Greg Johnson: Tales from the Trails |

Greg Johnson: Tales from the Trails

On a sunny afternoon, Chris Titus, Greg Johnson, Kelly Gilleland, Kim Holm, Wesley Hendershot, Pat Roberts, and Vicky Urrea take a break from their bike ride on Spring Creek Trail.
Courtesy Photo

— I moved back to Steamboat for days like Saturday. It wasn’t anything epic. Pretty standard in Steamboat terms: I went on a mountain bike ride. It was fun, a bit out of my league at times, but that isn’t why it will stick in my mind. The reminder that you never know where your next adventure lies here in Routt County made it stand out.

At work Friday I had one thought on my mind, “I am going on a mountain bike ride!” It had been months since an injury sidelined me, so modest goals were set for a ride on Emerald. Maybe try out Morning Gloria. I wanted to keep it easy, I couldn’t afford a fall.

Things have a way of changing though. As I revealed my plans to a friend while out on the town I soon had a partner to ride with. As beverages were enjoyed and social groups mingled, the idea of riding on Emerald changed to a trip up Buff Pass.

Buff Pass? I haven’t had a chance or the skill level to bike up there and had only heard of unmarked trails that can be pretty technical at times. I’m not a confident downhill rider, and the idea of Buff Pass was intimidating.

I was apprehensive, but excited too. Steamboat offers new adventures at a moment’s notice. Turning one down is not my style. Plus, breakfast at my friend’s apartment before the ride was part of the deal. So, I threw caution to the wind.

The Indian summer we had couldn’t have provided a better day. It was my first time riding with our crew of eight, and I realized quickly that while my hand-me-down Slayer was ok, most riders had full face helmets, knee and shin pads, and heavy downhill bikes with plenty of travel. Perhaps it was a sign of foreshadowing that I could be in over my head.

Ten minutes into the ride, I fell and was sent rolling down a hill. A couple of minutes later I tried to hit a small jump over some downed trees, fall number two.

The ground hurts. I was shaken, or just physically shaking. I had to walk some super steep parts and avoided all jumps. Not a proud moment, but I wanted to escape serious injury.

As we stopped and waited for a broken chain to be fixed, the others in the group went over their rides and how they used to be intimidated on the same terrain, and how much they had progressed.

It was a forgettable moment for them, but that conversation made all the difference for me. I moved out to Colorado a novice in most things outdoor recreation and sports, and it has taken years of practice and patience to get better. A reminder that it is a process can have a great effect on your mental state.

With my new mindset, I still take the rear, but I’m able to manage the trail better. If I have to walk a section so be it.

We went over fallen aspen leafs lighting up the trail with bits of snow here or there, reminding us winter is right around the corner. The trail itself had some technical, steep, rocky sections and downed logs and rocks that cross the trail as features to play on. The trail met up with the top of Spring Creek Trail, and I got to end my ride on my favorite single track in Steamboat.

I was told not to reveal the trail, so I am leaving the name out. Some know where I am talking about and for those who want to know, just ask around. Or befriend the group talking about their next adventure. You may not end up at the same spot or even biking, but I am positive you will have fun.

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