Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Rocky Mountain Riding

Blue skies and sunshine but the technician in the bike shop tells us the trails will be hard work from the previous night's rain storm and will cake the tires with red Colorado mud. We are better off waiting until the afternoon when the sun has had a chance to dry the trails.

So, instead, we visit the Durango Fish Hatchery. We are the first visitors of the day and the volunteer museum guide is keen to give us all the information about the fish found locally, particularly trout. We also view an exhibit of stuffed animals. One is a black bear that was involved in a car accident two years previously. The bear stands over 6 foot high and weighed 400 pounds. Our guide tells stories of a bear that spent a day sitting in the tree outside the museum last summer and a mountain lion that took a dog from the house next door.

We wander outside to view the raceways that contain thousands of trout ranging from very small to quite large. From these raceways a million trout are put into the rivers and reservoirs of Colorado each year.

After an early packed lunch, eaten from the back of the car, we go to pick up our mountain bikes and set off for an afternoon's riding from the shop. We use a paved biking path to get to and cross the Animas River. Immediately after crossing the river we leave the paved path to take a trail up the hillside. Phoebe falls off her bike as we leave the path. She is not hurt. The trail is muddy, rocky, steep and narrow. The undergrowth scratches our legs and arms. Max, George and Colin seem to have no problem making the ascent. Phoebe and Rachel find it very difficult. They walk most of the way up the trail. By now it is hot and the sun is strong. The altitude makes the climb strenuous.

Eventually we come to a road. We decide that paved surfaces are perhaps better for a while and return to the river path. Towards the centre of Durango we try another mountain biking area, this time the trail  is a wide but rocky unpaved road. Rachel and Phoebe decide to proceed at their own pace, which turns out to only be a few metres. Colin, George and Max ride off making the slow ascent on the road called Horse Gulch. It seems popular with locals who obviously do not have any problem with the altitude or rocky surfaces.

When Colin and the boys return we decide to continue our biking by taking different routes, aiming to meet at a point where trail and paved river path join. Colin and Max take the trail while Rachel, Phoebe and George take the paved path. We never meet. Somehow we pass each other at the water treatment works, cycling on different sides of the works. Rachel, Phoebe and George wait for nearly an hour at the designated meeting point. None of them have cell phones. Colin is the only one carrying his phone. Eventually Rachel decides to ask people she meets if she can use their cell phone to call Colin. She imagines an accident has delayed him and Max. The first four people do not have phones. They are returning from a rafting trip on the river. Eventually a woman walking a dog has a phone. The dog is wearing a coat from the animal humane society that says "adopt me". George and Phoebe make a fuss of the dog while Rachel discovers that Colin and Max have been searching for them! They have been cycling to and fro on the path trying to find the other half of their family!

A soak in the hotel hot tub helps aching knees and legs. Tonight we discover a Mexican Taquaria - a fast food Mexican restaurant. We join the queue of people. The food is freshly cooked as we wait in line. It is fabulous - and reasonable. Phoebe makes the best choice - fish tacos - battered fish freshly cooked served in small flour tortillas with chopped tomato and Mexican tartar sauce. We all sample it - delicious.

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