Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Hall Ranch | Bitterbrush

Hall Ranch boulder garden; there's a trail there somewhere!
I remember huddling up in gym class on rainy days with my buddies, the occasional glance from inside the scrum deciding who was going to receive the massive dodge ball assault that was only moments away.  At the sound of the whistle we unleashed a surge on our unsuspecting target that even General Petraeus would be proud of.  This past weekend I was the target and Hall Ranch held the Lawgiver!

I just can't seem to make it out of that boulder garden without a scratch but this time it wasn't the garden but the training wheels section that saw my endo; half a mile from the trailhead and my front wheel came to rest perfectly against a rock the size of a watermelon.  Another slow motion maneuver, clipped in I tried to adjust but no use I was over the bars head first into an Orangutan somersault and another fine example of why we wear helmets.

Antelope and Nelson Loop were closed so all I could map was Bitterbrush.  By the way, Bitterbrush just before the 2 mile mark is now winding singletrack and a blast at speed; kudos to the track builders.  Click here for the trail profile and check out the player for the play-by-play.  Thanks for clicking in and I hope to see you on the trail.

Dirt Life

Monday, March 2, 2015

Lost Lake: Indian Peaks Wilderness

There's nothing like a long hike up in the Indian Peaks Wilderness to clear you mind.  This past weekend I just needed to get away and for a two and a half hours I was treated to one heck of a winter wonderland.

Just outside old town Eldora you'll find the Hessie trail head and this time of year the trail is covered in 4 to 5 feet of snow, prime for snowshoeing but this day I gave it a go with just my Keen snow boots.  The trail was nicely packed and snowshoes seemed to keep the other trail users pace down.

Travel along past the Hessie townsite through the narrow trails among the towering pines, dusting you from time to time with that champagne powder Colorado is so famous for.  At 2.19 miles you come to the Devils Thumb/Bypass trail marker.  Low on fuel I decided on the short hike up to Lost Lake.  At 2.63 miles the trail splits again with Lost Lake to the left.  The hike from here was a bit steeper through dense forest, it was amazing.  You'll finally reach Lost Lake after 2.89 miles.

The hike to Lost Lake is a mild climb but it does begin over 8500 feet and peaks at just over 9700 feet in elevation so be prepared.  It was an amazing day and I hope to make use of those campsites this winter.

Click here for the trail profile and I hope to see you on the trail.

Dirt Life

Monday, February 16, 2015

Specialized Fat Boy: Dirt Life Quick Take

I rented another Specialized Fat Boy from University Bicycles in Boulder this past weekend but this time it would be rolling on dry Dirt and rock out at Heil Ranch in north Boulder.

My last time out on a Fat Boy, my friend and I took them out during a winter snow storm and what an experience and since then I’ve seriously been considering replacing my trusty 26er with The Jeep of all mountain bikes.

The Specialized Fat Boy I rented was fully rigid with no suspension in front or back.  While this made climbing a breeze (I don’t know if it was the offseason workouts or the fat tires but I never had an easier time flattening out the climbs) the rocky tread out at Heil Ranch was punishing on the wrists, even on the portly rubber.  The weight was never a problem although you quickly realize that these Fat Bikes are not built for speed.

On the descents the bike tends to bounce and at times rather uncontrollably.  My biggest mistake was leaving the toe-clips at home.  With such a big contact patch the bike felt like 8 seconds on Bodacious and left this Cowboy with 2 perfectly spaced bruises on my shin.

I liked the grip shifters in the snow but on dry Dirt I think I would prefer thumb shifters.  The Tektro hydraulic brakes left much to be desired.  With the extra weight you do need sturdy brakes but both times these brakes hummed annoyingly almost from the point I had to start applying them to the end of the ride.

The great news is that everything wrong with this bike is easily corrected except for the suspension.  Rear is not so important unless you’re bombing downhill on rocky terrain but a front suspension I think would make this ride perfect.

If you’ve been thinking about giving a Fat Bike a try, don’t put it off any longer.  You will be amazed how friendly they are on any trail.  You can rent one at University Bicycles and be out on the trail in 15 minutes.  You can find the ride profile on my Garmin page.

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

Friday, February 13, 2015

Tool Box Essentials

Great article from Bike Radar's Home Wrench column for those looking to fill a tool box; my favorite and still missing in my own tool box is the torque wrench.

Click here for the full article and I hope to see you on the trails.

Dirt Life

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Fat Bikes: New Sensation

New Sensation is not just a hit song by INXS anymore!  I used to think that laying the first tracks of the day down one of Colorado’s glorious ski runs was the ultimate sensation, that was until this past weekend when my friend Elizabeth and I rented our first Fat Bikes of the season and dared to ride during one of the first snow storms of the year.

There is nothing like packing the first tracks aboard some Ground Control 26 x 4.6 tires, it’s enough to totally change your mind about mountain biking and that’s a huge endorsement given my fervent infatuation for the traditional 26 x 2.4's.

We rented 2 Specialized Fat Boys painted in Bronco Orange and Blue from University Bicycles and took them out to the Eagle trail in North Boulder.  From the first turn of the cranks we both knew that Fat Bikes would soon be hanging in our garages, perhaps even replacing my Scott Genius or her Trek Remedy. Fat Bikes were originally built to keep you on top of the mud and sand but snow is easily our favorite up here in the Rockies.

The bikes roll easily over dry packed powder and have surprisingly incredible traction even in the deep stuff.  Climbing was a breeze too with almost no wheel spin even on steep grades.  Our bikes had no suspension and with stiff tire pressure your arms will take some of the impact but that's easily addressed by reducing the tire pressure to allow the tires to absorb most of the bumps.

The weight of this hardy mount was never an issue with the 2 x 10 drive train and the carbon fiber fork was a nice touch.  I don’t particularly like grip shifters under normal conditions but with winter gloves they worked rather well and depending on the gloves grip shifters are highly recommended. The disc brakes tend to squeak when wet but there’s an easy solution; lay off ‘em.  With such a large contact patch you shouldn’t need to squeeze so hard if at all.

It was an incredible ride and who knows, a Fat Bike might just replace your old 26/27.5/29 inch wheel.  Get out and give one a try, you won’t regret it!  Thanks for clicking in and I hope to see you on the trail.

Dirt Life