Thursday, May 26, 2005

Well, just one more day of preperation and work around the house for the fest. Everything is in motion now, we'll just have to wait and see how it all shakes down. We still have a lot of work to do around the house (still have to make the 'shoe pit). This will be a fun weekend.

Friday - leave, absolutely the latest, by 3pm to drive into the forest. Meet up at 2:30. If we leave any after 3, our loop may turn into an out and back. Lots of folks won't be rolling into town until then, so we'll see!

Saturday, we'll meet at the bike shop (NE corner of 4th & Broadway) at 8:30am. Plan to be gone all day. We'll get back just in time for more fun.

I'm going to bed now. I need some rest:)

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

final fest recon mission

I was up at the crack of dawn on Sunday to preride the big loop for Fat Tire Fest Five. Well, sort of anyway. As I drove into the forest, I hatched a brilliant scheme - ride the same loop, but backwards. Just to double check the preferred direction. No matter how you do it, though, the ride starts with a stiff, stiff rocky jeep road climb in. If you can clean it, your are definitely the man. I didn't, so I stopped to enjoy the scenery.

I topped out on the climb a mere 30 minutes in - I was making good time. At this point, I diverged from the beaten path and headed off on the grand loop. I rode through old forest road and trail and crested a hill. Not stopping for the views this time, I started to descend. As I descended, the road got rougher, steeper, and narrower. At one point not too long ago, it was narrow singletrack. Unfortunately, last summer some ATVs were through here. Now, it's a combination of singletrack and ATV trail. Not bad, though, by any means. By this time, I was happy to be riding this 'backwards,' as this section was turning out to be a heck of a downhill.

The descent ends in the bottom of a very deep (1000' deep) river canyon. The goal was to cross the river, climb out and loop around back to the river about 3 miles upstream where I'd cross it again. What's this, though - a new trail next to the river?

Yeah, I know it's hard to see, but it really was there. I followed the trail, upstream, secretly hoping that something would pan out. The realistic part of me, though, was telling me to get back on course while I still could. Thankfully, in situations like this, I rarely listen to the my realistic side. I decided to press on. After riding and bushwacking a bit, I came to some narrows in the canyon. Rocks were blocking my way and I could go no further. But wait - I think I see a trail on the other side of the river...

Let's just say that, despite how it looks, that thing was moving swiftly and the water was nut deep. Did I also mention that it's over 8000' feet and it was only 9 in the morning and the water is all snow runoff? Yes - it was cold!

Of course, as soon as I crossed the river, I saw that the trail on this new side was only 30 yards long before it crossed back over. Argggghhh! I crossed it again, picked up the trail, and kept going until I found a place to go if I never wanted to be found. Not that I'll need to, but don't tell anyone about this, just in case!

After that, I played the same damn game of crossing the river back and forth. By the time all was said and done, I'd crossed it 5 times. Also, by the time all was said and done, I was almost a mile upstream and the trail dissapeared, just as the realist in me had predicted. There's a trail on top of the ridge to the east, though, so I opted to hike out. Heck, I could see the top of the ridge. The hike out of the Canyon couldn't be too bad, eh? It was. the top of the ridge I saw was really only a false summit about 20% of the way up to the very top. Arrrghhh again!

So, by now I'm almost a mile up the canyon on the water, and I'm 20% of the way climbed out. The walls were super duper steep and covered in deadfall everywhere I looked. Combining that combo with a 30 pound bike does not generally equal fun. I did find something to indicate to me that I was not the first to have done this

After 30 minutes or so of hiking and monkeying aroud thru the deadfall, I made it to the top of the ridge and back to a familiar jeep road. Finally, I was back on track. I stopped again to check out the scenerey

The rest of the ride was pretty uneventful. The descent back to the river was sweet, though, but the climb out was hard - especially at this point in a long ride. The rocks and drops didn't do much to energize me so I stopped for the view again. View of the trail this time, though.
This was the last climb of my day. Kind of bittersweet, though..

You know - you're tired from riding all day and want to get back for a nap or something, but you're also bummed the ride is over. Just one more descent and it's back to the car. Luckily the descent was fantastic, as usual. Just too quick.

Overall, the day was great. Was out for 3+ hours, beautiful blue skies, no flats or mechanicals, and zero people encounters. I couldn't have asked for more.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Despite the rainy weather of late, I was able to perform some recon for the upcoming Lyons Fat Tire Fest Five. My goal was to analyze the proposed big loop near the mid section of the ride to check for extra trails. I had heard there was more to be found. I was eager to search.

It was raining when I set out, but it was a calm and misty rain. I hadn't heard any thunder all day so I wasn't too worried. The fog was lifting, too. Just another beautiful Spring day. Climbing in the way I did puts put me at about the 60% mark of where we'll likely ride in the fest. It was nice 'shortcut.' The climb is rocky and moderately steep with a few technical sections and a couple of long rock gardens. The trail also follow an old dry streambed for a couple of bits. This was no ordinary dry streambed, though! For some strange reason (perhaps all of the rain), this dry streambed had a solid 8" of water rapidly crashing over the rocks and down the hill. It made the rock gardens pretty interesting, being under water and all...

smooth part of the ride

I made it to the top of my climb, where I connected with my proposed Memorial Day route. After passing a singletrack that dumps onto the main road from way up high,

I vcntured into new terrain. New terrain. One of my favorite things about mountain biking. Sometimes new terrain yeilds fantastic riding. Sometimes new terrain is a bust and doesn't pan out. Doesn't matter. Finding out is half the fun!

Anyway, the rain was still coming down. Gentle but steady. I stopped a couple of times to take in the view. Normally, you can see tall peaks far off in the distance. Today wasn't one of those days. That didn't diminish the veiw, though. The fog was brilliant.

I continued to climb on an ancient jeep road. Thankfully, this road was quite rocky. The rocky road and trail surface of the day kept the mud away.

one of the non rock smooth parts

I climbed up the jeep road for another few minutes. It didn't take me long to get to the end. The end was a closed gate, proclaiming that I had ventured out of the forest and onto a local county road. I had heard whisperings of possible trails existing further up this road so I had to press on. So far I hadn't seen anything. Unfortunately, as I pressed on, two things happened. It started raining harder and I realized that I was running out of time. I called the ride and turned around. I was miles away from the car, but luckily, it was 100% downhill. About the time I made it back to the gate and the start of the jeep road, all hell broke loose in the skies. Thunder started booming overhead and I could see lightning way off in the distance. I wasn't too worried, as I was about to enter a pretty narrow gulch, but you can never be too sure. Just to make things on my downhill more interesting, about half way down (where the trail is in that dry creekbed) it started to hail. Nothing big, mind you, just lots of it! By this time, my fingers were starting to go numb (I was on my 2nd pair of gloves).

Ah the irony of it all... Just when it was hailing the worst, and about when my fingers were ready to fall off, the skies started to clear and the sun peeked out. It's amazing the warmth that the sun brings when it smiles. Feeling it's warm rays on my back was an enlightening experience. To finally top it all off, coming around the last corner, I saw a rainbow. My car was parked just beneath! Coincidence?

the light at the end of the tunnel.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Tonights group ride was sure a good one. Heading to the shop coming north on 36, I drove through torrential downpour and grape sized hail to get to Lyons. By the time I got to town, I could see dark skies to the SW and blue skies the NW. Always being the optimast, I banked on no more rain and got ready to ride. We had a crew of 6 strong tonight. A few of the usuals plus the addition of Mr W. himself! He was in from Winter Park for the next couple of days and decided to ride with the crew.

The skies had calmed and the roads were drying up. We decided, despite the mad rains that had just hammered town, that we'd head to Hall Ranch. Heck, it's usually about perfect after a rain so what the hey. We climbed through the rock garden successfully. There were bits of sloppy section, but the rocks were dry and the trailbed was, for the most part, firm, so we carried on. We made a quick break at the top bench. Rolling onward, we only made it a few hundred yards before the trail turned into an ultra quagmire of sticky mud. Yuck. At this point, we realized that our better judgement had failed us so we turned around. The descent back to Hwy7 was a blast though. The rocks were dry and the dirt offered more traction than it ever does when it's dry. We didn't see a single soul on the way back down, so that was good.

After the Hall fiasco, we rolled around town for a bit, including connecting all the ghetto singletracks around town. Fun stuff .

The ride was top notch, even though conditions weren't.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

What a difference a week can make here in the Spring. Just last week, we were thawing out from a late Spring snowstorm that rendered trails useless for about a week. My only dirt escape was to a very nice dirt road loop just outside of town. I took the cross bike out for some fun.

here's to you, view

It had been nudging me for a while now, "take me out, it's been too long." Last time I had the cross bike out was probably in January when I did the dirt road loop from True Grit to Nelson and back. Hmm, that's only... whoa - 4 months! Yikes! The cross bike was the perfect fit for the day. The dirt roads had been soft from the snow, but warming conditions left them damp and hardening. I couldn't have asked for anything nicer for my 35c knobbies. Traction was great.

from the top

I hit the descent (900' on a rough, country road)on the limits of what those 35c things could hold. The day was chilly and damp, but a great Spring day.

Forward a week to another great Spring day. Only this time, there wasn't a cloud in the sky. It was only 7:30am but temps were already in the 50s. Trail conditions are quickly on their way back to prime. I couldn't be happier. I ventured forth into the forest for a quick little trail ride. It was a good call. A short ride, but some prime singletrack indeed.

from the top

I couldn't believe that it was snowing hard just one week ago. Springtime. Love it.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Lots of things going on right now as Lyons Fat Tire Five approaches. To me, the fest seems to symbolize the 'start' of the Front Range backcountry season. I usually keep it relatively close until the end of May. Spring, with summer quickly on its heels, brings fantastic conditions to the area west of Lyons. Springtime out here is one of the best times to be outdoors.

I can't believe we'll all be grouping up again in Lyons for some superb front range riding. I think I'm looking forward to it as much or more than a lot of folks. The storefront will be closed for the weekend and I'll finally be able to get out on some big rides, some epics. I can't wait to ride some old favorites, new stuff, too..

Don't take these hills for granted folks. When the space craft dropped us off here in Lyons, I was riding 6-7 days a week, I was exploring and otherwise spending a ton of time on my bike in the backcountry. Now, if I ride 3 days at Hall Ranch, it's been a great week of riding. Family, work, and other obligations can really change a persons riding habits! It's been a great ride so far, though, and I'm still excited about that next turn in the trail.

Fat Tire Five is coming up at the end of this month. The event is 5 years old this year. That's definitely cause for celebration so we'll surely do it up in style. Did I mention the free beer? We have a sponsor this year! Heck, by next year, we may even have 2. The season is kicking into gear and I'm excited to ride. Did I miss anything?

Want pics?

yes, it will be steep

yes, it will rain

ahh yes