I realize — as most of us eventually do — I have limits. I can arise happily at 8:04; meanwhile, 7:04 will mean a series of small defeats timed in 5 minute increments until 8:04. Kettle chips and cupcakes will probably be my downfall. And — try as I may — I can rarely if ever keep up with my superhumanly strong hubby… especially on a mountain bike.
Annually, after months of incubation in the route-planning, encyclopedic, topographic brain of Tyler a birthday bike tour is born. We’re not a gift giving couple; a card once in a while, yes. But mostly, he’d prefer my enthusiastic but tortured attempts at riding a bike way too many miles in one day. This time, his birthday wish sprung from a mountain bike vein: specifically, a bike-packing journey from Dillon to Denver mainly on dirt roads and single track.
Let us now revisit my fledgling mountain bike skills… and then consider three days averaging 43 miles each of challenging (for Sylva at least) riding. We carried our tent, sleeping bags and pads, water filter, a couple dehydrated backpacker meals, snacks, headlamps, toiletries, these nifty collapsible English-made orogami-esque mugs and a miniature stove that broke down to a frozen waffle-sized thin slice of metal. The upside of the nifty stove was its fuel, which disappeared after it boiled 16 ounces of water. The downside was the fuel, when released from its triple ziplock home, smelled of an entire reservoir of rotting fish, wafting towards us on an errant breeze.
I also threw in a pair of underwear and two shirts which Tyler tried to talk me out of vehemently because they “add weight.” An inevitable stage in trip packing includes Tyler re-arranging my bag, throwing out items I “don’t need” because they “add weight.” This process usually devolves into some sort of petty argument because by this point, it’s usually way too late at night, we never ate dinner and anyway I deplore packing more than I deplore the idea of having children. Or, in the very least, we’ll call it a tie.
Anyway after all that was over, we fit all our crap tidily inside two bulbous but manageable bags behind our seats which we christened the “Alien Eggs.” In addition, Tyler’s bike sported a frame bag and mine a contraption called a Sweetroll, which we renamed “The Pastry.” The Pastry — which hangs off the front of one’s handlebars — became Tyler’s burden after a riveting first day that culminated in a lot of “biking” in the snow.
However, highlights abounded on our three-day adventure, like my first ever cicada spotting (you know, the lil’ fellas that adapted to make the most annoying sound in the world… no not that one, the other one!), armies of butterflies and a breathtaking descent through red-rock country by Roxborough State Park. Add an astounding array and amount of wildflowers — from astragalus to clematis, Mother Nature was having a floral arrangement party the likes of which my close friend and flower entrepreneur Lindsay could appreciate.
Speaking of, I find this is the perfect moment for a Sylva Lining shout out to Lindsay and Jeff for getting re-hitched in style on Fourth of July! Yeah Lehderfest!!!!
Anyway, back to our bike-packing adventures…
Day One: Dillon, Co. – Lodgepole Campground – Jefferson, Co.
Day Two: Lodgepole CG- Kenosha Pass – Bailey – Reynolds Campground
Day three: Reynolds CG – Foxton Road – Colorado Trail – A lot more trails – Littleton
Once back in civilization, we stopped for first dinner at Safeway: mini Haagen-Daas coffee ice creams, a grilled turkey and cheese sammy and a bag of jalapeño potato chips. We needed the refuel: after the Waterton Canyon closure re-route, we still had another 10 miles to ride to our Volvo, which we had abandoned two weeks prior at a park & ride in Littleton. On the way — my legs barely turning, distracted by the trees and buildings playing parts in Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” in Chatfield Reservoir — I prayed to every deity I knew for our Volvo’s continued presence in that parking lot.
As the sun slipped down and the sky faded into Easter colors, we got our first view of the sticker-infested white Rocketbox on the Volvo and I was so happy I could have peed myself. After a rapid fire costume change that made it into Guinness Book of World Records, we booked it across the street and plopped down at Village Inn, exhausted and starved. Second dinner ensued: pancakes (Sylva & Tyler) skillets drowning in hollandaise and avocado (Tyler), cracked pepper gravy, ham, veggies and bacon (Sylva) and a chocolate milkshake (mostly Tyler). And another flooded Chatfield Reservoir’s worth of water.
Bellies full, we drove the last few miles to Tyler’s old stomping grounds in Littleton. Tucked away in a quiet suburb: our airbnb, its worried proprietor Janet and her gentle giant St. Bernard, Doc. I barely remember scrubbing my dirty, scratched legs in the shower or falling into bed with a vat of wet hair.
So, it was fun and it was real and although it wasn’t always real fun, it was certainly another full-fledged adventure! And I made it! I didn’t even crash and die on my mountain bike like I was sure I would! Whew!
But wait a minute… What is Tyler going to wanna do next year?