Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Colorado Rocky Mountain Bike Tour ( CRMBT )

"Something hidden.  Go and find it.  Go and look behind the Ranges -- Something lost behind the Ranges.  Lost and waiting for you.  Go !"

CRMBT is a week long ride in Colorado, billed as "smaller" and "harder" than some of the other rides there.  I don't know if all of that is true, but it was a great ride, and I had a great time.   I heard about the ride through Larissa from BR2012 and she heard about it from one of her cycle club students ( Louis ).  She mentioned it to the BR group, and Gene from BR2012 signed on as bike mechanic and support with Blue Thunder.  Then I signed on, and Todd from BR2012 signed on, and we were off and running.  

I started thinking seriously about all of the climbing that I would have to do, and signed up with Jennifer Lynn at Desert Endurance to give me a training plan that included a nice mix of hard workouts and rest days.  It worked well, as I ended up doing about 492 miles and 36000 feet of climbing during the week.

So, after a month of training, with some 700 miles of riding, I,  Todd and Gene were in Loveland, CO eating pizza and ready to roll out on a cross Colorado adventure the next morning.

We stayed at schools every night.  I chose the indoor camping option and Todd went with his tent.  CRMBT had an arrangement with a chef who went along with the ride supported by his wife and son. They prepared some delicious meals for us all week, so we were well fed !

CRMBT 2013 Route

Day 1  Loveland to Estes Park

Up at 5:30 am or so, when the lights in the gym turn on.  Breakfast followed by a safety briefing by Peter Duffy, the ride organizer, and off we go.  Gene in Blue Thunder and Todd and I and about 200 other riders on our bikes.  We pack our gear and put it on a truck that carts it to the next site for us.  Then we leave whenever we want, being forewarned that the weather can tank close to noon, so it's a great idea to get'er done and get in early.  Some folks who camped outside got wet when the sprinklers came on overnight ( that also happened to us on the Big Ride ! )

We left Loveland headed north, then made a turn to the mountains and rode past Horsetooth Reservoir, and then alongside the Big Thompson River and through a canyon.  Towards the end we had a section of about 12% grade that tested everyone, and then topped out with a beautiful overlook of the mountains around Estes Park.   A fast downhill into Estes Park, with lunch outside an older school area and a very cold shower.  That afternoon Todd and I rode into town for a milk shake and came back by going over a little mountain ( probably not the best idea ! ).

Todd getting up the climb !
Lots of reservoirs

Big Thompson Canyon

Overlook above Estes Park

Day 2 Estes Park to Golden

Todd and I rolled out early and we headed to Golden.  The ride went pretty quickly, we were about the third or fourth people into the first SAG stop, and did pretty good.   Around Nederland, a faster rider passed us and I speeded up and was following him.   I went past one of the volunteers waving an orange flag.  The guy ahead says something like "what was that about" and I say "I think he's telling us to slow down for the curve ahead"....  About 3 miles later consisting of an uphill and a downhill, I figure out that no one is following us.  The faster guy goes way on ahead and I turn around and head back and find the road that the flag guy was actually telling us to take.  About 6 Bonus Miles added to what was going to be a 70 mile day.  I got into Golden after paying better attention to the cue sheets, and we settled into another gym.

Lots of tents.  The Sherpa Outfitters setup the tents that look like a National Guard outpost.

Day 3 Golden to Fraser

This was promised to be the hard day.  We would do Lookout Mountain ( above Golden ), then Squaw Pass, and then Berthoud Pass.  Mt Evans was completely optional.  The day was going to be some 83 miles and 9000 feet of climbing without Evans, and ridiculous with it.  Todd, Mike from Cedar Rapids, and I rolled out before sunrise and got up Lookout Mountain pretty quickly.
Climbing Lookout Mountain above Golden 
 We spotted a doe and two fawns at Buffalo Bill's gravesite park which is up on Lookout Mountain.  After that we had a short ride on I-70 and got to the Evergreen Parkway, then started up Squaw Pass.

Deer near Buffalo Bill's Grave
 We had great SAG support from a bunch of volunteers.
Volunteers setting up the SAG stop.
 I think Squaw Pass is about 10,900 or so.  Some wonderful views of the mountains, my iPhone just didn't do it justice.
View from Squaw Pass ( the 2nd climb )
 After descending Squaw Pass, we get to Echo Lake.  The official ride did not go up Evans, but I started it.  Some local folks ask "where are you from ?" and when I replied "Tucson", they warned about altitude sickness and getting dizzy and such.   I felt pretty confident having trained and done Pikes Peak a couple of years ago, and the sky looked clear enough to get up and down without getting drowned, so up I went.   The climb was not too hard in terms of grade, but the lack of oxygen does make a difference.  I think I got up in 2 hrs 40 minutes including stopping to take a few pictures, and resting a couple of time.
Goliath Trailhead on Mt Evans ( above treeline )

Beautiful ( no rain clouds yet ! )

A nice dropoff to this lake

A little bit of snow and the road going back down the mountain

 The rainclouds are getting darker now.   On the way down I saw Louis and Charlie heading up.  They would turn out to make the summit and get soaked and chilled pretty strongly on the way down.

You can see forever
 So, having made it up Evans, I descended into Idaho Springs, and then on to Empire.  I was starving and got a grilled ham & cheese, a chocolate shake and iced tea at a Dairy King.  It was just about the most delicious thing I have even eaten.   I would not have made it up Berthoud Pass without it, as I had a lot of wind in my face all the way along US40 getting to the pass.
Looking down at Highway 40 on Berthoud Pass
Well, I made it up the pass to the top.  It took a while, and was about 6 pm, so after 100+ miles and 13400 feet of climbing, close to 12 hours,  and with darkness coming and having forgotten my long gloves, I chose a SAG ride down the mountain to Fraser.  I felt really guilty about not doing Every Last Mile, but I did do Evans.   I think about 8 or 9 of us did Evans, and I later heard that only one guy did the whole set of Lookout, Squaw Pass, Berthoud and Evans, and he was a lot younger than me !

Day 4 Fraser to Steamboat Springs

Well, Day 3 took a lot of wind out of me, and I was looking forward to having the next day off.  When we left Fraser, it was really cold, and I was glad to have brought my Woolistic baselayer and face cover, long gloves, knee warmers and the Showers Pass jacket.  It's August after all !
Out of the mountains
 We rolled out of the mountains into more of a high plains area and we went alongside the Colorado River for a while.
Colorado River watershed
We climbed through the Muddy Ears pass, and then Rabbit Ears pass before a long and very high speed descent into Steamboat Springs.  The next day was an off day, and everyone was glad for it.

Day 5 Off

Steamboat Springs is a pretty little town, lots of tourist related things.   I used the time to rest and eat.   Stuffed myself at breakfast, and then we hit a steakhouse with a group of guys and did the "cook your own steak" deal.  I had a buffalo steak and it was delicious.    The lights were on all night in the big hall that they assigned us to, and someone found that they had left a door open to the library, so some of us were in the kids library when the school staff came in and shooed us out the next morning.  ( But they did figure out how to turn the lights off  for the  second night ! )

Flowers at Steamboat Middle School
Hanging above my sleeping bag

Chef Gene

Great bunch of guys, at Steamboat Steakhouse
Day 6 Steamboat to Walden

We rolled out of Steamboat with a long climb up the west side of Rabbit Ears.   It wasn't that bad at all, about 7 to 8 %.   Training here in Tucson by riding up Mt Lemmon is a good thing !

Todd at Rabbit Ears SAG stop
 There are lots of Continental Divide places and this wa
Continental Divide

On the climb up Rabbit Ears
We got into Walden early enough that a group of us went to the Antler Inn and had lunch.  I ordered the large chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes, and then went back to an ice cream place after supper and got myself another chocolate shake.   ( See the repeated references to food ! )

Day 7 Walden to Loveland

Our last day in the mountains was going to be a 107 mile ride back to Loveland.  Another early morning start.  I got up and went outside for breakfast and quickly decided that I did not have enough clothes on, and headed back in to layer up further.  We had a beautiful climb up Cameron Pass and topped out again at about 10276 feet.  Then we had an awesome intense descent.   After the third SAG stop, I got passed by a string of about 7 riders, and I tagged onto the back and became the 8th in a really fast paceline.  We picked up a couple more and continued to the 4th SAG stop.    The ride back into Loveland was pretty hard with some wind coming but it all got done and it was good to finish.   

At about 10,000 feet

Cameron Pass

Rushing water, just beautiful

Gene loading up Blue Thunder while Todd looks on

Post Ride

Gene and Todd and I headed off for pizza, and then they headed north back to Washington, and I headed west on I-70.   I was pretty impressed by the engineering on I-70.  The road goes straight up and straight down and the Eisenhower tunnel is at something like 11,000 feet !    I spent a night in Dillon, CO and then drove to Moab, UT to take a look at Arches National Park.

Eisenhower Tunnel, heading west on I-70
 I got up at 5 am and took a really nice bike path out of Moab up to the park and was there for sunrise.  It was pretty amazing.  The sun went behind a bank of clouds after about 20 minutes or so, but those 20 minutes were pretty special.
Arches National Park at sunrise

My shadow riding along...

Another shadow

Hello New Day 

Next up, I will be helping coach our Team-in-Training El Tour Team, going to the GABA Silver City ride, and the big kahuna will be training to complete a double century bike ride in Death Valley in October.

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