In early summer 2011, I sign up for another hike near Breckenridge, but am thwarted for lack of a carpool ride to the meetup location near Denver. Happily, I discover a Plan B meetup alternative. The Boulder Mountain Bikers meetup will join with the Boulder MountainBike Alliance to offer three levels of riding skill at the West Magnolia trail system near Nederland.
After hearing the three group leaders describe the level of riding they will offer, I optimistically opt for the “fast, long-distance” group. After all, I now have a newly-acquired BAD BOY full-suspension mountain bike which a few days earlier I had tested out, and had the bike pass with flying colors (pun intended – this bike can FLY).
In addition, I had just trained for a ran the Bolder Boulder 10K run, so I was confident I was in shape for such a ride.
I was wrong.
The West Magnolia trail system is almost entirely forested (pine and aspen) single track. We start out on a fairly long, steep climb. For the next hour and a half, I am severely tested by seemingly countless LONG, STEEP uphills on the outer loop trails the leader takes us on. Besides being steep, many of the uphills are within narrow, rutted, rocky, tree-rooted, dry creekbeds. I find myself repeatedly having to dismount and walk up hills. At one point, I am so utterly exhausted and pathetically GASPING for breath (not terribly shocking, since we are at 9,000 feet) that I must walk my bike even though I am on level ground.
Occasionally, we are rewarded as we ride through relatively level meadows that are just starting to explode with colorful wildflowers.
The big reward, though, is the second half of the ride. Here, we joyfully find fast, hair-pin twisty, rocky, big-tree-root downhills. Many of the sharp turns are banked, enabling higher speeds.
The full range of technical skill is demanded.
At one downhill section, I have no riders in front of me so I opt to open up my bike to see what it can really do. I find myself riding screaming fast down a rocky, relatively narrow single-track realizing, somewhat to my horror and consternation, that my speed is putting me WAY over my skill level. I am flirting with disaster on a trail I have never ridden before. Somehow, though, my iron horse gets me down the trail in one piece.
How crazy fast was I riding? During the ride and after, a rider behind me (who was clearly more skilled than I) let me know that I road that downhill section extremely impressively – apparently better than he ever could. Another confirmation that I was riding WAY too fast on that section.
The final section of our loop starts at Schoolbus trail and includes the Hobbit 2 and Hobbit 1 trails (appropriately named), and the new “Re-Root” trail. Here, we find quite enjoyable ups and downs. On Re-Root, the rider is able to enjoy exhilarating banked and S-shaped turns throughout. For me, it was paradise, as I love S-turns, and lots of rollercoaster ups and downs.
So after the ride, I am dead tired.
But I have a smile on my face. :^D