On a Thursday night, not long ago, we peeled out to explore a major ditch that we'd been storying about. It's tricky to speak too much to this ditch's exact location due to a couple reasons. One being a sense of ownership and two, a total lack of ownership. We don't want this spot blown up and we don't want it to blow up on us. The idea is larger than specifics anyway. The idea that adventure is alive and well, especially with the bike as a medium to experience. 'Twas a cold, winter night. Winter time is the right time to ride ditches, usually nice and dry. The ditch we were destined for that evening is a certain kind of ditch. Here in the Fort there is a major, inner city network of canals and ditches. This system existed long before the tract housing developments that cropped up around it. Here in the high desert water is especially precious. Water on the front range is guarded, celebrated, politicized and rationed. The canals and ditches get the water to where it needs to be. Though I wonder how useful the inner city system is now that Fort Collins is hardly agrarian, I'm sure there's more to it than I understand. The destination on this Thursday evening was out of town, maybe far from town, maybe near...This ditch is a gigantic, concrete ditch, made to move massive amounts of water, not to individual farm plots but municipalities. This ditch makes me 'member a time as a child I'd session a ditch on my skateboard. A half pipe is easy to relate. I've known the half pipe for so long. But before there was a back yard ramp there was the ditch. Either way you drop in on it. The transition, or banked wall is a means to move. I ride the trail differently having grown up in transitions, every contour can be enjoyed to move forward. This ditch drops in from on high. Real high. The perspective is awesome. Not like awesome, dude. But awesome. From the top of the drop in one can see the ditch snake north off into the distance, in service to some far away place. The perspective let's one know what's in store. The banked concrete walls are impressive but only half of the experience. The other half is where the ditch takes you. The walls can be pumped and charged on a bike. Though the ditch isn't friendly to skateboard wheels. The surface is 20 grit, it'll make haste with your epidermis. As you cruise the big white ditch the moon glows the surface and then, BOOM!
It drops into a 30˚ descent into a giant hole. This hole is technically a pipe. A hole is more illustrative because the pipe descends into darkness. It seems counter intuitive to drop in to such a void but there is a fine line between adventure and danger. The pipe takes us deep into the earth to some unforeseen end, maybe China.
Then the route levels for a short length. Then suddenly the practical purpose of this riding phenomenon declares itself. A pool of frozen water at the pipe's elbow. The pool has frozen it it a large elk carcass. Half decayed. Rack jutting out of the ice. The need to get away from such a thing sent me fast into an equally severe grade. Up the pipe and out into the night air, the antithesis to claustrophobia. But that was too fun. So we gotta give it another go having our new understanding that what goes in must come out. Brett, however, the wiser decided not to test the odds and said once was enough. Todd drops in and reaches the other side unscathed. Pauly drops in and disappears into the darkness. But then a loud yell and the sound of titanium hitting concrete. Pauly went down, into the fetid waters of the submerged, dead elk. The stink was frozen underwater but Pauly broke the seal. He took a dip but was relatively unhurt. So I gotta go. Dropping in I knew that I just need to go high on the pipe wall to dodge disaster. The pipe walls were wet with the rotting splash. And so goes my wheel, washed out right into the gnarly water. I was soaked and my body stung from hitting the concrete but I moved like mad, snatching my bike away form the carcass. It was all very blurry and fast but I had to get out of that pipe and away from the Elk as soon as possible. As if the Elk's spirit was going to have it's way with me. I came out of the tunnel, a metaphor for birth, having cheated death.