Sunday, July 09, 2006

Last Ride

We had The day off today, and it was my last opportunity to go for a ride here in the mountains of Colorado. We stayed in Dillon after the Tour de Fat. I was originaly hoping to ride to the top of Mt Evans from Idaho Springs. It's the highest peak in North America accessible by paved road. (14264 ft) However, the weather forecast predicted isolated thundershowers throughout the day, and a 50% chance of rain after 9:00 am, so I had to scrap that plan. Instead, I scoped out a way to ride from Dillon to Denver taking the 9 south through Breckenridge and over a high pass, then heading northeast on hwy 285 all the way to town. I packed my rain gear and set out at about 6:20. Things went well in the morning, very little rain. I panted my way up and over the pass, which was spectacular, then coasted down the other side for a few miles into a large plain around 10500 ft. Then came lots of rolling hills and valleys (quite steep). Eventually, after a few more substantial hill climbs, I emerged from the mountains and dropped another 3000 feet, The rain really started coming down around noon as I was working my way up and out of the large high plain. By the time I was out of the mountains, I'd been riding in the rain for about 3 hours and had traveled over 100 miles. The group had to leave the Denver area for Boulder during a break in the weather, so I had missed my ride by about 10 minutes. I decided to see if I could make it all the way to Boulder on my own. It took me 10 hours and 30 minutes, but I did it. 145 miles in all. Definitely the most epic bike ride I've ever done, and a great way to end my trip.

I was excited to go riding into these mountains .

A few blocks from our hotel in Dillon, I jumped on this bike path on top of a dam.

Four miles to Frisco. This is one of the nicest bike paths I've ridden on.

Hard to say when it's going to start showering.

Entering the resort town of Breckenridge. I followed a bike trail all the way from Frisco to get here... awesome.

Leaving Breckenridge after pausing at the Starbucks (the only place open this early on Sunday) for a muffin and some juice.

Lots of seasonal cabins up in these valleys. I'm starting to really gain altitude now, and my lungs can feel it. Hard to get enough oxygen to keep the legs from burning.

Four miles to go to the top. Still no rain.

I'm expecting to get wet any minute now.

Made it. Now the rain covers come out, as I'm starting to catch some sprinkles. Time to add some layers for the downhill to come (temps in the mid 40s this morning).

Preparing to drop down from the pass into this long valley.

Some glimpses of blue sky through the cloud layer.

Some long straight aways through the valley.

A tiny town at the mouth of the valley.

Cool old buildings.

Now the descent into this huge flat plain.

The final stretch leading to the climb up and out of the plain.

Working my way up the hill.

Looking back, I can see the rainfall approaching quickly.

After getting really dowsed for a while, I paused to find some dry space just to get out of the rain for a few minutes. When standing still, it feels like a moderate rainfall, but once you're moving at 20 mph, the drops sting your face, and it feels like a real downpour. The highway is picking up more and more traffic as well.

The remainder of the ride, I didn't take many pictures, as I was getting really soaked, and had to keep riding hard to stay warm. Lots of steep and realtively short hills rolling me through valley after valley. My glasses kept fogging up pretty badly whenever I was climbing and out of the cold breeze. Navigating through Denver was a little tricky, as was finding my way onto the 36, which runs up to Boulder. Each new hill was a test for my legs, which had never gone this far in one day before.

Finally, getting close to Boulder. The rain has let up.

The bike and I were filthy after the ride. Wet dirty feet.


Anonymous -Jamie said...

Wow! that's a helluva ride! I'm glad you made it down 36 without getting killed . It's a really dangerous road for bikers. I saw you guys in Denver on Fri. night. It was a great show. Thanks!

11:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for all the posts. Really enjoyed your PoV and all the photos and videos. Sorry that you won't be coming to Michigan.

1:19 AM  
Anonymous patrick said...

way to go out with a bang, Ian! An epic ride, indeed.

Thanks so much for all your posts and photos. I grew up in Colorado and used to travel these roads (in a car) as a child for all our summer camping trips and winter ski trips. Now that I am bike-powered I wish I'd spent more time exploring my home state on a bicycle...although much of the infrastructure you enjoyed wasn't in place when I was young. Next time I go to Colo for a visit, I am going to have to make a trip into the Rockies on that nice-looking bike path that goes from Dillon to Breckenridge!

We used to call Alma "Dog town" because every time we passed through it, we would see no humans, only dogs.

anyway, thanks again for your great posts, and have a safe trip home.


10:47 AM  
Anonymous patrick said...

ps, tell the girls i laughed out loud when i read that they went to Casa Bonita. Yikes. Home of many a birthday party of yore. Skipping the food was a wise choice.

10:51 AM  
Blogger lesiz said...

I'm a hometown fan of the Bops and really enjoyed your postings. I will miss following your experiences on the trip.
BTW, I also like your performance with the big fiddle. I like the occasional little riff's you get to do.

5:07 AM  
Blogger Ian said...

Thanks peeps for the feedback, what a blast it has been to do so much riding. Chances are I will keep this blog active as I'll be doing lots more riding here in Southern Cal. My mom lives in the exact area where the Postal Service trains, so I'll be researching and exploring some of the roads in the Santa Ynez valley. BTW, patrick, if you do get around to riding through the fairplay-alma-bailey corridor on the 285, be warned there isn't much of a shoulder for most of it, which is ok until the traffic gets thick. I think it was the hairiest part of my ride the other day. The 36 to Boulder has a nice wide shoulder, and if you're used to dealing with freeway on/off ramps it's not so bad.

3:59 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home