Tuesday, July 31, 2012

crmbt- getting closer

In two more days I'll leave for Colorado. And I only have to work one more day. I'm taking tomorrow off to play golf and finish organizing everything I need to take with me. Is this  a great country, or what?
Friday morning I'm driving to Walsenberg, CO and Lathrop State Park, the first of Colorado's 42 state parks. I'll spend the evening relaxing with a good book and getting use to being about a mile higher than at home. Walsenberg has an elevation of 6171 feet, so it should be a good warm-up for the heights we'll reach during the week.
From Cyclepass.com

Saturday morning I'll drive a couple hours to Antonito where I'll take highway 17 west, looking for a place to leave my car for a couple hours, looking to do a short ride up LaManga and Cumbres Passes. These are two passes just over 10,000 feet with a small dip in between them. From the highest points the dip loses 800-1000 feet of elevation in about 3 miles. It seems like an easy way to add a couple more 10k passes and get a little warm-up ride in before the real fun starts.
In the afternoon the riders will gather in Pagosa Springs to check in with the tour, and get prepared for the week ahead. I'm looking forward to seeing some old friends, including organizers and volunteers who make this such a great way to spend a week on a bike in Colorado.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

crmbt- day 7

The final day of the 2012 CRMBT will feature 94 miles of up and down, but never getting above about 8400 feet. We'll climb over Hesperus Hill in the first 15 miles, followed by a nice descent into Durango. On the way out of Durango we'll face another tough little climb just to get out of the valley. Then it's a little down, and some more up.
By the time we cross Yellow Jacket Pass, 7544 feet, at about mile 65, it will be just another bump in the road. Another 29 miles will get us back to where we started a week prior, Pagosa Springs. Personally, this will be a day to start early. It's not the climbing, or the miles. It's the fact that when I reach Pagosa Springs I'll be looking to locate my bag, clean up, grab something to eat, and head for home. I'll have a long drive ahead of me and will want to get as much of it out of the way as I can before I have to sleep.
Though I'm sure I'll be tired and a little sore, I'll have great memories of the rides and the towns, friends, old and new, and all the people who help to make this such a great tour. One week from today, we'll be touring!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

crmbt- day 6

After a rest day in Telluride, we'll be back on the road again, heading south to Mancos. I borrowed this profile from the archives at Bicycle Tour of Colorado. They covered this same route in 2006. As you can see, we'll have some early morning climbing to do as we cross Lizard Head Pass. Then, with a few exceptions, it's downhill for the rest of the day.
Mark over at My Bicycle Routes tells about getting wet 5 out of the 6 times he's climbed Lizard Head Pass. Those times were all later in the day. His best time doing this pass was from Telluride, and he was up and off the pass early. Sounds like that would be a good plan. Also, leaving early would give riders the best chance of being in a position to enjoy the scenery near the top of this pass. I've been told the ride down the valley from Lizard Head is really nice.

Monday, July 23, 2012

crmbt- day 4

The last day of the 2009 CRMBT had riders going from Ouray to Montrose with a little side trip up Dallas Divide. It was a beautiful morning with stunning scenery as we climbed the Sneffels Range portion of the San Juan Mountains.
Dallas Divide was an up and back ride to give us a nice climb and add a few miles to the short distance between Ouray and the finish line in Montrose. This year we'll not only go up the Dallas Divide, but come on down the other side. We'll descend about 14 miles from the summit before climbing another 1400 feet to the ski town of Telluride. If the scenery on the last part of the day is anything like the first part, it will be outstanding. And the day's distance of 65 miles should allow riders to get in fairly early. Telluride sounds like a great place to have the rest day. Fly-fishing, hiking, mountain-biking, or just taking it easy in a beautiful place will be just what riders need before getting back on the bike for the last third of the tour.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

crmbt- day 3

On Monday's long day we will have finished with about 12 miles on US 50 east into Gunnison. On Tuesday's ride to Montrose we'll start by backtracking that 12 miles, but remaining on US 50 west all the way to Montrose.
 There should be no need for an early start, other than to beat the heat, and to get into Montrose early.  It will only be 65 miles and less than 3000 feet of climbing. Gunnison has an elevation of 7700 feet, and Montrose 5806 feet, so we'll be going down more than up today.
 There will be a few small climbs including Cerro Summit at 7800 feet followed by a nice, long descent down to the Western Slope and Montrose, where we'll have lots of choices for a good meal or a little treat.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

crmbt- day 2

This will be a day to be on the road early. More than 105 miles and 6,000 feet of climbing, including Slumgullion Pass at 11,530 feet. I've ridden this route from Gunnison to Creede, and it was hard! This year we'll be doing it in reverse. Creede sits at 8799 feet, so the good news is the climb over Spring Creek Pass and Slumgullion Pass will entail  a lot less climbing than coming from the other side.
Twenty-five miles into the ride we'll cross the Continental Divide again at Spring Creek Pass. Fifteen miles further and we'll be at the high point of the day at Slumgullion Pass. It should help us all be up and off the pass before the threat of an afternoon shower.
Then we'll have a fun, if tricky, 8 mile descent off the mountain. That is followed by a stretch of more than 20 miles trending downwards, losing about 1,000 feet of elevation. But in cycling, what goes down must come back up, and after 70 miles in the saddle we have two more climbs before we get to Gunnison. No-name Hill and Nine-Mile Hill are both about 1,000 feet of climbing in 3.5 miles. The grade is less than 5% but it will be warm and I don't expect these to be easy. But enjoying the rugged scenery as we near the Curecanti National Recreation Area and Blue Mesa Reservoir is a great way to spend an afternoon on a bike.
I predict we roll into Gunnison tired, but a good tired. And after a long, hot day, a good night's sleep in the cool mountain air is almost a given.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

crmbt- day 1

Sunday, August 4, the 2012 version of the CRMBT kicks off with a 65 mile ride from Pagosa Springs to Creede. The tour will head northeast on US 160, gaining 800 feet over the first 15 miles. Then the real climbing starts. We'll gain 3000 feet over the next 9 miles, and cross the Continental Divide at Wolf Creek Pass, 10,850 feet. Somewhere near the half-way point of the climb there is a scenic overlook on the left offering spectacular views of the valley below. It will be worth stopping for a picture or two.
Another 5 miles or so and we'll be at the summit. Twenty-five miles into the ride, and it's almost all downhill from here. Nineteen miles including a nice descent and a gradual slope take you all the way to South Fork, the low spot on this half of the day, and where we turn onto CO 149 and head northwest towards Creede.
All that will be left is 20 miles rising slightly, gaining 600 feet before rolling into the mining town of Creede. With only 65 miles riders should be able to get in reasonably early. After a good meal it will be a good night to turn in early and get ready for the big day we ahead of us tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

crmbt 2012 planning

With the Tour de Kota behind me, and the 2012 version of the CRMBT scheduled to start in less than four weeks, I'm starting to plan what I need to bring, what and how to carry the things I want with me on the bike, and just generally go over the route for each day to let my excitement build. For me, it's part of the fun of doing a tour like this.

 As for carrying things on the bike, I don't have a rack on my Madone and don't want one. I've used an ultralight backpack to carry rain gear, arm and leg warmers and such, but I don't really like to have it on my back for a long ride. I did add a small box on the top tube to take some of the "stuff" out of my jersey pockets. It gives me easy  access to my camera, sunscreen, and a snack. That gives me room for some of the rain/cold gear in my jersey pockets.

While on the TdK I wore my heavy Bontrager rain jacket on the mornings when it was cool as we started and it seemed like there might be rain later. The only drawback was when it warmed up and I stuffed it in my middle pocket, I resembled the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Maybe I should plan on taking advantage of the volunteers at CRMBT. In the past they had Ziploc bags available to put your name on and drop off gear you no longer needed. Then you could pick it up at the end of the day.

I'm going to go start packing, unpacking, and packing again now. But, if you check back I'll be taking a closer look at each day's route, and the towns we'll be visiting in August.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

i think i can, i think i can

You know, it's funny how I sign up to go ride in the mountains of Colorado, knowing it will be hard, and yet look for ways to convince myself that it won't be that bad. I guess my convoluted thinking goes something like this: If it wasn't hard, anyone could do it, and I wouldn't have near the satisfaction from doing it. If it's too hard, I might not be able to do it. And while I'm far from the strongest rider on any tour, I've climbed all the climbs that CRMBT has put in front of me. Furthermore, while I believe that the 2012 version of CRMBT will pose plenty of difficulty, I'm confident I can complete the ride.
Part of what I like about this year's route, besides some stunning scenery, is that 3 of the first 4 days are only 65 miles. Even with a good climb thrown in (Wolf creek Pass-day one, Dallas Divide-day four) and a possible headwind riding west from Gunnison to Montrose on day three, it's only 65 miles, right? Okay, I conveniently forgot to mention that day two is over 105 miles, with 6,000 feet of climbing with a maximum altitude of 11,530 feet. But even that day has a bright side if you're trying to calm your fears. Having done this ride from the other direction, I can tell you that it's beautiful, long, and hard. Slumgullion Pass has to rank near the top of the hardest climbs I've ever done. But, we get to do it from the "easy" side. I think the toughest part of this day will be climbs of No Name Hill and Nine Mile Hill that come after 70 miles in the saddle. They are both about 3.5 miles long, 900 feet of climbing in the 4.7% grade range. They're only a few miles apart, and by mid-afternoon it will be hot!
After our rest day in Telluride we have an 83 mile ride that features a little climbing in the first 15 miles, and a whole lot of descending the rest of the way. I've never been on this stretch of road, but from what I hear, and the pictures I've seen, it's spectacular. I just need to remember to interrupt  my descent to get some good pictures myself.
The last day of the tour has us riding 94 miles to get back to Pagosa Springs. No major climbs, but it looks like there's a nice little climb before we get to Durango. And if memory serves, the climb from Durango towards the Vallecito reservoir could give you all you want on the last day. After that, and after all the climbing we will have done, there's really no big challenge the rest of the way to Pagosa Springs. But the day will be long, and hot. I can hardly wait. Four weeks from tomorrow we'll be touring.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

return to sd

One week after returning form the Tour de Kota, I returned to South Dakota for a mini family reunion. Aberdeen is nearly 200 miles further than the starting point for the tour, so I had a long drive there on Friday, and back on Sunday. But, it was totally worth it. I had some time with my parents, all of my brothers and sisters, most of my nieces and nephews, and 3 out of 4 great-nieces.
The youngest, Addie, wasn't ready to be held by me for more than a few minutes. But she almost always had a smile for me when I gave her my attention.
This is Molly making her "crabby face". She is cute, smart and funny, and very sweet. Her sister, Grace, is pretty and kind of shy, which can make it hard to see how funny she is.
Which brings me to one of the highlights of my weekend. Grace was interested in sleeping in a tent. I had brought my two-man tent so I wouldn't subject the masses to my snoring. Grace asked if she could sleep in my tent. I arranged a pad, pillow and sleeping bag. She came to the tent with a jacket, blanket, and flashlight. And everyone but Grace figured she would last about 30 minutes.

But Grace and I had the longest conversation we've ever had. She told me about some of the kids from her school, her t-ball team, the "Cavity Fighters", the petting zoo, favorite animals and colors. We giggled a little and talked about how the wrinkles in the rain fly looked like spider webs.

Eventually Grace turned off her light and fell asleep. At 6:15 the next morning it was light out and Grace stirred and told me she was tired. I asked if she would like to crawl into bed with her Mom, and carried her into the house and down the stairs. I hope this leads to more camping for Grace.

What the whole weekend led to for me was fun. On the deck, in a kayak. But not on the bike. I've only squeezed a couple rides in since TdK. And the prospects don't look good before the weekend. But that still leaves 4 weeks before my next adventure. I'll leave on August 3 for Pagosa Springs and the CRMBT. If the temperatures would dip slightly below 100 degrees it would be easier to get in some long training rides. But I'm confident that I'll be ready for Colorado. Three of the first four days will be about 65 miles, albeit with some good climbs in those miles, and one century plus challenging day.

I can hardly wait for the warm days and cool nights in the mountains. Maybe I need to get Grace started on becoming a cyclist. Happy July 4th to all!