Thursday, May 27

Summer Goals Creeping Upon Me

Mount Evans Road will be OPEN tomorrow.

I should blow off work in the morning, start early and give it a go...

By early I mean 4am.

Monday, May 24

Rolling Into June

We opted not to pursue the house in Idaho Springs. I'm only slightly bummed.

I am getting antsy to ride. I wanted a longer ride in this morning but didn't want to get up really early and I have my weekly staff meeting at 9:00 on Mondays so I didn't want to risk being late.

I'm planning at least one 40+ mile ride in the plains this week. Most likely I'll do the BCT to the SPT to the CCT with maybe a detour on the RCT. And if that goes well maybe I'll do a foothills jaunt up Lookout Mountain or something.

Mount Evans Road should open at the end of the month. After our Kentucky trip I want to make an attempt on Evans from home.

Friday, May 21

Genesee, Oh Genesee!

Left the apartment at 6:15. It had been light for close to an hour. Returned to my old commute along Jewell Ave. because it's more direct. Turned south at Rooney Road and eased up over the hogback feeling really good. Had good tunes in my MP3 player and true to form the early shift commuters were more respectful than others so I was low stress.

At 40 minutes I reached highway 40 and the bottom of Mount Vernon Canyon. Up I went.

All the way up the canyon I pondered our potential move to Idaho Springs. If we were to move up there I wouldn't be able to ride Genesee or Lookout Mountain or Bear Creek Canyon before work. BUT...I could ride Berthoud Pass, Guanella Pass, LOVELAND PASS...or even Mount Evans from my front door.

We could sit out on the stoop in July and watch the Triple Bypass riders pedal by. I could train for the Bob Cook hillclimb without taking so much time away from my family.

Those aren't good reasons to relocate. And I wouldn't base a decision on something as flimsy as that. But it would be an amazing place to live as a cyclist. There are forest service roads and old mining roads criss-crossing the landscape all around the town. Mountain biking would be fun again.

As I cruised the upper road through the Denver Mountain Park I had a stupid giddy grin on my face. There is just something satisfying about climbing some hill and being near the top, knowing the rest of the ride is going to be downhill...makes you silly.

And I got to see snow-capped peaks before work. You can't beat that!

Tuesday, May 18

Ship Rock Diversion

I delayed leaving the apartment this morning. It wasn't that I didn't want to ride, I just didn't want to ride to work. Now that the weather is warmer I am dreaming of riding Mount Evans (century) again.

It was cool, but I had dressed in shorts and a t-shirt with a fleece vest. It was cold dropping down Kipling to the BCT, but I warmed up as I climbed the dam. Felt stronger heading up the dam road. Guess hauling Boone up it this past weekend did help.

As I dropped down the west side of the dam I decided I didn't want to go straight to work. The most obvious change in route would be to ride up through Red Rocks. And I decided I'd ride the road in the back that climbs up below Ship Rock. I mistakenly remembered it as Titan Road, but turns out it is actually called Ship Rock Road. Titans Road intersects it partway up the steeeeeep hill.

Ship Rock Road might be the steepest road I've biked in Colorado. And then again it might not. Its not as steep as say Furnace Road south of Stanton, in Kentucky, but its nice and grueling.

Even with my self-punishing detour I made it to work in an hour and fourteen minutes. Not too bad considering my normal time for the new commute is right at an hour.

As I rolled past Mount Vernon Canyon I decided my next long commute would be to the summit of Genesee.

Monday, May 17

Half a Day of Hooky

I tried to take a mental health day today. But then another one of my co-workers, the one who is gone at the end of this week, did the same.

But I got in an hour of prairie biking this morning.

Dropped Lily off at mother's day out and headed for Centennial Cone. At the mouth of Golden Gate Canyon there was a digi-board stating "Blasting: expect delays." Blast!

Headed back to Golden and found a trailhead along the south side of South Table and at quarter to ten was headed up for the mesa top.

I biked north across the vast emptiness of the plateau. Occasionally views of Golden and Denver opened up, but for the most part it felt like the middle of Kansas.

I rode all the way to the high point near Castle Rock and then headed back. I got back to the car a few minutes shy of an hour. It was a good ride, mostly dry and I had the trails to myself. It was nice to get away from everything right in the middle of it all.

An interesting steep drop I found. Did a couple laps.

Looking east toward Denver

Saturday, May 15

Foxy Mr. Fantastic

We saw a fox on the edge of Fox Hollow golf course during our ride this afternoon. We rode down Kipling to the Bear Creek Trail (BCT) then upstream over the Bear Creek Lake Dam, then along the upstream side of the base of the dam, around the northern slopes of Mount Carbon (is that thing man-made or what?) and down the other side, back through the golf course.

Just as we were re-entering the BCT a red fox cross the trail and stopped to check us out. We got within 15-20 feet of it and got a really good look. We had seen a fox earlier while out looking for houses in Arvada.

We rode 11.5 miles and climbed 518 feet. Seemed like a lot more...

Bear Creek Lake from the top of Mount Carbon

Bear Creek Lake Dam from Mount Carbon

Tuesday, May 11

The Great Escape

I found a better route to work. It's slightly longer, but doesn't take a lot longer and its much more enjoyable.

It's just shy of 13 miles where my normal commute is about 7.5. It took me just over an hour (1hr 2 min) where my normal commute take 35-45 minutes.

It was very nice to ride through Bear Creek Lake Park, roads to myself, quiet, good cars...NO CARS! The best part is that I am off the roads completely except for a few crossings (at traffic lights) until I get to the end of the C470 bike path at Rooney Road. At that point traffic is no longer a problem anyway.

It might even be good for the commute home. I'll have to try it out when I have plenty of time. Shouldn't take too long to get home that way.

Thursday, May 6

Arg! Cars!!!

I am in hate with all things traveling on four wheels today. And the reality is that this forthcoming rant isn't really going to be about bikes. Being on a bike today has given me this perspective, but its human behavior I want to expound upon, not car vs. bike.

People make bad choices. And when we don't understand the choices others make that are different from the choices we would make we assume they are making bad choices. Often we feel it is our duty to educate or punish those who we perceive as having made bad decisions.

I make a decision to ride my bike to work. I can give you a hundred reasons why it’s a good decision and I can give you a good number of reasons its not such a good decision. But the good reasons to move forward are based on both personal and community oriented values. I want the positive health benefits. I want to save myself money and I feel as if I'm contributing to my fellow commuters by reducing congestion and traffic and my fellow co-workers by freeing up premium parking. I could go on about saving the planet and reducing my carbon footprint, but the reality is that those are small, small reasons in my mind. And if they were the only reasons it wouldn't be enough for me to forgo to car.

Other people make the decision, though they would tell you it’s a necessity, to drive to work or wherever on a given morning. They see a cyclist in front of them on the road, or a slow moving car, or a pedestrian or some obstacle to their forward progress toward their initial goal for the day. Do they release pressure on the gas pedal, signal to move left, give the other person enough personal space to feel safe? Nope.

Jewell Avenue is four lanes. The speed limit is 40 mph. The traffic is relatively light. In fact, clusters of 4-6 cars will zoom down the road together from light to light and otherwise the road is nearly silent. It is ebb and flow, splashes of traffic interspersed with calm.

The 6:30 commuter crowd seems to be much more mellow and considerate to slower movers. The 7:30 crowd is out for blood.

A lone car screams west at 50 mph in the right lane. There are no other cars nearby. There is a cyclist in the right lane ahead. Slow down? Get over? Nope. Less than three feet of space exists between the vehicles that are traveling at drastically different speeds.

For the motorist the occurrence barely registers. Maybe a blip in the blood pressure, most likely not. The cyclist's heart pounds…in anger, in fear. The motorist drives on to work and most likely forgets (if they were ever aware) about the situation. The cyclist has almost gotten his heart rate back to normal when the same thing happens a second time, a third. Then as he approaches construction and attempts to merge from the ample shoulder where he has considerately been riding into the lane of traffic by giving a hand signal, he is once again buzzed and has had enough. But what can he do? Nothing. There is no recourse. The only way out is to give up.

Those drivers were not considerate of a fellow commuter, a fellow traveler upon the road and they were reckless in their disregard for another human being. And I know from what I've seen, experienced and read about the "road rage" phenomenon that these types of incidents occur between motorists as well. To move over, to slow down and take care when passing, to refrain from cutting off another driver or a cyclist…these things are easy to grant. They cost us so little: a few seconds, a little consideration. It's really not so much. I try to ride far to the right and I always use a shoulder when its wide enough to ride on safely in consideration of the motorists. I ride consistently, keeping a steady, straight path in the roadway, signaling (even more than I do when I drive) and not making erratic moves.

I get angry with cyclists who are erratic and those who place themselves in faster moving traffic when they have better options. If there is a six foot paved shoulder there is no reason to ride in the lane of traffic. But I've seen many do it. Today I was forced to take the right lane. Cars kept cutting it too close. They had room in the empty left lane to pass safely (every single car that buzzed me this morning), but they were making the poor choice to squeeze past without giving me any space. I finally got over in the middle of the right lane and rode there for the last quarter mile until it ran out at Alameda.

I'm not perfect when I'm behind the wheel. I'll admit that. I'm actually much more considerate on my bike. So again, I guess that's part of my public service. But its hard not to react to being bullied by people in large hulking masses of steel and plastic. There's really no need for it. And its all fun and games until someone gets run over.

As far as riding to work goes…I'm going to have to modify my time. Its just too crazy at 7:30-8:00 to be riding amongst the maniacs in Lakewood. The problem is that if I leave earlier I will be at work ridiculously early. I guess I could workout or read or something, but it will make for a long day. And going later won't necessarily alleviate the problem. Traffic only gets worse as 9:00 approaches and people are rushing to get to work on time. If I don't go early its just going to be crazy.

I'd love to find another route. Maybe that's what I'll try first. But I already know that any alternate route is going to be longer and more hilly than the one I ride now. That's not a bad thing for gettig in shape, but its not easy when time or the weather is working against you. We'll see. I'm going to win this one no matter what. I'm not going to give up.


On a happier note...I did ride over Dinosaur Ridge and up Heritage Rd instead of my usual trip. It was nice to break the loop and I plan on doing this more. I added a bit of climbing and 2 miles to my ride and it only took ten minutes longer. I wanted to ride on up Genesee, but I had started too late.

I think I also want to do some MTB detours. I've got Green Mountain, Dinosaur Ridge and Red Rocks/Matthews-Winters Open Space between home and work. As I rode up Heritage Road I kept thinking how I should have ridden the Cannonball and I could have traversed the hogback. Soon...

Tuesday, May 4

Ride the Wind

It's a new month and a new counter shift at work for me. So instead of having to be in at 7:30 now I have to be there by 9:00. What this means is that I will have opportunities to do long rides before work.

I've already planned some modified commute routes. Red Rocks, Genesee Mountain, Lookout Mountain...just to name a few.

I was going to ride this morning, with a plan just to deviate over the hogback and then up the other side, but a scheduling snafu at work combined with weather reports of obnoxiously strong wind gusts convinced me to drive.

The wind was fierce! Driving across the south slopes of Green Mountain I had dirt and gravel picked up and hurled in my face. Good thing there was a windshield between me and the deluge. Riding would have been unwise today. Of course, the repressed masochist in me would have loved it. And my blog post would have been much more interesting I believe. Though after having been blinded by road detritus I may have had to have dictated it.

I will be riding soon though. Hopefully tomorrow.

Saturday, May 1

Biking the Mountains

Boone and I were out at Dinosaur Ridge today for Boy Scout Day. There were lots of cyclists both road and mountain riding Alameda over the hogback and up to the hogback trail.

Got a few photos, and now want to do some riding. I've gotten to urge to ride some easy trails. I stripped my pannier rack off my Cannonball and did some routine maintenance on both my bikes.

So here's too it...

Alameda up Dinosaur Ridge