Accidental Ned Ride

Its a Thursday. Work just happened. Due to the wonders of modern technology, we have now convened on 9th and Baseline. To some, this might not be a significant meeting place, but to those who know bikes and boulder, you know it leaves only one option – Flagstaff.

What can you achieve leaving town at 3pm and riding up a 10 mile paved road, what trails can you possibly hope to find, explore and return before dark? Our aim was to find out, and hopefully not get caught in the dark.

We went up. 2000 feet in the first 10 miles. Another 1000 feet in the 5 miles following. Blake was struggling – like me he’d struggled to recover from the Whiskey. Unlike me, Whiskey was the end of a big block of racing and he was functioning purely on fumes.

Bryan was smiling. This generally happens more when smiles disappear from others faces to be replaced by grimaces. It wasn’t that the pace was high, or the trails really technical, but rather it was now 4:30 in the afternoon, and the sun was making its hasty way towards the continental divide above us, and we hadn’t even worked out where our destination was, let alone found it.

Our goal was a piece of trail that has been filed in the back of the Boulder county guide of sinuous off-road routes – we were all vaguely aware of its existence, but never had the inclination to go find it, or really aware of what we were missing by not finding it. As we hopped over the ‘No motor vehicles’ fence, Blake looked up and sighed, his head dropped and you could see the remnants of enthusiasm falling from his face. He soldiered on though, and after a couple stem-chewingly steep grades, we found a ridgeline and followed it. We flowed along it. The ups were just as flowy as the downs, and by the time we’d crested the top, it was set that we would be returning the same way.

We poked our heads out of the obscure trail entrance near magnolia and made our way west, more trails and more dirt road. We had somehow convinced Blake that the only way to solve his energy problems were to keep riding to Ned and refuel. Not sure he realised this was another 10 miles down the road, but he didn’t complain. Well, not too much.

Sometimes, when outside of the bubble, you must remember that not everyone is accustomed to seeing matching-lycra’d, sunglassed and helmeted humans. I’m sure to the checkout clerk in the supermarket in Nederland, I looked a little foreign. Nevertheless, I purchased a gallon of water, two bottles of Pepsi, two packets of skittles and a snickers. We sat outside and levelled the gazes we were getting from everyone else who didn’t understand why three underweight and dirty cyclists were sitting on the pavement eating sweets.

The way home was better. With a handy 3000 feet of down to play with, the pedalling was much easier, and minus Blake’s bloody nose, we made good time back into view of the flat lands.

As the air cooled and lights started to turn on across Boulder, we cruised back down flagstaff, having achieved my first ever accidental Ned ride.

Normally, getting yourself to the weed-fragranced hippyfest of Ned takes planning, but this evening all it took was the desire to keep riding.