August 21, 2017

Packing the bare minimum – what can you get away with during thunderstorm season in the mountains

Riding light while avoiding the regular afternoon thunderstorms is one of the simple joys of riding in Colorado.

Mountain biking can be an equipment intensive sport. There are times in the winter and spring, when the weather is unpredictable, that you spend what seems like hours putting on clothing and filling your pockets with extra layers in order to cover all eventualities.

So when summer rolls around in Colorado, one of the simplest pleasures is the feeling of heading out the door with little more than the clothes you’re wearing to get you through the ride. I’ve been enjoying getting home from work and riding the local singletrack here in Lyons, Colorado. The trails spread west from town, with a number of options for a short hour-long evening adventure. The element short sleeve shirt has been my go-to option for the last few weeks. The relaxed fit is perfect for the warm evening temperatures.

My favourite local ride for the last few weeks has been Hall Ranch. It’s a well known trail on Colorado Front Range mountains, and it tends to get a lot of traffic on the weekends. On a midweek evening, however, it’s a different story. The trailhead is either empty or emptying as the last of the daytrippers begin to head home, and the intense sunshine starts to mellow and become golden as it moves towards the horizon. Tired hikers are making their way back to their cars as you head up the trail, and as the the temperature begins to drop, you can feel the first wafts of a cool evening breeze. This is where the joy of traveling light really kicks in. You feel fast and relaxed with nothing to weigh you down, and knowing you’ll be home before dark means you need nothing but a few sips of water to keep going.

 

By the time you get to the top, the meadows are being bathed in a glorious yellow hue, and the sun is just dipping below the tips of the trees. This is where I like to regroup. If I’m lucky, it will be just me and the deer out here now. After riding up the same way I’m descending, I know who and what to expect on the way down, allowing you to let loose just a little more than you would in the middle of the day. The dust you’re kicking up mixes with the sunset behind you, making you feel like you’re in an early 2000’s Californian Mountain Bike video. You let that notion linger as you hammer towards home, enjoying the chill on your skin by the time you reach the trailhead.

The 5 minute spin along the road from the end of the trail to my house is another pleasure. You can sit and spin, analysing your performance on the trail, while soaking in how lucky you are to get outside and do what you love some close to home.

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