- 26.5 Miles
- 3,000+ feet Ascent
- 1,900 Calories
- 3.5 Hours
I mountain biked 22 miles of this ride with my lovely wife, Peggy. 22 miles puts us at exactly the low point of our ride. At this point our paths diverge.
We had planned to do this ride for several days. It is a very pleasant loop over Coulter Mesa on Forest Service roads. The views are amazing on the mesa as you ride through aspen groves, wild flower meadows, conifer stands and wide open grasslands. The ranchers have brought their cattle to graze and shepherds tend sheep flocks much the same way Basques have for centuries: horse, dog and covered wagon.
An amusing side note. When Peggy asked me how long the ride across the mesa was, I told her, “Just under 11 miles.” My bad. The 11 mile mark is just to the first out down the 2150 trail (Three Forks). There is an additional seven miles to the planned descent. Since she thought it was only 11 miles, she pushed it pretty hard as in her mind she only had 11 rising and falling miles then six or seven downhill to home. What she got was seven added miles of undulating whoop-ass.
After the rolling hills of the mesa the violent plunge down Little Box Canyon road looms.
Little Box Canyon (FSR 825) is about 4.5 miles long with an average grade of 7.7%...on average. The steeps exceed 20% and much descends in the range of 10%. It’s sheer enough to keep your full attention and make the gutsiest pucker on rocky precipitous curving sections with incline to one side and drop-off on the other. Any judgment error pitches you skipping down the rock-strewn double track or impaling into chossy hillside. If you are lucky, a picture of the creek that parallels the road will etch itself into your memory banks. In spite of the danger, you are grinning ear-to-ear all from 9,300” to 7,400” with every risk validating the accelerating reward.
Bounce, pummel, surf and BAM the bottom arrives.
At this point, per the original agreement, Peggy & I part journeys. She continued down to home as I went to retrieve the truck at just less than 8,900”…ugh.
We originally planned to start riding in the cool temps around 9:00AM. Due to circumstances beyond our control, the pedal pushing didn’t commence until after 10:30—at least a 20 degree difference in starting temps. This 1.5 hour shift makes all the difference in the heat of the day and the angle of the sun on the climb ratcheting the pain index from awful to raisin. The only redeeming quality of the climb was that I originally thought it was going to be seven miles and gratefully only turned out to be 4.5, which I only realized upon cresting the mountain top as the last drop of moisture from my body evaporated off the tip of my nose.
Legs burned. Lungs fried. Hallucinations passed. Flesh melted.
Would I do it again?
Yes. Without question or after thought. Two plus hours cruising with Peggy. Burning as many calories in a couple of hours as most people burn in a day. Does it get any better?
Maybe with a milkshake chaser…