On Friday, September 13th, as flood waters rose in Boulder and Denver and made Colorado seem like a monsoon, I was in search of rideable single track.
After riding on washed out trails on S-Mountain in Salida with the little elementary school kids skills clinic, and after seeing my little muddy buddies waist-deep in water, I figured it was going to be a tall order to find smooth, rideable single track for the weekend.
My boyfriend and I were supposed to ride Kenosha Pass to Breckenridge with friends, but cancelled the ride due to the soggy forecast. So I began my adventure scheming, and came up with plan B: Camp along the Taylor river in Gunnison and ride the local favorite Hartman Rocks.
Hartman’s was my only hope for a day of singletrack bliss. We woke up in the middle of the night to a torrential down pour pounding on the tent, but I knew that due to the desert, Moab-like nature of Hartman’s, the sandy trails would provide the perfect amount of tackiness for my tires in an all-out shred fest.
We rolled up to the parking lot with storm clouds looming ahead, and I got suited up with G-form knee and elbow pads lent to me by my place of employment, Absolute Bikes. With my new armor I felt invincible and ready to tackle the most gnarly, technical rocky drops.
We started the ride up Jacks Trail, and powered up the steep climb that was our gateway to the singletrack heaven that awaited us. The steepness of the climb, which usually feels like a shock to the system without having a warmup, felt completely natural and smooth. I was feeling shred-ready!
At the top of the hill we arrived at the kiosk, and I looked at the map to jog my memory. With a couple strong pedal strokes, I set out on a one-of-a-kind Hartman’s singletrack tour. Instead of sticking to familiar trails, I decided to explore new terrain. I meandered from trail to trail like a kid at Disney World, with that glazed-over glimmer in my eye, as my sweet boyfriend followed me as his trusted tour guide.
We first tackled Rocky Ridge, and I told those steep, rocky sections who was the boss from the get-go. We reaped the reward from our technical climb as we flowed down the Luge, and I found myself in pedal paradise. Due to the tackiness of the sand, I hammered and flew through the berms.
Then we tackled Josies’s, and had the first sensation of fall, with the crispness in the air and yellow leaves sprinkled like confetti on the trail. Next it was off to Buddy bear, and in my childlike haze I decided to hop onto Dirty Sock, and then charged up the infamous Dave Moe’s. I went after the rocks with gusto on this one. I felt a little rush of adrenaline as I dropped down the technical rocky sections. It’s neat to finally trust my Yeti ASR-5 Carbon to do its thang and roll over those rocks.
In a documentary called Happy, which portrays research about how people around the world find happiness, they discovered that one of the main components of happiness is if a person can experience flow on a regular basis. They defined “flow” as being in the zone, totally caught up in the moment. This definition perfectly captures my state of being for the majority of my ride at Hartman’s!
After we dropped out of Dave Moe’s, we found ourselves in no man’s land, and my flow was interrupted as we climbed the road through the dirt bike park. We were going to do whatever it took to get over to the other side so we could enjoy the last rides on my list: Top of the World and Alonzos. Thank goodness for the friendly riders who confirmed that we were on the right track! My boyfriend hung in there and did his best to remain in good spirits, as his fearless tour guide found her way back to the thrilling sections of single track.
We passed Alonzos once we crested the steep, craggy, dirt road climb, and decided to just ride the Top of the World, since the storm clouds were now closing in on us on all sides. I could feel the fatigue in my legs as I pedaled over all of the loose rocks on Top of the World, climbing higher and higher, making us more and more exposed to the storm. As we descended, the wind whipped through with a chill in the air, and it felt like we were being chased down by the storm. As we connected back on the dirt road, the rain started pelting us. We blasted down Jack’s trail, racing the storm to the parking lot.
It had been a little over a year since my last visit to Hartman’s, and it was so neat to see the boldness and skill I had gained in cornering and dropping down technical rocky sections. I owe this new confidence to all the skills I get to practice when I shred with the kiddos in Salida. I’ve come to the conclusion that if I’m riding behind them, nagging them to get in attack position, then coach Jenny should practice what she preaches: be bold in her descending and exhibit a darn-good attack position.
The nest time I ride Hartman’s, in order to maximize my time on the thrills and chills of mountain biking Disney World, I’m going to do a little route planning and connect the trails together in a way that achieves a sense of flow for the entire ride. Hopefully that will make the experience a little smoother for my “adventure guests” who have never experienced these trails before!