30 April 2015

Stardate 2015.329

The top of this overflow grate is usually covered in turtles.  This one had the place to itself.

A Quick Nooner

A good way to burn off a lunch break is with a quick ride up...
You guessed it - Waterton Canyon. Bear with me, I do more than Waterton, it's still very early in the year.

A spring ride begins at the mouth of Waterton Canyon.

The ride begins amongst vibrant new riparian green.

Blossoming Blossoms!

Here and there shimmered blossoming blossoms...

Waterton Canyon tightens up again about 0.5 mile below the Strontia Springs Reservoir dam.

After riding through the narrows, the canyon constricts again about 0.5 mile below the Strontia Springs Reservoir dam, a Denver Water impoundment.

There are lots of ephemeral streams this time of year.  They won't be flowing too much longer, not during this dry year.

Numerous ephemeral streams flow throughout the canyon. They won't be flowing too much longer, not with this dry year.

That was quick, girls and boys. See ya next time.


27 April 2015

Stardate 2015.321

Ha, Ha, Lee Zard.  You're stuck in snow while we keep riding.

A Frosty Surprise

The white stuff is back.

The white stuff came back for a visit. I rode Waterton Canyon and the Colorado Trail several days after the storm. I turned around just below upper Lenny's Bench because I was carrying my bike more than riding it. (There is a lower Lenny's Bench too.) However, less than 48 hours later, most of the snow had melted and the trail was mostly dry to upper Lenny's.

Bear Camp...Yes, I've seen bears rummaging around this area.

Bear Camp...
I named this Colorado Trail camp-site Bear Camp because I have greeted bears in this area. The first time was several years ago during the fall with about an inch of snow on the trail. I stopped where this photo was taken, then continued on for about 50 yards before deciding to stop again. When I looked back down the trail, a sow and her cub had just crossed where I had stopped. They had to be right above me while I was doing whatever. Had I seen them up close, I would have become quite excited, I'm sure.

More snow has fallen.  Close to the end of today's line for now.

No sooner than this spot had melted out, it filled in with snow again.

44 hours later

Just 44 hours later, the snow is on the fast track out.

Ewe hoo!  Up here...

Ewe hoo! Up here...
The sheep are out and about. The rams are in a bunch roving around, and the ewes are likely looking for birthing ground. Lambing season is just around the corner. The Canada Goose is paired and nesting too. Down covered goslings to dote over are not far off. So I imagine a cat or two are prowling around.

Wolfgang being sucked into a white hole.

The Bavarian speedsters were along for the ride today as well.

"Help Dieter, help!" cried Wolfgang.
"You een trouble Wolfgang?" yelled Dieter.
"Ja, ja, I'm caught een a white hole!"
"You strong man, Wolfgang. Just think Jens Voigt and Spock; you can get out."
"Ja, okay, shut up legs and pedal, pedal, pedal," a grimacing Wolfgang cried out.
"Shift down, Wolfgang!" Dieter hollered.
A relieved Wolfgang panted back, "Ja, ok, dat helped. Don't tell Lee Zard; he'll give me hard time about not watching for white holes. He might not share cookies and guacamole dip anymore."
"You guys can't outmaneuver me!" I snickered. "I saw the whole spectacle. Live long and prosper, you two hooligans."

Spring, despite the snow!!

Despite the snow, spring is everywhere!

Upper Lenny's Bench is the intersection where Trail 800 and the Colorado Trail part ways. I did not know Lenny, nor what type of accident he was involved in.  RIP!

Upper Lenny's Bench is the intersection where Trail 800 and the Colorado Trail part ways. I did not know Lenny, nor what type of hiking accident claimed him. It looks like some afternoon weather may build, so it's off to the barn I go.


23 April 2015

Stardate 2015.310

New Fork Seals For The Black Pearl

I blew a front shock oil seal on the Pearl. This is quite normal. Occasionally changing seals actually is a general maintenance necessity.

Note: The following is not a "how to" post. There are a few more steps, specialized tools, et cetera required than mentioned. Moreover, there are many different models of Fox Shox. For a good illustrated "how to," consult the Fox maintenance website for your particular model of fork.

If you're uncomfortable tearing into new things, let your local bike shop do it for you.

The headset bearings like this task because they also get cleaned and repacked with grease.

A clean bearing is a happy bearing!

The culprit is hidden under the black dust wiper.

Our ultimate goal is some new refreshing oil for the oil bath...

...and a pair of new seals (the white foam rings) and dust wipers.

My first small battle was loosening this tiny 1.5 mm hex bolt without stripping it. It had been set at the factory with Loctite Blue. I normally don't have trouble loosening threads containing blue thread-locker. But this little guy was being a pest, oh my.

There is a method to the madness. The bolt had to be backed out without spinning any of the 3 control knobs with it, especially the top black lockout force knob, which wanted to spin with the bolt I was removing. I didn't want to use the knob stops as a wedge either. I attached the vice grips to the hex key for some leverage and to get my hand away from the other hand that would be holding the three levers in place.

I couldn't hold the black knob with my fingers. To remedy this, I taped Presta valve stem caps onto the legs of a pair of snap-ring pliers. The valve stem caps fit into the knob nicely without marring it. After heating the small bolt, I would try to break it free of its bonds. It took 5 or 6 heat-and-breaks to finally spin the bolt free.

In time, I had the old oil drained, the shock lowers pulled off and the FIT damper removed from the right stanchion tube. I left the air/spring assembly in the left stanchion because I wasn't going to mess with it this go around. I set aside the FIT damper as well. All I was planning to do is clean everything, install new seals/wipers and refill oil baths.

The fork lowers (white thingies), stanchions and fork crown (gold thingies) and FIT damper (silver/black thingie) await new seals and having a home again.

The new seal is not visible. It rests under a new dust wiper.

With the lowers in place, all I need now is to install and bolt dampers to lower shock legs...

...then add some 20-wt. oil to the stanchions. A 5cc pillow of a lighter Fox fluid was added to the air chamber (5cc oil pillow install not shown here).

Add some air to cause the stanchions to extend so the FIT damper can be installed and bolted to crown and lower fork leg. I'll set the air pressure to the proper sag and my liking when I'm finished.

When done I invert fork to get oil splashed around. This actually is how this fork should be stored. The seals are special foam that absorbs and retains oil. Upside down guarantees oil to be in contact with the foam seal. I don't store bikes upside down. However, before a ride I'll flip the bike onto its back to allow oil down into the seal area. While riding, the oil gets mixed around pretty good.

I'm off to the hills...


20 April 2015

Stardate 2015.301

The Gore Range of Colorado is going into spring mode.  Normally, there is a lot of snow remaining this time of year.  March is our snowiest month.  But not this year.  This is not good!

Spring Skiing

I should be counting hours on a bike, getting ready for a passel of fast approaching events. Instead, I spend a day skiing at Copper Mountain, Colorado. Snowcatcher was wise. She brought a bike and got in some altitude riding.

I've kind of rekindled my love for lift-served skiing (downhill skiing). My parents put me in ski school around age 6. My lessons were with an outfit called the Winter Fun Ski School, back in the 60s. I think I still have a patch buried somewhere. Time creeps along, and by the time I started college, I was bored with lift-skiing. Moreover, it didn't really matter; I couldn't afford skiing and school. I chose University and entered a 20+ year hiatus from lift-served skiing. On the other hand, I still loved winter. I continued to enjoy Nordic skiing (cross-country) and the occasional backcountry trip on alpine touring (AT) gear. To make a short story shorter, I can use AT gear at a ski area. The ski equipment is similar. I had done this only on a couple occasions. So this past winter, I purchased several days of skiing, and I discovered a renewed interest in lift-skiing. It's been a hoot!

I officially declare my ski area hiatus kaput! Bring on the chairlift! Hopefully, this has nothing to do with getting close to having one foot in the coffin.

Gore Range, Colorado

No matter what type of slats you're strapped to, the views can be exceptional.

Left: Point 12,267 (note that Points are designated by their elevation)Right: Torreys Peak, 14,267 feet, Colorado's 11th highest

Copper Mountain is about a 1.5-hour drive from the Denver metro area along Interstate 70. One of the perks is passing below stately 14,267-foot Torreys Peak, Colorado's 11th tallest peak, and a fine hike I might add. The peak on the left is Point 12,267. It's actually the termination of a long ridge. Unnamed mountain points are identified by their elevation.

Mount Sniktau, 13,234 feet, Colorado's 448th highest peak

Another I-70 peak is Mount Sniktau. This is a fun little peak to hike on days short of time because you can access it from an elevation of 12,000 feet. Sniktau rises to 13,234 feet and is the 448th highest peak in Colorado.

The back bowls at Copper Mountain Ski Area, Colorado, are closed for the season due to wet slide (wet avalanche) potential.  Spring is here.

Snowcatcher and I parted ways. I caught a lift and headed up the mountain while she took off on her bike. I enjoy spring skiing, but it's a mixed bag. Diurnal heating results in super icy and rough morning snow, followed by ponds of slush in the afternoon. Ideally, you need two different types of ski in your quiver, one for icy hardpack, and one for soft, slushy crud. The steep back bowl areas are now closed due to wet slide potential as the day warms. I'll save avalanche discussion for another blog because it's a fascinating subject.

Tenmile Range, Colorado, left to right:Crystal Peak, 13,852 feet, Colorado's 82nd highest peakPacific Peak, 13,950 feet, 61st tallest  peak in ColoradoAtlantic Peak, 13,841 feet, Colorado's 86th highest peakFletcher Mountain, 13,951 feet, the 59th tallest peak in ColoradoDrift Peak, 13,900 feet, not ranked because there is less than a 300 foot drop in the saddle between Drift Peak and Fletcher Mountain

The views of the southern portion of the Tenmile Range never disappoint. The peaks are listed below, left to right, with state elevation rank in parenthesis.

Crystal Peak, 13,852 feet, (82)
Pacific Peak, 13,950 feet, (61)
Atlantic Peak, 13,841 feet, (86)
Fletcher Mountain, 13,951 feet, (59)
Drift Peak, 13,900 feet, (na)

According to "rules" outlined by old groups of Colorado Mountaineers, Drift Peak does not hold a formal ranking because its saddle with Fletcher Mountain does not exceed 300 feet in elevation difference. Drift Peak is considered a soft rank peak. The Tenmile Range is actually a northern sub-range of a linear string of mountains running south from Frisco, Colorado, to Trout Creek Pass, east of Buena Vista, Colorado. The southern sub-range is called the Mosquito Range. The two ranges have a natural, yet invisible divider — the Continental Divide. The Tenmile Range drains toward the Pacific Ocean whereas the Mosquito Range drains toward the Atlantic Ocean. The Continental Divide splits the range between 14,286-foot Mount Lincoln (8) and 14,265-foot Quandary Peak (13), just south of Breckenridge, Colorado. You can drive over it here at Hoosier Pass.

Looking north from high up Copper Mountain Ski Area at the I-70 corridor, Colorado.

Normally, these hillslopes would be covered in snow this time of year, even though they are southern aspects catching a lot of sun. In fact, March is Colorado's snowiest month. Yet, we didn't have much of a March from a snow standpoint. Hopefully, next year will be better.

Arranging snow for Copper Mountains closing weekend festivities.

This year, Copper Mountain will shut down all their lifts on April 19th. The snow cats are positioning snow for an event to take place during closing weekend.

Spring skiing is a mixed bag.  The mornings are icy hardpack, and the afternoons are slushy.  You have to be careful, it's easy to get hurt in these conditions.

By mid-afternoon, the Center Village area was one big slush field.

The base area of Copper mountain.  There should be more snow; hopefully next year will be more normal.

I caught a shuttle back to the parking area and hooked back up with Snowcatcher. Changing into shorts and a sweatshirt, we enjoyed the high altitude sun, and cruised home.

The Apple of My Eye

Up next? Leaky fork seals on the Black Pearl.


16 April 2015

Stardate 2015.290

Even the South Platte River has a bathtub ring.

More Of The Same

Here's another swing around the Roxborough Loop. As we enter May and June, my ride variety will increase.

The joint start of Trail 800 and the Colorado Trail.

The above pic is the joint start of Trail 800 and the Colorado Trail. This lower segment sees a lot of feet, hooves and bicycles.

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can...

This little rock outcrop is another of my "fitness checkers." By the time you reach this outcrop, you've been charging a somewhat steep trail for a half-mile of so. If you can wing around the hairpin, climb over the rocks with a short burst of speed and continue on without stopping, you're probably pretty healthy. Obviously, I'm still cloaked in winter fat.

About halfway around the Roxborough Loop.

After parting Trail 800, and riding along the Roxborough Loop a short distance, some nice singletrack paralleling a small riparian area welcomes you.

Flowy, Roxborough Loop singletrack

More flowy singletrack along the Roxborough Loop. This little area is rather interesting because the grass is always bright green, at least when the trail is snow-free.

Waterton Canyon narrows

More adventures to come! Thanks for reading.


13 April 2015

Stardate 2015.282

Trail 800

Ridge Rolling

Trail 800 is a large loop that can begin and end at various locations. My beginning and end is the Strontia Springs Reservoir dam at the head of Waterton Canyon. A handful of trails, such as the Colorado Trail, spur off of Trail 800. The Roxborough Loop Trail I often post about is actually a connector trail between east and west legs of Trail 800, the result being a shorter northern loop.

Today's ride was a Trail 800 out and back along the ridge separating Bear Creek and Stevens Gulch. While descending from the ridge, I reconnected with the Roxborough Loop and followed it back around as normal. The ride was good. (When aren't they?) However, it was quite windy. For any Dieter and Wolfgang followers, I had no idea where they were today.

The Pearl about halfway up the first steep climb of lower (west side) Trail 800.

When I have my summer heart, legs and lungs, I can pull most of the climbs. Since the above pic exists, I obviously don't have them yet.

Trail 800, heading south

The trail meanders across the top of the ridge. It's a fairly smooth trail, with occasional rock to keep you alert.

Ponderosa pine blowdown

Wind blow down is common along this trail. If it's windy out, the potential for falling trees occupies a portion of your mind. Above is the lower- to mid-bole section of a Ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) that took up residence on the trail.

Trail 800

In the above pic, I'm looking north from the ridge. Strontia Springs Reservoir lies directly below the pointy summit at the top center of the photo.

Trail 800 loose off-camber

The trail has steep, loose, off-camber in places. However, most of the trail is quite smooth.

Waterton Canyon

Until we meet again...

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