The Highs (and Lows) of Colorado Mountain Biking - Page 4

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Schofield Pass to Pearl Pass: A Packing List
For obvious reasons, I feel this route calls for the standard tool kit for backcountry rides and more. Here’s what I’d take next time. And remember the adage: It's better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.
  • Multi-tool
  • Extra chain links
  • Spare rear derailleur
  • Spare brake pads
  • Two spare tubes
  • Lube
  • Spare cable
  • Spoke wrench
  • Water purification tablets
  • Camelbak
  • Windbreaker
  • Space Blanket/full first-aid kit
  • Riding tights or wind pants
  • Thin glove liners and a hat
  • Lots of food

It was early evening now. The trail grew rougher still—and the sky with it—as we rounded the windy bends up to the summit of 14,000-foot Castle Peak. We were in high country now, and we knew this was not the place to get caught after dark. Against the protests of screaming thighs and bursting lungs we broke the tree line: 11,000…11,700…12,000 feet. The wind howled across treeless scree slopes and the trail became two- and three-foot granite steps. I couldn’t imagine a jeep driving over this stuff, but endless skids marks and tire ruts proved they did. We shouldered our bikes and continued. A false summit dashed hopes, and the temperature started dropping like a stone as the conical summit of Castle Peak came into view. We were both shivering now, but we were getting close. And finally we reached the pass. The last evening light streamed from the south and a rotting brown sign abutted the wind, telling us we were at 12,700 feet. Jeremy stretched Clif Bar wrappers over his toes to keep them from numbing in the cold, a desperate act in a long, desperate day. But as we crossed over the pass, we knew we were in the clear—we'd have gravity on our side.

Our descent towards Carbondale, our girlfriends, and pizza and beer was a blur. Before dropping into the trail, we re-attached the six links onto Jeremy's chain, rigged it into high gear, and raced the fading dusk into the cavernous depths of Montezuma Basin and the small town of Ashcroft far below. Traveling 30 miles per hour in 30-degree temperatures while wearing shorts is decidedly not a good idea; my lips felt like they were frozen to my teeth. We rode the trail hard and fast, and half a break pad later we hit the pavement of the Castle Creek Road. From there it was just another 14 easy miles of pavement to Aspen. There was no riding home to Carbondale from there. We took the bus.

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