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!