Two Wheels - Six Strings

Random news and thoughts about various two-wheeled projects and music, especially my band, Skull Full Of Blues.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Saturday's Ride

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On Thursday, Rich called and asked if I wanted to go along on a mountain bike ride, in the high country. After about a second's worth of internal debate (I had a lot to do, this past weekend), I said , "Hell yes!"

It was a beautiful day, and I conveniently forgot my camera, so I have no pictures. However, Rich sent me the elevation profile from his GPS. If a picture is worth a thousand words, I think that graph is worth at least a couple of pictures.

We were riding in a group of 8 (of whom I knew Rich, and Rich knew me and one other guy). Luckily, it was a pretty mellow group and we all rode well together.

The ride started at the Keystone ski area parking lot, and we rode up the highway toward the top of Loveland Pass. Eventually, we turned off the pavement just past A-Basin, and hit the access road which led to the top lift at the ski area. That was the high point, elevation-wise, of the ride, at about 12,500 feet above sea level.

We started at a little below 9,500 feet, so we gained 3,200 feet (or so) in 8 miles. That's a pretty good climb, anywhere, but it's a little more intense when you pass the tree line.

We continued past the lift on a singletrack trail that, for the first mile or so, was a rocky, technical trail traversing the side of the Montezuma Bowl. If you fell to the right, you could conceivably roll and tumble about 300 feet before you hit a rock big enough to stop you. It was a hoot!

We stopped and regrouped, at one point, just before getting back down to treeline and entering the woods. Ed, the ride leader (and the guy Rich knew), got on his bike, pulled the front brake lever and snapped the cable on his Avid mechanical disc. Nobody had an extra cable, and Ed didn't want to take the time to switch his front derailleur cable out to the brake (rain was moving toward us), so he continued on with only a rear brake.

The trail through the woods, descending toward Montezuma, was no less rocky and technical than it was going across the bowl above treeline. At one point, I was following one of the younger riders, about 20 yards behind him, looking at the back of his helmet. Suddenly, I was looking at the soles of his shoes as his bike went cartwheeling off to one side. Total Superman action!

As he later said, it was lucky that he landed on a flat rock! Otherwise, that could have had nasty consequences.

As it was, he had managed to snap his rear brake lever off at the pivot. So now, we had one rider with a front-brake-only bike, and one with a rear-brake-only bike. We continued on, with me following him (I can't leave the wounded behind), to meet up with the others at the dirt road which marked the end of the singletrack portion of the ride.

I took a bit of a lie-down, at one point, myself as I slid my front tire off the side of the trail. Luckily, I didn't destroy either of my brakes, and was able to continue on.

We all regrouped at the road, and started down the pot-holed dirt surface, with a couple of stream crossings thrown in, at a screaming pace. I don't have a speedometer on the 650b Stumpy, so I don't know how fast we were going. I just fell in behind the two guys in front and let it rip, sticking to their wheels. I do think that they were surprised when we reached the intersection with the paved road, and I was there with them, since I was on a fully-rigid bike and they were riding suspension.

After the rest of our group caught up, we hauled down the paved road. For some reason, that last couple of miles back to the car turned into a time trial, with all of us in our respective high gears, maxed out on the effort.

Back at the cars, we changed clothes, wandered around the wine festival which was going on at Keystone (btw, don't walk into the wine fest with an open beer, they frown on it), then headed over the pass back to I-70 then toward Denver. It was raining, by then, and after 3:00 pm, yet there were still Triple Bypass riders straggling up Loveland Pass. Those people had a long way to go to get over Vail Pass and finish up the ride!

Dinner at the Yard House, joined by Rich's wife and little boy, along with Rich's mom and dad, was excellent. I had a half-pound pepper-jack burger and fries. I managed to not actually lick the plate, but it was tempting.

Today, I'm still feeling the effort of that climb. I need to do that more often. I don't think I've ridden above 10,000 feet three times in the past year. My moratorium on unnecessary driving has severely limited me in that area.



At 8:58 AM , Blogger Apertome said...

Man, that's a long climb (and then, descent)! Sounds like the ride had it all: climbs, descents, technical stuff, views... and the requisite mechanical problems, as well.


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