Trails are the basis of everything in mountain biking. They’re the arteries that flow life into every ride. They’re the blank canvas, the empty sheet. They’re the beginning middle and end of every mountain bike story.
Whether beaten into submission by machines, carefully sculpted with blistered hands and simple tools, or worn into being by centuries of animal traffic, each trail is as varied as the people who ride it. The trail’s story changes with each passing rider — every one of them having their own distinct perspective and definition of speed, space, time, adventure, danger and awesome — and each is another One of Many.
The following is One in a collection of short stories from three different trips to three different trails. If presented as simple trail beta, these pieces might detail the dirt — and a turn here, a climb there, a drop after that. But seen through the eyes of each of these riders, these stories represent unique experiences — One of Many stories that happen each day.
You are one of many. What is your story?
Every June, my trail map emerges from winter hibernation and finds its way back onto the coffee table, where it will live until the snow starts to fall again. And each time I unfold the accordion and focus in on the trip I’m planning, I start getting antsy. It has been three seasons since I last pedaled in these parts on the map, and my patience for snow melting has run out.
The San Juan Mountains in southwest Colorado are a rugged, stunning and very high mountain range that is heavily concentrated in minerals. One hundred and fifty years ago, these mountains separated the booming mining metropolises of Telluride, Silverton, Ouray and Durango. Today we are able to access and ride in the San Juans because of the old mining infrastructure. The trails that used to connect these towns, which were simply carved into the sides of the mountains, are now popular scenic roads that take you deep into the backcountry. The old mule and horse paths have transformed into the most perfectly pitched, 18-inch-wide flowy singletrack that fluently contours the topography.
The trail that attracts the most mountain bikers to the San Juans is, without a doubt, the Colorado Trail. Completed in 1987, and connecting Denver to Durango, the Colorado Trail is 486 miles long and passes through eight mountain ranges. This long-distance trail provides easy access to miles and miles of some of the country’s best alpine singletrack.