Super Walker

Super Walker
By John Weiler

“Morning!!”, I turned around to see who could possibly be in such a good mood. After all it was such a dreary morning, the sun was hidden behind an enormous dark wall of fog, as thick and dense as my mom’s mashed potatoes. I clamored out of the car and noticed only shadows, making it impossible to discern who was acting so joyful. As I put on my gloves I was starting to question my sanity.

As I heard the the confirming “chchchchchchch” sound of a ratchet I felt the weight of my bike in my hands while I set it to the sodden ground. The moment it touched the cold asphalt I heard another engine cough to life.  As the engine faded away I walked across the mushy soil.  I stopped at my name “JOHN!! over here!!!“.  It was then I saw my good friends Alex, Aidan, Bjorn, and of course our ever present leader Rudy. We had barely hi-5ed when Rudy jumped on his bike and pedaled off in to the mist. Us being the intelligent beings we were we decided to follow him.

The rain pelted our Camelbaks making it feel like we had hippos on our backs while we rode along side Boulder Creek in Boulder, Colorado. As we rode past the river I watched its bubbling froth race past us. Soon we left the busy city and my group climbed hard up into the hills. The fog seemed to come meet us. We entered the thick moist clouds as we struggled up what was definitely the steepest fire road I had ever been on.  It instantly grew dark and the mist started to surround us. It seemed to fill in all of the ditches and trenches, it was as though we entered another world. As we climbed up and up the temperature dropped by the meter.

After  90  grueling minutes of climbing we popped out on one of the steepest  paved roads on the front range, Flagstaff Road. The moment we ground to a halt the cold  bound us like a straight jacket.  After a quick break we unanimously decided that we had better move on, in an effort not to freeze to death. Unfortunately the hard part lay ahead of our panting figures. Up ahead of our spinning wheels lay 7 miles of slick, steep, and unforgiving asphalt. Our mindset changed completely. From navigating ruts on a loose dirt road we now prepared for this treacherous climb.

As we neared the top the greatest sight beheld us, sunlight. “YEA SUN” Aidan sang! We put on a new burst of speed, something 10 minutes ago I would have shunned the thought of. The shivering slowed down and we rocketed down the backside of Flagstaff. Riding by the pines at the speed of a cheetah we saw our goal, Walker Ranch, Boulder, Colorado.

Dirt and rock flew up like a flock of chickadees as we skidded to a halt at the illustrious Walker Ranch trail head. The bike computers all read 12 miles. Only 2 of it had been down hill as of yet, and it wasn’t like that was going to change. Already tired from the early morning ride we were slowing down as we climbed the relentless switch backs of Walker Ranch. It felt like we had climbed for hours to get to see our lunch spot, then we noticed something we hadn’t been told; “What is that?” Alex exclaimed as we gazed up what had to be the longest, steepest, and rockiest set of stairs I had ever seen. We gazed up the steep face, the boulders taller than us.

Bjorn said in a questioning  tone “We are going around that, right???” As if the gods sent a response another rider came up behind us, leaped of his bike and started hiking up.

After 20 min of heaving, ho’n, and sweating we finally had made it— Half way through our ride.  To our right we could barely see the river toss and tumble over the rocks, although we could hear its march to the death. To  our left we could see even more switch backs, as we hefted our bikes once again they didn’t feel like the 26 pounds they really were, it felt as though we were carrying elephants.

“Finally” Rudy exclaimed as he set his bike down. In front of us was just flat trail…..or so we thought…..

We quickly wolfed down our lunch and finished the loop, then we were told the most painful words I have ever known. “You have to go back up, all of the way”. Every last inch of that murderous pavement we had flown down not 60 minutes ago was calling our names.  We reluctantly saddled up and started pushing our pedals like dead men on the march, not that we were much different.

We made it to the top of Flagstaff in record time (or at least that is what it felt like) and celebrated with a picture and a swig of what little, warm, plastic tasting water we had left. Then we got a warning from Rudy. We would FINALLY be descending the 10 miles that had been such a pain that very morning. But with 10 miles of downhill at 40 mph our brakes would be come so hot the hydraulic fluid would boil. As it started to boil we would slowly loose the breaking power until we would have no breaks. To solve this potentially deadly issue we were told to stop half way down and dump every last drop of water we had on our disks, hopefully cooling them down.

It worked, Sort of. By feathering our brakes and maintaining a break neck pace of 40mph we made it to the bottom of the dirt road. Barely. When we felt our disks it was as though we were touching a stovetop. “Youch!!!” I exclaimed, the searing heat traveled traveled the fibers of my bike gloves, through my skin, in to my nerves, and to my head in a microsecond. I thought my hand was on fire. Us being boys we all tried it in turn and finally decided (after a lot of thought) we would never do such a silly thing again. To prepare for more downhill we squirted what remaining water we had on to the brakes. It never hit the ground.  Instantly turned to steam by the scalding disks it was floating up to the clouds before anyone could blink.

When we rolled back into Boulder and to the place we had started we fell to the grass. Even before our tires had stopped spinning I was half asleep. “34@5200” was the phrase that kept me up. Aidan repeated it again “34 miles and 5200 feet of elevation gain.” The longest ride I had ever been on. It had taken only about 3.5 hours but had been so much fun I would do it again in a heart beat. Maybe.

As I fell asleep to the sound of the crickets outside of my window that night I finally got the name: Super Walker.  One super bike ride, one heck of a lot of walking. All I know is that it was very fun and it is something I will never forget.