Over Memorial Day we did one of my favorite things in the world … loaded up the Life Bus with our dogs, Daisy and Clover, and our mountain bikes and headed on a road trip to southwestern Colorado.  I love this part of Colorado but unfortunately don’t get there often enough.  Our main goal for this trip was to ride singletrack, partake of the breweries in Durango, and enjoy some down-time.  All three goals were accomplished with great success!

We broke up the eight hour drive with a night in Salida.  This little mountain town deserves a post of it’s own so I won’t spend much time on sweet Salida right now.   Arriving later in Durango the next afternoon we just enjoyed some local brews and took the dogs to a great dog park in town.  The real fun began the next morning.

We had heard about the legendary mountain biking trails a few miles outside of Cortez, CO known as Phil’s world.  There are about 30 miles worth of trails in Phil’s World.  We were excited to finally experience all of the buzz around these trails for ourselves.  Todd was totally raring to go.  Personally, I was experiencing a mixture of “heck ya’ I can handle the Rib Cage” and “oh my God what am I thinking I can’t ride the Rib Cage.”  All of the riding in Phil’s World is mostly hard-packed, smooth, swoopy, singletrack with lots of twisted pinyon and juniper trees and great views of the mountains.  The Rib Cage is probably the best known trail in this system.  The Rib Cage is known as being similar to a “pump track.”  Again, I’m thinking do I have any business riding a trail that’s similar to a pump track.  Think rollercoaster, that’s what this trail rides like.  

The good thing is I had three or four miles of warm up before we actually got to the Rib Cage.  Shortly after seeing the sign for the Rib Cage, the next thing I knew, I was on a steep descent half giggling, half freaking out and flying up the next hill only to descend quickly down the backside again.  There are some steep berms and banks sprinkled in between the rollers to mix things up a bit.  Before I knew it it was over and I had survived, all of my parts intact, and heading for the sign that says More Ribs.  I said yes please to More Ribs.  This second round was just pure giggling, no freaking out this time around.  We were both really sad when we had to call it a day and head back to town.

A mountain biking post I read said “the fun to work ratio is unbelievable at Phil’s World.”  I would have to agree whole-heartedly with this statement.  Another beautiful thing about the trails here is that you can only go in one direction so you can let it rip in places without worrying about someone coming from the other direction.  Given that Phil’s World is pretty much in the high mountain desert, the temperatures can get quite toasty so we arrived at 8 AM and headed out by 11 AM.  Make sure to bring lots of water as well if you plan on being out for a while.

Nothing pairs better with mountain biking than some good Mexican food and micro-brewed, ice cold beer.  We went straight from Phil’s to Ska Brewery in Durango.  Ska Brewery  This is the holy grail of breweries for Todd and me.  We have become officially obsessed with their IPA Modus Hoperandi.  Even if the beer weren’t great, I would still love the clever name.  Currently they don’t serve food at Ska although they are in the process of changing that.  Ska Brewery is cool enough, however, to let you bring food into their facility.  We headed over to Zia Taqueria just a few blocks away and got ourselves some tasty fish tacos and chips and guacamole and hustled back to Ska to enjoy our tacos with an ice cold beer.  Zia Taqueria is a local taqueria similar to a Chipotle style restaurant.  Zia promotes sourcing local food as much as possible and supports local food growers and ranchers in the Four Corners Region.  Zia Taqueria

For dinner we went to Brew: Pub & Kitchen two nights in a row.  Brew Pub & Kitchen  When you find a good thing, why change?  This is Durango’s newest brewery.  The head brewer at Brew had been the head brewer at Carver’s for 16 years.  Brew is in Durango’s old downtown very close to the railroad station.  It has one of those great garage door windows that rolls up and we got the window-side seat both nights.  Again, we had a great IPA, extremely fresh beet salads, great seabass, and a potato chip with chocolate they give you when you get the check.

Things got a bit more serious on our day trip to Telluride when we found ourselves at the Telluride ER with what we thought might be flesh eating bacteria in Todd’s arm.  We took the beautifully scenic San Juan Skyway from Dolores to Telluride.  A must drive if you find yourself in the Four Corners area.  On the way over, Todd was complaining about his elbow.  I finally asked to have a look and was shocked at what I saw.  His elbow was the size of a grapefruit.  First stop in Telluride was to find the local medical facility.  Fortunately, that happened to be right when we entered into town and we were the only people at the clinic.  We learned that Todd was most likely going to make it and keep his elbow and so we headed back to Durango.  Not exactly the shopping and hiking trip to Telluride I had expected.

Fortunately, Todd is a tough one and by the next morning he was ready to ride again.  We headed out to Hermosa Creek Trail.  This was a beautiful singletrack trail in the aspens and pines with lots of good ascents and descents.  This trail has been ranked as one of the top ten singletrack rides in America by Mt Bike Mag.  This trail offers a rider the opportunity for a very long, beautiful day of twenty plus miles.  Unfortunately, we had to get started on our eight hour ride home so we only got to ride about seven or eight miles.  That was enough for me to know this is a trail I would love to come back and ride the whole way.  Hermosa Creek Trail

All in all Durango did not disappoint.  The mountain biking and brews were every bit as good as I had anticipated.  It was sad when the long weekend was over and the Life Bus pulled out of town on the way back home to the real world.  If you like fun, scenic singletrack and ice-cold brewed beverages, the Durango area is a place where you definitely need to take your Life Bus.  Have fun!!