by Brian Maslach
Big weekends -- our mini vacations sneaking off to some nearby local to do what we love -- are what motivate many of us to get through the work week. By Monday morning we're often considering our next adventure.
Lately I have gotten a little too busy with work and have had difficulty coordinating with friends. I felt that summer was slipping away, so this past weekend I was on a mission do something memorable, even if it meant a solo mountain biking adventure.
For a change, I got to bed at a reasonable hour (don't ask) Friday night and awoke Saturday ready for two days of riding my legs off in the high country. I made a beeline for Breckenridge and did just that. I'll let the pictures do most of the talking.
Saturday began with a ride up and through Breckenridge Ski Area on a service road. Here's the road as it breaks tree line. The most difficult sections, due to being steep and loose, are below this point.
From the service road I hopped on Wheeler Trail. The trail crosses the Ten Mile Range at the low point in the saddle between Peaks 8 and 9.
Another shot of Wheeler Trail, along with Peak 8. You can see the final switchbacks up to the ridge (on the left) if you look closely.
My trusty steed and the barren landscape on the summit.
I normally despise selfies. The lack of oxygen at 12,000 feet causes one to do crazy things.
The view looking back up toward the summit once the trail broke tree line again.
Looking down trail toward Copper Mountain Ski Area from the same spot.
After descending Wheeler Trail a couple miles, I took a right turn on the Colorado Trail (Miner's Creek) and climbed, steeply for much of the way, to this point at somewhere around 12,000 feet. The view of the Ten Mile Range and surrounding mountains was spectacular.
Looking down at the highest ski lift in North America.
Climbed just a bit higher to 12,500 feet to get here. From this point Miner's Creek Trail descends steeply for several switchbacks before leveling off for a breathtaking traverse above tree line. It's an amazing ride.
Traversing above tree line on Miner's Creek.
A perfect place to stop and enjoy the view.
The final stretch of Miners Creek before joining The Peaks Trail and riding back to Breck. The Peaks Trail doesn't have any big climbs, but there are plenty of short kickers with rocky and rooted technical features.
The mileage wasn't huge, but the climbs and hike-a-bike sections above tree line caused me to run out of both Enduro Bites and fluids with over 90 minutes to go. Once back to town, a quick stop at Oh Fudge was in order.
My goal was to circumnavigate Mt. Guyot and ride the Georgia Pass descent of the Colorado Trail to the Middle Fork of the Swan River since it (along with Miner's Creek that I rode yesterday) is one of my favorite sections of trail near Breckenridge.
I'd been wanting to ride Aspen Alley all season, so I started from the ice rink and rode up it. Not nearly as fun as descending it, but climbing the trail kept me off Boreas Pass Road for a while longer.
From the top of Aspen Alley I rode up Boreas Pass to Baker's Tank. After climbing to Mt Pride Mine and some exploring, I worked my way over to True Romance and then Trail of Tears to Sallie Barber Road.
I descended Sallie Barber to French Gulch Road. My plan was to climb French Pass, but as it came into sight the clouds building over the summit gave me pause. Since I didn't want to get caught above tree line in bad weather, I backtracked and climbed Little French Gulch (this one always hurts) and traversed French Flume to the 5-way intersection. From there, I took a right and descended American Gulch (it's steep). At the first switchback from the top, I hopped onto the Great Flume for 4 miles of mostly flat-ish single track fun to Georgia Pass Road.
Some of the mining remnants along the Great Flume. Mountain biking in Breck is like visiting a mining museum.
It's only a mile climb on Georgia Pass Road to get to the summit, but it feels like much more thanks to the elevation, steepness, and erosion inflicted by motorized off-road vehicles. It's a mess. Thankfully I noticed this stream and gave myself an excuse to stop and capture it.
The summit with Mt. Guyot looming in the background.
Sitting in this field of wildflowers and munching on Enduro Bites quickly helped me forget about the nasty climb. My mind quickly turned to thoughts of the Georgia Pass Colorado Trail descent. As previously mentioned, it was my primary objective for the day and continues to be one of my favorite sections of trail in Summit County.
I was having way too much fun on the downfill to stop for pictures, but here's the marker at the Middle Fork of the Swan River. By this point I had drained my hydration pack and backup bottle, so I decided to skip more single track and take the easiest route back to civilization. I rode Middle Fork Road to Tiger Road to the bike path back to Breckenridge.
I was so thirsty by the time I hit the bike path along Highway 9 that I almost rode by these coolers. I'm thankful to the Red, White and Blue Fire Department for having water available to trail users.
It's amazing what a couple of days with a bike and great trails does for my psyche. This weekend was overdue and led to my most productive Monday in memory. And, as you might guess, I'm already planning my next adventure. Crested Butte anyone? I'll bring the Enduro Bites and Beta Red.