Monday, February 9, 2009

Denver's "Local" Trails - Part 1

Hogback Trail

The first "real" mountain bike ride back from an extended period off "the trail" is always rough and when you throw in a new destination it makes for a really interesting experience. Recently (still taking advantage of tropical Colorado weather), I loaded up my trusty steed and headed a few miles west of Denver and explored my new "local" trails. Basically these trails (Hogback, Matthews-Winters, Red Rocks, Zorro, & Green Mountain) are totally almost the same as the the trails in the Triangle.....except all are above 5,280', they do not border lakes, there are no trees, they don't close due to rain (hasn't rained here in 3+ months) and there are dinosaur fossils everywhere!!! So....I guess actually the similarities are that people park cars in the parking lots and people ride bikes on the trails.

Anyways, as I departed the trailhead (aimlessly) towards Hogback (the most technical trail on the Front I am told) I begin to notice fun signs that warn of the neighboring police shooting range. Fun fun. I guess this would sorta be like riding New Light during hunting season on a Saturday. So sans blaze orange (but in Bull City Yellow) I cautiously rolled along the "Hogback". The initial climb went really well and reminded me of the gravel-ridden climbs of Crested Butte that Ali, Wicked Mike and myself experienced last summer. I crested the climb and immediately heard "pop...pop...pop....pop..pop".......and ducked fearing a stray police bullet! Luckily, I realized that the shooting range was in the distance at this point and that sound travels quite far when there are no trees to hinder.

View of "Green?" Mountain from the top of Hogback aka dinosaur fossil ridge.

As I continued south along Hogback, the trail began to get really interesting with steep drops strewn with washed-out rock gardens on steroids! This, I was not quite prepared for. It was like riding New Light's "Gauntlet" for two miles going up and down on unstable rocks. While I love the "Gauntlet" and all.......2+ miles of that stuff is a bit like International Delights everyday for 2 is tasty at first and then you begin to feel the pain over and over again. my solo adventure continued and the Rockies beginning to cast a shadow on the "local" trails, I headed back to Matthews-Winters and Red Rocks. Matthews-Winters is basically Denver's Crabtree. The parking lot is always jammed and it is labeled as the local "beginner" trail. I rolled through the first few miles of trails, enjoying banked turn after banked turn.....often carrying too much speed for my own good and overshooting a corner or three. The good news is that since there are no trees, this simply meant that I rolled over grass and then back to the dirt ribbon of singletrack. There was one 20 foot section that actually had an inch or so of snow (mostly as a result of the one tree/rock combo shadow in the whole place).

The view from Red Rocks of Denver, with Hogback and Green Mountain in the foreground.

Matthews-Winters connects to the fabled Red Rocks venue. Red Rock's trails begin to introduce some more techy sections, climbs and tricky switchbacks.....providing a tasty midway intermission along the out and back Matthews-Winters/Red Rocks trail riding experience.

So, as I begin to sample the plethora of "local" dirt options Denver has to offer, I hope that my writings begin to entice East Coast BCC'ers to think of venturing west and joining me on some Rocky Mountain trails soon.

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