Today’s outing is part of two experiments. One is to find good outings that are fully human powered – gasless from the doorstep. Back in 2001 I used to see how far into the Front Range I could get from my apartment in Highlands Ranch in a day on my mountain bike. Recently a Dirtbag Diaries story inspired me to try more of these kind of outings. I’ve found a few good hikes and bike rides in the neighborhood, but the great idea from the Dirtbag Diaries is to combine modes of travel. They did biking, buses, and climbing. I’m starting easy in comparison: bike 11 or 12 miles to the Atalaya Trailhead, then hike the 5.5-mile Picacho / Atalaya loop.
The second experiment began 3 and a half weeks ago. I had started getting stiff knees on my hikes, and suspected it might be related to my increased alcohol consumption of late. So I went dry, and decided to give it at least three weeks to see if my knees feel better after a long hike.
The hike and bike combo is great. I stay warm in the cold morning air pedaling up to the trailhead, then change into hiking shoes, grab my poles, and hit the trail. I hike fast up Picacho Peak, then Atalaya. There’s a light snow cover on the north facing slopes under perfectly clear skies. At the top I take a break, stretch, then begin running and poling my way downhill. Usually my knees complain pretty quickly when I do this, but when I run out of breath they’re still feeling great, and they hold up to my abuse all the way down. It feels terrific to have happy knees again.
Final results: human-powered outings are possible and enjoyable – I’d like to do more. I think I need to suspend judgment on the alcohol/knee relationship until a do a longer hike, but so far so good!