Issue Twenty Six

COLORADO LOCALS

Show Us Your Local Tour

WORDS x Eskapee
VIDEO x Kevin Shiramuzu
PHOTOS x Eskapee, Grady James

4 October 2017
Part One

Thought Bubble

The Show Us Your Local tour was a brain explosion one day. Sitting in the office after too many hours in front of the computer we were thinking, “Why not go somewhere and ride with the locals. You know, get outside and do what we love rather than this computer crap – let’s go ride our bikes”.

And simply, that was it. We wanted to go ride somewhere far from our HQ, but instead of using an app or some .gpx file to explore, we wanted to meet the locals and let them show us around their “local” (trails). Make it their choices, their trails, their ideas. That’s how Show Us Your Local was born: show us your local trails, and in keeping with Eskapee’s spirit of showing gratitude, we’ll provide beer at the end of the ride to say “thanks”.

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Part Two

Welcome to Colorado

We picked Colorado for our first tour for no other reason than we’ve ridden there before and wanted to go back and explore some more. Colorado also has a rich history with mountain biking and our memories of Colorado go way back to when we first started mountain biking in the 90’s.

Part of that history and our early memories of Colorado is also Yeti Cycles and we had arranged to pick up bikes and get a quick tour of their HQ and see all that cool history first hand. Another part of Yeti that is pretty cool is their culture. Rather than just a factory tour, they wanted to give us on introduction to “Colorado” and take us for a ride. They too hate being stuck in front of the computer.

“How does climbing to around 12,000ft followed by a super dope downhill run sound?” asked Patrick, an engineer for Yeti.

“Why not. There’s no better way to get used to altitude than jumping into the deep (high) end”, we said.

And off into the heights and lack of breathing we went, with the climb up to the Arapahoe Basin ski area summit nearly killing us. At around 12,300ft we peaked on a saddle for a quick rest and as our blurry eyes absorbed their first glimpse of the amazing Colorado high country the pain started to fade. Our lung pain also completely disappeared after an amazing and totally fun descent down the Lenawee Trail and then a quick ride into the sunset back to Keystone.

Tired, hungry, and happy – welcome to Colorado.

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Part Three

Durango

We are locals already

Durango was officially the starting point of our tour. If you know your MTB history you’ll know that it’s a town that has always been on the map for riding. Meeting Sarah and Dylan that first time showed us why Durango has the reputation that it does.

Our plan was to meet with the some other locals for a little pre-tour ride and a quick beer, and Sarah and Dylan delivered the goods straight up. With a close and very entertaining group we headed off for a quick lap on Telegraph, to Crite’s, to South Rim, down a dodgy drain pipe, and off for beer at Ska Brewery. Immediately they accepted us into their group and as we drank beers into the darkness of the evening we felt at ease and felt like Durango locals ourselves.

The following morning we met up with Matt from Hermosa Tours for the first “official” day of the tour. As we loaded our bikes and bodies onto his shuttle the ride and beers from the previous evening were already making for a very relaxing day on the bike into the Durango high country. We climbed up Pass Creek Trail to Engineer Mountain Trail north. Still suffering from effects of not being used to the altitude we stopped for lunch in one of the most amazing places; views, mountains, sunshine, and (new) friends – it was at that very moment we were glad we decided to get out of the office. We dropped back down Engineer Mountain Trail and all the way to Cascade and what was one of the most amazing descents of the trip. So many turns and corners and laughter ensued, and as we reached the tour van for post-ride beers there was nothing but good stories of the day to be shared.

We definitely felt like one of the locals.

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Part Four

Gunnison

Singles form a line here

We’re not going to lie or dress up reality – that’s not part of Eskapee. Doing something like the Show Us Your Local tour has a lot of moving parts. With Eskapee being small we always knew we might face some difficulties in the logistics and as we sat waiting in the carpark of Harman Rocks in Gunnison it was becoming more likely that we may have no locals show up and we’d be riding by ourselves. After the euphoria of Durango the previous day it was definitely a different feeling.

Then all of a sudden our phone buzzed with a message from Dave. He was running a little late but on his way.

“Phew, we had someone to ride with!”, we exhaled.

In fact, having only one person proved to be a real bonus as we got a very personalized tour of all that Hartman Rocks has to offer.

Unique in its landscape, Hartman Rocks is littered with over 40 miles of singletrack. The only way to describe it is something like a huge natural amphitheater, as if an ancient meteor had once landed. Mostly XC in orientation with no massive ups or downs we found it a very fun playground and a little hidden gem where your imagination and vision with different lines could be explored. However, don’t let our XC tag fool you, with Dave leading the way we found some very technical lines that only the locals would know – and even attempt. That’s what is so great about riding with locals – they know how to ride their spots and in following their lines you immediately feel like a local too.

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Part Five

Carbondale

Enthusiasm

At this point we were thinking we were getting used to the altitude and things were getting a little easy – that was until we met the Carbondale locals. Sarah had arranged a quick post-work loop and gathered a good number of friends. Some heavy socializing at the Prince Creek trailhead lulled us into a false sense of ease and we were quietly thinking that this casual, friendly, and relaxed bunch would be a little less than aggressive on the trails. We soon learnt that you cannot judge any MTB book by its cover – the group was a bunch of heavy hitters in “nice people” disguises. Even their post-ride beer drinking was on the same level of impressiveness.

As this was mid-week we asked Sarah for something befitting a typical after work ride – something short and the type of ride a local might do to blow off post-work steam and boss-induced frustration.

And that’s exactly what we got – a super fun and quick loop. With much enthusiasm and much pace we headed off on our loop of Creekside, Trough, Monte Carlo, and Porcupine. We’re not going to lie, the “pace” was a little more than we were prepared for but we were also perplexed. As we struggled for air and began downloading cardiac defibrillator locator apps, everyone else was still smiling and chatting like it was Sunday high tea. We soon learned that they were taking it easy on us and their enthusiasm and stoke to show “all” their trails was leading the charge of energy and excitement. (We later learned that our need for medical aid wasn’t too far off the mark as this was the beginning of Kevin, our video dude’s woes).

And that enthusiasm continued with our post-ride thank you beers. The Carbondale locals (and trails) showed us some amazing fun (and pain) and it’s this type of post-work ride many of us need.

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Part Six

Breckenridge

#goldenhour

The plan for “Breck” was another quick after-work loop. By now Kevin was starting to get pretty sick so we decided to take it a bit easier and go for an even quicker ride – a little out and back to sample some of the famous Colorado Trail.

Meeting at the “Dredge” carpark with Eric and crew we set off on Trigger Road and headed out towards Horseshoe Gulch. A steady but easy climb through pine forest and open meadow, it unexpectedly turned out to be one of the best photographic opportunities of our trip with vistas and perfect #goldenhour abound. Coming with these opportunities however was also failing light and as much as we wanted to keep exploring we decided to turn around and bomb back down (a moment of good judgment which we failed dismally at later in the tour). That descent was super fast, and super fun, and put huge smiles on our faces. It also showed that you don’t have to go on some 4-hour epic to have a blast. A quick ride can do just as much for putting you in that endorphin zone.

While this was only a very brief and quick sampling of the Colorado Trail it did more than stoke our fires to come back one day and ride the whole thing. (Who wants to come with us?)

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Part Seven

Eagle

Into the darkness

Eagle was a tale of two stories.

The first was that Kevin was getting way too sick to carry on and his heroics of trying to keep up with the Carbondale locals put a metaphoric nail in his coffin. No more (good) video was to be shot and Kevin remained at home in the darkness resting. Darkness was also the second story and would be a place we too would end up at day’s end.

Our local for the day was an old friend Matt and he had some lofty goals for us: two rides – a little “local” loop from town, and a more adventurous trip into the Eagle high country with the aid of a shuttle.

Our local loop was a very cool intro to the Eagle trails easily accessible from town. Starting in east Eagle we rode up Boneyard and came down Pool and Ice, connecting into the last part of Haymaker. It was super fun with some really good descending and berms. Matt was telling us it’s a very popular post-work loop and is normally around an hour. But stopping to take photos tends to push those times out and that dragging of time later came back to haunt us as we shuttled into the Eagle high country maybe a little too late.

The goal of any photographer is getting the best light and as we got to the top of Hardscrabble Mountain the good light was peaking. However with 4000ft of descending back to Eagle still ahead of us we were cutting it very, very fine. Too fine in fact and as we set off down Sawmill Trail the darkness was almost upon us.

In the beginning it was fun – real fun. There was still just enough light to really enjoy the trails of Sawmill, Firebox, and Dead Cow, but as we began to reach Scratch and Abrams Ridge it was pitch black. That was when it became a different version of fun.

No word of a lie, we rode for well (well) over an hour in full darkness with only Matt and his incredible knowledge of the local trails guiding us. It was pretty tough going and walking pace was at times the safest way off the mountain. Anything is better with hindsight and it was probably dumb to head up in the high country knowing we would be pushing it with light but we can vouch for everyone by saying, it’s a ride and experience that will never be forgotten and there was still huge smiles and good stories accompanying our post-ride beers.

Lucky for us we had a great local to make sure we got home safe. If it wasn’t for him we’d still be in the darkness somewhere.

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Part Eight

Steamboat Springs

The final day

This was the last official day of the tour and it seemed like sickness was following us. By now Kevin was in hospital fighting off an infection (that later turned out to be a kidney stone the size of his kidney) and as we arrived at the Stables Trailhead just behind the Howelson Hill Rodeo Grounds we saw a dark figure that looked like death freshly warmed up slowly approaching our van. With red eyes and a rough voice Justin greeted us with his ever-present smile. Just off the plane from a trip to northern India, he had picked up something akin to a mix of bird, pig, and every other weird strain of flu you could ever imagine. But as we soon found out, that was not going to get in the way of him taking us on a local loop, and showing us his local trails.

Our ride for the day was on the famous Emerald Mountain, which shadows downtown Steamboat Springs and is within easy reach of everything. The only part of Colorado that had been missing from our picturesque puzzle was a ride on a thin strip of trail among the famous aspens, and that’s just what we got.

Joined by a few enthusiastic locals hot off some Sunday afternoon margaritas we set off to climb to the top of Emerald – with poor Justin painfully coughing at the front. A quick stop at Quarry Point overlook and we were off, quickly descending and weaving through the aspens like we were on speeders in the famous forest chase scene in the Return of the Jedi.

Justin made it, all with a smile on his face. Another tribute to the fabulous and friendly locals we met across the whole tour.

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Part Nine

Extro

It's about the local

And that was it. That was our first Show Us Your Local tour, and hopefully not the last. In years to come we will look back on the whole trip fondly. Not just because of the amazing scenery and absolutely killer trails, the riding in darkness, the lack of being able to breathe, but because of the locals themselves. It’s locals that make any mountain bike destination what it is. Whenever you visit somewhere new make sure you find the time to go ride a local, with a local.

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Thanks
Issue Twenty Six
Yeti Cycles x
For all your help
Ska Brewing x
For all the beer
All the locals x
For coming out and riding with us

A donation of $75 was made to the Eskapee Carbon Offset Fund to offset the travel for this story.

The End
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