I have been fighting off the early signs of a cold so I opted to do something non-epic to for my weekend ride. I had driven by the Ronald Casper Wilderness Park dozens of time on my way out to the San Juan Trail. I had heard that it was an okay ride but all fireroads for mountain biking. I figured I would be stopping often to take pictures so a bit of minor chest congestion should not be too big of a deal. The chest congestion ended up not being much a factor at all. But something else would be.
I started off from the Old Corral/Windmill area and took the Bell Canyon trail. I had barely gotten on the bike when I spotted a group of deer. They certainly knew I was there so I kneeled down and looked away from them and acted like I was looking for something on the ground. Feigning that I was uninterested in them was enough to calm them enough that they cautiously moved along the edge of the meadow gettting closer to me. I spent a good 10 minutes here before they moved along.
After this things went along pretty nicely. With all of the rain we have been having there was green everywhere. I eventually made my way to the Oso Trail and started climbing a ridge. This trail turned steep in quite a few sections, but it was cool as views of Santiago, Los Pinos and Surgarloaf peaks were often seen in the distance. I was a little over half a mile from reaching Badger Pass when I heard a loud bang and immediately felt the rear tire go flat. I thought “No Big Deal, I know how to boot a sidewall tear”. It did not take long to find the tear and it was not good. I had about a two inch split in the tire just above the bead. Not a good place at all. After taking inventory of all my stuff, I was also a bit bummed. About a month or so ago, I had used up all my duct tape helping someone get a busted chainstay patched up enought to limp home and had fogotten to replenish my tape.
I ended up using a really big patch on the inside of the tire with strips of first aid tape to help spread the load out. I also still had a tireliner still in the tire from a dersert ride that I shifted around to the side. Once I inflated the tire it was obvious the patch was pretty marginal. I deflated the tire and added two small patches on the outside as well as some more first aid tape to the outside of the tire. This ended up working better as when I inflated the tire (with much less air than I normally use) there was much less bulging. I had little confidence that this patch was going to hold and had already committed to about a four mile hike back to my truck. Looking at the map I figure it would be only be marginally longer to take Badger Pass down to the San Juan Creek Trail and then back to my truck vice going back the way I came. I could at least see some new stuff on my way back.
So I gingerly made my way down Badger Pass as I wanted to flex that sidewall as little as possible. Badger Pass ended up being really pretty with all of the growth. I knew it was a fireroad but in places it was vitrually a hard to follow singletrack. The poppys and lupines where really going off through as well. It was quite a treat.
Once I had made my way down to the San Juan Creek Trail, I was amazed to see how well the patch was holding up. The San Juan Creek Trail (aka fireroad) was pretty non-eventual as well as mostly fairly crappy as it was very close to highway 74. Once back near the park entance and back on the pavement I rolled back towards my truck. The rear tire was slowing loosing some air so I stopped and carefully put some more back in.
I felt really lucky at the point having averted a sizable hike. I stopped at the junction of the East Ridge Trail as I really wanted to check out as much of the park as I could at this was on the list. Since I had already mentally committed for a hike today, I figured what the heck, there are a couple of trails that I can hike back on if the tire blows and only have a few miles to deal with. So up the East Ridge I went and worked over to the Sunrise trail. At the bottom of Sunrise I had to put some more air in the tire and bulging and increased some.
Hmmmm, I only have about a mile back to the truck from here. I really wanted to check out the Starr Rise trail up to the West Ridge Trail. I decided to push my luck some more and went up the Starr Rise trail. I was loosing air a little quicker now and I need to pump up again when I reach the West Ridge. I thought heading north would be risking too much, but I was will to push my luck again and headed south the West Ridge trail.
There were some more nice views to be seen from the West Ridge and I took it out to the end of the park. The bulging was getting bad now. I had seen pretty much everything I wanted to so it was time to head back. I pumped up again when I got back to the Bell Canyon trail and it looked like it was going to go at any second. I worked by way back to towards the truck and sure enough it popped. The cool thing was that I was exactly half a mile from my truck. It was still really pretty out and I felt really great about the timing of the flat. I had planned on a four mile hike and ended up only doing half a mile.
I got in a total of 17 miles of riding out at Caspers with 13 of it being on a booted, patched, and taped tire. I feel quite lucky!