Sunday, April 24, 2016

mt evans again

On the last day of the tour we'll wake up and roll out of the Evergreen Middle School. In less than a mile we'll be on Squaw Pass Road. This is where the suburbs of Denver bump up against the mountains.
Another 18 miles and about 3,000 feet of climbing will get us to Echo Lake and the entrance to Mt Evans Road. If the week has beaten me down into a tired old man, well, it's all downhill from here to Idaho Springs. But, if there's any fight left in me, I'll make the turn and add another 14 miles and 3,500 feet of climbing to the last day of CRMBT 2016.
Mt Evans Road has a lot of switchbacks, the first of them through lush forest for a few miles shortly after you start the climb. Eventually it opens up a little and you can look down on Echo Lake and see where you've been.
Shortly after that you are above tree-line for the rest of the climb. The road lends itself to some pretty amazing views. By this point you are more likely to see the road cut out of the mountain far ahead of you than to see much of it behind you.
And if you keep pedaling you will eventually reach the real switchbacks which mean you are oh so close to the top. Relatively close. There are still 15 switchbacks, five miles and 1300 feet of elevation gain to get to the top.
Then, you've made it! The remnants of a restaurant that was destroyed when lightening hit its propane tank, a sign with elevation on it, and some spectacular views await.
 As you head down, the switchbacks unfold in front of you. Funny how they go by so much more quickly on the way down. But you will need to control your speed. Lots of tight turns and cracked pavement are your reward at this elevation.
Between Echo Lake and Idaho Springs you'll be able to let loose a little more, brake a little less. This is where you get to enjoy the descent that you earned over the previous several hours. You should still have a little speed as you roll into Idaho Springs at the end of another fantastic bike tour.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

peak to peak

After our rest day in Estes Park this year's CRMBT will take us south on the aptly named Peak to Peak Highway. This National Scenic Byway is a 55 mile stretch from Estes Park at the northern end to Blackhawk/Central City to the south. It passes through Allenspark, Ward, and Nederland. Great views are abundant of small lakes, canyons and Longs Peak along the way.
The starting and ending elevations only differ by a few hundred feet. And our maximum elevation this day will only reach 9,391 feet, the second lowest max elevation on any day of this tour. But by the time we make it up and down all the peaks on in this route we will have climbed almost 10,000 feet on this penultimate day of the tour.
We'll have one more night to sleep in the cool mountain air. We will have earned that sleep on this day, and need that sleep the following day. Everyone will want to be well rested as we again have the chance to ride our bikes higher on a paved road than anywhere else in the world!