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Quest Episode 3: Cycling the USA

article by Tito Tomasi

Beautiful landscapes, huge territories, amazing trails and strong community. For many mountain bikers Colorado and Utah are on top of their to do list, it’s the same for me. It was just a matter of time before I put my tires on the Colorado soil.

After visiting some really exotic countries it was time for me to organize my trip in one of the birthplaces of mountain biking. And the first exciting idea that came in my mind was the Colorado Trail, I have been thinking about it for a long time. And with a project as the webseries “The QUEST”, the search for the best trail was on!

I had a few months to get ready and figure out how to make this happen. I decided to ride the trail solo but also to film it solo, allowing me to express myself with a video diary and to ride as I want.

My friend Joey Schusler helped me to prepare my itinerary, giving me advice for food supply and segments. The guys at Mavic did an awesome job, helping me to build my bike luggage, that were designed to be used on a fully suspended mountain bike and a dropper post. My legs were almost ready and I was feeling so excited, starting a new bike adventure with long distance trails and mountains is the best feeling. A promise for good time, meetings, challenges and emotional moments.

After a long wait and a good preparation, here I am, fresh from the plane in the bus from Denver airport to Boulder. Joey welcomes me and we share travel stories around a Mexican dinner. His family was really nice to me but one morning came the time to hit the trail and embrace the adventure! That’s how I found myself happy and full of hope, pedaling along the Waterton canyon on my Thunderbolt, except that the bike had three huge bags attached to it, I looked like a real bikepacker!

The trip started very well with this interesting first day, forest, river, dry land and some cool encounters. As planned, a short thunderstorm came in the afternoon and unfortunately came back in the evening. I set up my shelter around the Wellington reservoir lake and the rain showed up for a few hours.

Then on the next day my goal was to reach Breckenridge for the night, a friend at Rocky Mountain gave me the contact of Nick, owner of a shop in Breckenridge « Breck Bike Guide ». Who maybe can help me for the night …

I started in the chilly, yet sunny morning, happy. And made the bike detour around the wilderness area and than got back on the trail, making the most of my time and the landscape. I remember having a cheese burrito in front of the mountains, giant meadows and the high passes in the distance, my imagination was playing with me, creating a living scene for the gold rush period. The trails were awesome and in the big climb to Georgia pass I was feeling the altitude as it culminate at 4000 meter. My body was ready at this time but the great downhill made me forget about it!

A few hills later I was entering Breckenridge and found Nick’s shop, but he wasn’t here. His mechanic was there and I had to explain that I came to the shop to meet Nick for the first time and ask a place to crush for the night … Instead of that Steve invited me to stay at his place. Nice! We had a good time at the bar and finally the rain came back in the evening.

On the next day the weather was pretty bad so I decided to stay in Breckenridge to rest and acclimatise. The people were so nice with me and at the shop I could service my Thunderbolt, making a fresher start on the next day. Leaving town early, I climbed the famous wheeler pass, the view on the range was amazing and from there I could see a lot of peaks, mountains, valleys but more important I could see my itinerary! And it was inspiring.

The riding was good but the best part was the after Searle pass above Cooper mountain, with a fast alpine trail that crossed the forest, entering in new place with a new landscape to discover. I rode hard in the afternoon and complete four segments to get to Mount Elbert trail head for the night, the last miles on the dirt road were tough for my legs and the cold was coming, just like the rain. Again!

Starting from Mount Elbert trail head, my goal was to get to Buena Vista to resupply my food and ride to Princeton for the night. I achieved my goals but in tough conditions as it also rained all day. The first trails around Colorado’s highest peak Mount Elbert were amazing, the soil was great even if a bit muddy and the riding in the aspen tree forest was fast! Arriving to Twin lakes was beautifull even with the rain, I loved that travelling feeling and the beauty of the forest in the rain.

Made a stop in Buena Vista for a mexican lunch and to buy some food. The city was really busy due to a music festival, I finally got back to the trail and the rain came super strong as I was climbing the trail…

The rain became really heavy, so in this situation there are only two options, stop to set up the tent and avoiding to get wet as much as possible, or keep going, get wet and find a hotel to dry everything! I choose the second option, and I kept going under the rain, it was fun to ride! The trail became a river and like everytime it rains my cameras needed to be secured in my back pack. But at some point I was covered of rocky sand, mud and totally wet! Got to the Princetown resort freezing and miserable. And than the resort was full …

The staff was feeling sorry for me and wanted to help so they offered me a pass for the hot spring pool. I stayed there trying to get together and figuring out what were my solutions, thanks to the wifi of the resort I learned that the storm was huge and cold, the forecast was terrible for another 7 days … It destroyed my appetite for adventure, I realize that camping and riding in the rain everyday wasn’t fun at all and I decided to end the trip.

One employee was really nice and he offered to drive me to Salida to crash at his place. From there I will have to find a way to get back to Breckenridge and finally to Boulder. This was sad and disappointing but it was the only choice I had.

Mike drove me to his place, we left after work at 11pm and on the next day we went to Buena Vista where Steve came from Breck to pick me up, everybody was helping, I was feeling lucky from that side, finding generous people everywhere.

In Breckenridge the rain was strong so I decided to get my stuff in Denver and drive to a warm and dry place.

That’s how I ended up in Moab! Dry and hot, with great riding! An important discovery for me. With incredible terrain, beautiful landscapes and a unique way to build trails.

Because of the storm in Colorado it wasn’t too hot in Utah and I had a great time, staying in a basic hotel I was riding morning and evening. Trying the “classics” of the area but keeping an adventure touch, I went overnight camping on Captain Ahab.

The experience was great, with intense atmopshere on top of the cliff. I took some time drawing and reflecting. After a few days my favorite loop was Pot Hole and Jackson trail, because of the awesome slabs the trail crosses, the fun section, the technical turns and the finsh along the Colorado river.

I had a blast on the Whole Enchilada too as it’s truly unique to start from the alpine and deep forest to finish in the desert and Colorado river!

But i could not stay any longer, the Breck Epic was starting soon. I went back to Breckenridge to rest and get all my stuff together for another adventure and chapter! Racing trails after weeks of trips was a weird but interesting feeling. And the adventure keeps on going!

 

 

Quest Episode 3

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