On the trail: I guess I’ll walk
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
I’m not much of a mountain biker, which is overstating the obvious – sort of like saying I’m not much of a supermodel.
It’s not that I don’t enjoy pedaling along some winding singletrack through lush wildflowers and quaking aspens while I take in the postcard views, it’s just that I can’t muster the sustained umph to get up a mountain or the nerves of steel to get me down a mountain – two elements that are, regrettably, the essence of mountain biking.
So I hike – sometimes along trails that are open to biking. Red Hill near Carbondale is one of these places. Once up on top, so to speak, there are some nice gentle cruisers where I think I’d find the biking quite fun. Pushing my bike up there doesn’t appeal to me though, and neither does walking it back down the hill when my hands cramp up from clutching the brakes in a death grip.
I recently hiked a portion of the Hay Park Trail at the base of Mount Sopris, also outside of Carbondale, and found myself flirting with the whole biking idea (usually, when I feel like mountain biking, I lay down until it passes). There’s a tempting stretch of relatively mellow, survivable singletrack for the biker who’s willing to climb to it from the Hay Park trailhead. I think it would be quite fun, but for the grunt and push part.
And then there’s Bongo. To be clear, I’m not even certain that’s the name of the little-used trail that climbs up the side of Aspen Highlands from Castle Creek Road, but I think someone once called it that in my presence.
I hadn’t hiked it in years until Sunday, and from the looks of it, not many other people have either. Grass and lupine are starting to take over the lower stretches, young aspens are branching into it and deadfall litters the route. I spent a lot of time stepping over something or ducking under it.
For some reason, I have it in my head that Bongo is a bike trail and the descent would certainly be a screamer. I actually saw a couple of mountain bikers head down it the last time I hiked up. One of them dropped off the ski run at its upper terminus and went all of about five feet before flying over his handlebars – and he wasn’t even hurtling toward one of the many deathly obstacles now blocking the trail.
I’ve said it before about mountain biking: Why not add sniper fire to complete the experience?
I think I’ll walk.
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