Thursday, August 6, 2009

Plenty of Fun, Mountains, and Crops on the 1000k!

The 400k/600k/1000k brevets on July 25 had a good turnout ... luring those who can't resist a long ride!

Coordinating the events gives riders a better chance of riding with others at least for the first 400k-500k. This worked out well.

This 1000k is in three (different) loops: 250 miles (400k), 201 miles, and 171 miles. They mix mountains and plains riding. This brings you back to the ride start between loops, where you can get fresh clothes and batteries, restock, or eat at a local restaurant.

Pictured here gearing up for the 4am start are L-R, Stephen Whiteman, JLE, Brenda Barnell from Texas, Eric Simmons, Leslie Sutton, Bob Barday, Robin Phelps also now from Texas and our friend for years from Durango, and Mike Fox.

Loop 1: 400km - The entire ridership bunched into two groups for the first 100k to Lyons. That's the rando spirit!

Here are (L-R) John Flanigan, Curt Marwitz, and Irene Takahashi refreshing themselves at Lyons before the big St. Vrain Canyon climb that would spread riders out.

It is Irene's and Curt's longest event distance ever! And John Flanigan is wrapping up his qualification for the Last Chance 1200k and a Super-Randonneur award.

After a 4,000 ft. climb, we see that Meeker Peak still has a smidgen of snow in its couloir. Normally the Meeker Park lottery to see who guesses when the snow tongue will disappear is wrapping up about the time of our June 600k, but here it is a month later!

... and its pal, Longs Peak, looks ok, too, with still some snowy spots.

Descending the hairpin Devil's Gulch switchbacks brings us to the tasty refreshment of Glen Haven General Store cinnamon buns, here perched invitingly atop the handlebars.

A dirt segment - like Larimer County Rd. 22H exiting Big Thompson Canyon - only adds spice to a randonnée!

After the Horsetooth climbs, it's a sudden transition to wide open plains in the shadow of Wyoming. Here a modest farmhouse's only company now are the wildflowers.

Despite a moist forecast, we'd lucked out until late afternoon. Here Irene Takahashi (400k), Leslie Sutton (600k), Robin Phelps (1000k), and Brenda Barnell (1000k) take shelter in a drenching rain in Milliken waiting for a railroad crossing to clear - Stephen Whiteman photo.
Loop 2 (201 miles): Pre-dawn light over Boulder Creek reveals plenty of moisture in the air but the promise of a sunny start!
First sun highlight the amber stubble of a field on WCR 38 ...

... and high corn a mile down the road (a terrain feature that will be sheltering us from the wind later on!):

Hay bales like giant bricks dot the landscape - it's been a good season!
Suddenly, beyond Kersey, we're out into wide-open prairie, with plenty of prairie grass ... but no trees.
Our wet spring has only enhanced and prolonged the wildflower display!
We pass the northern reach of the sprawling Guttersen Ranch. We'll cut through it again on the way back.
We pass the Dearfield townsite. Settled in the late 19th century, the promoter sold most of the buildings later, but the remaining ones are now being preserved, as you can see by the crossbeams.
Exiting US-34 puts us into even quieter territory, the Weldona Valley. Here it's another busy day at Al's Service in Orchard.
But soon it's a return to bigger places, as we ride past this looming structure welcoming us to Fort Morgan.
Making a turn, we see we're on Morgan County Rd. Q, our sign that we're heading mountains-ward!
But what do these cloud formations portend? Stratus and cumulus combined - what could it mean??
Turns out only a thunderhead or two out of our path, as we view them tranquilly from the end of the second loop in Louisville - a dry day, and full of promise!

Loop 3 (171 miles): It's a refreshing, chilly start to the day (or night), with a starry sky. After some pleasant miles through Hygiene and the foothills, it's the scenic and always impressive Big Thompson Canyon narrows ... where if you have time to crane your head, you're sure to see bighorn sheep and other critters.
After a stop at the Estes Park Safeway control (just a stone's throw away from the Stanley Hotel where characters in "The Shining" were battling shrubbery and Jack Nicholson, but never thought to check out the store's customer service), it's Devil's Gulch Road for a brilliant and deserted mountain scene.
See that pair of puffy cloudlets in the lee of Long's and Meeker? By the time riders descended to Loveland on the Plains, those had become a windblown plume with showers moving off the foothills, only to catch up with riders later in a blustery episode. Meanwhile, I'm pleased to savor the moment stop the Devil's Gulch switchbacks, and all's right with the world:
Thanks for reading. Try a 1000k ... or 600k or 400k ... for yourself!


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