30 March 2015

Stardate 2015.244

Bighorn rams and ewes savoring a warm spring day in upper Waterton Canyon.

Bring'n on Spring

I took the Black Pearl out for a roll in the forest several days ago. I rode up to where the Colorado Trail splits from Trail 800, after a mile or so of sharing real estate.

After sharing for nearly a mile, the Colorado Trail, and Trail 800, part ways here.

I had the place to myself. The trail intersection is a popular place for Colorado Trail hikers to camp as well. Moreover, there are enough messy campers that bears maintain an interest in the area. Most backpackers are good about keeping a tidy camp.

The trail is melting quickly now.

Remnant patches of snow are about gone, except for the deeper drifts.

Siesta time on a warm, early spring day, with greening grass.

The bighorn sheep were out and about enjoying the sun. Denver Water's Strontia Springs Dam caretaker's house had some nice green grass scattered throughout the grounds. The sheep took advantage of it. This time of year, the rams are fairly docile as they slowly work their way to higher elevations for the summer. Many of the ewes and smaller rams will summer in the canyon. I was about 15 feet from him when I snapped this shot. He was so groggy he could hardly hold his head up.

They're a bit more excitable in the fall months during the rut; I give them much wider berth during that time. In fact, during the rut, I would have kept on riding. This guy, when standing, is probably 3.5- to 4-feet at the shoulder, and built like a rock.

Riders should to portage stuff like this.

Rant alert: The above mud puddle is about 3-feet in diameter. These tend to grow when riders ride around their edges. If you need some mud, head through the center. As for myself, I would portage this.

The trail is melting quickly now.

This snow drift has receded a bit since last week. The 3 to 4 inches of snow we received several days ago lasted about a day.



Dieter and Wolfgang Hucking Horns

Dieter and Wolfgang enjoy a bit of spring training on whatever they can find. Climbing and training on ram horns is not for the faint of heart.

Waterton Canyon

Happy Trails!


25 March 2015

Stardate 2015.230

Spring Snow

Lassen Sie Es Schneien, Lass Es Schneien, Lass Es Schneien...Nicht!

No ride today. Albeit, Wolfgang and Dieter enjoyed the spring fluff. Hopefully, tonight's temperature drop won't be too hard of a freeze.

Spring Snow

Spring Snow

Resistance Training

Wolfgang and Dieter undergoing a little resistance training. The Bavarian bombers are strict "earn your turns" kind of guys.

Spring Snow

Spring Snow

Spring Snow

Dieter and Wolfgang are making some turns in spring snow.

D and W get'n after it!

Spring Snow


Watch those flower wells!

Later Gator!


21 March 2015

Stardate 2015.219

Trail 800

The Pearl & I

The days are getting longer, the Front Range trails are slowly drying, and the high country snowpack is transforming into spring snow conditions. The sun is high and dry (hey, there's a Def Leppard song in there), 60 Fahrenheits are scattered about and the Black Pearl is chomping at the bit to roll. It's Waterton Canyon time!

Denver Water service road, Colorado Trail access, upper Waterton Canyon

The majority of the Waterton Canyon Service road is dry. Above Strontia Springs Reservoir, plowed snow still lines the road.

Denver Water service road, Colorado Trail access, upper Waterton Canyon

Nonetheless, the snow is melting fast. The forecast is for a rain/snow mix. If there is a lot of rain on snow, the higher trails will melt out quicker - good for the Pearl and I. If it snows, more waiting for mountain biking.

Trail 800 / Colorado Trail

I make a left onto the combined Trail 800/Colorado Trail (CT), and start grinding up the singletrack. I'm happy as a clam! I feel good, the bike quick and nimble beneath me. We're on a mission. The forest is dead silent. Occasionally, I hear brush movement, but that's it. Drifts of snow are here and there, still frozen hard. Mud portage is minimal, and I spend a lot of time riding versus carrying the Pearl (to mitigate potential trail erosion). Not long after passing "bear camp" (a segment of trail where I occasionally see bears), I come to a halt up against drift snow. The snow covering the trail isn't overly deep, rather it's packed down and icy. Yet, this 100-foot drift usually doesn't melt out until late April. Depending on the number of wheels/feet, it is often rideable.

Roxborough Loop singletrack

Panting hard, I soon find myself pedaling Trail 800 south from its junction with the CT. I climb over little ridge and roll up to a stop at the intersection of Trail 800 and the Roxborough Loop Trail. Either direction will be snow, and quite possibly high discharge stream flows, albeit a bit early in the year for that. Although the Roxborough Trail is calling my name, I know better and start heading back to the barn.

The CT's siren seizes my attention as I join back up with it. My bucket list includes participating in the Colorado Trail Race (CTR) someday. The CTR is an unsanctioned mountain bike race along the CT, from Denver to Durango. It's a self-supported race, meaning no help from anybody for anything, including no caching anything along the route. Fast guys do it in about 4 days, including about 4-hours of sleep (seriously). Mortals do it in 7 to 10 days, sleeping a bit each day.

Trail 800

Minutes later the little Bavarians, or rather barbarians, show up and immediately begin showing off their bike handling skills. One such skill is cliff hucking. Not just anybody can do this. I once entertained an age where I may have tried hucking cliffs, but not anymore. Dieter and Wolfgang rub it in every chance they get.

That's it for now.


19 March 2015

Stardate 2015.214

Pleasant Valley Grange

Spring is Spring'n

Spring is on the horizon! The Canada goose (Branta Canadensis) is arriving, and deer are laying around the yard scheming ways to raid Snowcatcher's blooming bulbs and bird feeder. I'm also getting in some rides.

Chatfield State Park

Dieter and Wolfgang making some turns...

Meet Dieter and Wolfgang. I met these two miscreants on my last ski trip to Copper Mountain. They were on the lam from a Friday night Spinsters Dance, over the divide in Leadville. Banned from ever returning to the Bavarian Alps — I can only imagine why — I've kind of taken them under my wing for some sort of altitude rehab. They're so small, their "small man syndrome" is at times too much for them bear.

Chatfield State Park Reservoir

I'm getting some good road rides in at Chatfield Reservoir. It's mostly flat riding, and easy to cruise fast while soaking up rays of sun. Moreover, the reservoir ice is quickly disappearing; in time the reservoir will be full of ski boats.

Chatfield State Park

"Hey Lee Zardo, wait for us!" Wolfgang hollered.

"By the way, Wolfgang thinks your handlebar tape is girly," quipped Dieter.

See what I mean? "Bite me, Wolfgang! I hope you impale yourself on a fence splinter. Better yet, perhaps a hawk will swoop down to see if you have enough meat to make a meal," I badgered back.

Pleasant Valley Grange

Deer Creek Canyon to Pleasant Park Grange is another ride I like. It's a bit hardy and eats up 3 hours or so. The route climbs from about 5,800 feet to 8,500 feet. It's a guaranteed lung-buster this early in the season. During the riding months, locals keep a cooler or two full of water and Gatorade at the Grange. Actual home-baked cookies are feasted upon too. A blue room (portable outhouse) is provided by the same generous people. As riders, we all throw in a few dollars throughout the year to enable this treat to continue.

Chatfield State Park

I can't keep these two out of the snow drifts. I'm not sure what they will do come summer. I'm not sure I want to know. How about you?

See ya next time.


15 March 2015

Stardate 2015.203

Some early snow blankets the Sawatch Range on the east side of Cottonwood Pass.

2015 Ride the Rockies and Cottonwood Pass

Viewing northwest at the Three Apostles from the summit of Cottonwood Pass.

Day Six of Ride the Rockies will be a 102-mile ride with only one pass to cross - Cottonwood. The catch? The west side of Cottonwood Pass is dirt, gravel, usually pot-holed and saturated in places with dust inhibitor. It'll be a hoot! The above pic is the northerly view from the summit of Cottonwood Pass.

The Three Apostles, with Huron in the background, catching early sun .  The pic is taken from just below Cottonwood Pass, on the west side.

The pass is quite scenic and surrounded by mountains. Rising to the northwest, the Three Apostles are popular with climbers, especially Ice Mountain, the Middle Apostle. I took the above shot while "lizarding" around the west side a bit. We had pedaled up the east side early to secure a good vantage point for the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. As a result, we had to wait awhile. At this point, the riders had not even left Gunnison.

The Three Apostles have their heads in the clouds, Cottonwood Pass, Colorado.

The Apostles have been known to be on the shy side.

Snowcatcher is standing on the Continental Divide at 12,126 feet above the sea.

Cottonwood Pass is on the crest of the Sawatch Range, 12,126-feet above two seas. Yes, the pass sits on the Continental Divide.

The east side of Cottonwood Pass.

The first handful of turns heading down the east side of Cottonwood Pass.

The east side of Cottonwood Pass.

The east side is paved, has seasonal moods and provides a fun descent through numerous sharp turns that continue to pop up well below treeline.

The summit of Cottonwood Pass several hours before the 2011 USA Pro Cycling Challenge rolled over the top.

Cottonwood Pass is a popular climb with cyclists. It's occasionally crossed by Ride the Rockies, and often used as part of a Stage in the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. In the above pic, we were several hours away from the expected summit time of the peloton. Being monsoon season in the high country, the weather went south several hours later.

Looking east from the summit of Cottonwood Pass.

Winter comes early here, and the pass usually is closed during the snow months. The above photo was taken in late September.

Looking up at Cottonwood Pass from the west side.

In the above pic, the view is toward the west side of the pass on a frosty fall afternoon. The pic was taken from below the final switchback before the narrow traverse to the summit.

Until next time...


11 March 2015

Stardate 2015.192

We're in!  This pic is of the Colorado National Monument.  The riders are 4 turns from the final straight to Cold Shivers Point and easier ground.  They are climbing up the east side of the Park.

The Countdown Begins

On March 6th, Snowcatcher and I were informed we had survived the Ride the Rockies entrance lottery. How about that? Kuule Beanz, eh! This will be Snowcatcher's 6th and my 5th time to ride this event. It also is the event's 30th anniversary. It's a good route and should be a hoot. Besides, it gives me blog fodder down the road.

RTR practice 1, Deer Creek Mountain Park

Thus, our first official training ride was Saturday, March 7th. We had planned to climb Deer Creek Canyon. However, traffic was a mess, and a bit rude. I had a "hinky" not to continue up the canyon. When I mentioned this to Snowcatcher, she had the same feeling. Instead, we climbed a stiff access road to a nearby subdivision and Deer Creek Canyon Mountain Park. We ended up with a nice little 26-mile ride.

This segment of road is not long; but, the road is twisty and very steep. Snowcatcher may be seen grinding up the incline.

RTR practice 1, Deer Creek Mountain Park

Yeah, that's her stylin'! She made it look easy.

RTR practice 1, Deer Creek Mountain Park

We took a breather at Deer Creek Canyon Mountain Park.

RTR practice 1, Deer Creek Mountain Park

There are nice rock formations scattered about. We're actually in the vicinity of a huge hogback that runs parallel to a large part of the state's Front Range. The geologic strata tips up steep and proud; it's quite picturesque in places.

RTR practice 1, Deer Creek Mountain Park

A nice little descent complimented our neighborhood sneak.

RTR practice 1, Deer Creek Mountain Park

Being a Lizard, hailing from the land of sandstone (literally), I appreciate as much sandstone as I can find. Seriously. There are some fairly colorful seams exposed here and there.

That's it for today. Lots more to come; stay tuned.


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