Boulder changed in the last few weeks. The incessant spring showers stopped. The flowers blossomed and the long dry creek beds now flow with the ever increasing run off from the high country snow pack. Word got out that the snow was melting, and melting fast. These mystical trails which are talked about all winter were suddenly at the fore of everyone’s thoughts:
Is Ned dry?
Three magic words, irrelevant to all but the most initiated of Boulder mountain bikers. Nederland, Colorado. That small hippy-redneck town sitting 8300 feet into the rocky mountain foothills. Broken cars, stray dogs and whipping mountain winds are the first impressions of the town; a desolate place to be passed through with utmost haste on the way to the real mountains. Looking a little and deeper asking the right questions is all it takes to uncover the sprawling mass of trails webbing in every direction from the town. There aren’t car parks and sign posts and information boards. The trails aren’t graded according to difficulty; the loops aren’t marked with time checks and waypoints. You bring your own map. You listen to whispers on the 10:10 bus as to where the newest trail has been found. You covet the information, ensuring that when you get off the bus, you’ll be hitting the best trails, at the best time, and with no one else around. The real beauty of Nederland is its bi-hourly bus service from Boulder. 3000 feet of elevation for free doesn’t equate to an easy day; it just equates to more time to climb higher.
Super triple secret, Sherwood gulch, Gordon gulch, Switzerland trail. Where to go, what to ride. How does it all fit together? These questions are answered slowly on the gravel road climbs to the first singletrack of the day. Options are discussed, opinions considered. But then it all stops. The singletrack starts. The aspens fly by, ever closer to the ends or your bars. The just-melted dirt is loamy under your tyres as you struggle to control the speed of your enthusiasm. It won’t get better than this.
One loop done. Time for food.
Muddied bikes roll back into Nederland for the half way stop. Only one place to eat, one thing to choose. The Nederland co-op makes fresh scones every day. They’re consumed with barely disguised haste. Trying to ensure you haven’t wolfed yours before the rest of the party has exited the shop.
Next step: back to Boulder. Which way – Switzerland? The dots? Magnolia? 68J? We choose the long way home. We criss-cross dirt roads, weaving to avoid dirt bikers also out enjoying their Sunday. Maps are consulted. Odd turns are taken. The trail is found. It’s sublime. Its smooth, the dirt kicks up as you apprehensively gain speed down a new and unknown trail. It twists through creek beds, over fallen trees, perfectly placed rocks send you smoothly into the air for the perfect brief moment. It ends. But it persists. It’s relived. Everyone in the group cruises down the road, back to reality. No words are exchanged, as each person is grasping onto the surrealistic vision of the experience just encountered.
The bustle of boulder is an affront to the desensitized and weary body. The rushing creek is irresistible; the cold waters grip tired legs, then soothes and buffets, and the experiences are washed away with the flowing of the snow melted river.
Then the waiting commences. Waiting for that message. No words are needed though. The message simply reads: