Well… I had written up a long post about our ride on the Mineral Belt Trail in Leadville, and when I went to hit “publish”, it vanished. Without a trace. I have no idea where it went, but it’s gone. That’s 15 minutes and fabulous wording I will never get back. It was the best post I’d ever written. Pulitzer prizes would have been awarded for it. OK, not really, but it was much better than what follows.
I don’t feel like writing it all up again. So here is the (somewhat) abbreviated and much lazier version:
- The trail is 12 miles long. From our campground, it was a 3 mile ride. The trail has neat mining relics and history about Leadville along the way.
- Upon leaving the campground, we were riding on a road that was part of a 3 day charity ride benefiting the Children’s Hospital in Denver. We got to ride a few miles with and get passed by some very fit mountain cyclists. Here’s Rian on the road with the studly cyclists who had climbed Independence Pass earlier that morning.
- We got conflicting information on which way to travel the trail. The cute campground store clerk said to go clockwise because the climb to the top was easier. Some random hippy dude that Rian met said to go counter clockwise because the descent was better. Rian took hippy dude’s advice and we rode it counter clockwise. Big mistake. Normally I would defer to a hippy dude (after all, I’m a hippy chick), but this time the hippy had it all wrong. After riding the trail and realizing that EVERY SINGLE PERSON ON THE TRAIL was traveling the opposite direction- I wanted to get off my bike, run back to camp, and strangle hippy dude. The urge to strangle occured many times, but most often on the 4 times I had to get off and walk my bike up some crazy ass steep sections of the trail. Grrr… bad hippy!!!
- We had great views of the mountains and of Leadville from the trail (gave me a great excuse to stop and take breathers on all that difficult climbing. Not that I really need excuses to stop.
Here’s a view of Leadville from one point on the trail:Here’s me smiling, trying to pretend that I’m good at climbingHere’s Rian pedaling along like it’s no big deal
- The views from the trail were truly spectacular, and trust me- I really got to look at them while hike-a-biking my way up parts of the trail. In all honesty, the surroundings were incredible and simply overwhelmed your senses (the sights, the smells of the pine trees, the taste of sweat in my mouth). We saw some angry clouds building and heard some thunder up ahead at Weston Pass. Although it never did rain, I was doing the rain dance hoping some would fall because it would have felt wonderful.Hey look up above- there’s Mt. Elbert on the left with his cute little pointy top, and there’s Mt. Massive on the right with his GIGANTIC massive summit that extends for miles and miles. I mean, Elbert is cute and tiny, but Massive is just… well,… Massive!!!
- Upon reaching the summit, we were slightly discouraged that we had only climbed about 500 feet. I was pretty sure it was closer to 5,000, but I’m not very good with numbers. We took about 10 self-timer pictures until we got one that was decent enough to share.
- The backside (downside) of the trail was nice and gradual. It explains why literally everyone else on the trail went this way up the hill. It was nice for descending, tho, and the urge to strangle hippy dude subsided. I enjoyed the descent, although stopping to look at artifacts and learn things was out of the question at those speeds. Who’s that I see in the picture above? Why it’s none other than Turquoise Lake there in the distance. It really was super clear and beautiful water. The lake is about 30 feet low due to the very mild winter and pitiful amount of snowfall they had. Here is yet another pretty view coming down the trail as we head back into town.
- We ended up with about 20 miles total for the day. It took us about 3 hours. I think 20 miles on knobby tires on a heavy mountain bike on the road is equal to about 200 miles on the road bike, so that’s what I’m going to call it. We did a 200 mile ride in 3 hours. That sounds reasonable, right?
It really was a WONDERFUL adventure. We ran out of water about halfway through our trip, so we were really pushing to get back to the campground. We highly underestimated the dryness of the air and the length/difficulty of the trail. D’oh! Rookie mistakes from two veteran bikers. Thankfully the ride all the way back to the campground from the summit of the trail was downhill. I even clocked myself going 20 MPH down the road at one of those speed clocker things that the police put out. 20 MPH on a mtn bike? That’s never happened before (and never will again).
I wish I had that kind of terrain to ride all the time. Imagine how strong of a biker I would be (and hiker, and runner and etc, etc). It’s nice to visit, but I sure would love to live there sometime!!
Later that afternoon when we were wandering around in town, we saw a store front property for rent. We imagined all the different shops we could open and how we could manage to make a living and live in this utopia. All of our ideas were pretty stupid, tho, so we abandonded the thought. Perhaps we will just finish out our final 17 years on the job and spend our summers in retirement up there.