The weather in Colorado is anything but ambiguous. More so than most places 40 degrees from the equator, Colorado swings wildly from summer to autumn to winter, marked by huge weather ‘events’ (as the Americans like to call storms). Summer ended a long time ago – the weather bringing about the Golden transformation of the hills that I wrtie about so often. Then we entered November – a normally cold, dry month in Boulder. But the temperature didn’t dip. The weather held. We held our breaths. Riding trails that are normally buried under the white stuff already. Finally word came that the storms were building. The internet buzzed with record breaking temperature changes. We braced for the end of the mountain bike season. After racing on Saturday, we headed into the hills one last time. The unambiguous forecast for the next day told us snow was coming; the cold was coming. This would be it. No exceptions.
We were in short sleeves from the get go. The wind was still, the sun exercising it’s legs for the last time.
The top is always a subjective place: you can go as high as you like in Colorado. Today’s ‘top’ was just over 9000 feet (about 2700 metres). From it’s sandstone ledge, we could look southeast towards the great expanse of Denver and it’s sinuous suburbs. Boulder (perhaps itself a suburb) was just hidden in the lee of the foothills. We could see the prescribed burn happening at Heil ranch; the foresters making the most of the impending cold to burn off some old growth with a safety net of weather to enclose the flames.
What rides down must find it’s way up. Not all the trails on the front range are amazing. Often, the well built and flowing trails are interspersed with flood damaged scree slopes. the fragile top soil scoured off to leave just a scree slope of rocks to climb up. Making a good loop involves finding the most fun way down, and sometimes that means taking the direct route to the top. It’s always worth it.