31 October 2016

Stardate 2016.833

Happy Halloween!
Carbon Dating Part 2

My previous post detailed sidelining road riding for the greater part of the summer to focus more on mountain biking, which I prefer. Mid-October, and I'm finally in the mood to go on a carbon fiber date for several autumn rides.

I just spent two days trashing my legs with two road rides totaling 74 miles. Of those 74 miles, 20 miles was steep mountain climbing up pitches in excess of 10 percent. Interestingly, I still wanted to take the road bike out; I decided to stay on the flats today with only a handful of rollers for climbing. These two rides took me to the Chatfield area and the horse farms scattered on the high prairie south of Chatfield State Park. Each ride was about 80 percent asphalt and 20 percent compacted road-base/gravel.

It was a beautiful day to be heading out amongst ranch and horse farms. Nestled up against the foothills, a large Lockheed Martin Aerospace compound may be seen in the upper right of the following photo. The deep canyon in the upper center to upper left (below the lenticular cloud) is the Waterton Canyon of which I often post.

Parting shot! I just spent four consecutive days on a road bike. I still feel like road riding, so I think my little break from road riding worked, which is good, because road riding is an excellent way to train for mountain biking; this because you tend to spend many more hours per ride on a road bike enhancing endurance. Moreover, you tend to push larger gears and even utilize different muscle groups. You're better rounded by combing road and mountain biking.

I'll close with an autumn color shot. That cold white stuff isn't too far away!


27 October 2016

Stardate 2016.822

Carbon Dating

Early this past riding season, I decided to take a reprieve from road riding. According to my fun meter, I enjoy off-road riding a tad more than road riding. However, I participate in many road events, and over the past handful of years, I've spent more time on the road bike. Excessive road riding finally caught up to me, and last spring I found myself in a quandary.

Yes, I was burned out on road riding. I took several little rides in July when surrounds were green, as below, but that's about it for road riding over the summer.

Except for mid-September, when Snowcatcher and I ventured to the Pacific Northwest to visit friends and ride the MS-150 Deception Pass Classic; it has been all mountain bike. In mid-October, something came over me as I sat in the living room eating Little Debbie brownies while getting ready for a mountain bike ride. Perhaps it was the carbon weave of the cranks. Perhaps it was the paper-thin carbon-layering of Trek's OCLV black carbon fiber reflecting in the sun. Perhaps the svelte lines of the frame, symbolic of speed, like the Enterprise accelerating to light speed. (Yes some of us have warp capabilities.) Or, perhaps it's the only mistress my wife will welcome into our home...

...it was time to brave the asphalt, yet again. Following are some autumn pics acquired while on two different carbon dates. At 6,200 feet of elevation, Lower Deer Creek Canyon was fast shedding its leaves.

It's been very warm and hard to accept winter is right around the corner.

Turn-around and/or rest stop at "the top" at about 8,500 feet of elevation! During the warm months this place is nothing but bikes and roadies. We all chip in on occasion as part of an honor system because locals maintain a rest stop with coolers full of Gatorade, water, homemade cookies and a blue room (bathroom).

Some fun history exists here too. The old school house was built in 1894 and may be rented for events. The structure also functioned as a grange at some point. After a snack-filled rest stop, it was time for me to continue riding. With 20 less Fahrenheits bouncing about and a stiff breeze, there was more of an autumn feel. I was happy to have brought along a jacket for the fast descent.

Highgrade Road winds its way deep into the foothills of the Front Range.

Highgrade Road is steep in places. Albeit hard to tell, the segment from me to the turn is about a 12- to 15-percent pitch.

Soon I was back down on the flats. Carbon dating mission accomplished.
More autumn road riding to come... Stay tuned!


25 October 2016

Stardate 2016.816


Snowcatcher's and my trip to the Pacific Northwest has come to an end. The trip went by too fast, as they usually do. Our final days took us from Moses Lake, Washington, to Butte, Montana, and down into Yellowstone National Park. Our final day was a long-day-drive down into Colorado.

We left Butte, Montana, early in the morning and arrived at the north Gardiner/Mammoth entrance mid-morning. In the past, we've seen grizzlies between Tower and Canyon and were hoping we were early enough to see more.

We traveled south through the visitor depots of Tower, Canyon, Fishing Bridge, Grant and the Colter Bay area to a place known to have lots of bears. Regretfully, the dirt road we wanted was closed, due to recent fires.

Some of the main roadways were closed, and many trees in the fire area were tagged. We think this was a firefighter drop zone. A little rain had fallen throughout the day, hopefully aiding fire workers.

We pointed the car north again and journeyed back toward Gardiner, Montana, where we had a room waiting. We traveled up the Lamar Valley and then swung northeast toward Pebble Creek, the Absaroka Range and northeast park entrance – no grizzly bear to be had yet. We did see lots of bison and antelope.

This handsome devil is a buck (male) pronghorn antelope. Large populations exist here and in other western states. In the region of Colorado where I grew up, I casually refer to them as "speed goats." Does (females) have much smaller horns. Pronghorns are the fastest land mammals in the Western Hemisphere. They are often cited as the second fastest land animal behind the cheetah. They can hold speed much longer than a cheetah. A pronghorn can run 55 miles per hour for a half mile.

Lots of bison are grazing the Lamar Valley. This also is prime grizzly bear habitat.

The following morning we left very early. We had hoped for wildlife on Mount Washburn and Dunraven Pass. We had to settle for bugling elk and good photos at the Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River.

I'll end our vacation with this frosty shot of bison grazing in a frozen Hayden Valley. Winter is close!

Thanks for reading!


20 October 2016

Stardate 2016.803

14,411 Feet

Welcome back to Lee Zard's adventures with Snowcatcher in the Great Northwest. Have you guessed what peak this is? After leaving Seattle, Snowcatcher and I made a B-line southeast toward Mount Rainier National Park. Mount Rainier touches the clouds at 14,411 feet, and it's massive.

We drove around the southern flank of Washington's highest before heading across the high plains of central and eastern Washington. This segment of our trip was a very long day and worth every mile. We powered down in Moses Lake, Washington. The following sequence of photos tell the tale. I'll minimize my yammering this round. Each of the following pics portray Mount Rainier. Enjoy!

If you need some music for this series, how about "Eight Miles High" by the Byrds – one of those 60s songs whose lyrics mean whatever you want them to mean. You get the drift.

We had time for one more overnight before the long drive back down to Colorado's Front Range. Stay tuned!


18 October 2016

Stardate 2016.797

Homeward Bound...

As we all know, good things end fast, and it was time to point the 4Runner inland. After a couple of days on Washington's Olympic Peninsula, it was time to return to Colorado. Our first stop of the day was John Wayne Marina (title photo). Yes, John Wayne, the actor of western lore, would bring his boat up here.

About an hour later we rolled into Bremerton, one of Washington State's naval bases. From Bremerton, we caught a ferry ride across Puget Sound to Seattle. As the ferry began its journey, the Bremerton port became very interesting.

For me, the naval influence was a jackpot. Ship number 68 is the USS Nimitz (CVN 68). This ship is a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. Often referred to as a supercarrier, it's one of the largest war ships on the planet. Note the four submarines docked next to it as well.

Chug, chug, chug... As we plugged along the narrow, forested waterway, the movie The African Queen with Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart came to mind. Go figure...

There are quite a few homes buried in the forest that lines the waterways.

As we neared Puget Sound the narrow sea channel opened up. So did the background. Mount Rainier rises to 14,411 feet, the highest point in Washington.

Seattle is a very busy port. You can probably guess what this tanker carries.

The Seattle shipyards appear very busy too.

Welcome to...


That's it for traveling to Seattle. We still have a few spots inland to visit while on our way home.


13 October 2016

Stardate 2016.784

The Olympic Peninsula

After steaming to Port Townsend from Whidbey Island, Snowcatcher and I caught up with our very good friends (Mr. W always buys) from the Sequim area (pronounced Skwim). Moreover, our MS-150 teammates had arrived the day prior. The Olympic Peninsula is enchanting. Typing its description doesn't do it justice; you kind of need to visit the region. New Mexico is the arid land of enchantment, but the Olympic Peninsula's temperate rain forest has a mystique all its own.

We spent the afternoon in Olympic National Park atop Hurricane Ridge. I have pedaled Hurricane Ridge, and I've ridden through many of the local lavender farms. All were nice rides, and I'd like to ride them again. Following are a handful of pics from the Olympic Peninsula. Enjoy!

Top down from Hurricane Ridge one can see Victoria, Vancouver Island, Canada; the Strait of Juan de Fuca (middle waterway); and, Port Angeles, Washington.

The Dungeness Spit is the longest natural sand spit in the United States at 5.5 miles (according to Wiki).

The Dungeness Spit.

Parting Shot: The light-house stationed at the end of Dungeness Spit. No matter where you're hiding, Mount Baker, Washington seems to tower over the region – it's a stunning mountain. Yes, I confess, I lengthened the camera lens a bit.

That's it for the Olympic Peninsula. Next time we'll point the car east.


10 October 2016

Stardate 2016.775

North and adjacent to Boreas Pass stands picturesque 13,684-foot Bald Mountain, rank 156.

Autumn Greetings From Boreas Pass!

On October second, Snowcatcher and I managed another snow-free ride up 11,841-foot Boreas Pass. This relatively high pass is located at treeline in the southwest section of the Front Range, several miles southeast of Breckenridge, Colorado. The pass straddles the Continental Divide, with the route following the historic Denver South Park and Pacific Rail grade of years gone by. Days of riding at higher elevations are waning, and it'll soon be time to dust off the planks for the snow months. Enjoy the pics.

To the west, across the upper Blue River Valley, rise the striking mountains of the Tenmile Range. Three of the peaks in this photo make Colorado's highest 100 list – known as the Centennials. They are Atlantic Peak (13,841 ft; rank 86), Pacific Peak (13,950 ft; rank 61) and Crystal Peak (13,852 ft; rank 82).

Bakers Tank was an important water stop for the old Denver South Park and Pacific Railroad.

The following pic is of Section House. It was built in 1882 as a family residence for the rail-line caretaker. A section of the house was set aside for other occasional rail workers and guests. The dwelling was refurbished in 1996 for use as an overnight backcountry ski hut that can be rented. The north shoulder of 13,082-foot Boreas Mountain, rank 583, provides the backdrop.

Success! Snowcatcher made the climb look easy!

Not to be a nitpicker, but according to my US Geological Survey 7.5 minute maps, the elevation on the sign should be changed to 11,841 feet. Or maybe the area has been resurveyed and my maps are wrong. I guess you'll have to cast your vote on who's right and who's wrong.

Snowcatcher gives some scale to an antique rail car that now calls the pass home.

To the southwest, Colorado's 96th highest peak, Mount Silverheels, touches the clouds at 13,822 feet. Mount Silverheels has a sad story behind its naming. The peak is named after a dance hall girl who danced in silver shoes at a mining town. A smallpox epidemic hit the mining camp in 1861. Well compensated, she used her own money to bring in doctors.

Instead of evacuating the town with those who could, she stayed and helped those inflicted, contracting the disease herself in the process. When the epidemic died down, surviving miners pooled $5,000 for her efforts, only to find her cabin empty. As the story goes, she remained hidden and in isolation because of her badly scarred face. Several years after the gold rush came to a close, someone claimed to have seen a black-veiled woman placing flowers on the graves of those who died from small pox.

A cloud-covered Tenmile Range trying to collect photons of light.

Most leaves had succumbed to the time of year. However, a few colorful stalwarts remained.

After a fast descent back down to Bakers Tank, I jumped onto some singletrack that supposedly would deposit me at our vehicle. I had never ridden the trail before.

The upper portion of trail was baby-bottom smooth.

The final mile was rocky and rough and demanded a bit more attention than the upper segment.

That's it for Boreas Pass 2016. I have more Pacific Northwest on the docket!

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