In the Saddle: A season that keeps on going
November 22, 2005
I keep thinking it’ll be my last mountain bike ride of the season. But each weekend some other opportunity comes along, somebody’s headed out to the desert, and the season just keeps going.During October there were those last local rides amid the changing trees before the trails got too soggy.Then there was the first weekend in November, when for some reason Moab was practically empty – despite a folk music festival and bluebird weather that felt more like September. On that Saturday it was Flat Pass, a rugged four-wheel-drive road that winds through the foothills southeast of town. On Sunday, against my better judgment, I chose the Slickrock Trail.Believe it or not, at 9 a.m. Sunday morning there were a grand total of five cars – five cars – in the Slickrock parking lot. I hadn’t ridden that vast sandstone playground in a dozen years in order to avoid all the people, but I ended up having one of my most memorable rides in, well, a dozen years.Fast forward two weeks to Nov. 20. There was snow in the valley, but the forecast was clear and mild for Grand Junction, so a buddy and I headed for the Tabeguache Trail, a two-track that ascends the Uncompahgre Plateau, connecting to a network of singletracks in the gullies, mesas and rock gardens just south of Colorado National Monument.We burned up three hours grinding up rocky steeps, screaming down badland wastes, picking our way through minefields of broken boulders and, in my case, flying over the bars in a section that my 7-year-old son could have ridden more skillfully. But who cares – we had a great time on yet another crisp, clear fall day.All the way home, tired and happy, we knew that ski season was just a few short days away. Back home, as I hung the bike up, I couldn’t help wondering when the next ride will occur. Most likely spring 2006. But just maybe, if there’s a midwinter warming trend … .