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Take to the trails this summer ... on a bike
Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I admit, I have a hankering for the outdoors.

A stationary bike inside the recreation center, pedaling to nowhere, just does not quite do it. It is okay for a rainy or snowy day, but I love to get away on my mountain bike and enjoy the quietness, the puddles, the scent of pine sap, and wave a “howdy” to cows and game.

Because some of the best rides are often far from civilization, Tom and I tend to ride together. Suits me just fine ’cause he knows more about bike repair than I.

This reliance on survival skills accounts for the group dynamics of the sport. I came by this lesson the hard way, when my bike and I walked 11.3 miles of Hermosa Creek trail in Durango following a broken cable.

Mountain biking usually refers to the sport of riding bicycles that have knobby, wide and higher profile tires, large round frame tubing, a large range of gears to facilitate climbing up steep hills and over obstacles and some sort of suspension or shock absorber. Mountain biking can be done anywhere from a backyard to a gravel road, but the majority of mountain bikers prefer to ride trails they call “single track.” These are narrow trails that wind through forests or fields. Other trails are wide enough for more than one rider and are referred to as “double track.”

Mountain biking in Pagosa is getting better each season, as Wolf Creek Wheel Club members invest time and energy into cleaning up and maintaining old, abandoned trails and logging tracks, turning them into a rideable network of single track.

As the club continues to grow, different groups ride at different times and days, with each local rider touting their own favorite trail. Many club members alternate between mountain bikes to road bikes depending on weather conditions and their mood for the day.

There is not much organized, printed resource material for mountain bike trails outside of “Pagosa Rides,” an updated guide book by Gary Hopkins.

“Pagosa Rides” is a detailed guide to 18 mountain bike rides in and around Pagosa Springs. Rides 1-16 describe routes over a variety of terrain, ranging from wooded mesas to alpine forests. Riding surfaces vary from graded forest roads to technical single track. Each ride contains an overview, complete ride data (difficulty level, distance, riding surface, etc.), an elevation profile, directions to the trailhead and a detailed route description. A full color topographic route map accompanies each ride.

Ride 17 actually consists of three rides that can be done “out the back door,” rides that are fun to ride for bicyclists with varying ability levels.

Ride 18 describes numerous “favorite forest roads” to ride in our area.

Also included in the guide is information on safety, ride preparation, and considerations that cyclists should take into account when choosing a ride.

“Pagosa Rides” is available from the following local shops: Moonlight Books, Pagosa Outside, Pedal and Powder and Summit Ski and Sports.

Those of you who are interested in joining the members of Wolf Creek Wheel Club on mountain bike and/or road bike rides are invited to do so. Check in with Pedal and Powder and they will give you the information on the rides (including how to join the club).

The Pagosa Lakes Recreation Center will be closed on Saturday in celebration of the Fourth of July. The PLPOA Administration Office will close on Friday, July 3.

Join us in enjoying the parade, the festivities in Town Park and the fireworks.