Riding Kenosha Pass to Georgia Pass in Bailey, Colorado

I lived in the Bailey, CO area for a summer back in 2008, guiding wilderness trips for Narrow Way Expeditions, a part of Camp IdRaHaJe. As I mentioned in a previous blog post, one of my biggest mountain biking regrets from that time was not getting to ride the epic Kenosha Pass to Georgia Pass route.

This summer my wife and I didn’t want to be completely hedonistic, shredding trails across the country and just living it up for two months (although it’s been pretty fun so far!), so we decided to do something we’ve talked about for years: returning to camp and giving back a little. We decided to volunteer as cooks for Narrow Way for a week… and I got to spend a day checking the Kenosha Pass to Georgia Pass route off my list!

View from the Summit House, where Narrow Way eats when on camp.

Maddslacker has written in detail about Kenosha Pass, so I’ll spare you most of the details about the actual trail tread. But my ride on it was harrowing to say the least!

To start, this is a long route: 12 miles each way, with about 6,000 feet of climbing! I began the ride by flatting twice within the first 6 miles. Since I only had one spare tube, I stopped at a trail junction to try to patch it after my second flat. It was a serious snake bite, so it took two patches to fix, leaving me with only two patches left in my kit. With 18 miles still to go, I considered turning around to play it safe.

Changing the first flat.

As luck would have it, a kindly pair of fellow mountain bikers came along and offered me one of their spare tubes! I hadn’t put the patched tube in yet, so I gladly accepted their offer and put in a brand new inner tube. With enough supplies to fix at least two more flats, I felt confident enough to carry on.

Further up the trail, I was cranking along, slowly grinding through the 6,000 feet of climbing and bam! my chain got sucked between my cassette and the spokes. It was wedged pretty good, and at first I thought I was doomed. Thankfully, I managed to pull the chain free… and the cassette was miraculously undamaged! Onward and upward.

As I broke the tree line, I started to feel some resistance as I sucked water from my hydration pack. When I hit a trail junction shortly before the top of the pass, I opened up my pack to check my water reservoir–it was almost empty! I was at least 10 miles from the car, at high elevation, exposed to the hot sun, and almost out of water. I made the tough call to turn around–although I hadn’t quite reached Georgia Pass, I had broken above treeline and ridden the lion’s share of the trail.

My turn around point. The Jamis Dakar 650b Pro handled it all superbly–both the climbing and the descending. I have been having an amazing time on this bike.

The ride back down was a blast! There were rocks and roots everywhere, with plenty of opportunities for air. I had the technical sections under control, but at one point my front tire caught the loose dirt on the edge of the trail, and down I went. I lay there for a while catching my breath, making sure that nothing was seriously injured. The bike looked OK too, despite the handlebars being twisted a little.

Unfortunately, there were several miles of exposed (read: sunny, hot) climbing right at the end before I could make it back to the truck. I ran out of water well before the last climb, and was starting to feel seriously dehydrated. My legs were feeling decent, but I was so dry that I began to hike most of the climbs. At one point I even stopped to pull my reservoir out and drink the small bits of water that my hose couldn’t suck out.

The final sunny, exposed climb. I shot this photo on the way down… it was a death march back up!

In the end, I made it back to the truck safely, although a little dehydrated. Despite all of the hardships, I had a fantastic time out on the trail!

Now I need to ride it again so I can say I made it all the way to Georgia Pass…