I have recently written extensively about Winter X Games 15. There’s a Day 2 recap (with my favorite event, The Method competition), a digital and social media guide, and 5 great things about the X Games.

Let’s face it, the X Games has all the glitz and glam that, outside of the Olympics, snowboarding is ever going to get. In fact, Shaun White will defend his honor in the Superpipe tonight. ESPN is giving the X Games primetime treatment, as coverage of tonight’s Superpipe will be sandwiched somewhere in between 7-10PM EST. If you miss it or don’t have ESPN, do what I have been doing: watching it on ESPN3 on my computer.

But as I sit here in the very dry and mild month of January, I felt compelled today to hit my favorite (almost) year-round riding at Green Mountain in Lakewood. A stone’s throw from the famous Red Rocks Amphitheatre and a mere 20 minutes from my house, Green Mountain serves as a great off-season stay-in-as-good-as-shape-as-possible kind of trail network. It doesn’t get you in Moab shape, but it’s got a nice combination of singletrack, doubletrack, short climbs and wonderful curvy descents.

For a quick, lung-busting ride that doesn’t even trip my lactic acid threshold, I head to the Rooney Road (west) side of Green Mountain and up the fire road. I love singletrack, ’tis true, but when you’re climbing there’s nothing like plenty of real estate to help you up. The fire road is about a mile long, is unrelentless, and takes anywhere from 20-40 minutes to slog through. I’ve heard locals refer to it as “Hell Hill,” and they’re not kidding. If one were super-pressed for time, one could climb Hell Hill and then shoot straight back down, making for one of the shortest (but aerobically challenging) rides in the Denver Metro area.

I usually make it 4/5s of the way up Hell Hill before that last, steep stretch gets me and I lose my momentum (and sometimes my lunch). Today was full of technical difficulties, whose etiology is explained by the picture below.

Yup. Those are my shifter cables, rusted and split. It’s no surprise, then, that about 1/3 of the way up, as I shifted toward the middle chain ring so I could pick up speed and momentum over the loose gravel, the shifters gave out and I swear, I saw a small piece of black plastic fly westward.

From then on it had to be granny gear and almost granny gear the rest of the way. A less willful human being might have called it, but the only reason to cancel a mountain bike ride in my book is lightning or a hospital visit. Hence I willed my way to the top, resting and walking the bike up at the usual spot that gets me. After a short respite, I got back on, clicked back in, and rode the last 1/10 of a mile up. The top offers 270-degree views, with just the eastern view being obscured by another hill. Here’s Hell Hill from the top:

A small portion of Hell Hill

Knowing I had none of my middle gears for any kind of easy or short climbing, I headed due west along the Summit Loop, knowing it would be mostly downhill from there. Alas! I came across one of these:

The sign says it all--find an alternate route

So I backtracked to one of the steep, curvy rocky trails that I love, Box O’ Rox, the Irish canyon of off-camber and gravel trails.

Box of rocks in a canyon

(Just beyond the sign and the trail you can spot the motorcross park. Those guys (and by guys I mean little kids) we’re hitting big air.)

Box O’ Rox requires one’s full attention, as it seems to be covered in river rock–smooth and kind of scary. The trail is also slightly off-camber and goes from singletrack to almost doubletrack and tracks back again without any warning.

I meandered and wended my way down the trail, crossed over the newly built bridge, and reconnected to the fire road. Not usually content to descend down a fireroad, I veered left onto the eponymous Green Mountain trail, heading away from the trailhead. This lasted two minutes, as I made a sharp turn and returned the way I came, over the pedestrian bridge and back to the Rooney Road parking lot.

Lungs burning but legs fine.

Total time: 90 minutes

Temperature: 40’s with no wind

Clothing: Completely warm and almost overdressed with tights, biking skort, light fleece, soft shell jacket, beanie, light wool socks, and long-fingered gloves.