Tuesday, September 13, 2016

evergreen to idaho springs

A large group of us headed out by about 7:00am on this Saturday morning, the last day of this apparent last Colorado Rocky Mountain Bike Tour. Almost across the street from where we camped we were on Squaw Pass Road and climbing. It was a cool but sunny, very pleasant start to the day. The road was good, the shoulder wide, and the views pleasant, though once in the forest, you couldn't see very far. I didn't even take my camera or phone out for pictures. These are some shots from a few years ago:
By the time I reached the top of Squaw Pass, descended for a bit, and climbed again to the high point on CO 103, Juniper Pass, the weather had changed. Clouds had moved in, winds had increased, and the temperature had dropped quite a bit. The forecast had stated rain and thunderstorms were on tap for Mount Evans, and when I reached the aid station in the campground parking lot across from Echo Lake Lodge, you couldn't see the mountain for the clouds.

Having done the climb up Evans in 2010, I wasn't as motivated to suffer the weather as I would have been. I could have climbed as far as I wanted to, and turned back at any time to coast back down.  But my heart wasn't in it. I really wanted to warm up, so I walked over to the lodge and joined Thom for coffee and pancakes. We had a nice visit, leisurely breakfast, and when we were sufficiently warm, we layered up and headed down toward Idaho Springs.

Was it prudent judgement of the weather and my abilities? Or had the week beat me down into a tired old man? Probably a little of both. Other than passing on Evans I rode all the miles of the tour. And it was hard! It was apparent that as I get older, doing these kinds of rides will require even more training to get myself into shape. But it was also fun! Great people, great tour, and great scenery to be seen all over Colorado!

 My next ride in CO might be  a one day affair, like the Copper Triangle or Triple Bypass. I still need to do RAGBRAI. I would like to do BAK again, or ride across Nebraska. But eventually I'll have to get back to Colorado. It's been a great ride!

Friday, September 9, 2016

estes park to evergreen

We woke to a cool, cloudy morning in Estes Park. Then we climbed. Right out of town we climbed. Then we went down, then we went up. The highway south out of Estes Park is called the Peak-to-Peak Highway. And we spent the day riding from peak to peak.
Lily Lake is right off the road.
The clouds remained all day but never led to precipitation, so we were able to enjoy all of the sections of the road that had been resurfaced. There were a few rough sections, but they weren't too bad, or too long.
And there are many spots like this, that just look like the highway falls away from you like a ride at Worlds of Fun. This is my kind of roller-coaster.
A group of us had decided to find a place for lunch along the way. Black Hawk and Central City seemed like the right location. They are small casino towns just north of I-70. I had read about Black Hawk several years ago when they banned bicycles from their streets. In Colorado! Several groups sued, and the law was thrown out, but it was obvious that there was no love for cyclists in that area. The city had routed the tour around town as much as possible, adding a couple miles and a short, brutal climb, just because they could.

But we stopped and ate in the casino restaurant anyway, because it was there. Then we fought debris in the shoulder on the Central City Parkway. We battled gravity on the bike path and frontage road that got us to US6, and wrestled with too much traffic on US6 until some nicer, quieter roads got us to Bergen Park and Evergreen. It was a cool evening that passed too quickly, then it was off to the tent for a last night in the cool mountain air, on the last night of CRMBT 2016.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

rest day

After getting cleaned up, finding some lunch, and relaxing after the ride through the park, a few of us rode the shuttle down to the river-walk and found a Nepalese restaurant for dinner. The next morning I walked back down there to check out Kind Coffee and see if they had anything I would want for breakfast. As I neared the coffee shop I ran into Kathy from the tour. She had purchased a book about RMNP for all of us to sign and give to Norm to wish him well in his recovery, and let him know we missed him.

Kathy also told me two things. One, there's a great breakfast place called Notch Top, not too far from where we were. When I checked on Yelp, it turns out they have some vegan options. I walked there and enjoyed a terrific breakfast burrito with tofu in place of eggs. But first I checked out the second thing Kathy told me about. There were two elk bedded down in the grass just down from the footbridge I had just walked over. I didn't even notice them there. She told me that they had been in the middle of the road munching on flower beds before the police came and shooed them away.
The rest of the day was spent relaxing, napping during a light rain shower, and getting ready for the next day's ride. We did make it to Mama Rose's for some Italian for dinner that night.

Monday, August 29, 2016

granby to estes park

We were asked to be through the gates of RMNP by 7:00am to ensure we would be off the highest points before afternoon rains moved in. Arrangements had been made for our group, but anyone can roll up to the gates at any time, pay a $10 entrance fee, and ride their bike into the park. There was some talk about sleeping in a little after our century day, but riding past Lake Granby in the early morning light was beautiful.
 It was also cold. I had underestimated how cold it would be for most of the morning. Temps in Granby were cold to start the day. And as the morning went on we were climbing to cooler zones, so I wasn't really warm all morning. I went back and forth between taking my jacket off from working on the climb, and putting it back on when the temps got to me. I was sorry I hadn't planned a little better, but the views that the ride afforded more than made up for any discomfort.
 On Trail Ridge Road the climb takes you through lots of twists and turns, switchback after switchback until you break out of the trees
 At this aid station I liked the visual of lots of bikes, and people, lined up on the wall.
 And in case you forgot that you were in the middle of a climb, this handy sign reminded you.
 Once you're above treeline you still have some climbing to do. You can look up and see where the road is cut into the side of the mountain.
 Although the road itself fascinated me, there were still spectacular views to be had in every direction.
 The last aid station was near the high point for the day. It was almost all downhill from there. I asked Scotty to take my picture, put on my jacket and headed down. Before too long I caught up to a pickup and RV and didn't see a safe place to pass. So, for about 20 miles I pumped my brakes and rolled toward Estes park at 25-30 mph.
 It was good to get into Estes Park, get to the middle school, clean up and find something to eat. The following day was a rest day, and Estes Park was a great place to spend it.

Monday, August 22, 2016

edwards to granby

I left early with lights blazing on this century day, (103 miles to be exact). Shortly after I left US 6 for CO 131 I saw these guys in the early light. They sure seemed comfortable on the rocky terrain.
In the first 35 miles I faced a couple of tough climbs, but was rewarded with some nice descents, and really nice views. Today's route would offer glimpses of the Colorado River, and lots of wide open spaces until we got to the only real pass of the day.
The climb up Gore Pass isn't too long, or too hard. A lot of it is through the forest so it doesn't offer great views, but it's very pleasant, and you're in Colorado! We had an aid station at the summit across from the elevation sign.
There was a rumor of a cafe in Kremmling, about 75 miles into the ride. When I rolled into town I saw no sign of it, but I did see several bikes outside the Subway shop, so that was lunch. Afterward I hung on to a pace line for 5-10 miles before they slowly pulled away and I was left to finish on my own. I enjoyed a tailwind for most of that time, except for when I passed through the canyon that's named "Windy Gap". I felt a few raindrops, but it never amounted to anything, and I rolled into Granby in good shape. There are a couple of short hills to get from the main drag to the high school that almost made me cry, but I managed to get there with 102.5 miles on my odometer. I don't know where I took the half-mile shortcut.