Tuesday, September 28, 2010

cycling/ not cycling

I love to ride, but I haven't been riding much lately. I'm on vacation this week, and the weather is fantastic, so I plan on getting in at least a couple of decent rides. But I also have projects to work on in the yard, and of course, I need to go golfing.

Golf is a wonderful, terrible game. I started playing when I was about 20 years old, and I've gotten better, but I'm still not good. If you play golf you probably hit a lot of bad shots, but when you do hit a good one it makes you want to come back and try again.

It really is an addictive game. A couple weeks ago I was joining a couple buddies to play a course southeast of Kansas City called Hoot's Hollow. It's not fancy, kind of out on the prairie, but in pretty good shape, and never too busy. They also let you play as much as you want for one price. If you use a cart you pay a little extra to take the cart for more than 18 holes, but it's still a good deal. If the weather looks good we like to make a day of it and play 36 holes.
Well, as we got to the course the fog hadn't lifted, and the 30% chance of rain looked like it might be more than that shortly. In the pro shop they had the weather on their computer screen, and it didn't look like it would get better any time soon. While we were there, lightning and thunder came up and caused them to blow the horn and get golfers off the course. We were really disappointed that we weren't going to get our game in that day.

One of my buddies got out his phone and started checking weather, calling courses around town to see if it might be any better if we headed south or west, but it looked bad all over. Then he called a course that he had played with his brother who lives acouple hours south of town in Joplin, MO. He proposed a 2.5 hour trip.....to OKLAHOMA! We had planned on spending the day golfing anyway, so we figured less time golfing and more time driving wouldn't be that much different.
A few hours later we were teeing off at Peoria Ridge in Miami, OK. Sunshine and warmth felt great, and we got to check out a new course. Our wives thought we were all crazy, but I think they knew that already.

Tomorrow were heading to Manhattan, KS for a round at Colbert Hills. It's a planned road trip that we've done each of the last few years to play a great course in a beautiful place. There are some elevated tee boxes that have to be close to the highest point in Kansas. Today I went to the driving range to hit some balls, and I cleaned my clubs so I'm ready to go. I hope to play well, but I know that even if I don't, I'll enjoy a nice day in a beautiful setting with good friends. And I'll probably hit at least a few good shots that will make me want to come back and try again.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

crmbt 2011

The Colorado Rocky Mountain Bike Tour just announced their route for August 7-13, 2011. The tour begins in Grand Junction, and I would encourage anyone who does the tour to arrange to be there early enough to ride through the Colorado National Monument.
Three or four hours would give you ample time to appreciate the setting of the "Tour of the Moon" stage of the Coors Classic bike race. It would also be a good warm-up for what's to come.

Sunday brings 62 miles of rollers through the desert-like western slope as the tour makes it's way to the first of two overnight stops in Hotchkiss. This will not be filled with the alpine scenery you will see for much of the rest of the week, but this part of Colorado possesses it's own unique beauty.
Monday morning the tour heads south from Hotchkiss through Crawford and on to the Black Canyon. My first Colorado climbs ever were through the Black Canyon, and it is still one of the most enjoyable days I ever spent on a bike. I was slow enough that Peter must have assumed I was having trouble, but I just didn't want the day to end. Seventy-nine miles will get you to Gunnison .

Tuesday the tour heads north from Gunnison towards Crested Butte, turning east at Almont for a spectacularly scenic ride up to the Taylor Park Reservoir.
On the eastern side of the reservoir you get on Cottonwood Pass Road, which is not paved on the west side, but everything I've read about it leads me to believe that riding on the hard packed dirt is a small price to pay for the beauty and challenge that this pass has to offer. It also takes you to 12,126 feet! And the end to this 69-mile day throws you down the paved east side, losing more than 4000 feet in less than 20 miles as you roll into Buena Vista.

Wednesday has the tour heading north from Buena Vista on US 24 with the Collegiate Peaks Range on your left. Turning west at Twin Lakes it heads up the eastern approach to Independence Pass.
After topping out at 12,095 feet you'll have a steep twisting descent down the west side into Aspen. The last 40 miles of this century day are on the bike path to Glenwood Springs. Only 2-3% grades, but downhill all the way! You'll be ready for a well-deserved rest day.

Friday features 80 miles from Glenwood Springs back to Hotchkiss over McClure Pass. Stop at Redstone to check out the coke ovens.
The ride over McClure Pass is not long but steep enough to be a good challenge. The ride repays you for your hard work by taking you through some beautiful canyons and past the Paonia Reservoir before a nice descent back down to mining and farming country. This area is also home to several wineries.
Saturday gives riders a choice. You can back-track the 62 miles you rode the first day to Grand Junction, or you can live a little, and sweat a lot! A right turn onto CO 65 will take you up and over the Grand Mesa, the world's largest flat-top mountain. Choose the Grand Mesa! You won't be sorry. The grades are never too severe, but you are climbing for the better part of 20 miles! As you go up you can get some great views of where you were a few hours ago.
 Once across the Mesa, you'll have another nice descent, followed by a hot ride to the end. Another near century day will bring you back to Grand Junction. I know some will wish for a shorter day to finish the tour and get on the road towards home, but the tour's not over 'til it's over, and the Grand Mesa is something you won't want to miss. Great route, great tour! I sure hope I'm one of the lucky riders of CRMBT 2011.