I had presumed Indiana north of 86th would be a nice rural ride. From where I live it's the obvious northern route to Boulder.
So I struck out this afternoon on Mandy's Giant. I went fast and light, no tools, no extra tubes, no food, no FreeLoaders or FreeRadical, no Bean...light.
I cranked north pretty fast, skirting Standley Lake on the south side via 86th and then turning north onto Indiana. The road draped over the landscape in a straight line like a ribbon as far as I could see.
My hopes for a quiet ride were dashed when the first cluster of fast moving Priuses and SUVs blasted past, hardly giving me the required three feet and refusing to slow down.
As I pedaled on the misty ambiance over Rocky Flats to my left set the mood. I had to deal with the melancholy or give up. The foothills were socked in with thick gray clouds. Only their dark bases showed, portraying them as more massive than they actually are, giving the impression of huge mountains thrusting high into the cloud cover. But I was digging the prairie landscape. I've been itching to ply the prairie like an ignorant settler. I got my fix today for sure. And no injuns.
After a few rolling climbs I finally reached 120th. A quick jog to the west dumped me onto McCaslin and the bottom dropped out of the world as I rolled onto the revered Morgul-Bismarck route. For the remainder of my ride out I would be traversing hallowed cycling ground.
As soon as I turned on McCaslin I was on a runaway train screaming down toward the town of Superior. The road was far superior to Indiana with wide marked bike lanes into town, through and out the other side along highway 36.
Leaving Superior there is a nice descent through a prairie valley framing an impressive vista of the jagged mouth of Eldorado Canyon to the west. The clouds had finally started to creep up the slopes of the foothills exposing diaphanous shrouds of snow. I debated the wisdom of doing another descent knowing I was going to have to climb McCaslin back up to 120th. But the road ahead was so inviting I couldn't stop.
The mouth of Eldorado Canyon (Oct '09)
And then I had reached highway 93. I decided instead of continuing on to Boulder I would retreat and come back another day to lay siege to the hippie capital of Colorado. I had been riding for an hour and fifteen minutes and had covered 19 miles. I felt good about my speed, but I was dreading the climbs between me and the warmth of home. And I felt the rolling hills of Indiana deep in my quads.
Surprisingly the climb back up Marshall Road to Superior was mild, but I still had the gruel of McCaslin and the stress-related weight gain of Indiana to put down.
McCaslin was defeated with a granny gear and sheer determination. I felt the burn at the top and actually took a couple of minutes off the bike at the top of Indiana to recover form the biggest climb of the day.
Looking south on Indiana from 120th
Indiana went pretty fast with little traffic on the return. I haven't had an x-ray in awhile so I figured passing by Rocky Flats just this once wouldn't hurt me too bad.
The last climb up to 86th almost had me in tears, but I found my legs when I turned into the slick bike lane and headed east. The last few miles passed quickly and I was back home after nearly 38 miles in 2 hours and 43 minutes. My average speed was 14 mph, which is pretty good for an old commuter over 38 miles.
Today's ride was a dose of reality. I'm not going to go out and just ride a century loaded down with touring gear. I knew that, but I needed to feel it in my legs and fight the idea in my mind. We've got a couple of weeks until June and then a month to ramp up the efforts and pull off an amazing bike-tour from home. Today helped me see where I'm at and where I need to be.