Cycling is definitely not my primary hobby, but I do enjoy a good long road ride. Part 2 of my big goals for Summer 2014 was to do a big road ride in the mountains, something I’ve never done before. The plan was to ride the Copper Triangle with friends on the first weekend in September. However, my August mileage was simply not that great (what with all the running) and I didn’t feel prepared for a committing, 80 mile ride at high altitude with several thousand meters of climbing. Instead, I opted for something a little more mellow.
Anyway, long story short: Seth, Kevin, and I met up in Boulder on a beautiful morning and took the bus up to Nederland with our bikes. Speaking for myself, I felt about 30% guilty for not manning up and riding the 18 miles and 2500′ of vertical up Boulder Canyon, but if I’d been in shape for that, I’d have been out riding around Leadville instead. No matter, we had lots of company in the form of at least half a dozen mountain bikers who were similarly cheating to get lots of sweet downhill back to the valley.
From Ned, we saddled up and headed north on the Peak to Peak. I’ve been up here many many times, but somehow I never noticed the long, significant hill you encounter on the way to Ward. As we puffed along, the weather became steadily worse. After a rather bracing descent down to Ward, it cleared up again and we were treated to a lovely descent north of Ward all the way to Camp Dick. I lead the way on this mile or two of paved out-and-back to a trailhead I frequent, enjoyed by all.
Now the descending part. This was the psychological crux. I’m a huge chicken when it comes to descending and, once I hit about 30 mph, I start to get profoundly uneasy about the structural integrity of my brakes, my fork, and lots of other things. Seth, on the other hand, will bomb down hills pushing 50 mph with no trouble at all. We made a fast cruise down a few more miles of the Peak to Peak, then turned and took a few miles of lovely descent through Raymond and Riverside. Then onto CO-7 through South St. Vrain canyon down to Lyons for about ten miles. Somehow this wasn’t so bad! Eventually bombing along down the highway at 30 mph didn’t seem so bad. Very focusing. Good for the nerves.
After lunch in Lyons, we headed south on US 36 toward Boulder and into the teeth of the only genuinely bad weather weather we’d see all day: a mile or two of hard rain edged with blinding hail here and there. No fun, but the three of us maintained a keep moving to keep warm. Seth stopped at his house while Keven continued south and I turned east for a long slog back through more familiar terrain to home.
The last few miles were a bit stoic, but I felt pretty good considering. Total mileage was 78 miles, which, even if it was largely down hill, is the longest ride I’ve done in at least 15 years.