Rest Day in Crested Butte

Rest day today. Did my laundry at the hotel, booked my accomodations for the next couple of days, got a massage. Later I might go to the local movie theater to see the new M.I. flick.

Stopped at the bike shop to get some advice about the Schofield Pass / 401 ride. Ended up buying a Latitude 40 map of the local trails, which might come in handy when I return from Marble. The guy at the shop recommended a multi-trail linkup of Snodgrass, Lupine, and Lower Loop that I might do when I return from Marble.

C.B. is definitely cruiser capital of Colorado:

image

I am staying at the insanely posh Grand Lodge at Mt. Crested Butte tonight because all of the accomodations in town are full. Not exactly what you would call bikepacking:

image

However, there are quite a few advantages to staying here. First of all, the alternative would be to drive 30 minutes to Gunnison tonight and then back tomorrow morning, which would make it hard to get an early start. Second, they are 3 miles further up Gothic Road than C.B. itself, that’s 3 fewer miles to climb tomorrow! Third, they are letting me leave my car in their lot tomorrow night when I’m not here. And fourth, I got a free one-ride lift ticket, which I might use to check out the resort’s bike park when I get back.

I have a room reserved at the Beaver Lake Retreat in Marble tomorrow night. Should be pretty nice because he had a big group that was going to rent the entire place postpone their trip by a day.

I will be completely out of contact for the next two days, riding to Marble and back. The plan tomorrow is to ride over Schofield Pass to the town of Crystal (location of the famous Crystal Mill — supposedly the most-photographed site in the entire state), check out the Crystal ghost town, maybe a waterfall, then continue into Marble where I hope to see some of those gigantic slabs of the stone. And there’s a BBQ joint in Marble, of all places, that was recommended to me by a guy I work with.

Then on Monday I’ll ride back up the Crystal River road to Schofield Pass (which I’m told is going to require some walking because it’s steep and rocky in places), but then instead of returning on the Gothic Road I’ll hang a left onto the famous 401 trail, supposedly the best singletrack in the entire state (seeing a pattern here yet?).

I’m told these roads/trails are quite busy with jeeps, ATVs, hikers, and bikers so I don’t think I’ll ever really get lonely out there. I will bring along my satellite tracker “just in case”.

Ohio Pass

(Posting a day late due to internet down in C.B. last night)

This morning I left the campsite at Blue Mesa at about 8:30. I didn’t eat more than a granola bar because I figured if I got going I could get a late breakfast in Gunnison.

US 50 had hardly any traffic at that time of the morning and it was actually kind of pleasant. It was kind of an overcast day, though, so I couldn’t get any really good pictures. Here’s a view of the Marina where I camped the night before from the opposite side of the res:

IMG_20150807_0843014_rewind

I got sprinkled on just a tiny bit but no biggie.

Around 9:30 traffic picked up quite substantially, with a lot of commercial trucks. My guess is that all of the deliveries to the Gunnison area leave Grand Junction at the same time every morning and eventually they catch up to you. US50 has a nice shoulder but I was still glad to have my Portland Design Works Danger Zone taillight. That thing is so freaking bright, and the peculiar way it flashes makes motorists notice it from a looooong way off.

I think I had a slight tailwind, and I pulled into Gunnison at about 10:45. I stopped the the W Cafe for breakfast. I was hoping to find a place that would still serve breakfast, they serve it all day long! And it was packed. Obviously the right choice. Sausage and cheese omelet, and a truly gigantic portion of hash browns.

So after a stop at the grocery store I’m feeling pretty good pulling out of Gunnison at 12:30. It’s still overcast but the clouds don’t look like thunder-type clouds. Also, the clouds were keeping everything cool, which was a nice change. Heading north towards C.B., I swear there was more traffic on that road than there was on US50! A few miles out of town, Ohio Creek road forks to the left. This is a beautiful, flat, paved road through a very scenic valley. It looked like there’d be some good weather up ahead:IMG_20150807_1245454_rewindIMG_20150807_1347211_rewind

After about 20 miles of pavement the road turns to gravel. The sky was getting uglier although still not looking severe. The road was nicely graded. After a mile or two I came to a parking area for horse trailers with an outhouse. It was starting to rain so I took shelter under the outhouse overhang for awhile. I probably should have kept riding because when I finally did start again, I got caught out in much harder rain. It was all aspen forest, which doesn’t block much rain. Eventually I found a nice cluster of fir trees to take shelter under.

image

After about 20 minutes the rain stopped and I was able to continue. I started to see big views.
image

image

I had to walk a couple of 10-11% grades which I didn’t mind too much because it helps to stretch out my calves. The pass was not marked but the road started going down and in less than a mile I was back at the junction with Kebler Pass road that I had been at 3 days earlier.
image

Unfortunately this road was really wet and muddy and everything was a mess after a 7 mile downhill. But the hotel has a hose outside for washing bikes. And a hot tub for me!

Aside: this has nothing to do with the trip, but when returning from dinner in downtown C.B. Last night, I spotted this classic Schwinn:
image

Look at that stem clamp! Can you believe we used to ride crap like that?! And the juxtaposition with the modern aluminum OnOne handlebars is just too much.

Crawford to Blue Mesa

Well,I wasn’t sure I’d be able to ride at all today. Last night I awoke with a cramp in my calf that was so vicious, it actually pulled the muscle! I was limping around this morning. I took it on faith that riding would stretch it out and make it better instead of worse.

Luckily, SH 92 is a very gentle climb. The grade rarely exceeds 4%, which was lucky, because I was carrying an extra 4 liters of water–that’s about 9 pounds–because I was pretty sure there was no water anywhere on the route. (Which turned out to be true.) So I just took it easy and spun along in a low gear. The climb went on for about 20 miles, 3600 feet total. It seemed like it would never end, but at least I was able to do it.

Also, the road had close to zero traffic; in over 4 hours of riding, I was passed by around 50 cars. (I counted them to pass the time.) The pavement is great. All in all,a road biker’s dream road.

Here are some pictures. The mountain range in the background is the San Juans:

image

image

image

When I got to lake view campground, I discovered there were showers here. So even though it was only 2:30 I decided to stop. I’m basically killing time here with nothing to do, but I’ll turn in early and get a super early start tomorrow for the push back to CB.

Warning: Extreme Vertigo!

image

The above is a picture of what is called “The Narrows”. Man, it is hard to stand there without feeling like you are falling forward. And there’s no guard rail either.
Further on, some viewpoints give a view of the river itself.

image

I have a lot more pictures, but I can’t tell which ones are good looking at my phone screen, so I’ll wait until I can look at them on my laptop before posting any more.

So it was a really hot ride, uphill into a headwind, and I was worried about running our of water. I saw a family at one of the viewpoints (I was nearly the only one out there) and asked them if they had any water to spare. The guy said sure, and pulled a cooler our of his truck. When he made to undo the drain plug, I asked him what he had in the cooler. “Nothing but ice and water ” he assured me, and he opened it to show me some soda cans floating in ice water. Okay, I figured, the water might have some dirt from the outside of the cans but basically should be okay.  What a mistake! The water had an odd taste that I couldn’t quite place. I said to him, “this tastes like food, maybe lettuce or something but with a hint of garlic.” He acted bewildered. When I caught up with them at the next viewpoint, I asked the guy again what he might have had in there. “Oh, yeah, we had some sandwiches in there that got wet.” About 20 more minutes of drinking this crappy water, it finally hit me: dill pickles. (Note how close my original impression was, before I knew about the sandwiches; maybe I have a future as a wine sommelier.) I also began to notice that my mouth was really dry, and that drinking the water did not help. In fact the more I drank, the drier my mouth got. This was probably due to the vinegar.
I was pretty pissed off about it, especially since the return trip was so fast, I probably wouldn’t have run out of water anyway!
Lesson learned: never trust anyone not to be a complete idiot. Reminds me of a plaque one of my housemates a long long time ago had hanging above the door to his room:

    Love many
    Trust few
    Always paddle your own canoe.

I should never have let that guy touch my paddle!

On the way back I noticed that you can see Needle Rock from just about anywhere out here. Can you spot it?
image

I even have a view of it from outside my room at the B&B. In fact I have a view of just about everything!
image

The Old Mad Dog

Rode to Crawford this morning. Crawford road was boring so I turned out on Cottonwood Creek Rd because it looked more scenic. It was a lot of climbing, but if I hadn’t gone that way I wouldn’t have seen Needle Rock:

image

Now having pulled pork for lunch at Joe Cocker’s former restaurant. After lunch I’m going to drop my bags at the hotel and ride out to the north rim. Stay tuned for more pics later today.

BTW tomorrow I’ll be on SH 92 all the way to US50 so I will have satellite traking turned off to conserve battery.

On the road again

I’m on vacation this week and part of next, and I’ve been looking forward to doing some bike packing all summer. Unfortunately I’m not in very good shape this year. I thought about doing the new Idaho route, but the thought of wolves in Idaho freaks me out. So I thought maybe I’d do the salida to Platoro section of the GDMBR. But after studying the maps I concluded that I was in no way in shape for that.

I decided to head down to Crested Butte. There are a few trails I know I want to do like the 401 but that doesn’t really satisfy my desire to actually GET somewhere on the bike. I decided to do a loop from CB to Paonia to Crawford to Gunnison and finally back to CB. It’s a lot of pavement, but there are some places I really want to see, like the north rim of the black canyon, and Kebler Pass. When I return to CB I’m going to ride Schofield Pass to Marble, which is also someplace I’ve always wanted to see and return on the 401 trail, which is supposed to be the finest single track in Colorado.

Soooo… today I rode over Kebler Pass to paonia. The weather has been terrible down here lately– I actually spent the first few days of my vacation sitting at home waiting for it to clear. Yesterday it poured all day in CB and was still coming down hard on Monarch Pass when I drove over it last night. But this morning, as promised, the sun came out. Still a lot of moisture over the divide:

image

But the direction I was heading wad perfect:

image

Woo hoo, here we go!

image

Wild flowers up here are spectacular. Although the are good back home as well because it’s been such a wet summer. This it’s the road to lake Irwin, which I wanted to see, but it’s two miles off route – all uphill of course.

image

The climb up the pass from CB is actually quite easy. On the other side, big views of what I presume is Mt.
Lamborn.

image

After some step paved downhill, the road turns to dirt again and goes through thick Aspen forests. This must be spectacular in the fall.

image

Near the bottom (and it’s a long way, with 3000 feet of drop) is Erickson Springs picnic area. It’s beautiful.

image

There is a campground here too, but it was way too early to stop and besides, this valley has a history of problems with west Nile virus. So I am not camping until I get back to hwy 50.

When I got down to CO 133 I discovered that you can’t actually see Paonia reservoir, you can only see the dam. So I decided to climb the road up to the dam. This is looking towards McClure Pass (which is another 2500) feet of climbing!)

image

Then I turned around to head to Paonia. I expected the ride to be all downhill but there was a lot of rolling. Still I made it to town, 50 miles total by about 2:30. I stopped at Ollie’s ice cream shop for a sundae and watched life go by on Paonia’s one block main street.

image

Tomorrow : the Black Canyon!

Been a long time since I rock and rolled, mmm-mmm

Hello poetry lovers. I haven’t blogged in a blue moon, but since there actually was one a couple of nights ago, it’s time!

So much is new… let’s start with the bike:

IMG_20150805_1139130_rewind

It’s a 23″ Carver Gnarvester. I pirated the 29+ wheels that Mike C built for my Pugsley and re-laced them to some hope hubs. Running Sram’s cheapest 11 speed (X0?). Cable discs of course, but not the old standby! Using TRP Spykes which beat the old BB7s hands down. With carbon fork, the bike comes in at about 29 pounds.

Turns out my surly frame bag fits passably. I’ve chucked the anything cages, they were too fragile. But I am trying out the Blackburn cargo cage on my down tube. My tent fits under there! (Except poles, which are in the frame bag.) The old Viscasha holds my clothing. The top tube bag is a new addition. It was made by Greg Wheelwright in my home town of boulder. Check out his stuff, it’s top-tier.

More to come…

Switzerland trail and Gordon Gulch

Today I rode some of the local trails in the foothills of Boulder. I used to ride these all the time but for some reason I haven’t been up here in a few years.

I started out riding up four mile Canyon to the Switzerland trail. This is an old narrow gauge railroad bed that’s been converted. At the Sugarloaf Mountain parking area I rode 50 yards down a dead end trail to a spot that I like a lot. My phone camera did not do this justice ; there are snow capped peaks back there but there wasn’t enough contrast with the sky.

image

Then I continued on towards the peak to Peak highway. At FS233 I took a left toward Gordon gulch. After a hair raising downhill,

image

I came to the gg trail.

image

Gg used to have one short rocky section and then it was all smooth singletrack. The rocky section is just like I remembered.

image

However, after this there was a lot of torn up trail – – probably flood damage from last fall.

image

image

image

Eventually the damage was behind me and I achieved the state of Flow that gg is famous for.

image

image

The flow ended all too quickly and then I was back on Sugarloaf road heading for home.

If you are interested in this ride go to Mtbproject.com and search for Gordon gulch.