Friday, August 7, 2009

Marathon Ride

I've been catching up on things that I put off due to camping and the all day ride, so the blog posts are tardy. I'll start with the most recent, and get back to making a camping post or two later. I'll add pictures to this post later too...

After several days of camping and getting little sleep due to a certain yellow lab that snored and insisted on sleeping next to my ear, I was recalcitrant to the concept of getting up early for an all day ride - especially since the last 4 days have included a lot of rain. Check-in started at 6 something and closed at 8:15. So I aimed for 8:00. I got there, checked in, and looked around for Darren. No Darren. I called his cell phone, which is blue toothed to his Garmin Nuvi, which is blue toothed to his helmet. No answer. 8:15 came and went. I tried his home phone. An answer. Not good. He lives 30 minutes away and he's already late. Turns out that's not the worst of it. He's not feeling well. Not a good idea to do a full day ride when you are sick. I'm on my own.

I got the map of the route, and am somewhat dubious of my ability to do the whole thing by myself with a late start. It goes from Lakewood to Fairplay to Breckenridge to Loveland pass to Leadville to Vail to Dillon to Kremling to Rand to Walden, then down Poudre Canyon to Fort Collins. I take a deep breath, gas up, and head out, unclear on how far I plan to ride. It was almost 9:00, and I had an estimated 10 to 11 hours of riding to do.

The first leg was easy. I didn't have to look at the map for the first 79 miles to Fairplay. Been there before. From there, the route went up 9 to Brek. Have not been on that one before. It was nice. Smooth and twisty. I'll add it to my list of good biking roads. (Blogspot sucks. The map should auto link to a bigger map, but didn't. I put in a manual link for it, but that is broken. So I have to add a link here.)

Rather than continue a play by play about which roads I took, where I gassed up, and where I peed, I'll finish up with some with some observations I made. It's not that I'm afraid I'd put the seasoned reader to sleep, because, well, you made it this far and you are still here, aren't ya? It's that I'd bore myself to death before I could hit the POST button.

Duh: It's cold on a bike traversing 11,000 foot passes in the morning - even in August. I'd pull in to a gas station all bundled up and still fighting some shivers, and see all the people wandering around in tee shirts and shorts. I looked at them like they were crazy. Or was it them looking at me that way?

Pine beetles. We've had big issues with them in Colorado for the past several years. My tour of the central part of the Colorado Rockies allowed me to see where it was the worst. Easily, the hands down winner for most dead trees goes to the Brek area. Some mountain slopes had close to 100% dead brown trees. The worst spread north to Granby / Grand Lake to give them 2nd place with over 90% brown slopes. The good part of the trip was that the rest of the areas seldom passed 50% brown, and often was only about 10%. So, there is still a lot of beauty in the Colorado Rockies. The mountains. Not the baseball team. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Gas mileage. Not sure what the mpg was for the entire trip (one station didn't print a receipt for me), but on the leg from Lakewood - Fairplay - Brek - Loveland pass - Leadville, I got about a nice 48 mpg. Better than I was expecting.

Total distance. Round trip from when I gassed up was 544 miles, and I got home at about 7:00. Mr. Iron Butt did ok. Stopping for gas every hour or so for the first half, then every 45 minutes for the remainder was enough to keep the ferrous buns quiet. That said, I was glad to be home.

Weather or not. The weather for the ride was awesome. Mostly sunny skies and no rain for the entire time. I'm glad I tackled and completed the whole trip. The ever changing scenery from green trees, to brown trees, to the shimmering purple/pink/rust of mature grasses waving in the wind, to whites/yellows/blues of wild flowers, to majestic outcroppings of rocks, to rivers running by the roads, always kept the awe meter in positive territory. Already looking forward to next year...

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