Ride from Town II

For the second installment of Ride From Town, I will blab about a nice long loop out of Boulder that I did recently and found to be pretty fun. The goal of this ride was to mountain bike the Reynolds Ranch Boy Scout trails east of Nederland then ride over to the loop at Walker Ranch off of Flagstaff and rock that on the way back down to town. I spent about 5.5hrs out there, and I didn’t end up riding Walker Ranch this time around, but next time….. I know this could be a shorter ride time-wise, but the day I rode it I was doing a little bit of exploring here and there which added time.

Boy Scout Trails to Walker Ranch (31+ miles road, 13ish miles trail)

1. Leave Boulder going west on Canyon Blvd which is Hwy 119 (This turns into Boulder Canyon Dr. as you leave downtown Boulder). You can take the bike path along Boulder Creek until it ends.

2. When the bike path ends continue west up Boulder Canyon on the road. After a few miles take a left on Magnolia Rd (Co Rd 132). (This is a pretty challenging paved road climb.)

3. Go west 8.3 miles on Magnolia Rd. The turn-off to the east trailhead for the Reynolds Ranch Boy Scout trails appears on the right side of the road.  The turn-off is not well marked. (These trails are a total maze, but you can link up to the Blue/Red Dot trails above Barker Reservoir for a total of around 6 miles of really nice single track. I would consider these trails to be somewhat technically challenging, but rideable with only 2-4 hike-a-bike sections. For a beginner, I can see most of the trails being pretty tricky due to the rockiness of the trails.)

4. Once done riding the trails, head back out to Magnolia Rd and go east to Pine Glade Rd.

5. Take a right on Pine Glade to Co Rd 68.

6. Take a right on Co Rd 68. This road eventually turns into a 4×4 road that crosses a section of private property. There is a sign where the road turns rough saying that only licensed vehicles of a certain type were allowed to continue, but there weren’t any No Trespassing signs or closed gates directly barring travel so I continued on. I passed another mountain biker and motor cycle going the opposite direction while on this section. A mile or two further I came into an area with more houses and a sign denoting that the road was private in the direction I had come from, but still no closed gates or No Trespassing signs.

7. Co Rd 68 turns into Lakeshore Dr (and from dirt to paved) which eventually forks into Flagstaff Rd (left/straight) and Gross Dam Rd (right).

8. Take Flagstaff Rd until the Walker Ranch Open Space entrance on the right. Ride the loop (7.8 miles) at Walker Ranch and head back Flagstaff Rd.

9. Take Flagstaff Rd east to Boulder. Flagstaff Rd turns into Baseline Rd at the bottom and you are back in town.

Sure felt longer than it looks.

 

Posted in Rides, Trails | 2 Comments

SSUSA 2011 Follow Up

Singlespeed USA 2011 has come and gone, and I am sad to see it go. I had a beer-drinkin’ good time starting Friday night all the way through to Saturday evening. Jake, Kramer and Sarai as well as all the other helpers that I don’t know did an absolutely amazing job enabling the riders to have the most fun possible. Muchos, muchos gracias to them. There has already been some coverage of the event laid down here and here (and video here)so I thought I would recap a couple of the highlights of my experience. I told myself as we rolled out on the cruiser ride Friday evening that I would say yes to whatever I was asked to do (unless it was really stupid, I have some boundaries), but thank the singlespeed gods I was not one of the peoples that was asked to get in an innertube and float down some of Boulder Creek. It looked painfully cold for the suckers, but from where I was sitting it mostly just looked hilarious. After race registration at the bar, we mosied back to Karlorado’s pad to continue the festivities in a much cheaper and quieter venue. (I know, I’m old, but yelling conversations with my friends gets lame pretty quick.) To make sure I was in top form for the race, we managed to stay up until 2am, drink a few more beers, and eat a couple pizzas at 1:30 in the morning. Big thanks to my director sportif and soigneur for really pushing me in this aspect of my training as I couldn’t have done it without them. Getting up at six the next morning was an anti-joyous occasion, but my heart was fluttering with excitement. So was my digestive tract. My head was just fluttering. My co-racer, Kool Keith, and I eagerly headed out to start the morning Tour de Grocery Store Bathrooms. This was a great build-up race to test my form. Just a reminder to all the hungover mountain bikers out there, you always want to double check the level of toilet paper supplies in the restroom BEFORE you start going, otherwise it’s the sink bidet for you. And me.  

Frustration. Desperation. Freedom?

These types of race day rituals are really what make the experience so great. Sure, I had a great time out in the woods riding my bike with the other one gear enthusiasts, but middle of the pack race finishes are nothing compared to the excitement of getting to use a bidet.

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Going Pro

I have been a cyclist for nearly two decades of my life. Not until I moved to Colorado did I begin to have real ambitions (delusions?) regarding my life’s work (career?) in this world. I suppose as we age many of us re-prioritize particular desires and goals in our life and that may be part of the reason for the seemingly sudden ambitiousness welling up from within, but I think I have sourced it back to something more simple: competition. When I moved here, I entered a different world than the southeastern one I had been inhabiting. I became friends with a different sort of crowd, one that wasn’t obliged to mince words and one that called it how it was. Not through words, but through actions such as making me look like a 5 year old on a push bike when we’re out riding. I must admit this was scary at first, but over time I began to really appreciate this type of truth-telling even though I myself still have a hard time doing it. It was causing a long-buried sense of competition to sprout like a brown watermelon seed in my stomach that I accidentally swallowed. Scary and exciting. 

People usually move to Colorado for a reason, I have found, and that reason is to screw off as much as possible. It’s only right since God made it with so many big ups and downs, snow and sun, and a disproportionately high number of microbreweries:

The original microbrew

 Going up and coming back down is fun as all hell. My point being that folks around here including all my friends have a sense of purpose and really work hard at playing. Some even become professional players. In this land of overachievers, whenever you’re out on your ski-blades, rollerblades or ripstick you are faced with the humbling aspect that multiple people are out there making you look bad at it. This is not necessarily a bad thing because it can be just as inspiring as it is humbling. The old saying “If you can do it, then I can buy the stuff to make it look like I do it better” really comes into play. Basically, there is a better version of yourself everywhere you look causing you to constantly be reminded of your own potential. This is a good thing. So it is with this in mind, that my own sense of competition and, inherently, ambition began to blossom in a relatively short time of living here. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, I was apparently making the unconscious decision that being a professional cyclist was a completely valid career ambition, and there were plenty of people to compete with to measure my progress up the career ladder. I also apparently didn’t tell anyone because, you know, it wasn’t a conscious decision and more importantly-what if I couldn’t make it? Of course doubt crept in, I’m too old, I’m not genetically gifted, but the swelling feelings of competition, career ambition and undiscovered athletic potential easily quashed the doubt. So it began. Once I worked up the skill and endurance to totally waste other Cat. 6 pathletes on my way to the bus, it became clear that the glorious lifestyle and ass-kicking abilities of the standard professional cyclist weren’t too far away. I mean, pros live here, so why can’t I be a pro, also? Plus, it was getting harder for my cycling friends to easily out-ride me which obviously meant the long hours of intense training were working. With age comes awareness I guess, and I am now fully aware of this hidden career path I’d chosen. So now, a couple years down the road and several seasons of non-competitive, recreational training later, I’m still in the trenches mixing it up with the other Cat. 6ers and having a great time at it. I’ve had to make some sacrifices like not seeing my wife for extended periods of time on the weekends when I’m out on long training rides, but I don’t yet have any regrets about making the decision to go pro. Each year as spring rolls around, I eagerly get on my commuter bicycle after work thinking that this could be my breakout year. That if I change my riding routine, tweak my during-the-ride food intake, and time my peaks and rests better, I may just take the sponsorship offer resulting from the races I would have won if I entered them. On the flip side, though, I think of all the fun I could be having riding my bike without the pressures of being better than that one guy on the trail or the group ride, of making sure my wife doesn’t go pro before I do, of putting fear into the heart of the Wildenbeast with my cycling abilities, and on and on. Right now I’m of the mindset that if I am not pro in the next 10 years or so then I probably will settle down with the family and enjoy the mellower side of life, but until then don’t even try to race me because it’s still preseason and this year isn’t going as well as I had planned and I am on a recovery ride. But next time I will take you.

Posted in bicycles, Editorial | 3 Comments

Business Casual and Mountain Biking

I am not the most stylish person in the world, I admit. I like to think this is because being stylish inherently means that one is materialistic and spends money on clothing and accessories to look cool, while I, on the other hand, recognize that it is what we have on the inside that makes us cool. Well, it turns out that I’m a total hypocrite. What does this have to do with riding bikes? It depends on who you are I suppose, but for me, it means that I try to approach in reality the dreamy vision of myself that I believe others see when I’m out dominating the local trail. 

What I think you see when I’m dominating the trail

 And

What you actually see when I’m dominating the trail

This may not seem like a big difference to some people. It is. Notice the subtle evolution from the bottom picture of a dude who thinks he looks cool shredding that field in his cute ankle socks to the upper picture of a dude who knows he is cool shredding that singletrack somewhere totally rad like Durango in his business casual riding attire. One of the first major lessons I learned when I started mountain biking and cycling in general in Colorado is that you can’t judge a cyclist’s skill level by his outfit or bike. In fact, the more beat up the clothes and bike are, the better the cyclist, generally speaking, especially if they are older. A good example of this is pictured below:

This man will rip your legs off on his way to work

 There is no way to know that the guy in the above picture is an Olympic Gold medalist in road racing by looking at him. Sure, he’s in good shape for a 50 year old, but in Colorado all the old dudes look like that. If you have gotten to the point in your cycling hobby where you wear a spandex outfit, then you know the feeling of humiliation when a guy like Alexi soft-pedals past you up a hill in jeans and work boots towing a trailer with lumber, tools and a dog. After this happened to me several times, figuratively not literally, I felt something stirring inside me. I felt like maybe that slick, spandex outfit I wore so proudly did not convey the true vibe of my riding style, nor did it make me faster, nor did I earn it for being a bike racer. You obviously don’t need it to be  a great cyclist, in fact, based on appearances, the more business casual one dressed while on the bike the better you were. I kept telling myself that the reason I wore spandex was a comfort thing, but in the back of my mind I knew it was because I felt cooler with spandex on. But here I am seeing the best riders sporting backyard BBQ gear while they leave me in the dust. I finally settled on the mentality that stealth attire was the best approach for me – keep it business on the inside and casual on the outside – so that when one is on a long, hard ride you can have pretty much the same vibe as when you’re grilling out on the deck a la the guy in the first picture up there. You know like “I guess this is hard, but I kinda feel like I’m at the beach so it’s not so bad.”  Through much deliberation, humiliation, hypocrisy, riding, shopping and tact, I believe that I have set myself on the right path to business casual riding. I have ridden several rides now in my first pair of baggy riding shorts, and the feeling is superb. It’s like I’m back to the good old days when riding in camouflage cutoffs and sleeveless t-shirts meant you were a hardcore cyclist (maybe it still does, and I’m just out of the loop). Of course I’m still no more stylish than when I was rocking camo or barren spandex, but now I think that you think that I look like a better mountain biker than I am which is what is really important here. Until I can actually let my riding ability do the talking, I’ll rely on my business cajh outfit to do it for me. 

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SSUSA 2011

After much anticipation, I got word that I am officially registered for SSUSA 2011! I now have a chance at becoming the SingleSpeed National Champion of the United States of America! Luckily, I had a feeling that I would get in so I have been training religiously starting a couple months ago. Obviously, I have been out riding my bike, both on the trail and on the road, so that aspect is taken care of. What I have really been focusing on, though, are super secret training sessions that are mainly comprised of hanging out in the garage mentally preparing (staring blankly at bikes), drinking beer (carb loading) and doing pull-ups (self-esteem building). Although I don’t actually know any of the details about the race, I can only assume that these training sessions are completely adequate for what I might encounter. Just to give an idea of where I am at already, here is a picture:

I think I'm probably not so pale though.

 The race isn’t until June 4th so I still have plenty of time to get more tan.

Posted in Rides | 2 Comments

Castle Trail – Mt. Falcon Park Open Space, Morrison, CO

Since I occasionally ride Lair o’ the Bear to Mt. Falcon and back, last weekend I thought I would change things up and start from the Mt. Falcon trailhead instead of the Lair o’ the Bear trailhead. I had avoided this route in the past because I had heard that the Castle trail up to the main park area was annonyingly difficult. Call me lazy, but I tend to enjoy riding my bike over walking it. So after calling myself a sissy and “not a real mountain biker” a couple times, I was successfully peer-pressured into riding up the trail last saturday. I mean, how hard could it be, sissy? Well…I was humbled, and I felt like a sissy. Two miles of steep, water barry, rocky, loose gravelly, no shade, vision blurring, mountain biking suffer fest. So, I guess in retrospect it was entertaining, but during the climb I was telling myself that I would never do it again. Ever. Now that I know what to expect, it would be a piece of cake, again, in retrospect. According to this, the Castle Trail goes up about 1,600ft in 2.75mi. So it is kind of a grunt, but luckily it’s short. It makes the first climb at Lair o’ the Bear seem pretty easy so that’s another benefit. I did accomplish my goal that day of riding up Mt. Falcon, going down to Lair o’ the Bear, riding Lair o’ the Bear, and then back up to Mt. Falcon and down the steepness that is Castle trail. It’s not too bad going down, but the incline really became apparent.

Update: One week later I went back and rode this trail again. It was still hard, but much, much easier than the first time. Familiarity made all the difference.

Posted in Rides, Trails | 2 Comments

The Local Shop

I was working on the Grizzly the other night in anticipation of the snow melting here in the front range when I inadvertently broke something. I must have done too many pull-ups this winter because as I was tightening the seatpost clamp it snapped. I was surprised to see how thin this part was, then I was surprised at how long it has lasted considering the immense amount of pressure it takes from the leverage of a very extended seatpost. Regardless, if I wanted to be ready to dominate the other crappy mountain bikers this spring, I would need to replace it. The choices are endless. Order online? Go to whatever bicycle shop is open? Go to Ace for a pipe clamp? Fortunately, many of these choices are automatically cancelled out as I am cheap in the guise of resourceful. I realized I had another bicycle that used the same size seatpost, and although it is a road bicycle, why could I not use the seatpost clamp from that? What I found out was that the outer diameter of the two bicycles seat tubes were of different measurements, and since the seatpost clamp goes on the outside of the seat tube, my first brilliant idea would not work. However, from this folly, I realized that I would need to make sure that the new seatpost clamp had the correct diameter for the outside of the seat tube, and the best way to do that would be to go to the bicycle shop and try some on. I could try to measure it myself then order it online, but that can end up with me waiting for a few days, somehow getting the measurement wrong, and then having a seatpost clamp I can’t use and am too lazy to send back. Bah. Plus, it is more fun to go to the bicycle shop and annoy those guys, and they really play up the smugly annoyed bit which I egg on by asking ridiculous questions like “I’ll probably just use a rubber mallet, a chisel, and some matches to get that back on, that’s okay right?” or “What do you mean those come in different sizes?”. We are all entertained and happy when I leave. They almost always have the used, nice-but-not-too-nice, silver, 26.0mm, $20ish part that I need. In the case of the seatpost clamp, I get a black, 30.6mm inside diameter, beefy-but-nice, Salsa version for $20. Perfecto! Could I have found it cheaper or in different colors or titaniumer online? Probably, but I definitely wouldn’t have had more fun buying it online, and that’s what’s really important here, me having fun. I suppose it helps support the local bicycle shop, too, but we all know what they really want is beer and for you to leave them alone so I occasionally drop off a sixer to help pay for the fun I have when I’m there. All joking aside, these guys are great so check them out if you get a chance. And remember that if none of the employees are slightly annoyed with you, then you are doing something wrong or they are new, so give it time and ask more ridiculous questions.

Posted in bicycles | 3 Comments