Saturday, March 31, 2012

Trip to Canyon Country long overdue

After well over a year of distractions and barriers, including home ownership and busy work schedules, Kathy and I finally got a chance to take a long weekend and visit the land of red sand and cliff and juniper. We left Salida Friday the 30th, my dad's birthday. That afternoon we were on the Kokopelli's Loops, hitting Mary's and Kathy's favorite, Steve's Loop.

looking down at Steves

The weather was much more like late April than late March. Mid-70s, light breeze, clear sky. We went to Kokopelli first because we had the luxury of hitting it on a Friday. I knew to expect that it would be a zoo on Saturday, and much of Sunday as well with the onslaught of spring Front Range riders.

looking down at Colo River from Steves

Nice first day of our trip. We rode nearly 3 hours, went downtown for dinner but found no restaurant that was suitable or that wasn't too busy, so we grabbed burritos from Chipotle. The work fatigue was still with us, so we turned in early. Travel, arrival, bicycle, food, sleep. Not too complicated really.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Early Spring mostly thawed singletrack and Visitors

Spring has come to the upper Ark Valley and it's brought warm clear weather with it.

group ride

Ed and Jeny came up to Salida for the weekend, Saturday we got together. They brought friends Steve and Cat along. We all rode during a very warm afternoon. I for one was really not used to sweating wearing shorts and short jersey.

I took very few pics, and they are not very good.

group rideCat rides on N. Backbone.

group rideSteve and Cat pose with the southernmost bit of the Sawatch Range in the background.

We all went to my house for a little barbecue Saturday night, and the hanging out and yakking went well into the evening.

group ride

I also finished up the kittie treehouse in my back yard this weekend. A treated 6x6 post from my former fence configuration was a draw for the kids, and they scratched it before rope was there. My inspiration for building this structure was that I did not want them picking up treated wood slivers, and Butters has enjoyed perching on top.

group ride

Butters doesn't seem terribly impressed. But that's pretty much his standard look.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Late winter thawing singletrack

The snow and mud line is receding up into the hills northeast of Salida. I got a couple of nice rides in this weekend. Had a semi-muddy exploration of N. Backbone on Saturday with Kathy (AKA The GF). Yesterday I scooted out for a ride as the weather threatened. The cloudline was creeping down during the morning, and it was gusty.

cottonwood gulch end of winter 2012

I decided to climb up Cottonwood from the bottom rather than the normal looping down from the road and doing Cottonwood as a descent. I've heard that the forest service road above is quite muddy, and I wanted to get in a nice climb anyway.

cottonwood gulch end of winter 2012

Climbing Cottonwood was an interesting change. It's very climbable, with some nice technical moves required to clean some of the rock drops. Some I couldn't negotiate, but most were in play. And it's cool to look around as you move slowly through this beautiful terrain.

cottonwood gulch end of winter 2012

But of course the descent is a gas. It's been several months since I've done this much of it. Always a pleasure to start hitting it in the emerging season.

cottonwood gulch end of winter 2012

As I approached my exit from the gulch the wind was ripping, and the weather appeared to have arrived in the valley. I couldn't see across to the Sangre de Christo clearly. The mountains were visible, but barely. I expected to need to pull out my shell for the last 20 minutes down and back to the house.

But it never turned into moisture. At first I assumed it was cloud fog. Then I realized from the feeling and flavor in my nose and mouth that it was dirt. The fierce wind was blowing dirt up from the east. Later it rained mud, totally spattering cars with sandy drops.

Great ride. Weird weather.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Inner Limits!

Played hooky from work for an early March trip to Pee-ebluh. Oh my goodness, it was nice. I sweated! And, there was new singletrack!


I had heard inklings of this new trail, Inner Limits, but I had the distinct pleasure yesterday of finding it and riding it for the first time. There was another new section of trail I do no remember having ridden before called Driftwood. Driftwood to Inner Limits to Outer limits was I think a little more than an hour's worth of sweet Lake Pueblo singletrack. Driftwood/Inner Limits replaced about 10 minutes worth of Pedro's Point Trail, which is doubletrack.

The good folks over there in Colorado's Steel Town, Colorado's first City; they made a new strategic section of trail that I think makes the Lake Pueblo Trails remarkably better. It's maybe 3 miles? Maybe 4? But the significant point is that it replaces a length of boring doubletrack that got you to half an hour's worth of sweeping turns and dips, cliff edges and inlets. Now, you get to get to that half an hour's worth of excellent trail with about 45 minutes worth of maybe even better trail. More sweeping turns, dips, cliff edges, inlets...

Outer Limits

I was stoked! I rode South Shore to Driftwood to Inner Limits, and by the time I got to Pedro's Point I had been riding for almost an hour. The weather was perfect. It was a Friday, so I had the whole place to myself. I was living the late winter, riding-in-Pueblo dream.

"OK", I said to myself, "I'm going to hammer Outer Limits, get out onto the Voodoo Loop and hammer that, and if all goes well I'll have time to do Outer Limits and Inner Limits again on the way back. Sweet!"

So that was my plan. I hammered my way through Outer Limits, got out onto the Voodoo Peninsula, glancing at my watch as I started the loop. (Clockwise, the way any good American would do it.) I didn't put a foot down, except to take this picture:

Voodoo Trail

I got back up by Colorado Highway 96, after having heroically hammered out an epic lap of Voodoo. I looked at my watch; yes, I had time to ride Outer Limits to Inner Limits to Driftwood to South Shore and back to my car.

What I didn't have is enough energy. Fitness. Power. Motivation. I was about 85% shelled. Not bonking, just tired. I had eaten food. I had kept up with hydration. I just hadn't done a ride with this much effort in months. I was not fit enough to turn this 3.5 hour ride into a 4.5 hour ride.

I just rode Antelope back to South Shore and got my beaten behind back to the car the easiest way I knew how.

But I was happy.

Voodoo Detour

That's good though isn't it? I threw myself at Pueblo State Park's fabulous trail system and I left it all out there. It would be nice if I was as fit as I was a couple years ago, but what can I do? I'm just not. As I am right now I've got about 3 hours worth of good hard riding in me. Then I need a chair and a meal and a bed.

Good day.

Here's a thought, for those of you who know the Lake Pueblo Trails: Why would you ever not use the "detour" route to Voodoo from the intersection of Antelope/Outer Limits? I've ridden the primary route. It has one very mildly technical drop and then some not very interesting singletrack along the lake shore. The "detour" has turns and jumps, it's fun.

But that's just my opinion. Go see and decide for yourself.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Clearing the trail, Chainsaw Consultant II

tree down
It's a dismount and crawl tree, no easy walk-around

This old Cottonwood snag has been down on the Cottonwood Trail since some time in the middle of last year. Every time I rode up to it last year until snow shut down the trail for riding I muttered to myself, "need to haul the saw up here and cut this &%$^#er out one of these days."

It was in a place in the trail where it blew your momentum for a nice little drop into the wash and rise up out. But carving out a couple hours to do it on a day when there was plenty of fun riding to do just didn't have much appeal.

tree down

I ran into some friends on the trail Saturday (we have a little of the Arkansas Hills Trail System opening up). They had run up the gulch and were telling me about how the tree was still down, and hoping that somebody would take it out soon.

I decided that this weekend would be a good time to get it done, so that in a month or so when we can start riding it again that sucker would be clear. I hadn't run my saw for a while, so when I got home I took it out, looked to see if I had any bar/chain oil or 2-cycle oil, then ran down to the gas station to get some fresh gas to mix up some 40:1.

My saw is a little 14" Poulan that I got at a hardware store 15 or 16 years ago. It's a cheap-o department store saw, but it's been a great bargain for me. It has started on the 2nd or 3rd yank on the rope always. It hadn't been run for at least a year or so, but I gas'd it up and gave it a yank.

Brum-brum-brum! Ready for action. I took a look at the chain and it looked sharp enough to take on a couple cuts, so that part was ready.

tree cleared

Yesterday morning dawned clear and a little warmer than usual, mid 20's. So I went out and hooked up the Bob trailer and by 8:15 I was granny gear pedaling up out of town onto the face of S-Mountain.

tree cleared

It took me nearly two hours to climb up to the scene of the crime. 20 minutes or so of ripping on that sucker to get it clear. Would have been good if the blade had been a little sharper, need to do that next time before we go do this stuff again. But it was satisfying. Always is.

Down chunky trail with a loaded Bob is always pretty fun.


Got home, GF called about going snowshoeing. Loaded the shoes into the car and drove up 50. Climbed about 1500 ft in 1.75 miles to Waterdog Lake. Bluebird day.

A closer look reveals somebody's tracks up on the ridge far above.


Did I sleep well last night? Not sure, I don't really remember anything about it.