Saturday, August 31, 2013

weird squirrel?

I got about 40 miles in this morning with a buddy before it got too hot. About a quarter mile from home I was riding through a small park at the corner of our subdivision when I saw something on the path. It was about squirrel sized, but didn't look, or act, like a normal squirrel. As I got closer he turned towards me and I could see that it was a ferret! It had lost most of the hair from his body, and his ribs were clearly visible. He didn't seem afraid, which leads me to believe he had been someone's pet. I can't understand how you could just abandon him, but the question I faced was what I was going to do.

I didn't think either of my dogs, or the one we're sitting for this weekend, would appreciate the addition of a ferret to our household, not to mention my wife. But I couldn't just leave him there. He approached and stood on his hind legs and put his mouth on my leg. He didn't bite, but it still freaked me out just a little. I started walking my bike and he followed. I was not sure how I was going to deal with this but, one step at a time. Eventually before I was out of the park he turned and headed back the way we had come.

I quickly rode home and filled my wife in. While I changed shoes she googled what ferrets eat, and found the phone number for animal control. I called and was assured that they would send someone to the park. I drove back armed with some sliced turkey, provolone cheese, and a can of dog food. I walked down the trail to where I had first seen him, but he wasn't there. As I doubled back towards the car, he came out of the undergrowth onto the path. I put down some turkey, cheese, and a little of the dog food. He wasn't interested at all in the latter two choices, but devoured a slice of turkey. Then he came back for more and took it a slice at a time into the tall grass and set it aside, presumably to save for later.

While he was stockpiling turkey I saw an animal control truck at the other end of the park. I walked halfway to greet the officer and show her where my ferret was. He came very near her when she called although he did nip at her gloved hands when she picked him up. She took some of the turkey to occupy him while she took him back to the truck.

I can't stand the thought of animals suffering needlessly, and wish we could all be more responsible pet owners, wildlife managers, and stewards of this planet. I don't know what will become of this little guy, but I'll hope for the best. By the way, I don't know if he was a boy or girl ferret. Just seemed more like a he, than an it.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

cameron pass and poudre canyon

Mixed emotions. That's what I was feeling on Saturday morning, August 10, the final day of CRMBT 2013. Oh, and cold, that was the other thing I was feeling. Mixed emotions because I would be saying goodbye to some friends I only get to see once a year. Saying goodbye to Colorado and the nomadic lifestyle of a bicycle tourist. But, I would also be heading home to my family, my own bed, and a few comforts that you give up to take part in the tour. The cold I was feeling? That was due to the 36 degree reading I saw at the bank on Main Street as I stopped for a good cup of coffee to warm me up for the ride.
The sun soon warmed us as we rode, stopping to shed layers, and snap photos of the peaks in the distance, some of which were growing ever nearer. By the end of the day I would have experienced a wide spectrum of emotions including suffering for the last 10-20 miles of this 107 mile day. But mostly the feeling that this is what I love about bike tours, especially in Colorado, and especially CRMBT. A long ride, with a challenge in the middle, and a nice descent as payback for completing that challenge. Spectacular scenery and good folks to ride with don't hurt either.
Cameron Pass sits at 10,276 feet about 30 miles southeast of Walden, which is in the middle of nowhere. From this direction, once you've reached the summit you have about 60 miles of downhill. A descent in the 6% range for several miles, followed by about 50 miles of trending downhill. Just 2-3%, but you can really chew up the miles on a ride like that. Of course, if we hadn't had a headwind I could have chewed a little faster. It was a beautiful day with abundant sunshine. There was just enough suffering in the rolling hills and hot afternoon ride into Loveland to make you know you just did a century ride at the end of a long week of riding. This was a great last day, affording us the opportunity to ride this pass that you would not want to do alone. Aid stations and sag wagons are always a comfort during the tour. In a place this remote they become a necessity.
Click the black bars under "road tunes" to stop the music before starting the video. Or go to YouTube and type in Jeff Leintz to see all my videos.                                                                                     

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

crmbt - steamboat springs to walden

The views I didn't stop for on Wednesday were there waiting for me on Friday morning. We had enjoyed a rest day in Steamboat Springs. Rest may be misleading, as I walked the trail from the school to downtown Steamboat at least a dozen times, but I didn't get on my bike once. So I felt good, but still wanted to stop several times on the climb to try to capture the beauty of Rabbit Ears Pass on this side.
The top of the ridge offered some scenic views too, like this guy fishing the creek in his own piece of paradise.
At the 2nd aid station you got a decent view of the Rabbit Ears, then it was off of US40, and onto CO14, heading for Walden.
I left the aid station by myself and with the road trending slightly downward was moving at a pretty good pace, enjoying the views that stretched out in front of me.
I was still stopping for lots of pictures when the skies started growing darker.
I put on a jacket when I felt a few raindrops, and though it never amounted to much while I was on the road, the thunder behind me was encouragement enough to pick up the pace. One more day ahead of us and another CRMBT will be in the books.

Monday, August 19, 2013

the morning after

I had faced Tuesday's defeat like a man, with a foot-long veggie sub, a schvitz (Sopranos reference), and a massage. I didn't set an alarm, but was still up early, feeling much better than the prior day. Our route would have us on Highway 40 again all day, all the way to Steamboat Springs. The stretch from Granby to Kremmling I remembered from a few years back when we got off of 40 at Kremmling to climb Gore Pass. Between aid stations in those towns, we had a slightly downhill run that would have been faster save for the headwind, but fun still the same. I guess when you ride by the Windy Gap Reservoir.....

I stopped often for pictures even though I had been down this road before. It was a beautiful, cool morning, and the road seemed to stretch on forever, over one rise, then the next. Good to be back on the bike.

When we left Kremmling, the views got even better. It's a stark, rough beauty that I would not want to cross in a wagon train, but other than too many trucks, and too little shoulder, a bike was the perfect vehicle.

Eventually Team Pittsburgh rolled by while I was snapping photos. And the FM Light "billboard" was one of hundreds that you see on the way to Steamboat. Endearingly redundant.

We had left the part of the road that trended downward miles ago and were slowly, but surely gaining altitude as we headed for the 2 passes of the day. It was good to see this non-mirage of an aid station in the middle of nowhere.

Don Henley sang in "The End Of The Innocence",  "O' beautiful, for spacious skies
But now those skies are threatening". That was what I thought as some dark clouds appeared to the west of us. But we seemed to be going around them, and I don't think they ever really affected us.

This was not the toughest climb of the tour, not even close. For one thing we would be climbing the shorter side of Rabbit Ears Pass, with the longer, steeper side saved for later in the week. But it was a little challenging towards the end of the ride because of several summits. First you reach Muddy Pass.
Then a few miles later you reach Rabbit Ears Pass, but wait, there's more. Another 7 miles on there's the "west summit" of Rabbit Ears Pass. What?

But then, finally, there's an honest-to-goodness descent with a runaway truck ramp and everything. And the views as you near Steamboat are spectacular. I spotted a lake off to the left and briefly considered stopping for a photo op. But I didn't want to give up the speed I had earned, and I remembered that I would be back this way on Friday, with plenty of chances to document the scene on my way back up this hill.

Next stop, rest day in Steamboat Springs!