Sunday, October 19, 2014

School Bus: Hide and Seek

So I'm still a freshman when it comes to West Magnolia but I'm making progress.  My first attempt at School Bus went over about as well as an atomic wedgy in front of your favorite girlfriend so naturally I needed to redeem myself.  Instead of spinning my wheels I decided on a practical approach; to wield a macleod and sledge hammer.
My solution for finding the elusive school bus came in the form of volunteering.  As luck would have it, trail work was scheduled out at School Bus and I just couldn't let an opportunity to give back pass me by plus I'd get to sink my hands into some fine Rocky Mountain Dirt.  Well, even this didn't help much when I returned a couple of weeks later only to reach the top with no sign of a school bus anywhere.  Turns out that the bus is not the destination, I suppose I could have just asked.
Anyway, I did find it after all with a little help; it's just off the trail by about 20 yards just past the 1 mile mark (look for a school bus wheel lodged between 2 aspens on the left as you climb).  As for the ride, it was great.  The trail begins just a few yards from the intersection of 105-2A and 105.  Turn right on 105 and look for the trail just off to the left.
Fall colors painted the hard pack singletrack in spectacular gold and red and the Dirt was moist and tacky almost all the way up to the top.  It was a steady climb with few technical sections, one of which yours truly helped create just a couple of weeks earlier.  You travel through dense pine mixed with aspen trees and all I could hear that morning was the forest breathe with every gust of wind.
The climb is gradual with few steep sections but it is continuous and may seem long after a while.  You'll also have the opportunity to test your balance right around the 1.6 mile mark with a plank deck crossing over what appears to be hazardous soil.  Great switchbacks keep it interesting and if it's your first time be prepared for diversions because there are a couple of trail splits and it could have you sidetracked in a hurry.
Descending can be sketchy with all the tight turns and rocks and always keep an eye out for other trail users.  It was a great ride on a great trail and one you're sure to enjoy.  Click here for the trail profile - there must have been a disturbance in the force between 4.5 and 5.36 miles as my route gets a bit squirrely but the elevation doesn't seem to be affected.
Thanks for clicking in and I hope to see you on the trail.

Dirt Life

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

2014 Caribou Classic: A Boulder Mountain Bike Alliance Special Event

The 2014 Caribou Classic is behind us so we’ll have to wait another year to do this all over again.  This year the start was in the north meadow of Caribou Ranch and a great deal of thanks to the Guercio’s for hosting such a great event.  The BMA did one heck of a job putting it all together and many thanks to all the volunteers who kept the wheels rolling safely and responsibly.

It was a lollipop loop through a rocky climb up Sourdough to Left Hand Reservoir Road and the main aid station.  We then traveled up the rather steep Left Hand Rez Road to the sublime Little Raven trail.  We spilled out onto Brainard Lake Road to connect to the Brainard Cutoff.  We then connected to the boulder fields of South St. Vrain to checkpoint D and the start of the climb back up Sourdough.  You had the option of adding another grueling loop at checkpoint D but in the interest of time I decided against it.  We finally completed the loop back at the main aid station on Brainard Lake and Left Hand Rez Roads and the final stretch back to the staging area.

You would have thought I was out partying with Guns N Roses the night before the way I was riding.  I took an endo early trying to hang on with one hand on a descent as I reached for my sunglasses – the BMA sweepers were awesome offering all kinds of assistance on the trail.  The ride seemed uphill both ways and the rocks beat you up mercilessly.  The pros made it look easy but for most of us this was an absolute Sufferfest, even without the extra mileage at checkpoint D.  Click here for the ride profile (does not include extra miles).

I had a fantastic time and so did everyone else, it was a raging success and September 2015 can't come soon enough.  None of this would have been possible without the extrodinary effort and support from the following sponsors:

Boulder Mountain Bike Alliance - Improve the Trail Experience for Everyone in Boulder County
Caribou Ranch
Oskar Blues - Time For Beer
Cyclehops - Home Made Liquids & Solids
The Pros Closet
Sports Garage
Redstone Cyclery
Full Cycle
Contour Logic - Planning + Design for Smart Trail Systems
University Bicycles
The Fix
Bicycle Village
Eldorado Springs - Natural Spring Water
Spot Brand Bikes
RockyMounts - Boulder Based Bike Racks
Liberty Home Loans
NanaCakes - Life Is Too Short To Eat Boring Pancakes
RC Special Events - An Events Solution Company
Skratch Labs - Natural Hydration
Motion Fitness
Shaving Peggy - Colorado's Rock-n-Roll Band !!!

Thank you all for the memories!  -Dirt Life

Sunday, September 7, 2014

West Magnolia: School Bus

School Bus sounds innocent enough but make no mistake this is a bully of a ride.  The slope doesn't look intimidating at first but the loose and often rocky tread will leave you crying uncle all the way to the top.  I actually never made it to the bus, apparently you need a teacher's note and a chaperon to find it and I had neither.  Report cards are in and it seems I'll need to repeat this class.

I began the ride up Sugar Mag to trail 355 then caught the Hobbit south for a short class on West Mag single-track.  I met back up with 355 then single-file through the gate onto School Bus - School Bus and 355 at this point are one and the same.  The tread here is nice hard pack with a thin layer of crushed gravel but don't get too comfortable because your first pop quiz comes quickly and it's a tough one.

Your first and perhaps steepest climb comes shortly after entering the gate on 355.  This is a short but steep grade and will take a lot of leg strength to complete; make it on two wheels and you're king of the hill.

The road levels off at the top when you reach your first trail junction with 105.  Trail 105-2A is like the last day of school, it's such a relief and like summer you'll wish it would never end.  If you only have time for a couple of miles then do yourself a huge favor and ride 105-2A; this section is precisely why we ride fat tires.  For 2.5 miles, out and back, you will be treated to superb Dirt tread on tacky double-track under a canopy of tall dense pine and soon to be colorful aspen trees.  Clear those nasal passages because with the recent rainfall the scent of pine oil and moist Dirt will overwhelm you.  Unfortunately the trail ends at private property so it's back to School; bus that is.

Back at the junction you'll rejoin School Bus on 105.  The climb starts immediately on loose rocky tread.  Gear selection and a bit of finesse will pay huge dividends here.  The extra energy expelled for spinning your rear tire will cost you your lunch money so tread wisely.  At 5.92 miles you'll reach a split with 109; 105 to the left will take you down to Rollinsville while 109 loops around through open meadows and dense forest before meeting back up with 105.  Note that the final descent down 109 can get sketchy when wet with all the exposed roots and rocks along the way.

For an intermediate rider this ride was exhausting, a beginner would absolutely hate it although anyone willing to hike their bike up the first climb will absolutely love 105-2A and it's suitable for all skill levels.  Click here for the trail profile and use the search bar on this blog to find your next ride.  The Fall riding season is here and you won't want to miss the most colorful trails around.  Thanks for clicking in and I hope to see you on the trail.

Dirt Life

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Blue Dot | Bubblicious

Lollipops, Dots, Star Wars; to some this might sound like movie night with the kids but for a Boulder County fat tire junkie this can only mean one thing: sweet single-track.  Lollipop Loop, Red/Yellow/Blue Dot, Bear Down/Star Wars, just to name a few, are part of a network of classic mountain bike trails affectionately known as the Dot Trails.  Located just outside the town of Nederland Colorado here you’ll find everything from grueling technical climbs to manic chutes through tight single-track, all under the cover of Rocky Mountain landscaping. 

My ride began at the Nederland Park-n-Ride.  From here I rode up the Peak to Peak Hwy to Magnolia Road.  I took a quick detour down Boot then back to Magnolia for a little flavor, kind of like sneaking a few kernels of popcorn while pouring your soft drink.  I entered Blue Dot just off Magnolia Road at mile 4.18 of my ride.  From here it is a mild descent on double-track through towering pines.  The trail narrows gradually to fine single-track on a mixture of Dirt and small rocks, classic Ned tread.  The climbs are gentle by Colorado standards but you will encounter some rather technical sections that will require strong legs and superb rock-hopping abilities.  Threading through the forest is definitely a highlight and the aspen groves will brighten up this trail deliciously in the fall.

You’ll reach the Red Dot/Yellow Dot loop at the 6.4 mile mark.  This section can get a little rocky in areas with an occasional steep climb and descent, one in particular can be a bit precarious with jagged boulders and exposed roots but don’t despair the soft center of the tootsie pop is not far off.  The mountain vegetation gets thick in parts which makes this section that much sweeter.  This loop ran for 1.7 miles and may add about half an hour to your ride.

The whole route from Blue Dot to the Front Range trailhead took me roughly an hour to complete and ran approximately 9.25 miles.  The elevation gain and loss was minimal for a high country ride although there are a couple of areas that rise and fall pretty steeply.

The Front Range road is wide double-track all the way to the trailhead and Magnolia Road and it’s here that I ran into a couple of guys who convinced me that the ride back down to Boulder is Red Hot.  The ride down was intense, reaching speeds in excess of 40 miles an hour on fat nobby tires is not for the fearful.  Mountain bike tires get squirrely on pavement and the fast approaching hairpin turns at high speed are extremely hard on your brakes.

The afternoon went down like sugar; Click here for the trail profile and next time you get a craving head out west for a little sweetness.  Thanks for clicking in and I hope to see you on the trail.
Dirt Life

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