Monday, April 25, 2011

Snow Biking! Well, that was not my intent Sunday...

An idea was placed in my head. It all started at the Pumphouse Saturday night over some beer (stout was beer of the night) and an long island ice tea. I met Joel and David S up around 8pm there to chat bikes, summer plans, and the usually fish stories. I was bummed for not making the voodoo race and from seeing everyone's comments, I really missed out. (GO PHIL!) Oh well, we at least got down there a month ago and had a great day and nice tour of the race course. I was able to sneak out for a 25 mile bike path ride around Longmont on the 1 by 9 just before the pump house. At the end of the night the topic of riding Sunday came up. David said he would like to do some climbing so that heading up James Canyon to Peak to Peak and looping back to Ward would fill that void and could be done quickly if we parked at Plateau road and 36. Sounded good to me although I mentioned that there could be a bit of snow up there right now!!! We all wanted to go about midday, so discussions would continue then.

I start painting in the morning finishing up our stair well cut in using the 16 foot ladder. Had to get a little creative to reach everything around the stairs, but it all worked out. 10:40am text from David--family day, no riding. Okay...keep painting.

1:00pm: text from Joel--possible bike buyer coming at 2pm, he was out. I finished cleaning up the brushes and started packing--why not do the ride up to Peak to peak anyway? I checked the CDOT Ward web cam for SH72...yep, snow everywhere, but not much on the road. Looked okay to me. Parked at Plateau and started climbing.
Conditions were dry, a few drops of rain here and there but nothing to worry about....yet. I did decide to do this ride on my MTB because of the weather and gravel on the road...little did I know this would be a wonderful survival decision.
Look at that pretty face!

Post office at Jamestown. A few drops still--you can see them on the handle bars. Ate some food here and headed on up the real climb. I did see three road riders coming down the canyon, but that was all from here on out.
Starting to see Snow on the trees. And, I was not exactly keeping great pace. Up till Jamestown I was able to keep the pace around 11.5 mph...no more. For those that have done this climb though, you know how steep it is. Now imagine doing it with big knobbies on it only pumped up to 50 psi. Yeah, that is the ticket now!

Switch backs begin--a little few down valley to the East.
Whew! The top of James canyon, at least the pavement top. Overland drive is almost a great sight when you climb up that beast of a hill.

Happy to have made it. Glasses fogged up so I had to abandon them. I only wore light layers for the climb: lightweight long sleeve synthetic shirt, Adidas NFL football beanie (awesome and they keep the sweat out of your eyes---good for nordic too!), OR wind stopper gloves, knee warmers with Voler 2011 BSV bib shorts, Pearl Baggie shorts, and BMA wool tall boy socks. I stayed plenty warm.

I went only another 1/2 mile, almost to the dirt and it started snowing hard. I started to turn around, and then I was like, how about an adventure today? Lets see what happens. I found a nice pine to stop under and layer up.

I changed hats--put on my Adidas wind stopper cap, Montbell rain jacket (for visibility too!), my smart wool calve length ski socks, trash bags on my feet (my neoprene booties were in my office), and the glasses had to go back on from the snow in my eyes! I also pulled off my lightweight syn shirt and replaced that with my Virginia Tech Thermal Jersey from Hincapie--that thing is really warm.
I also put the camera in a small zip lock as you can see here in my hand. The snow built up quickly on the gloves.

Then I paused...the dirt looked really mucky which goes for several miles to the peak to peak highway. No fenders...mmmm. NO booties to keep my feet dry and my Pearl AmFib tights were also at work staying nice and dry/warm! Lets try it for a few hundred feet and see how mucky I get....
Before I knew it I made it peak to peak--it was slimy in places, soupy and wet, but overall I kept the wheel straight and kept most of the much off me. Now the bike on the other hand....
I left this picture this angle as I thought the perspective was cool.

Those feet were a bit wet at this point.

Bike was covered in a nice thin film of dirt, muck, water, and snow.

My faithful blue sky water bottle.

OH, my drive train hates me now! Wonder how long my shifting will last? I had issues with it freezing up on the dirt road--had a single speed for at least two miles and gave every thing a swift kick, and was able to shift again.

Pedaled South towards Ward. First good landmark is the beaver Reservoir road which is also the local Boy scout camp access. South Saint Vrain trail starts here too--plenty of snow still on it!

The next big land mark is Brainard Lake Road--woohoo! Almost to ward. The snow picked up a bit though just before here and it was starting to cover the roads--time to get down quick or its going to be a long night back to the car!

Dirty saddle overlooks the fresh tracks on the peak to peak. Crazy...why yes I am.

I dropped into Ward, very slowly and found another pine tree to layer up again--time for round 2 of the clothes before the big descent. It was dumping now too, which looked daunting. I put on a heavy weight fleece shirt, wind stopper vest, tights--not wind blocking though, a heavy weight fleece balaclava, and my Marmot AT ski gloves--super warm and nice to cold weather! Ahhh, life was good again.

As I changed and ate some more food, my bike started to blend in with the road....okay, need to get moving now! A truck pulled up and the two guys asked if I needed a ride down--I smiled and said, no, I am good, just put on some more clothes and going to be fine. Thanks though...the two guys looked at each other for a few seconds and shook their heads. I wondered if I was thinking clearly at this point? Or, was that just one of those master card priceless moments? ;)

Fresh Tracks on descent from Ward...now that actually is priceless.
I took it real slow down--until I hit Lick Skillet road and the roads cleared up a bit--just some slush and lot of water. It was COLD and WET. But, the temps warmed up as I descended. Once I got to the Lee Hill Road turn off, I kicked the drive train again (snow build up) and cranked it out to the car. Mainly at that point the pedaling was to warm my feet back up and get the blood flowing. Whew, made it! Bike was filthy but was reliable and faithful as it has been. Rider wanted a hot tub though!
Look at that mug!

Sunday's adventure. 35 miles of goodness over 4 hours. I had almost an hour of stopped time while I played with changing layers/eating/cleaning bike.

3800 feet of climbing...never realized how much more there still is between top of James Canyon and Ward.

Grade percentage for those interested. James Canyon is steep and when dry/clean, a great ride on the cross/road bike. Till the next adventure!



4 comments:

skahn01 said...

That was a real adventure. As I look at those pictures, I can see you on c cyclocross course in December.

art said...

Nice report, next time I want to see a picture of your pack when you left the car. You were well prepared.

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