I posted a comment on 303Cycling about the the new trail. Rode it before the rains came down.
Last week, after coming up from the Link onto the Betasso Loop, I noticed a little sign which I had never seen before. To my surprise, I had unwittingly come on opening day of the Benjamin Trail. The sign was announcing that the Benjamin Loop was open for riding that very day. I had ogled the entrance to the loop countless times over the last 6 months, but now I was being invited to ride it. Here’s what I found.
The trail is buff and swoopy. Consistent with much of the rest of Betasso, the turns were often off-camber, which is proper trail design to allow runoff, but keeps you on your toes. In fact, if you miscalculate or misplace your attention, you might find yourself 100 feet off a cliff. While it may be treacherous in places, there is love in that trail. Smooth, tight singletrack and huge, hand-built stone retaining walls took a lot of time and sweat. Don’t forget to check out the faux-steel bridge. The rails looks like metal, but it is made of some type of composite.
I snaked my way to a sign that directs all bikers to hang a sharp hairpin left. After that, the trail climbs for a while until a bench materialized out of nowhere. It was planted up on the hillside and seemed strangely out of place. But after a few pedal strokes I understood why the the bench was there. The exposure of the trail near the high point allows for a panoramic view of Four Mile Canyon. Looking across Four Mile, I could see a dirt road zigzagging up the opposite hillside. It took a second, but I realized that I was looking at Poorman’s. I didn’t recognize it at first because I’d never seen it from this perspective. It occurred to me that I hadn’t seen anyone on the trail, and this was supposed to be the inauguration. It seemed strange, and I felt isolated out on the bluff looking at familiar territory in an unfamiliar way. For no reason, I got a little sense of Deliverance. Why was nobody out here? But I quickly forgot about squealing pigs as the trail turned downward. If you carry any speed into those turns, you had better pay attention. I rode out the lollipop and headed for home as the rain came down. I don’t ride with a computer, but I would guess the distance is similar to the original Betasso loop, but it takes a bit longer because you can’t just air it out on the descents. The grade is not steep, and it sets up nicely for single speeds. It’s loads of fun, and a great addition to Boulder’s surprisingly diminutive quiver of singletrack. I’ll try to remember to bring my camera next time.
Big props to Parks and Rec as well as the BMA on their huge effort to bring the Benjamin Loop to life.
BTW, it turned out I was all alone because I too early to the party. The official ceremony was scheduled a couple hours after I had ridden it.