Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Rawhide Ramble 201km Permanent - New!

Last weekend I rode the new Rawhide Ramble 201km Permanent.  It's based on the 200k created to replace the September Stove Prairie 200k, which was put out of action by post-flood road closures (and which are still in effect!).

One impetus for this permanent is that we Boulder and Larimer County residents need all the climbing opportunities we can find.  In this case, it's Horsetooth.  And shall I say, lots more invigorating at 40 miles into the ride, rather than 130 miles into a 400k or 600k, ha, ha.

Here's the horse tooth of Horsetooth beckoning from outside Masonville.  

Lots of inspiring western scenery to glance at during the climbs.

Horsetooth Reservoir is pretty full.  I've always thought Horsetooth and Carter Lake looked rather abstract as desert terrain hemming in waters, but that's how it is with Western reservoirs.  (Those two dots are kayakers.  And yes, open waters is an odd scene when most everywhere else is frozen over.)

This route dives down past the CSU stadium, avoiding some of the Ft. Collins congestion.

... and on Overland Trail, you get to see one of the vanishingly small number of drive-in theatres still remaining!

For the middle part of the route, including the eponymous Rawhide stop, I don't have pictures.  (The breeze might be one influencing factor.)  But here are John Guala, Mark Lowe, and Lloyd Jones on the 200k brevet in September.

Throw in a (missed) photo-op of a group of 12-15 antelope (a good number, based on my experience), and you get the picture.  These are typical scenes for Ft. Collins riders, but a change of pace for us.

It was a really brilliant, sunny, and eventually mild day to ride, which we do get in January ...

... and at other seasons, too!

So give this one a try.


Friday, January 24, 2014

Canyons Update - Lefthand Canyon

On January 20, Pat and I were returning from Estes Park and decided to check out Lefthand Canyon.

Signs in Estes Park advise motorists to take US-34 or Hwy. 7 (St. Vrain Canyon), as US-36 now has remedial roadwork in three places, after last fall's rapid repair and reopening.

Hwy. 7 seems to be holding up fairly well:

In contrast to the CDOT signs on their canyon highways warning cyclists, "Bicycles not recommended.  Ride at your own risk,"  Boulder County simply warns all road users to prepare to handle certain situations.

While Lefthand Drive is open, many segments - some longer, some shorter - are gravel.  (This still represents a huge effort by road construction crews!)

Where did all that displaced and faulted asphalt go?  Much of it was carted off to asphalt mountains such as this one near the junction of James Canyon.

In the curves of Lefthand Creek, there's hardly better evidence of how much roadway the flood ate away than to see the centerline heading straight for the new edge of the road (sans shoulder).

There are a lot of these gravel segments.  Motorists and cyclists alike need to keep eyes open for what they may encounter around every curve.

Lots of roadwork is proceeding.  Here, giant boulders ("the size of an SUV") are being loaded by this crane into a truck.

A good view of the "scouring" effect of the flood waters.

All in all, lower Lefthand Canyon at present has the sense of those backcountry dirt roads in the mountains.

And James Canyon remains open only to residents, of course.

We saw some "high-performance"-looking cyclists in ones and twos heading up Lefthand as if it were life as usual ... but these are the folks who climb to Gold Hill on racing bikes, so what else is new?

I'm sure everyone joins us in thanking the road crews for reopening this road, of most benefit to residents, but good for everyone.


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Deer Trail Dance Permanent #733

On Saturday, December 28, Beth Long, Brent Myers, Vernon Smith, Kevin Pedlow and I decided to finish the year with the Deer Trail Permanent as our last RUSA ride of the year.  Vernon and I had ridden this permanent in December 2012, and found it to be a great winter ride due to its location minimizing the risk of significant snow cover.  I was also eager to get back into the randoneur mode after being confined to in door riding for three months due to a broken hand.

Map of Deer Trail Dance from Ride with GPS
We started out about 7:30 am, shortly after sunrise, with a chill in the air but a beautiful blue sky with soft whispy wintry clouds.  The route has an urban start, following the Highline Canal bike path to the Cheery Creek Reservoir area before heading southeast.

Brent, Kevin, Beth, and Vernon enjoy a bike lane around the park.
 On the eastern edge of the metro area we stopped for a warm drink before heading east into the plains, and had one of our first of many great front range views.
 Making our way east along Quincy Ave we enjoyed the roller coaster ride onto the plains, again with stunning front range scenery.
 As we turned to head north towards Bennet, the winds were favorable but the local housing standards were quite different than southeast Denver.
 Looking west along QuincyAve the front range contrasted nicely with the grass of the plains.
 Our tail wind made the ride north very enjoyable and allowed us to save energy for later in the day.  Unfortunately my camera could not capture the expansive views from Pikes Peak to Mount Evans to Longs Peak, which were abundant on the leg north towards Bennet.
 Heading east of Bennett, we made our way through Strasburg and Byers and began to overlap a section of the Last Chance 1200km  Randonnee which Vernon and I have enjoyed riding together in the past.  In fact, I believe this spot is the same one I experienced a flat on during one of those adventures.

A lone cow on the horizon made things look pretty desolate.

Rolling farm land and fields are a nice change from the nearby metro area.

We refueled in Deer Trail.
 As we started back west, a northerly side wind brought in clouds and cooler temperatures.  The turns along the road at times gave us a slight head wind or slight tail wind as pay back from our prior tail wind.
Chasing Kevin over the gentle rollers between Byers and Strasburg
 The ride finishes by rejoining the Highline Canal bike path off of extreme east Colfax Ave for the last ten miles.  We finished just as the sun had set and the temperatures dropped.  Fortunately Starbucks was available for a warm drink.
Vernon and Kevin celebrate the finish as Kevin adds 200 km to his holiday Strava challenge of riding 500 km between Christmas and New Years.
 Kevin and I had a recovery hamburger and beer before the final drive home through snow fall which made us happy we had seized the opportunity for a great winter ride as the weather allowed.

I would certainly recommend the Deer Trail Dance as a great ride for those looking for gentle rollers, changing scenery, and a central starting location for those living in the Denver metro area.