Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Kenosha Pass 48 miles south of Morison, Colorado on US-285.
This was the STARTING elevation of my ride to Georgia pass last Saturday.
I love the western United States with it's rugged openness.  The red rock dessert of southern Utah will always remind me of youth, adventure, and home.  During my younger years I put in countless hours biking in Moab and backpacking in the Escalante and Canyonlands wilderness areas.  Recently, I put in some quality time riding some of the Wasatch range in northern Utah and still have dreams about that experience.  I love the majesty of the Grand Tetons and the surrounding Yellowstone area.  While these places and many others in the west reach 11 on a awesomeness dial they all fall somewhat short of one essential outdoor ingredient that is overwhelmingly abundant in Colorado.

Thin Air.

John Denver wasn't full of [crap].  He knew what he was talking about when he wrote the song Rocky Mountain High.

Many other states have the same types of terrain, endless miles of singletrack, rough rocky descents, amazing tundra views, but no other state has the elevation Colorado is famous for.  How many other states have over 50 peaks above 14,000 ft? California has Mount Whitney (14,505 ft/4,421m) and Alaska has Mount McKinley (20,320 ft/6,194m). While those peaks are truly impressive, the mean elevations for California and Alaska are 2,900 ft/884m and 1,900 ft/579m respectively - a pale comparison to Colorado (6,800 ft/2,073m) having the highest mean elevation in the USA - followed closely by Wyoming and Utah.

High altitude endurance mountainbike races: Breckenridge 100, Colorado Trail Race, Breck-Epic Stage Race, Vapor Trail 125,  that one in Leadville. The list goes on and on. All of these races throw the book at competitors when it comes to demanding rocky mountain terrain.  Add a mean elevation of 9k to 10k and you have the makings of some seriously hard mountainbiking.  Colorado has become the benchmark for all other endurance races to compare against.

Jeff Higham - Riding 1/2 mile south of Georgia Pass (11,392ft)
I am not sure what my fascination is with high places. I think it is the conquering beast in me - that same beast that drives many of us to push our limits and explore our surroundings.  There is something indescribable about the feeling of standing on a 12,000ft mountain pass or a 14,000ft peak you worked all afternoon to attain.

I can't quite put my finger on it.

Whatever it is, Colorado has a lot of it just waiting to be conquered - which is what I intend to do one trail at a time.

Mike Berg - Georgia Pass

No comments: