Monday, November 16, 2015

Riding the Stove Prairie Circumlocution 202k!

If you thought you might like a Perm version of the scenic but "hilly" Stove Prairie 200k brevet, here it is: the Stove Prairie Circumlocution 202km Permanent.

I rode it on November 14, a brightly sunny day, but with snow cover which riders on September's brevet did not experience.

As always, click on any photo for a gallery of enlarged images!

After a 28º start at dawn, temperatures eventually budged enough to take off some layers for the climbs over Horsetooth Reservoir.

Horsetooth - especially the Centennial Road segments - 
contains some of the stiffest climbs on the route. 

After a stop for a burrito at Vern's in LaPorte, it's up Poudre Canyon, 
pretty quiet without the rafting but still plenty of folks hiking trails.

The sunny spots of the canyon were balmy, 
but at this season, there are plenty of shadowy sections,
retaining snow from the midweek snowfall last week,
with a touch or two of ice on the road 
although the plows did a good job.

One of those sunny spots is at the turn for the climb up Stove Prairie Road 
which riders tend to think about for some miles in advance.

After the initial, sustained 3-mile climb, there's a dip before the final mile to the summit. There you can see an ambitious ski fence.

The final mile opens onto a broad swath of prairie at 7,300 ft. 
Being the north face, there's the snow cover.

At Stove Prairie School, a Winter Festival is on the slate for December 5.

The fourteen-mile descent to Masonville include two or three
stiff climbs, this being the final one.

From there, it's through red rocks country on to Masonville.

Even the final segment, looking out at Long's and Meeker,
are infused with sun, joy, and expanse.

You may have to wait until late winter for doing this ride, 
but who knows?


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Thank You, Our 2015 Brevet Volunteers!

I'll make this simple: as randonneurs we prize our self-sufficiency, but what gratitude we owe at important moments to those who've given their effort with enthusiasm, and at times crucial support to our success.

Thank you so much, volunteers!

Paul Foley

Corinne Warren

Brent Myers and Beth Long

Tammie Nakamura

Michelle Grainger, Terri Gooch with Steve Le Goff

David and Caroline Hilligoss

Tim "Foon" Feldman

Ray Rupel

We are randonneurs like you and love the chance to pay back to our sport!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Riding the CoNeKa Confabulation Jr!

On October 18, Paul Foley and I inaugurated the new CoNeKa Confabulation Jr 130km Permanent Populaire. 

There is also a non-junior version which is 17
 miles longer, but we didn't want to over-exert ourselves. Here's the route:

Wray CO to St. Francis KS and back via Haigler NE
It is patently designed as a route that includes three states- and two time zones, as Paul points out - but it also turns out to be a pleasant, quiet route, and scenic in its own way. Both Paul and I lacked Nebraska for RUSA's American Explorer Award, - reason enough to drive 2½ to three hours to get to Wray, CO.

The day we rode started out at 37° and topped out at 82°, sunny with some high overcast, and breeze (of course!).

Wray is a pleasant town in a valley with a butte. It was a good start/end point. We headed down a quiet US-34, with good, smooth shoulders, and lots of greenery in terms of irrigated crops, trees, and ground cover. The area is also breeding grounds for the greater prairie chicken, which birders travel some distance to see.

Each county we passed through has its own numbering system - this sign, in Yuma County, outside Wray, is a combo of letters and a fraction.

The prospect of a good life during our eight-mile transit of Nebraska made us feel better already.

We turn south, climb out of the Republican River valley (North Fork), and are alerted by Nebraska to make sure our livestock branding is in order.

I'm wearing my Last Chance jersey because we'll be intersecting the Last Chance route.

Paul noticed that the Kansas sign was graced by a "Don't Mess With Texas" sticker. 

We're now climbing over a succession of ridges and plateaux. It's a strongly rolling stretch, open, and exposed to any breeze that may pop up.

Irrigated crops suddenly give way to prairie and dryland crops, and terrain punctuated by these deep fissures.

Descending to the valley where St. Francis is located - the south fork of the Republican River brings us back to lusher, greener pastures. 
We're now on US-36, and the Last Chance 1200k route.

Our St. Francis control and lunch stop is the same store riders use on the Last Chance. It offers a wide variety of food choices, included fried burritos and other fried items, and cheeseburgers, Paul's choice here.

Lots of signage going on as we re-enter Nebraska ...  and a curve in the road.

It's been lots of fun for such a relatively short ride!


Thursday, September 17, 2015

Return to Stove Prairie!

In early September, I rode the Stove Prairie Saunter 200k Permanent to check out the Stove Prairie road for our September 19 brevet.

The stretch from Masonville to Stove Prairie only reopened earlier this season, after flood damage closed it in several places in 2013. 

An early start on the Stove Prairie Saunter.

No fall color change yet on my ride, but you should see splotches of color on the brevet.

75th St. near Hygiene

The Stove Prairie School a welcome sight at the end of the climb.

Heading back down, I encounter a familiar face - it's John Mangin on his way to Pennock Pass (dirt) for a loop down Poudre Canyon.

Fresh from Paris-Brest-Paris, John is wearing his FFCT (Fédération Français de Cyclotourism) jersey and his helmet still sports his PBP frame number. "X" means he was in one of the 84-hour waves, starting around 5am on 9/17.

We got to pet a friendly donkey standing in a field next to where we were chatting.

The major flood damage was in the narrow canyon midway up Buckhorn Road. They have blasted rockface to create a wider road with bike lane on this 1.6-mile stretch. There are also massive culverts.

It's a distinctly different feeling from the intimate canyon stretch before the flood, but still beautiful.

On the Stove Prairie 200k in fall of 2004. This is still an open range road.
Even after the big descents, you surmount the final "12%" grade to get a good view of hills to the south.

And there's still more canyon scenery before reaching Masonville.

We're pleased to be able to offer this scenic and challenging brevet again, and hope you enjoy it!


Thursday, July 2, 2015

Two Dozen Super Randonneurs so far for 2015!

Now that our spring brevets are behind us, 25 local riders and one visitor have qualified for the ACP Super Randonneur award, for finishing 200k, 300k, 400k, and 600k brevets in the same year:

RUSA#Rider      RUSA#Rider
7409Albershardt, Andy9094Ledru, Pascal *
7760Baker, Chris2145Long, Beth
1557Brining, Doug *6026Lowe, Mark
5897Cramer, Cathy1679Mangin, L. John
153Ellis, John Lee2129Myers, Brent
2434Flanigan, John10610Nelson, David *
1471Foley, Paul3112Rupel, Ray
1167Gooch, Terri6276Shlachter, Jeremy 
5417Grainger, Michelle1842Smith, Vernon
7751Griffith, Scott8Springsteen, Lois
9962Haugen, Timo *8564Stanton, Laurie
9592Hulett, Jeffrey10173Turek, Michael *
5418Le Goff, Steve7898Warren, Corinne

* First-time Super Randonneur

Some riders will be completing their series with brevets elsewhere. For now, congratulations to our Super Randonneurs so far!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Snapshots from the St. Vrain - Lefthand Cyn. 400k!

The foggy patches at the start of the St. Vrain Canyon - Lefthand Canyon 400k were a tip of the hat to the continued moisture-laden weather we've been having.  But the day turned out pretty well, with only seasonal showerability, and some really nice segments for riders.

Here are some quick snapshots submitted by Mike Turek, and by Brent Myers and Beth Myers, who staffed a welcome support oasis in Masonville.

Thanks to Beth, Brent, Corinne Warren for her own support oasis on the Peak-to-Peak Highway, and to Terri Gooch for stepping in at the last minute to get everything together for the rider start!

And congratulations to all the finishers of this challenging brevet, including the newly-minted Super-Randonneurs, and those who've completed or almost completed their PBP qualification!


A foggy start after all the rain  - courtesy of Mike Turek

Mike Turek and Pascal Ledru - courtesy Mike

Mark Lowe at Masonville - Brent Myers photo

Paul Foley - Brent Myers photo

Terri Gooch w/ puppy - Brent Myers photo

Mike T and Pascal L - Brent Myers photo

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Les Lanternes Rouges Ride the Flèche!

by Corinne Warren, team captain

When the entirely neophyte team of flèche riders “Les Lanternes Rouges” left Canon City on the morning of May 2, the team was a little unsure of what to expect for the day. On paper, 237 miles over the course of 24 hours just didn't sound all that difficult to a team with an experienced 1200k rider and four Colorado Triple Crown finishers. And the almost 15,000 feet of climbing didn't feel all that daunting, either, when spread out over the course of the day. Boy, were they wrong.

Le départ from Canon City IHop. Thanks again for breakfast, David.

The first of four frustrating flats.
Within the first ten miles, thanks to the gravel-littered shoulders of  Highway 115, two riders incurred flats. Never worked that into the time equation! Luckily, John was always at hand with his excellent pump with the built in gauge. Fixing flats became his specialty of the day. 

Lunch at Suzanne & Ray's place.
The biggest mistake of the ride was probably the captain's focus on food and scenery. She wanted the flèche to be enticing to her team from up north, so planned (for a brevet) elaborate meal stops and took the course through the more scenic parts of Colorado Springs for aesthetic appeal. In hindsight, not the best idea, as those are time-eating strategies.

One of metal artist Starr Kempf's sculptures in the Cheyenne Canyon neighborhood.

A quick loop through Garden of the Gods was an interesting and scenic sidebar.
The team in front of Balanced Rock.

A rather lengthy lunch at the captain's mother's house and a stop at nearby Cafe Velo (home of the city's slowest barista) piled the hours on without the team realizing that the clock was ticking. Once they finally moved out of the Colorado Springs area, though, a nice tailwind helped push them to Castle Rock at a brisk pace and made up for a bit of lost time. Then another flat probably ate that time advantage.

On the road again!
 As the team reached Littleton, they realized they probably wouldn't make Golden for the planned dinner with the RMCC AntiGravity Epic Century riders. Good thing no one was trying to make a reservation! From Littleton to Golden, the ride moved primarily to the mostly-empty bike paths that line C-470; a stark contrast and welcome change from the busy city roads of the first half of the route. 

Dinner in Golden at Woody's was truly a respite and a refueling. By the time the team departed, most of the shops and restaurants downtown had closed, and the streets were starting to empty. The trek up to Boulder was quiet until hitting 93, but even then, there was not a lot of traffic on the road. Another flat slowed the group down at this point, though happily that was to be the last one. Pascal took the lead through his hometown of Boulder and as the team wended it's way through the hamlet, the captain started having mechanical issues, bringing the team to a halt more than once. The other issue was coffee; most wanted some before leaving the city, but only a few bars here and there were open – every other place was closed. Mike had the brilliant idea of stopping in at a Holiday Inn Express, one of the last businesses in town. The team was able to refill water bottles, get a cup of coffee, and grab a few minutes of rest in the lobby. Without that oasis, they may not have made it through the next leg.

Someone, somewhere in the middle of the night.
From Boulder to Lyons, the ride is a pleasant series of rollers; the temperature was cool but not cold, with a mostly-full moon casting a bit of light on the pavement. A very nice atmosphere for a group of very tired riders. The ride was now in the wee hours and the sleep stop was still a climb up Apple Valley, and many more miles away. In retrospect, this might not have been the best course to have taken, considering the time they hit Lyons. But the streets were empty, the night was beautiful, and it was magical being out on the road with no one around, which helped to power the team up the hill. From the information control at the end of the climb to the next control, the team sloughed through, working for the rest to come. Only problem: as they were more than a little behind the naps were limited to 15 minutes. But it is amazing how much a mere quarter of an hour can help when you are exhausted. Gulping down a quick cup of instant coffee, the team was off for the last leg of the journey.

 There is something inexplicably wonderful about the last few miles of a long and hard but enjoyable ride. Especially in the early morning light, as the sun slowly rises and warms the air. Fatigue takes a back seat and excitement takes over. Almost there . . . the bikes nearly pedal themselves.

By the time the team hit the park and ride, amnesia set in -  the pain and the chill and the deep fatigue disappear. Only happiness and hunger remain. And a deeper sense of camaraderie than before. Someone mentions next year – same route, same team? 

L'Equipe «Les Lanternes Rouges»

Corinne WARREN - Capitaine
Pascal LEDRU