Eleven Team F.I.Taos Juniors (the more advanced teens) spent the past week in Durango. The week began Monday with a ride from Garcia Park to the top of South Boundary (and, of course, back down). Duke started the week out with a spectacular crash (he had to get a new helmet), reminding us that the week was going to be fun.
Sean, Susie, and Macky took the group (along with tons of gear) to Durango on Tuesday and, after an entertaining drive, set up camp at the Junction Creek Camp Ground. That afternoon we rode the Log Chutes trails. This ride began with a nice climb on a dirt road (well, some of us thought it was nice), turned into a really fun single track section filled with sound effects (thanks William and Lewis), and finished with some crazy hike-a-bike down some downhill sections that Dan Weinman would have liked. Burgers and a campfire wrapped up the day.
Wednesday began with a 5:45am wake up so we could get to Phil's World near Cortez, CO and ride before it was too hot. Another new trail for all of us and within 10 minutes of riding,
everyone agreed that it was worth waking up so early (that says a lot about the riding, considering these are teenagers we're talking about). It was smooth, winding, fast, and fun single track. We rode the entire "big loop" which included, among others, Lemon Head and Stinky Springs (great trail names, huh?). Some really, really fun downhilll sections! Carolina and McKenna improved dramatically on this ride (and throughout the week) as they started ripping through the turns. There were, of course, a few crashes but nothing too major (tell Tegan that). We drove all the way back to Durango and had a picnic lunch by the raging Animas River, followed by some chill time at camp. The group headed to the Durango Rec Center to swim (and shower) before going to our traditional dinner at Nini's Taqueria in Downtown Durango. After ice cream, there was a hotly contested spontaneous pull up competition that Chubby nearly dominated with his one-armed technique...but due to interference, the Pit Bull won.
Thursday was a leisurely morning in camp before we headed up to the Lower Hermosa Creek area. We rode Jones Creek to the Pinkerton Trail and almost to Mitchell Lakes. Jones Creek was a long, gradual climb (over 4 miles up) with cows, big drop offs to one side, and some incredible swarms of mosquitoes that only landed on you if you stopped. Bailey decided to roll part way down one steep hill but changed his mind and grabbed some rose bushes to stop himself. Once we were up on the ridge, the views were amazing and the riding changed. Up there the trail rolled along the ridge with some short, steep sections both up and down. Lewis actually got tired (this is a very rare occurrence). Tegan broke a spoke (cool!) but luckily her wheels survived the entire descent. Speaking of the descent, there is only one word for it, "WEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!" Sean almost got us dinner on the way down (cow standing in trail, Sean coming fast around the corner, Sean-cow impact narrowly avoided). After a late lunch at almost 5:00, we took another trip to the Rec Center (including timed racing down the water slide) before going back to camp for the last night. We said goodbye to Haley (not only does she ride great, but she is also a theater star and had places to go, people to see). Camp fire, late dinner, singing "a cappella" (thanks to Tucker, Robbie, William, Lewie, and pretty much everyone else but just not as loudly as them) and stories.
The last morning we had Susie's famous chocolate chip pancakes, packed up, and went to Big Canyon for our last photo shoot. There is a really cool bank turn on rock that is fun to ride and looks great in photos. I never saw Robbie "turtle" or "cow" the entire trip but he must have since it was his first week really riding with clipless pedals (pretty amazing). We got back to Taos at 3:30 (only 30 minutes late!) and unloaded the van. Imagine a van that 11 teenagers have lived out of while camping and riding for a week. It was both scary and impressive.
What an amazing trip! This was our 3rd year doing this trip and this time we rode trails that most of us had never ridden. Each day we rode hard and laughed harder. These kids are riding so well as their skills, endurance, and mental focus just keeps improving. Thanks!