Sunday, August 10, 2014

Fourth of July | Some Summer

Looking for a good off-road workout up in the mountains but you aren’t in the mood for obstacles then I’ve got the ride for you; Fourth of July in old town Eldora.  Fourth of July is actually a Dirt road (County Road 111) that leads up to the Fourth of July trailhead and the Buckingham Campground.  The road is quite popular on weekends and parking at the base and at the top is very limited.  If you’re out for a hike you can catch the shuttle at Nederland High School to the Hessie trailhead and Fourth of July road.  I chose to start the timer at Nederland High School.

From Nederland High School it’s almost 4 miles west to CR 111 road and the Hessie trailhead.  The climb is steady all the way to Fourth of July trailhead with nothing bigger than softball sized rocks to contend with, perfect for a hardtail but may be a bit bumpy on the way down.  The views are amazing as you travel deeper into the Indian Peaks wilderness.  On the way you’ll pass some unbelievable stream shots which are only surpassed by the scented mountain air and if you’re lucky you might even get a little rain.

Once at the top (approx. 10,100 feet) if you have any energy left you can hike up the Arapahoe Pass 904 trail to the Continental Divide (11,900 feet) or if you’re feeling even more adventurous try some backcountry camping for that true mountain experience.  The ride down can get a little bumpy at times and fast if you lay off the brakes, just be careful because the rocks are loose and the shade can hide some endo-makers.

I’d like to pay special thanks to Mark and Pat of Illinois for the pleasant conversation and Big Fallacy stout; drive safe and maybe we’ll see you next year.

After a long ride in or around Nederland Colorado don’t forget to make your way to the Backcountry Pizza and Subs for a slice of heaven then to the Very Nice Brewing Co. for some fine craft brew.  Summer is Colorado’s best kept secret so dust off that mountain or road bike and head for the hills.  Click here for the ride profile.

Thanks for clicking in and I hope to see you on the trail - Dirt Life

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Rocky Mountain High

Photo: Mattias Fredriksson
Few things can scare you and thrill you at the same time but riding fat tires between 7000 and 14000 feet of elevation on uneven terrain is like nothing you've ever experienced.  Dirt just sweetens the ride and if you did it right you'll find some in your pocket sharing some room with your beer money.

Things happen often and sometimes fast on a mountain bike, that's why we ride 'em.  For me it's about sinking a nobby into fine Rocky Mountain soil until the trail heads downhill then it's all about the flow.  Make it down in one piece and you can grab a Red Bull and pour one out for the privilege to do it again.

We're lucky to live in high altitude with the Rocky Mountains in our back yard, it's no wonder cyclists from around the world head for the hills to step up their game.

I came across a cool article on the Red Bulletin; Click here for some insight on how mountain bike training has evolved.

"Life moves pretty fast.  If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."

Dirt Life

Monday, July 28, 2014

What's New?

This blog has just become more usable!

You can now search my blog and go directly to the ride you had in mind.  Just type a keyword or phrase and you're there.  For those who are familiar with this blog you know that you'll also find links to my Garmin page for detailed maps and trail profiles at the end of each post to help you plan your ride.

More enhancements are in the works like additional pages with quick links from bike shops to brew pubs and I'm even working on a cool t-shirt to show off your Dirt life.

You'll find the search bar at the top right, you can't miss it.  Try some of my favorite trails using these keywords or phrases.
  1. Betasso
  2. Heil Ranch
  3. Sourdough
  4. Hall Ranch
  5. Caribou
Thanks for clicking in and I hope to see you out on the trail.

Dirt Life

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Monday, July 14, 2014

Waldrop / Sourdough North: Cannonball Run

A black Lamborghini Countach racing down a California highway at break neck speeds; what impressionable young man can ever forget that opening scene?  So I’m standing at the trailhead just off the Brainard Rec Area parking lot contemplating the Waldrop or N. Sourdough trail.  According to most trail guides I’m in for a black diamond run whichever route I choose and at first I feel like Burt Reynolds but soon I’ll feel like Dom DeLuise.

Right out of the gate and past the 814/835 split the tread is absolutely amazing – a superb mix of moist Dirt, pine needles and fine Rocky Mountain gravel.  Waldrop (trail 814) slopes gradually on tight single-track before the cannonballs make their first appearance.  The insanity continues as the descent progresses, sometimes steeply, over boulders that would give any would-be Cannonballer pause.

A rider with supreme rock hopping abilities cold probably make it down on two wheels but for an intermediate rider like myself, with a mortgage, I thought it wise to avoid Dr. Nikolas Van Helsing and dismounted where appropriate.  Your sense of smell will be overcome with the aromas of pine forest, rain and moist Dirt kept ripe by the abundant shade; will surely take your mind off the treacherous terrain.

At 1.68 miles you reach a trail junction with the Brainard Snowshoe trail.  Clouds were building and I didn’t have much time for exploring more unfamiliar terrain so I stuck to the main trail to the right.  Here it got a little wet but the black clay mud stuck to the ground which made for nice traction, for mud anyway.  You’ll roll along a couple of raised platforms to keep you above the really soggy stuff – they’re about 6 to 8 inches wide and will test your balance – before reaching a sweet bridge over the South Saint Vrain creek at 1.84 miles.  The rushing water was quite a sight and flows west in case you lose your bearings – also a nice boardwalk at 2 miles.

From here it is a short climb to another trail split at 2.17 miles with South Saint Vrain trail No. 909; I chose to stay right toward Sourdough Trail 835.  The trail in this direction starts flowing nicely but the rocks reappear with a familiar vengeance.  You reach another split at 4.05 miles and here’s where I made my first mistake.  Having caught up with some other riders I decided to head in their same direction or left on Sourdough 835; that worked out about as well as a couple of priests in a red Ferrari trying to win a date.  In hindsight I probably should have gone right toward the Red Rock trailhead but I was riding solo and if I had any trouble out here in the wilderness I thought it would be safer to be near other trail users.

This section of Sourdough was gnarly (see opening paragraph pic) I found myself dismounting often to avoid any pain and suffering.  I soon lost track of my comrades and after about half a mile I finally spilled out onto an isolated forest road tucked away within a canopy of pine trees now simmering in the cool mist of cloud cover.  The trail sign pointed left so naturally I went all Bradshaw/Tillis and headed right to a dead end at the private and secluded Duncan Park.  After the short detour I was back on track, so I thought.  Having passed a few feeder roads and missing the trail along the way I was relieved to catch up with a firewood delivery truck and followed them out to Hwy 72.  From here it was one long climb back to the Brainard Rec Area parking lot.

Turning around and retracing my route would have meant more hike-a-bike and could have felt longer than sitting through Cannonball Run 2.  You’ll quickly find that Black Diamond up here in the Rockies means boulders and the Waldrop/Sourdough tandem is full of ‘em.  I wouldn’t recommend riding alone out here but if you do make sure you stick close to other trail users.  I had the wherewithal to bring along my Garmin handheld but thankfully I didn’t need to use it. 

You can find the route profile at Waldrop Sourdough North; this was one heck of a ride and one I won’t soon forget.  Thanks for clicking in and hope to see you on the trail.

Dirt Life