Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Steamboat MTB Trip - July 2012

Back in July Rachel, Jordan and I went out to Steamboat for a weekend of mountain biking. Friday night we headed out from Boulder, reaching the Dumont Lake Campground on Rabbit Ears Pass right before sunset. Unfortunately, the Dumont Lake was drained, but we were still treated to the unique rolling and green terrain of the Rabbit Ears Pass area.

The view from the campsite:

Saturday morning we headed out from our campsite to ride from Rabbit Ears Pass to Buffalo Pass and back.   Two broken spokes on my bike quickly nixed that plan. So, we were soon in the car headed for a bike shop in Steamboat. After a convenient miscommunication between the mechanic and the 15 year old at the register meant 8 new spokes and a trued wheel cost me $15, we decided to save Rabbit Ears for another day, and headed across town to Howelsen Hill to ride the Emerald Mountain trails. There seem to be about a thousand trails winding through the woods towards the top of Emerald or Quarry Mountain. Alternating between smooth to technical and open meadows to tight aspen-guarded single track, the 1500' climb flew by.

At the top of the Ridge Trail, with miles of smooth singletrack descent ahead of us:

At the bottom, a short ride up County Rd 45 brought us to the bottom of the Beall Trail and lunch time:

The Beall trail starts out at the valley floor:

quickly climbing into shady trails:

...followed by miles of beautiful aspens:

The Beall Trail is a lot like the trails on the front side: its generally smooth and the climbing flies by. Back at the top we worked our way down the front side; riding tight & rooty single track up high, followed by fast flowy meadows and finally tight, berms at the bottom. 30 miles later we were back at the car, ready for a well deserved dinner in Steamboat.

After dinner we headed to the Strawberry hot springs for a soak in the rain. I've never been there before, I was impressed, especially in the rain its a magical place, I can only imagine how beautiful it must be in winter.

On Sunday we headed out for a second attempt of our ride from Rabbit Ears Pass to Buff Pass and back. The topography of the area is unique for Colorado. There is very little elevation gain over the course of the ride, but as its covered in roots and rocks, one can't go very fast.

Fortunately the views (and wildlife) are exquisite:

By the time we reached Buff Pass we were all over it, Jordan trying to get excited:

5.5 hours and 26 miles after starting we were back at Rabbit Ears Pass; Dumont Lake:

The views are great, but the ride from Rabbit Ears to Buff Pass is punishing. There really isn't much elevation gain, hence not much descending, and all of the huge roots, mud puddles, and rocks make it impossible to go quickly. Any day in the mountains is a good day, but next time we'll check out the shuttle ride from Rabbit Ears to the ski area instead.

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