Monarch Crest had been billed as The Best Ride in Colorado by more than one person, so it was something that had to be done. Starting from Monarch pass you have a steady climb for about 5 miles up to 12000', before descending to Marshall Pass and a bit of climbing and contouring, followed by an almighty descent to Silver Creek. It didn't disappoint. On the shuttle with me was a group of 7 women from the Winter park area, a couple of guys and one old geezer. I kind of rode out with people for the first few miles, but after 5 miles or so at the shelter (Green Creek?) I decided to head on to Marshall Pass to get to the toilet first. I stopped to pee on the way, stopped again to check the map, slowed down when startled some deer, did the business at Marshall Pass, ate a banana and wondered when my colleagues were going to show up. I soon got bored of waiting for strangers and decided to press on. Wished I'd packed my iPod.
The descent to Silver Creek was of the yahoo variety – fast as you like and not too technical. Lower down it got a bit bouldery, then a bit loose, then there was the loose boulder section, then the drop, then the sketchtastic super loose stuff and before you could say “actaully my arms are starting to hurt a bit” I was at the bottom. Well, not exactly the bottom – there was still another 10 miles of undulating singletrack to enjoy. I got passed by a couple from Crested Butte about 3 miles from the end who had passed my shuttle bus friends much earlier, before Marshall Pass, not moving – I was glad I hadn't waited ;)
The Rainbow Trail singletrack spat me out on route 285(?) - 5 miles of downhill back to Poncha Springs. I assumed an aero-tuck and averaged 33mph back to the RV.
We then hit Walmart which was when the storm hit – it rained hard, making me really glad that I wasn't still on the mountain. With the food cupboard restocked we headed north to our next appointment – Mount Princetown hot springs. The only way to recover from riding Monarch Crest – OFFICIAL.
Then we drove north through South Park and Breckenridge and parked up in a car park off Tiger Road ready to hit the trails in the morning.