Thursday morning. We stopped the RV just shy of town last night as it was late and we were tired. We wake up to the pitter patter of rain drops on the top of the RV which Ryan has now named (and will be referred to as such from here on) "Wendy". We brew some coffee and reflect back on yesterdays ride shaking our heads in disbelief on just how bad ass the ride was and how lucky we were that we waited an extra day to do it. We're movin' slow... real slow.
After some breakfast we head into town to find our "host", Chris, that was letting us park Wendy in his driveway for the week. Chris is super rad. He points out various parts of the house and gives us the "make yourselves at home" stamp of approval. It turns out that Chris was a former soigneur for the Trek VW mountain bike team and as a result we've got some mutual friends. Small world ain't it. As we stand in the driveway, Chris points out some sections of what will be Saturday's course. Armed with just enough local trail knowledge, we gear up and head into town to meet up with Buck (loooonnng time friend and cycling nut job from the motherland of Pennsylvania). It's high noon and we've got two hours before meeting up with a local (Robin) who's going to show us a riding area called "The Test Tracks" just on the outskirts of town. Finding trails in Durango is easy. A bit too easy actually. If you ride for more than a few minutes you'll inevitably come across singletrack. Needless to say, we had no problem finding something to do before our tour guide showed up.
Test Tracks: I read about this area on-line and just as I suspected, it's best to have a good understanding of the trails to get the most "bang for your buck". The map looks like a bowl of spaghetti. Trails that have good flow and feel in one direction just plain ole' suck going the other way. We meet up with Robin at a park in town and head off with a crew of 10 or so. For the next hour and a half we follow that guy like it's our friggin' job. We dart past so many turns and trail options that it makes our heads spin. I don't know how much trail actually exists back there, but it's plenty for today. After our ride yesterday and the planned ride tomorrow (The Colorado Trail from Champion Down) this is exactly what we need. After the ride we strategically moved Wendy a little closer to town and positioned ourselves two blocks from the bike shop/park/start of the race... a move that we'd reap the benefits of for the rest of the week. The rest of the night was spent sampling some fine brews while catching up with old friends and checking out some nice rides at a bike show inside The Irish Embassy Pub.
Friday & the Colorado Trail: If heaven exists, it's an endless ribbon of the Colorado Trail. Of course we were a little spoiled by doing the ride as a shuttle but trust me; the Colorado Trail kicks ass. It's got everything. One moment you're in a high speed warp factor nine type shit piece of trail and then just around the next corner there's a tecky stream crossing with a nice slimy rock garden just to keep you honest. It's got roots, rocks, banked corners, epic scenery... I could go on for days about just how cool this trail is. If you're ever in Durango, DO THIS RIDE! Pay the nice lady with the van to shuttle you to the start. Don't worry, you'll still get to do some climbing. All told, the ride is about 28 miles with 4,000ish ft of elevation loss and about 1,000ft of climbing. Just what you need when there's a race tomorrow and a party tonight.
The Party: It's just after 6:30. There's a couple of hundred people at Buckley Park. Hmmm. Something's happening. Sure enough, it's a group ride to the party. Shit yeah! A mass of riders leaves the park and heads south through town. Bikes take over the street as thunder rumbles overhead. The mass of riders veers right, kinda like those fish you see in the ocean, and heads across the river. Then, left and up a stout hill that leads through the gates of a cemetery. Again... thunder. The hill continues up through fenced in plots and headstones. You can feel the energy and excitement from the group. POW! Lightening... and again... thunder. People are starting to go ape shit at this point. The road we're on ends and funnels into a single track (this seems to happen alot in Durango) as riders wait their turn to funnel onto the trail. After a short but sweet section of trail we arrive at the party. The scene is awesome! There's food, beer, dirt jumps, a stage for bands, freaks, geeks.... the tone is set for a long night. Within an hour, there's well over 500 people at the party. The dirt jump exhibition goes on for hours and culminates in the "World Championship Bunny Hop Competition". Again, more craziness. Then it's time to start the always bizarre selection process to see who will host the SSWC for 2010. This time around it's a singing contest between Italy, New Zealand, Hungary and Canada. The singing (along with online voting) selects the two best singers. It's safe to say that Canada "killed it" with a tune from Prince (kiss). So much so, that Hungary didn't have the balls to show up. New Zealand found themselves on the opposite end of the singing spectrum butchering a tune from Queen. Italy got a great song (Misfits-some kind of hate) and started strong but choked part way through losing themselves in lyrics. In the end, New Zealand and Italy would end up victorious moving themselves to the finals to be held Sat night after the race at The Ska Brewing Co. After a couple more beers and mingling, I get my swerve on and head back towards town to get some sleep for tomorrow..... race day.