Friday, December 7, 2012

Enjoying Our Lenticular Cloud!

It's been a mild, dry - at times veritably balmy - late fall for us (although snow beckons as I write). 
With this weather pattern often comes our Front Range friend, the lenticular cloud, produced when (warming) downsloping winds off the mountains creates a cloud pocket.
On the Drake Doubleback 200k Perm a couple weeks ago, the Flatirons are bathed briefly in dawn light before the sun rises into the cloud layer.

The shadow and sky highlight Dodd Reservoir, which despite its small size attracts hundreds of geese at a time in the fall.  Most are canada geese, but probably some cackling geese, from the arctic.

The forecast gusty winds were there, but very piecemeal - for example, tumbleweed strength on the way to Big Thompson Canyon, but mild in the canyon itself.  Also, you could traverse a 10-15 degree temperature gradient in a couple miles.
Ted and Emily Warm, and Lynn Stein, reported the same phenomenon on the Rabbit Mountain Romp they were doing at the same time.
But all turned out well.  A scenic sunset at ride's end ...

... and a post-sunset golden chaos of whorls.

Not a bad time of year to get out for a nice ride.  I hope you've had a chance to enjoy it!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Rabbit Mountain Romp - Two Seasons in One!

The weather forecasts differed as to when the snow would move in.  I decided to ride as much of the Rabbit Mountain Romp perm populaire in dryness as I could.  Maybe starting off early, one could beat the prognostications?

Remember, you can click any photo to see the enlarged photo gallery.
Nice start to the day, with downslope winds in Louisville pegging temps into the 50's - the highest temps of the day, it turned out.

Heading SW on Marshall Rd., you can see the rainbow just above Eldorado Springs, where I am heading, heralding some foothills precip spilling over with the front passage.  No big deal, just some damp roads.

It clouds up but dries out.  I am having a good ride, but thinking of friends Steve and Michelle and their balmy "Carter Lake Casual" perm populaire midweek when it was sunny and in the 70's.
The climb up and descent down Rabbit Mountain were graced with light sprinkles.  Not a big deal.  Bracing.

After a pause in the action, the sprinkles turned to sleet, which started to sting as the wind picked up.  Invigorating.
Only the last half hour did things turn really wet, with some snow moving in and slush on the roads.  You can see the gelatinous buildup on my shoes and shoecovers.

I began to lose gears as ice built up on gear teeth, causing the chain to skip.  Fortunately there were one or two gear combos left to make it in to the finish.

The snow-encrusted Green De Rosa gets the last word, always happy to be out on the road, whatever the circumstances!

Enjoy your late-autumnal adventures!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Vail Pass Volley 206km Permanent

In late September, with peak foliage colors beckoning, I tried out the new Vail Pass Volley 206km Permanent:

 From the Front Range, it's a short drive to the Frisco start.  I headed off at sunrise ... which had not quite made it into Tenmile Canyon on the bikepath to Copper Mountain:
Veering south towards Copper Mountain, a snowy peak is revealed!

"Peak foliage" meant that some groves still showed plenty of green, while some hillsides were past peak but still sporting a spotty afterglow:

Frost on the path bridges - a reminder of September in the mountains.  I was almost adequately dressed for these first two hours of chilly temps.

After Copper Mountain, the Vail Pass path climbs in its own solitude.

It's a curvy, intimate path, best enjoyed with few other users on it.

After surmounting Vail Pass, the descent shows small explosions of color surrounded by conifer woods.

After crossing windingly under I-70 to join old US-6 (Big Horn Road), you descend on dappled pavement through aspen groves.  The fresh, brand new asphalt is a pleasure to ride, though hiding the spray-painted encouragements for Greg Lemond and Jeannie Longo from events such as the Red Zinger Classic of old.

The aspen are especially radiant at this time of day!
... and groves like these are heartwarming sights ...

... while every bit of descending in the sun is welcome, as it's still just below freezing (and you're descending).

Reaching East Vail, slopes are blanketed with vibrant aspens:

West of Vail, Eagle-Vail, Avon, and Edwards, it's suddenly very different terrain and vegetation, with cottonwoods and the Eagle River predominating:

Even without conifers, the glow of the cottonwoods against the sage makes for attractive and scenic riding.  Plus, a nice thing about this route: you ride through two distinct terrains and vegetations.

We're on US-6, a quiet road overall (after a bit of traffic through Avon and Edwards), because I-70 takes the main volume.

Just after passing the Army's high-altitude training center, the turnaround control point in Gypsum boasts two deluxe convenience stores to satisfy your needs and caloric desires.
On the way back, more brilliant views of the Eagle River and resplendent vegatation.  On this flattish stretch, you see a number of local (or visiting) cyclists, out for a nice ride.

Climbing out of Vail, the stretch on US-6 is a fine, quiet climbing experience shared with casual local cyclists ... and aspens.

Your clue to enter the Vail Pass trail proper is this sign.  It's great because, indeed, randonneuring is recreation, after all, isn't it?
Some winter activity reminders as you reach the parking / rest area at Vail Pass.  Head for the rest area ...

... and make a right to rejoin the trail.

Very quiet and solitary at this time of year.  You may see more recreational use if you ride in the summer ... and possibly one of those afternoon thundershowers.
A pleasant way to breeze into the finish.

I certainly enjoyed this ride, and hope you will, too.   As a large part of it is on the bike path or quiet parts of US-6, it feels tranquil and cut off, even though in places I-70 is not that far away.
A fine way to enjoy a summer or fall day in the mountains!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

1200k Round-Up for 2013!

Are you aiming for your first 1200k next year, or a 1200k veteran keen for more adventure?

With the snow flying outside, it's time to ponder and plan!

A record seven US 1200k's are scheduled for next year (while two others, the Cascade and Colorado High Country, are taking a rest).  That's at least one 1200k a month from May through October:
North of the border, Ontario Randonneurs is organizing their
Further afield, you can look on the Randonneurs Mondiaux calendar for other 1200k's worldwide, including:
For the Texas Rando Stampede, Big Wild Ride, and Endless Mountains, it's their second edition, so you get the benefit of improvements gleaned from their inaugural event.

And some awards for extra motivation:
A few details on each ride ...

The Texas Rando Stampede, organized by the Lone Star Randonneurs, takes you on a circuit from North Texas (Dallas - Fort Worth area), south into the Texas Hill Country, and back through wooded East Texas.  Riders sleep in comfy motel rooms at the suggested overnight controls, and the volunteer support is great.

The Shenandoah 1200 takes you through historic Civil War venues, and up and down many hills in Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and North Carolina, many of them stiff, a few ornery, but only a couple extended (Blue Ridge Parkway and Willis Gap Road), with a high scenery quotient to take your mind off your legs' discomfort.  My Report (2010)  Catherine Shenk's Report (2009)

The Gold Rush Randonnée, organized by the Davis Bike Club, heads north from Davis into the high plateau of NE California.  The first and final 100 miles are flat (Sacramento Valley), but there's lots of climbing and scenery in between.  Deluxe volunteer support.
The Big Wild Ride takes in the expansive scenery of Alaska on a horseshoe-shaped point-to-point route starting and ending at the coast, after a foray into the wild interior.  Riders can get from the finish locale (where most folks fly in) to the start via a scenic train ride and ferry.

With the most reputed climbing of any US 1200k, the Endless Mountains 1240 is a definite challenge.  ("Endless Mountains" is the name of a region in Pennsylvania.)  Reports are that organizer Tom Rosenbauer has tamed some of the route.
The Last Chance is rolling, open, and exposed, with panoramic views unencumbered by woods or canyons. There are some flat sections, but not as many as you'd think. And the wind can be your constant companion. An evocative pioneer experience. My Photomontage (2006)
The Taste of Carolina gives you a taste of the Piedmont foothills, the Blue Ridge, and the coastal plain.  The 2012 edition started with a climb into the Blue Ridge and Virginia highlands, then through the rolling Uwharrie Mountains and on to Sunset Beach and back.  I enjoyed that edition, and will be posting a blog report.  Route varies somewhat year to year.
Plenty to whet your appetite, and lots of possibilities to challenge you in 2013.  So start imagining and planning!


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Wet and Blustery James Canyon Jaunt 200k!

The final 200k of the season started dry but under glowering clouds, with patches of wet pavement from overnight storms.  So the 14 riders who showed up made for a good turnout!  
Despite the clouds, some nice color in Lefthand Canyon ...

The info control blackboard in front of the Jamestown Mercantile festooned with seasonal pumpkins:

As we head north into Larimer County, we meet some prolonged chilly, windblown rain.  I catch up to John Flanigan, slowed down by a broken chain:

But he gets a ride to Sandy's, where he and Brian Rapp thaw out and fortify themselves.

A tailwind blows riders at least partway back towards Boulder County, and some great foliage lining 75th through Hygiene.

Meanwhile, John has managed to repair his chain with a chain tool and make it to the finish, not for credit but for the satisfaction of a good ride.

And yes, the sun breaks through in the final moments, as Brian Rapp, Henry Snavely, and Tammie Nakamura can attest.

Thanks to everyone joining us on our final brevet for the season!
It was held a week late, on October 13, as the prior Saturday threatened overnight road freezing (and was miserable all day with drizzle in the 30's).
Please consider riding some Permanents or Permanent Populaires this off-season, alone or even better, with some friends!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Erika rides Foon's Black and Blue 208km Permanent!

Ride Report for the new Black and Blue 208km Permanent designed by Tim Foon Feldman

 by Erika Van Meter.

This is a great point to point, beginning in Paonia, Co and ending in Gunnison. Here are some lovely views of ranchland and mountains at the start.

A glimpse of the Grand Mesa.

Hwy 50 from Delta to Montrose offers a nice sized shoulder and many refueling opportunities. The views aren’t so bad either!

Make sure to stop at the store before climbing up to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park –they have a great cooler full of beverages and a freezer just for ice cream!

Climbing up from the valley floor to the National Park. Mountain views in the background.

A fellow hill climber from Montrose stopped and graciously took a photo of the author.

He mentioned that for a really enjoyable day of climbing that the local riders like to start from Montrose, ride up to the Black Canyon, over Cerro Summit, then Blue Mesa Summit, turn around and repeat on the way home. These 3 climbs are 5-6 miles in length each, so one gets a bit of vertical.

The river is way down there, somewhere…(Black Canyon of the Gunnison)

Cerro Summit on Hwy 50-more climbing, rewarded by a bit of fun….

Make sure to stop at Newberrys in Cimmaron. You will need to resupply there especially if you are self-supporting. There aren’t a lot of stores and such on the Blue Mesa, and they are open mostly during daylight hours only. There is a Sinclair at mile 88 if you forget to stop, or if they are closed.

Blue Mesa must be getting close. Appetizing views along the way.

(before Blue Mesa Summit)

Ahh, there it is. Blue Mesa Reservoir –notice the light-the solar eclipse is currently underway….

There are a few stores with limited hours in this stretch. Most of the campgrounds do have water spigots if you need it, and the main Elk Creek marina on the East End of the rez has a small supply store with a restaurant open Mon-Sat. Call ahead if you plan on dining, as hours may vary: 970-641-0403

Final Destination, Gunnison….I did it as a point to point, but a nice loop would be to return to Paonia via the Black Mesa up and over thru Crawford. Mountains, deserts, rivers, climbs and views galore, what more could one ask for? And remember, this is only one portion of the Colorado Six Pack which encompasses the whole of the Haute Route.

Take a peak at Foon’s website and more info for the Six Pack and Haute Route: