Any bike, anywhere; Lael’s Big Day


From Monarch Pass to Marshall Pass, the Monarch Crest Trail (MCT) winds its way atop the Continental Divide. The Great Divide Mountain Bike Route glimpses the actual watershed divide on many ocassions; the MCT, and the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail which follows these same twelve miles, actually walk that line. For two hours, we were on either side of a ridge– up and over 12,000 ft– channelled through beautifully maintained singletrack, passing even more beautiful high alpine scenery. For two hours: we pushed our bikes through recent snowfall, hidden from the sun; crested the CD ridge to views over fifty miles in yet another direction; and for a few moments, enjoyed some quite rideable, “flowy” singletrack atop mountains. This, finally, is mountain biking.

From Marshall Pass, several more miles of the Continental Divide/Colorado Trail continue along the ridge before dropping into the Silver Creek Drainage at a rapid rate; descending switchbacks and talus fields, through streambeds and over deadfall. A few smooth sections of trail balance the technical rocky descents, which heat the rims enough to make you wonder, “what’s on fire?”. It’s dried mud and brake compound, with trail detritus, all served on overheated rims. Mmmm.

Yesterday was Lael’s first singletrack experience– loaded. Monarch Crest marks a second day of singletrack– this time unloaded– in which she proved her prowess in technical terrain, on a fat-tired touring bike, technically. There isn’t much traffic on the Crest this time of year, but we still turned a few heads with a pair of each: Rohloffs, full-sized Porcelain Rocket framebags, Tubus racks and drop bars. Much like the freewheeling, early history of mountain biking; enjoying the mountains on a bike is not limited to an industry standard full-suspension rig, but is open to anything your legs can pedal.

“Any bike, anywhere”, is the call of the American Rough Riders association, whose ideals are classically delineated, in Chris Kostman’s essay by the same name. Rather, Chris sets the cyclist and the bike, free.









13 thoughts on “Any bike, anywhere; Lael’s Big Day

    • Lael has been hiding the fact that she’s an expert mountain biker, and a fearless rider down technical, rocky trails. Indiana Pass tomorrow, a 4000ft+ climb from Del Norte, to 11,900ft.

    • TJ,

      I’m not giving away any secrets about my readership, but it’s unlikely I could help Surly with “any” percent increase in sales. They do, as evidenced by the versatility, durability and inherent tenacity of these bike models (LHT and Troll); design great bikes. They now have two unbeatable touring models with 26″ wheels. Add to the standard LHT: a new disc LHT is due out soon, and an S&S coupled LHT… and taller riders can still choose 700c. So many choices.

      Note: 2.1″ WTB NanoRaptors and fenders fit comfortably in the fork of the 26″ LHT, for reference.

      It seems as if we are cleaning up on the Divide route as everyone speculates that we are the last of the season. Indiana Pass, at 11,900+ ft is our ticket south out of Del Norte.

    • I haven’t changed my t-shirt since Maryland. I carry two others, but the Grand Cru carries most of the weight, in the cut-off T department. I shall inform BQ that it is manufactured of superior grade organic cotton; that the fatigue rate is proven satisfactory for touring use and should last over many hundred stress cycles (i.e. sweaty days w/o laundering). Cut-off sleeves is like drillium for your t-shirt. The “crank design” receives more attention (all positive) than my bike (all confused).

      Stock Surly stem on the LHT; but VO brass temple bell with bell mount, and decorative black VO knurled headset spacers interspersed with silver, just for fun. Both our bikes feature VO brake pads. I changed my front pads about 500 mi ago, and the rear yesterday. Both lasted about 6000 mi without a peep. Braking performance beats Kool-Stop salmon, in case anyone cares about such things.

      And of course, two Pass Hunter racks, one mounted like a “backwards baseball cap”– always a headturner.

      • Jan doesn’t read anything except BQ, so he’ll never know. I’m enjoying your adventure!

        I have enjoyed my velo orange brake pads as well. But how excited can you get about brake pads, headset spacers and racks when there’s miles to cover?

        Sleep warm, kid.

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  3. I’m so pleased to see the “any bike, anywhere” ethos spreading! I first penned the article by that name 20 years ago and it’s amazing, and gratifying, that it has taken on a life of its own. Thanks for living the “Rough Riders” spirit and transmitting it so well with your blog and cycling adventures!

    • Chris, Thanks for dropping by. I’ve been inspired by that idea for quite a while, and have committed to riding (owning) only one bike at a time, although I’ve got two very different bikes at the moment. These days, I think a lot of people are happy to do more with less. Specifically, many specialized bikes can be replaced by several generalized bikes– optimization through generalization. For me, I find the versatility of a fatbike to be valuable across many seasons and varied climates and terrain. I find it to be the perfect antithesis to all the great rides you accomplish on your skinny-tire RB-1. The spirit, I believe, is the same.


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