Mountain vistas – family riding and pushing along the Colorado Trail

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.

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Beguiling trail riding – better than we hoped for and a source of grins and joy
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Narrow trail and lots of roots and rocks mean that pretty much any other trailer wouldn’t work – the Singletrailer in its element
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Sometimes he just wanted to walk (quite often downhill)
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We made a few minor variations on the route for logistical convenience rather than anything else – this nice bit of dual-track passed in close parallel to the trail with just the same views

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Chasing Mum down

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More beckoning trail (and storm clouds with afternoon thunder)
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High camps (this one in between Searle and Kikomo passes) were prompted by both impending yucky weather (not shown) and a joint family desire to ‘be in the place’ and spend some very productive time adding to all the cairns thereabout
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The mornings were almost always clear and sunny – whatever the weather the evening before

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Waiting for the straggler with the trailer to arrive
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Although we brought boots for him, he mostly did his walking barefoot. There were a few stubbed toes, but mostly due to his persisting desire to raise clouds of dust whenever possible
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Pre-fall Aspen – so we had to imagine the glory of riding this trail later in the year
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The GDMBR from Salida to Frisco was mostly a massive change in feel and pace
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8 years previously we came the other way along here and camped just north of Como while waiting for mail at the post office there – a lot has happened in the meantime, but our desire to be out there and keep things simple hasn’t
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A very fine mountain view to wake up to – we camped on top of Boreas Pass for this, instead of heading down the hill to Breckenridge/Frisco too quickly

ROUTE NOTES:

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.

KIT NOTES:

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.

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2 comments

  1. Hello, I find your travels inspirational! We plan to do our first tour with our 5 year old son (he is 50 pounds) this June. We will start in Telluride and use the San Juan Huts. Originally we planned to go to Moab over 7 days. But then I thought maybe going from Telluride to Gateway over 5 days might be a good idea since we’ve never done this. Can you recommend a set up? I imagine him on a towwhee or tagalong, and also bringing a Chariot or Tout Terrain Single Trailer. Its a gravel road the entire way. The days are 20-30miles of riding. What do you recommend? Thanks! I’ll keep searching for tips from all your adventures!

    • Lauren
      If it’s a first tour, I would go with more than one transport method – towwhee and trailer (either the Chariot or Singletrailer would be fine for gravel road). The alternative to the Tow-whee is one of the devices that picks up the front wheel (see Cass Gilbert’s recent European/Dutch family trip). We’re not likely to get into this because it limits wheel/tyre choice on the towing bike and requires a rear rack.
      We’ve just got a tow-whee and will be using it for a 1 week tour in Tasmania in December. This will be our first trip without either a trailer or bike-mounted child seat. We’re doing it this way because we’re pretty happy with very variable distances and know that he can ride well if we play to his agenda.
      I would try to do an overnight or full-day test run at least once beforehand to get him used to things.

      Basically we’ve found that everyone’s happier if you are both reasonably within your limits and he’s not pushed to his.

      Hope this is useful?

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