Monday, August 31, 2015


It seems that I have been focusing on road rides for the last two months. Fun rides up into the Park and the tour I went on.
I decided for this Sunday to get the Night Train out and go for a little ride up the Rollins Pass road.

Lets Go!!
Last year Kyle and I rode this up and over the top and on down to Winter Park. Debbie and Lea dropped us off and drove over to pick us up. Today I am flying solo so it was going to be an up and back affair. Since we went all the way over we drove up to the Moffit Tunnel and started there. Today I decided to start riding from Rollinsville where the dirt road starts, about a five or six mile ride up a pretty nice dirt road to get to the start of Rollins Pass Road. I am still getting the feel of my fat bike and some ride time on a good dirt surface was good for me and fattie to get to know each other better.

Many people have remarked that it will be an early fall. Yes, it is August 30th and some Aspen are changing. I like the fall season as much as anybody except for what follows.
It was a beautiful morning except for a pretty stiff headwind coming out of the west, but, that is OK because I will get it rolling back to the truck. Yes, don't be cynical, it will still be blowing out of the west for the return!!
A few old summer cabins strung up and down this road. I am sure most of these are hand-me-downs through generations of families.

I am not sure of the history behind this building. It is all boarded up but the current owner has it painted up this bright, pretty Yellow.
I make the turn-off on Rollins Pass Road and the surface changes. From nice dirt road to a rock garden bouncing on up. Fattie does roll over the rocks much better than last years ride on Ogre. I am pleased with that. Cyclist share this road with ATV's and motorcycles and Jeeps and that tends to make for a rocky track.

I like imagining the places where there are rock cuts the old trains chugging up through the cuts.
This has become more of a road in places than an old RR bed. There are a few switchbacks that are rocky and steep that no way could a train either make the turn or the grade. I think there are private land issues in places that the true RR bed is not followed.
I rode up to just short of Yankee Doodle Lake and decided to turn around. I had been on the bike for about 3 hours of climbing and frankly was tired of the dust kicked up by the dirt bikers and 4WD'ers.

Despite my complaining, in my opinion, the Aspen are prettiest when they first start to turn and you have a mix of yellow and greens.

I tried to take one of Richard's artsy pictures of holding the bike and pretty scenery. I am not the photographer that he is.
Heading down the last stretch you can see where somewhere out there in the distance the train track and road come together!!

When I got back down to the main road I decided to ride that last mile up to the east portal of the Tunnel. An 85 year old piece of Civil Engineering that is still in use today!!
All that is left now is the cruise back down to my truck and WOW!! It was so much fun to have the wind at my back cruising down hill!! The fat bike really was a smooth rolling comfort ride for this.

Everybody have a great week!!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Short Tour is better than no Tour........Day Four

The pop-out day. There is no cell coverage in Poudre Canyon. Part of the wildness feeling that I got on this ride. There are cars and people so there is not any danger of being stranded without options, just a feeling of being unplugged for a day.
My campsite was called Upper Narrows and after a quick breakfast of oatmeal and apples I roll on out. The first thing was a ride down through The Narrows.

Pretty way to start the day!!
I come up on the only tunnel of this ride, did not even need lights!!
 Looking back

And then, my only snake on this tour!! He was enjoying the warm sun in the middle of the road. I got a stick, (a long one!! I am not Teesie and getting all up close and personal with the snakes!!) and moved him to the side of the road so he would not get squashed.
The bottom part of the canyon is a bit more populated although still not as developed like the Big Thompson is. The Mishiwaka concert venue is still going and looks prosperous. A big stage with professional looking lights and set up. A bit different from when I was in college and you would come up here and sit in the dirt with cold beers and watch artists sit up on a small stage and play. Good for them for making it work!!

Just like that I pop out the end and out on to the Front Range.No more mountains!
I stop at Ted's Place which is the old C-store at the junction of US 287 and CO 14. I am not sure it is still called Ted's, but I sure enjoy a cold chocolate milk!!
When in Walden I made plans with Debbie and Evelyn that we would meet up in Loveland at Big Beaver Brewery because everybody wanted to have a brew and some dinner. It would mean I would forego my next day ride up the Big Thompson Canyon but that is OK with me. It will give me a day at home to sort through my stuff before getting back to work the next day.
I only ride a mile on 287 even though it has a great wide shoulder before catching the back road to LaPorte. I am back on familiar roads here and head for the wonderful bike trail that the city of Fort Collins has stretching from LaPorte down through town. My goal was a sandwich shop off Taft that is my new favorite, Cheba Hut.
It is a great bike trail!!
 The path takes me over the Poudre River for the final time of the trip. It was great to have the river as my companion these last two days
I make it to Cheba Hut too late for 2nd breakfast but enjoy an excellent sandwich. I reflect a bit on my ride and especially my bike. One of my goals of this trip was to asses the feasibility to have Ogre serve as a touring machine. It passed this test with flying colors. Since I have both bikes, a Long Haul Trucker and Ogre I compare each other. As far as the comfort of each they stack up well against each other. Ogre is a bit more upright with the Jones Bars, LHT has drops. A good variety of hand positions on both as I ride. Ogre is a bit clunkier with its bigger tires, LHT is a more fun ride when bombing down the mountain passes. They both climb well, you know it is all about the engine pushing the climb. The panniers ride a bit better on LHT, more balanced with the full front rack and four panniers. That said, my packing for this trip was just about perfect with only the rear panniers. I used everything that I took and did not want for anything that I might of forgot. I think for the future, if it will be a tour on pavement only, I will take LHT and if there will be dirt roads or some rail-to-trail I will take Ogre. It is good to have choices!!
I ride over to the Urgent Care center where Kyle works to say Hi and then knock out the last 8 miles down to Loveland. I was thinking this was going to be an easy day of riding but still manage to get 41 miles in.

Pretty good way to end up a tour!!
Thank You to everybody following along. It was a good short tour and I can recommend it to anybody that wants to include parts of this ride, especially coming down Poudre Canyon. I will be designing a future tour that includes this route so I can return.


Monday, August 17, 2015

Short Tour is better than no tour......Day 3

A little apprehension on how my body would bounce back from yesterday's tough ride. I slept like the dead and after a big breakfast of bacon, eggs, potatoes, and pancakes, down the road I go!!

Another beautiful morning riding through North Park. I am heading back east towards the mountains.

This is the western side of the Never Summer Range that I showed you from the top of Trail ridge a few days ago. Seems like a long ride away at this point.
I prepared for my ride this morning by making a couple of sandwiches and putting them in my frame pack to be convenient as I ride. I like to use those little round flat breads to make peanut butter sandwiches with because they don't squish and get all weird. I was not going to make the same mistake as yesterday. I felt good and strong this morning so bounce back was happening!!!
Colorado Highway 14 was today's (and tomorrow!) ride and it was a fine road. No bump-bump. It was a gradual uphill heading back to the mountains and eventually Cameron Pass at the top of Poudre Canyon. Very little traffic and I sure just enjoyed cruising along, setting my own pace, and enjoying the countryside.
In between CO 14 and CO 125 lies the Arapahoe Nature Preserve, a huge area of acres set aside for habitat. Deer, Moose. Antelope, Prairie Chickens to name a few.

Sneaking up on those mountains!
The first target stopping point is Gould. There is a restaurant and General store but I find it all closed up. That's OK, I eat up one of my sandwiches and finish up a gatorade that I started the day with.

One of the few places open in Gould, you can share your Tee-Pee with this nice horse!!

When my boys were Boy Scouts we had our winter Klondike campout near Gould here at the Community center. Those were some COLD nights out and this picture is for them!!
By the time you are in Gould you have left North Park behind and back in mountain terrain. The ride has been a steady but gentle incline, but now it is time to buck up and get the climbing legs going!

Here we go!!

I met a nice couple on their bike Friday's out for a day ride. They lived in Gould and worked in the hay business and were enjoying their first day off in a month. They said they liked riding up to the top of the pass for their fun rides.
This side of Cameron is scenic.

And then.....the top!!
When I took my break up here I took the time to sit and eat a lunch of peanut butter sandwich, apple, and trail mix. Just outside of Gould, the Colorado Division of Wildlife has a visitor center set up for moose viewing and I was able to refill my water bottles there so no chance of running out of drink today.
There is about two miles of flat on the top as you go by Joe Wright Reservoir.

Then the most beautiful sign that every tour cyclist dreams about!!!
 No way!! 15 miles!! What a joy!!
And then this....brand new asphalt!!!
Did I just enter cycling heaven???

The Poudre River and Poudre Canyon is a pretty special place. The river has National wild river status and the canyon has not been developed and ruined by the highway department or the Corps of Engineers. The Forest Service has done an outstanding job designating small camp areas and day use picnic areas all along the river. It is a beautiful place.

Came upon these guys climbing and stopped to watch for a bit

I think this fellow forgot to come back after going fishing!!

 I stopped at another little camp store and they had Chocolate milk!! mmmmmmm....what a treat. It started to rain for the usual afternoon shower so I geared up the rain gear. I tossed these rain pants in my bag at the last minute on Sunday and I am glad I did!! I usually don't mind if my legs and shorts get wet because it is usually warm. But this is the mountains and rain is cold. Sure enough, my bike computer tells me it is down to 56 deg and I am happy and dry with my rain pants!!!!
I end the day finding a great campsite right next to the Poudre river. Quiet and the sound of the river to serenade me to sleep.
I was so pleased about my ride today. There was the challenge of some miles to get back to the mountains and the climb up Cameron Pass but also the fun and excitement of the miles coming down Poudre canyon. This was a day that makes being a touring cyclist all great for me. A beautiful ride, my body responding to the challenge, that feeling of satisfaction that one can escape and get away from the ho-hum everyday life. I executed the task of keeping my body fueled and hydrated.
I slept well. At peace.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Short tour is better than no tour......Day Two

I find many examples in life that reality is often different than looks. It all looked liked a great campsite set up last night. Right across the road are vacation lakeside homes and my luck for this Sunday night was a gathering at one of them. It was not too rowdy until about 1 AM when a group of these young men convened a brainstorming session on all that was amiss in these good old United States. Quite loud and nobody really listening to anybody, just everybody voicing their opinions at the same time. While listening, (without choice!), I am always struck how this generation uses the F-bomb as a casual adjective every other word it seems, especially when alcohol is involved. Everything is effing this and effing that. I am not a prude when it comes to speech but as I have asked my kids to tone it just makes you sound ignorant. Finally after about 45 minutes one of the girlfriends or wife came out of the house and yelled at these knuckleheads to knock it off. I got back to sleep right away.

Up and at them in the morning. It was quite crisp, my bike computer told me 35 degrees. I whipped up some quick oatmeal, ate, got packed up and rolled on out.
Beautiful morning riding alongside Lake Granby.

People do, at least what I think, the oddest things with their property and old equipment
 I connected with US-40 coming out of Granby and right there found a place for 2nd breakfast!! A little bit of western kische on the outside but nice people and good food inside!!

A couple of miles down a super shoulder of 8 ft or so and I turn off onto Colorado 125 that will take me over Willow Creek Pass and on to Walden. If every road had this wide shoulder on US 40, bicycle touring would be so popular. So enjoyable to have the space for cyclist out of the way of cars and trucks! I do not know why, as we rebuild our highways we can not do this all the time.
Anyway, off I go up 125 and the climbing starts right away! I lost my great shoulder but there was very little traffic on this road during the day. Everybody was so polite that they went in the other lane to go around. Good riding on a good road.
This fellow has a nice little mill operation working here. He is milling up wood fence posts and railings. I am sure he has a market for his sawdust, either burns in high efficiency furnaces or particle boards. Four or five trucks passed me during the day with his product heading to market.

Why?? Just to show that it snows a bit up here on this side of the divide. After the plows cover up the bottom number, they can still see the marker for the side of the road.
Do you guys like the mile markers on the road while you ride your bike??? I have a mixed feeling. It is good to know where you are but it is also a constant reminder off how slow you are going. For me, it puts too much importance on the destination instead of the ride at hand. I find myself trying to ignore the mile markers and focus on the nice day I am having and the ride itself. Just another of those silly mind games you can find yourself in as you ride on a tour. Anyway, this mile marker marked the end of a pretty good initial climb and then the road turned into a nice mix of rollers along a river that trended more up than down, but enjoyable riding.

I have seen this geologic feature on many other journals on this route. This part of my ride is on the ACA Trans-Am route. It is striking and so I snap a picture. It is a monolith rock formation that has not eroded like the land around it leaving it protruding. I am sure there is a term and geologist explanation of why this occurred. It is beautiful
The road trended up now as I reached the top of Willow Creek Pass. Before I got to the top I met a nice fellow that had ridden from Chicago and was now going to follow the ACA route down through Colorado to Pueblo and then ride Amtrak home. He said he enjoyed his ride across to here except for southern Wyoming. Hot and windy!!

I lollygagged around a bit at the top of the pass but did not take the time to dig through my bags and make myself something to eat. Dumb! And, something I would regret later on.
The east side of this pass is so much different. After an initial two miles of fun downhill you roll out into what is known as North Park. North Park is known all across the west for its excellent hay production and quality. It was busy in the fields as they were cutting and bailing 2nd cutting. Tens of thousands of acres of North Park Hay getting put up to go to market. The road trended downhill but was basically flat with rollers.

The road leads you to Rand Colorado which has a general store but is only open Thursday-Sunday. I knew this but I had read in journals that he always had a water jug set out for cyclists going by. No jug this time so I would have to make my water stretch. I did eat a banana and some trail mix I had.
Here is a business opportunity if living in Rand, Colorado happens to be a dream of yours!!

This road made me think of Junior High Geometry class and parallel lines.....stretching to infinity, never converging!!

And then it caught up with me, being on the bike all day, not taking care of myself with eating and drinking enough, 90 degrees out, and the quality of the road had turned bad. There were those stress cracks running across the road every 6 feet or so.....bump-bump, bump-bump, bump-bump.
I knew I was at my end when I got a drink and fumbled my bottle going back into the holder and dropped it. I almost said screw it and rode on, but realized it was the last two inches of water I had left, so I went back a picked it up. Those last eight miles were tough into Walden.

Yes!!! I felt like a caboose coming into town!!
My original plan was to camp in the city park which they allow for all the cyclists on the Trans-Am. There is a public pool where you can get a shower. But, it was a bit after 6 PM when I got there and the pool was closed. I really needed a shower, so, I broke out for a motel room and that was a great feeling to find the shower and a bed.
Tomorrow I will do better for myself to fuel and hydrate the machine driving all of this!!!