Mostly it depends on your expectations – whether something’s hard and worth doing or too hard, not worth doing and will take too long. Having a (now) 5 year old who likes walking up rocky trails laced with switch-back and no qualms about him stopping to throw stones in every river you pass helps too. These plus inspirational trail riding and our strong stubborn streaks made 3 weeks in Colorado a joy.
We arrived in Denver with memories of our previous ride along the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route having influenced our clothing choices. We then found that it’s quite a bit hotter here in July than in September/October and promptly left most of it behind. The remainder of our pre-route machinations consisted of working out what we were actually going to do, guestimating how far we might get and coming up with the ‘plan’. It actually worked out pretty much as we reckoned (that’s never supposed to happen), with us riding/pushing along the Colorado Trail until we could swap onto the GDMBR at Salida to head back to Frisco and a bus to Denver. We’ll also likely have done our last significant trip with the ToutTerrain Singletrailer as he’ll have outgrown it soon – both in size/weight and need to be actively involved in the journey.
We rode the CT from Denver to Salida (coming off at the Angel of Shavano trailhead, but could have continued to Highway 50, up that (bypassing the Fooses Creek section) to the top of the Monarch Crest Trail then down to Salida via the Marshall Pass intersection with the GDMBR). We pretty much stuck to the CT (with bike diversions for wilderness areas) along that stretch other than using the Rec path from the Gold Hill Trailhead on Highway 9 between Breck and Frisco to bypass the hike-a-bike over the Ten-Mile range. We re-joined the CT at Copper Mountain. GDMBR from Salida to Frisco then a Bustang bus from there to Denver to finish. We found the combination of the paper maps (almost all we did is on the Northern part), the CTF Databook and the Guthook iPhone app to be plenty for navigation.
The Singletrailer worked very well – though we did have to get the shock serviced by Boneshaker Bicycles in Buena Vista when it started losing pressure. Due to the stresses and weight involved in riding this type of rocky/rooty trail I would recommend making sure you’re happy with the towing bike brakes (consider larger disc rotors due to long descents). Also consider a burly seat-post clamp (with 5mm Allen wrench bolt) to prevent movement and rounding out the bolt. I’ve not had much success with QR seat-post clamps. In keeping with others, I found a 29+ hardtail with a dropper post very handy. I ran a 1×11 (28T, 11-46T) set-up. Due to the need to be able to camp anywhere on the trail (including above the tree-line) we opted to use our tried and tested Hilleberg Allak and didn’t regret it.