Blank and I had just climbed 5 miles and 2000 feet up a dirt road, then gained another 700 feet of elevation in half a mile of wet and twisty singletrack. We had picked up two more riders along the way and formed one of those magical ad hoc trail groups that happen you're mountain biking. But when we rode off the top of the ridgeline and out from behind the trees, this valley opened up beneath us. I pulled a Sam from Lord of the Rings and "burst into tears."
THIS is what we had driven 13 hours and trained countless more to enjoy: the East River and Emerald Lake flowing down to Crested Butte. Shoulder-high wildflowers. Rocky mountain vistas from 11,000 feet of altitude. 45 minutes of rolling, plummeting-down-the-mountainside fun. The tangible awareness of death, life, majesty, and verdancy blowing the sublime up your nose and into your soul. Barbaric yawps were sounded and "spots of time" recorded.
If you have a chance to ride only one more trail in your life, make it 401. I've never pedaled in Moab, so maybe I'm wrong, but I've done a ton of spinning in the Rockies and Sierra, and this 20-mile loop in Crested Butte is the very, very best.
The oldest of old friends, partners through many a mile of agony and exultation.
New friends from the trail.