why not do it the hard way: start with the lowest peak, and work up from there, counter-clockwise? That way, you’re well through the day when you need to tackle the toughest technical part of the route, and the highest summits on the list.
That’ll also keeps you honest – you know how easy it is to skip Battle Mountain and Estes Cone, and head straight to the trailhead, ticking off merely a Longs Peak Grand Slam? Easier than eating three breakfast burritos at Ed’s Cantina in Estes Park aprés doing the full-meal-deal Radical Slam, that’s how easy.
To add to this all: let’s also do this in the Fall (Oct. 30th), when the days are short, cold, and very, very windy, rather than on a perfect summer’s day. The chances you’ll become benighted are in your favor! Nothing is funner than descending the Loft Route than descending the Loft Route in the dark. Think you have a hard time finding Clark’s Arrow? What if you’re looking for it under a new moon with a failing headlamp?
Finally those push ups, hmm: how about we do a set of ten on each peak – on the very top of the peak, rather than just at the end? We’ll get 70 in, rather than the textbook 50. That will give me a little time to recover from the last 10, which may exceptionally imbalanced arms could use (talk to me about how many pull ups I can do in day!). I say the compromise I’ve set up is about fair, yeah?
The stage is set, the challenge… accepted? The bike chain is lubed, and the alarm has been programmed for some unrealistically early time. Are you ready, set,
Head on over to the Ultimate Direction Blog to read my Golden Gate Dirty 30 50k race report. Somehow, I managed to also bicycle 300km that same weekend, since you know: 50km just ain’t enough.
Thank you Ultimate Direction for your support, and giving me a chance to be a brand ambassador. Thanks to everyone behind the Golden Gate Dirty 30 for putting on an excellent event.