Damian Breach, Giant rider, Canberra local and photographer extraordinaire has recently spent some time on an all-mountain adventure that spanned 3 days including 20,000ft of up and down terrain! Check out his story from the trip below or to check out his work visit damianbreach.com
"A little while ago I headed off on an all-mountain adventure to the USA in search of the big downhill descents that we just don't have in Australia (I wish we did). This has always been a dream of mine and one I am thankful I full-filled. If you missed the story in Australian Mountain Bike magazine here's an abbreviated taste of my 3 day 20,000ft all-mountain trip."
Day one began at the famous Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Pikes Peak is a huge 14,000ft monster of a mountain and despite my foolish first idea to ride up the mountain I met up with a couple of friends and we shuttled our way to the top. As it turns out you're not allowed to ride up so I was let off the hook from all that pain. At the top I was stunned at how high I was but more stunned at the realisation of the 8,000ft downhill that I was just about to hit. To put that into perspective, Mount Kosciuszko is 7,310ft and I was about ride down a hill bigger than the highest mountain in Australia.
I have to be honest and say that the ride down (on the Barr Trail) was damn hard and the first few thousand feet above the tree line was super, super-hard. I crashed a few times and more than embarrassed myself many times and was humbled by a trail filled with rocks and almost inside- out switchbacks. Soon however, the trails entered the trees and everything smoothed out somewhat and we were able to pick up speed. Most trails in the USA are shared with hikers so you have to respect those folks so the ride was toned down a little (just a little).
Some 20km later we reached the bottom. Bloodied, tired, sore, and totally arm-pumped-stuffed is one way to describe what I was feeling but I prefer this one description instead - cannot-wipe-the-smile-off- my-face-happy. That was a dream come true.
Day two was a solo adventure in Durango, Colorado on the Kennebec Pass trail. 5,000 ft of drop over 42km was what lay ahead and this ended up being my first introduction to what real 'all-mountain' biking would be about. Again a shuttle to the top saved me from a 5 hour uphill slog but I soon learnt that I wasn't going to be let off that easily.
The trail started with some of the best and most scenic downhill riding I have ever done, across open fields and through dark forests and I was pinning it (in my head anyway). The middle of the ride was a little different though. I ride for the downhills and don't mind a hard climb to get my reward and I was faced with some pretty damn epic climbing on this trail. I was on a big travel bike (Reign X) and I am still amazed at just how well those big rigs climb. I wanted to be on a longer travel bike as it meant that I would enjoy my rewards just that little more, so the pain of the climbing was insignificant as I knew it would be all worth it. Climb over, left-and-loose (the only way I can remember my pro-pedal settings), seat dropped a little and downhill all the way home. More bliss, more fun, more glee, more smiles was all that was left again at the end of the day.
Day three saw me riding in the MTB mecca Moab, Utah. Moab is known for all that slick-rock riding but I have always had a dream to ride the trails of the La Sal Mountains that shadow the town. Legend told that there were dream trails from top to bottom and I was on the hunt for a trail called the "Whole Enchilada". I soon found that the legend was true and only recently the 50km 7,000ft drop trail become legal and was open to all. I was all over it like a over-excited kid and as the sun was rising I was at the trail head frothing to go. A damn hard climb began this ride but I knew it was the only one and it's always best to get it out of the way first up. The rest of the ride was downhill 100% and I rode through dark, wet forests, open plains, and dry red deserts. I cannot explain it all in such few words but image riding all day and never once feeling like you're in the same place.
That was it. Three days of all-mountain bliss and beers and mexican food were my rewards. Those memories will always be with me and it serves as a reminder to us all to grab our bikes and go on that mountain bike adventure you have always dreamed of. My next one is only a few weeks away.