Tuesday Night Ride

I headed out with the Fort Collins Cycling Club for their Tuesday night Mulligan’s ride.

I could not keep up with the fast people at all. I ended up somewhere between the fast group and the “medium” group. By the end, I was hurting, and barely keeping up with the medium group (they had a shorter route, and we caught them about 4 miles from the finish).

Ride Details

    Total Distance: 30.48 miles
    Average Speed: 16.0 MPH

    I’m going to keep riding with those guys, until I can keep up!


Getting Back Into It

Besides commuting, I did not ride all winter. I gained 10-15 pounds during the holidays, and then about twice as much again during a month-long fight with bronchitis.

Eating the same amount required for me to ride 180-200 miles per week, while doing nothing but sitting in front of a computer all day, can really pack on the pounds!

I started riding again a few weeks ago. The extra weight makes even little rolling hills on the prairie tough, and both my speed and endurance are way down.

A 24-mile ride from Fort Collins, around Boyd Lake and to Loveland, and back to Fort Collins via Taft Hill Rd., with average speed 15.8 mph, almost gave me leg cramps last night. Some of that was because I never seem drink enough when it is cool or cold outside. I don’t think that I could ridden much faster, even if I had drunk enough to stay fully hydrated.

I love to ride hard, though, and doing it out in the countryside is always a big mood boost for me. Lots of sunshine, farms and critters and people to look at, etc.

I’ve been been a little reticent to show up for local group roadie rides. There is no way that I could keep up with the people that rode with last fall. I’m not super competitive, but also don’t like to be left in the dust after the first ten minutes of a 2+ hour ride, or have people waiting for me over and over. I should be able to barely keep up with them by…July?

Coming up: posts on some of my bicycle commuting equipment experiments, and some shorter bike route maps.


Commuting and Spin Class

I’ve just been commuting and going to 2-3 spin classes a week lately. It stays dark too late in the morning for me to want to head out early before work. I don’t like to ride more than an hour in the dark.

Drivers in this area are a lot nicer and aware than they are in other areas, but the last couple of cyclists that were killed around here over the last few years were either before or just after dawn. I don’t want to push my luck.

I need to figure out a way to fit in more spin classes and/or gym time. It is the time of year for cross-training.


October 11th and 16th Rides

October 11th Ride:
I rode up to Estes Park on Monday, via Masonville, Eden Valley, and Glen Haven. Beautiful, 80-mile ride. I did not have to stop on the switch-backs above Glen Haven this time. I have some pictures that I’ll post later.

October 16th Century Ride:
I went out with the Fort Collins Cycling Club for the year-end Kimberly’s Century Ride. Since I also rode to the starting-point from home, I ended up with 107.3 total miles. We rode up to to the Rawhide power plant north of Wellington, back to Fort Collins, and then south of town to Johnstown and back again. Nice ride with nice folks. Not too fast, and not too slow. I’m really going to miss riding with those people during the off-season!


Last 2010 Tuesday Night Ride

I felt really strong on Tuesday night’s Mulligan Ride with the Fort Collins Cycling Club. Zoom. We did a standard Bingham Hill and Dairy Road route. My legs were fresh, and I made sure not to get stuck in the back of the group.

I can ride hard off the front, but if I get behind much lighter riders that yo-yo their speed and effort, they leave me like I’m standing still if we hit an uphill section, and they decide that it is time to push it. I have to push it a little harder all-the-time, or I get left behind.

Riding hard is fun. I’m sorry that the season is ending for group rides. I’m going to miss it.


Fall Fling Ride

I went out on the fall fling ride with the Fort Collins Cycling Club. Nice, semi-easy-paced ride. I think that most of the hammer-heads that I usually try to keep up with did their own ride.

We did a 53-mile route that went south to Loveland, up the south-dam road to Carter Lake, around Carter Lake, through Eden Valley and Masonville, and then back to Fort Collins. Beautiful day for a ride.

The post-ride picnic was great. Hamburgers, chips, cookies, and good company.


September 25, Solo Century

Since the Buffalo Bicycle Classic charity ride was canceled two weeks before, due to wildfires near the route in both Boulder and near Carter Lake, I decided to ride the same basic route alone. The charity ride starts and ends in Boulder, with the mid-way point being just west of Fort Collins. Since I live in Fort Collins, I started and ended from home, and used Boulder as the mid-way point.

It was a beautiful day for a ride.  It was sunny, not cold, and the air was crisp and clear.  A steady south-to-north breeze made the trip down to Boulder a little more difficult, but also gave me a gentle push back home during the second half of the ride.  Here are some pictures that I took during the ride.

Near the beginning, looking back east towards Fort Collins and over Horsetooth Reservoir, from the overlook at the top of the second ridge just west of town.
morning above Horsetooth Reservoir

About seven miles from the last picture, looking south from the top of the south dam at the Eden Valley Reservoir. The route south winds through the local foothills, and around a few local reservoirs.
Eden Valley

A small section of the wildfire that canceled the organized ride could be seen just north of Carter Lake. Notice the stripes of orange fire retardant on the hillside, dropped by the airplanes and helicopters fighting the fire. The high-plains prairie grasses are all dried-out and yellow this time of year, and it does not take much to start a roaring wildfire.
Carter Lake Burn Area

This picture does not do this hill justice, and not just because of the ugly power lines in the fore-ground. I don’t know the percent grade, but a lot of local cyclists call the sharp curve at the bottom “crash curve,” because of all the terrible bicycle crashes that happen there each year. Even lighter riders hit speeds over 45 mph going down that hill. Lots of cyclists slide right into oncoming traffic going around that curve, many taking a 30+ mph tumble into the rocky hillside.
north of Carter Lake
Even though the steep section is only about 1 mile long, it takes most riders more than 10 minutes to climb it. Its close proximity to the cycling towns of Fort Collins, Loveland, and Longmont make this a pretty popular climbing hill for cyclists (climb, rinse, repeat…).

The dam road that goes around the east-side of Carter Lake affords long views of the prairie lands to the east.
Looking east from Carter Lake

A view of part of the lake, the local foothills, and part of the dam road at Carter Lake. The dam road runs just below the first hog-back ridge that makes up the eastern border/barrier of the lake.
Carter Lake dam road

There are lots of small ranches and farms between Loveland/Carter Lake and Boulder, Colorado. This ranch specializes in high-end breeding stock. At first, I thought these were Belted Galloway’s but the “oreo” pattern was only seen on a few cattle, and was more irregular than with real “oreo” cows.
breeding cattle

I turned around at the edge of the University of Colorado campus. The Performance bicycle shop was right there, so I dropped by to look around the shop and get a couple of Cliff energy bars. That Performance store gets a lot of their “test” flavors, and you never know what you are going to find.
Performance bicycle shop in Boulder
The bike shop employees were also nice enough to let me park my bike inside the door, while I had lunch at the Big City Burrito stand across the way. People were used to seeing sweaty guys in bike shorts walking around that shopping center. I took a little extra time to stretch, use the restroom, and super-hydrate (about an hour).

The first part of the ride back took me north and west up busy Highway 36, that runs between Boulder and Estes Park. The road has a really wide shoulder, pretty views, but there is also a lot of noisy traffic. The drivers are very nice to cyclists down that way, though. Highway 36 looks like a rolling flat, but you gradually and steadily gain elevation as you travel north and west, hugging the bottom of the same ridge that runs all the way north to the Wyoming state border (about 75 miles north of Boulder). It is one of those “why does this seem harder than it looks?” kind of roads.
Highway 36

Just before Highway 36 really starts to climb up to the town of Lyons, the bike route turned east off of the highway, and back to the same country roads that brought me down to Boulder. This hill also looks gentle, but I found it pretty easy for my not-so-fresh legs to steadily maintain 26-30 mph down onto the prairie for almost an hour.
Back onto the prairie

I saw more cyclists between Highway 36 and Carter Lake that day, than I’ve seen on any stretch of roads anywhere else ever, except during races and charity rides. I’ll bet that I rode past 30-40 cyclists going the opposite way just west of Longmont, and south of Carter Lake. There were a good 15-20 cyclists that I could see going my way as well.

Typical view of ranches below the foothills about an hour south of Carter Lake.
Highway 36 hogbacks

The tail-wind blew me home pretty quickly. If I had known about the wind helping me so much at the end, I would have ridden harder. I didn’t bonk, get dehydrated, or even have cramps that night. Even so, I was tired, and really glad to see those last couple of rollers at the edge of my home-town, Fort Collins.


Rides for August 31 – September 5, 2010

I’ve been very busy lately, and did not get around to posting this past week’s rides until today. Mostly due to my main commuter bike being out-of-action, and needing a new back rim.

I don’t feel like I can use my newer road bike to carry work clothes, lunch, etc. on my morning training rides. So, I’ve been trying to ride more interval-type routes in the morning, so that I can ride back home to get my stuff for work. This adds about 30 minutes to my typical morning ride and commute to work. I’ve had to work later to make up the time.

August 31 Afternoon Ride
I got dropped like a brick on the Fort Collins Club Mulligan ride. I felt good too. They were just too frisky and fast for me to even keep them in sight. We did the standard Bingham Hill and Dairy route. I need to map that!

Distance: 38.1 miles
Average Speed: 17.5 mph

September 1st Morning Ride
I rode up over the south Horsetooth Reservoir dam, to Glade Rd, and then swung west to take County Rd. 29 back to Fort Collins through Masonville and then up over the first hill heading north above the south dam, and back down to the CSU Stadium. It was COLD!

Distance: 31.8 miles
Average Speed: 14.4 mph

September 2nd Morning Ride
Busy schedule, so I just had time to ride up the south Horsetooth Reservoir dam at the end of Harmony Rd, and north along Centennial Dr., up and over Bingham Hill, and then back via Overland Trail rd.

Distance: 16 miles?
Average Speed: forgot to write it down.

September 3 Ride
I did a standard ride out to Wellington and back. Nothing eventful happened that I remember. Just a good training ride after work.

Distance: 37.6 miles
Average Speed: 17.8 mph

September 5 Ride
This morning, I rode up to the Rawhide energy plant and back. It was hot, and there was a very stiff wind coming from the west. Hard ride. Between the lack of water, the 20-30 mph gusts of wind, and the heat, I ended up limping the last 10 miles home. That ride is so HARD, for how flat it is. My body aches, and I’m still dehydrated 4 hours later. Meh.

Distance: 58.6 miles
Average Speed: 15.8 mph


August 31 Morning Ride

The ride on the way to work this morning was nice. I started off slow and stiff from the big ride the other day, but got stronger as I went. Nice ride. Beautiful morning.

I combined parts of several of my standard routes. I went up the south Horsetooth Reservoir dam on Harmony Rd, rode back to Glade Rd, and a different, western route around the area surrounding Boyde Lake State Park. I’m going to have to map that route!

Distance: 32.97 miles
Average Speed: 16.4 mph (not bad with that many hills for me right now).


August 29 Ride

I went up to Estes Park on Sunday afternoon, using the Masonville-Glen Haven-Estes Park Loop. It was HOT! I ended up drinking both of my water bottles before I got to Drake, where I bought 3 24-ounce sports drinks. The sports drinks sustained me the rest of the way over the pass after Glen Haven.

The switch-backs above Glen Haven defeated me. Even though the climb up to that point is really gradual, I had no more “punch” left in my legs by the time I hit the first switch-back. My heart and lungs were fine, but the pitch was too steep for my legs to push up it. My cadence dropped below 35 rpm in the easiest gear that I had.

There was too much traffic to zig-zag my way up. I was going so slow, that I almost fell off the damn bike on every little bump in the road. I got off and walked my bike up the first two switch-backs. Getting off the bike rested my legs enough to make it up the rest of the way on the bike. My legs were just not strong enough to push big-old me up that hill. Humiliating.

Beautiful scenery up there. Some clouds rolled in and made it a little cooler from about the town of Glen Haven and up.

It took me so long to get up there, that I had to really push it to get back home before dark. I love zooming downhill. The sun was behind the mountains by the time I rolled into Fort Collins. I should have taken my head light.

Distance: 82.3 miles
Average Speed: 14.4 mph