Sunday, February 1, 2009

Epic Road errrr Mtb ride?

So yesterday I went out with a great plan. Ride to Carter Lake, come down on the north side and then follow Pole Hill Road up and over towards Estes Park. I thought this was a great plan as I have mapped this ride out on and found that it absolutely goes through. Not only this but I knew from riding between Estes Park and Lyons a number of times that Pole Hill Road is a nice dirt road at least on the Highway 36 side. Well, the night before, via Twitter, I found out that two of my Mafia Teammates (Spencer Powlisson and Kate Scheider) who happen to be ECCC alums like me were heading in the same direction with the same idea for a ride. As I don't live in Boulder I knew it would take them longer to get Carter Lake than me. However, by the time I left I had figured that I was not going to run into them. Turns out I was wrong. After I crested the first tough climb on Pole Hill Road and started heading down who do I see but Spencer and Kate checking their iphones to see if they are lost or not. Well, a short conversation later and we were cruising down a tarred and chipped road. Something that the 3 of us are quite used to and comfortable riding our road bikes on. Well, as the ride went on it got a little looser and rougher and significantly steeper. Normally I am cool with that, but on a road bike our easiest gear (at least for me) is a 39 x 25, which is a very hard gear to push up loose steep climbs on treadless tires. We climbed, climbed, and climbed somemore picking our way through some gnarly terrain! For most of the ride things were going ok, I would say the biggest problem we were having were the couple of snow patchy sections that I had to dab on causing me to significantly lose my ability to clip in with my speedplay pedals. As we kept going we thought things were getting better, turns out we were wrong. At some point we came down a descent that well would have been tough on our mountain bikes with fat knobby tires and suspension, something we did not have. Then I saw a telltale sign of bad things to come, we were on forest service roads. This means no winter maintenance. Consequently turned into a couple of miles of hiking before we finally reached the final descent. The final descent was bad! I couldn't clip in due to snow packed cleats and thus had a ver hard time controlling my bike. Eventually, we hit the road section of Pole Hill Road and I was very happy, VERY HAPPY! This meant a short dirt road descent and then a fast 25 miles back home!

Check out Kate coming up one of the snowy climbs we did, before things got really crazy!

During this ride I learned a lot about what not to do. When looking at MapMyRide there is a reason why people typically don't go all the way on certain roads, they don't connect in the way one would hope. Another lesson I learned, it is always better to do adventure rides where you are exploring on longer training days instead of shorter ones. Finally, if you are going to explore don't do it alone. Thanks Kate and Spencer for going through that craziness yesterday, it would have been 100% unbearable without you guys losing heart with me everytime we saw the road go up again!

For another perspective check out Kate's Blog

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