Thursday, July 14, 2011

Update 8: The Finish!

Our valiant riders had a sunny, pleasant day to descend Poudre Canyon, with only some sprinkles on the plains.

Veteran 1200k randonneur Ron Himschott is full of pep and vinegar even at the finish:


And yes, some folks clumped up and rode together at times.

Here are George Hiscox, John Flanigan (in a great sartorial choice, a Last Chance jersey), Ashton Lambie, James McKee, and Ian Shopland:


The Olsen Brothers, Mark and Bill, did not disappoint, heading straight to the banquet:


In the end, it's all about the riders - and hopefully you've had a great experience - and the volunteers, who've in many cases made the difference in your rides!

Multi-1200k finisher Irene Takahashi (of the Steamboat Springs overnight) drove back, slept a bit, and then pitched in at boisterous finish in Louisville:


We look forward to your photos and stories ... and thanks for joining us on a rewarding mountain adventure!

-jle

Update 7: Thursday Morning - The Home Stretch!

Four riders have now finished, continuing from Walden yesterday afternoon and evening.

After a very nice day both in the mountains and here on the Front Range, heavy thunderstorms returned here in the evening, leading to flood advisories in Denver and Boulder.

Kurt Searvogel tangled with hail and thunderstorms on the Plains - between Fort Collins and Loveland - and had to hole up in a firehouse in Loveland.

Vincent Muoneke, heading out later, describes a mild summer evening under a full moon - hardly needing his headlight descending Poudre Canyon - with the occasional deer for company.

Most everyone else headed out from Walden between 2:30am and 4am this morning in what looks to be a splendid, sunny day!  We expect most riders to finish in the course of the afternoon.

-jle

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Update 6: Wednesday Evening

While some severe storms have continued to batter the Front Range, life was good for our riders, west of the Continental Divide, with sun, mild temps, and general cheer all around:


Paul Foster, Julie Gazmararian's husband, sent these cheerful and inspiring photos from the Grand Lake Conoco control.

Larry Ide, Julie, Carl Andersen and Ann Trason enjoy the shade at the Conoco:


It's much more serene than when Foon and I encountered it on a Sunday:


A lilting breeze, shade, and refreshments!


Paul surprised rider Julie Gazmararian by following the Rider Progress and being there to greet her.


The riders are doing well today - less climbing, more sun, the birds singing. 

And for tomorrow it's just an early-morning jaunt up to Cameron Pass, and then sailing home!

-jle

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Update 5: Tuesday Evening

On the whole a good second day for our intrepid riders!  Despite a soggy weather forecast, weather over the Snowy Range and through Laramie was dry.  A few showers on Rabbit Ears Pass for earlier riders, and more of a spirited storm with hail sweeping through Walden towards evening.

As before, the violent storms have stayed east, on the Plains, around Cheyenne, south of Denver, and east:


There are many seasoned riders on the CHC 1200 - some faster, some more measured - and their progress both today and yesterday has been impressive!

Five riders had to abandon earlier in the day, and two later on.  For each individual, it's a disappointing outcome, each for his/her own reasons.  It's encouraging that they made it so far, and hopefully enjoyed the great scenery.  And so far a great "continuing" (and hopefully finishing) rate on this challenging ride.

One abandonnĂ©e, Peggy Petty of Texas, jumped in to help out the event with Linda Metcalfe, and were, according to Jim Kraychy, invaluable in helping feed the voracious randos descending on Walden this afternoon.  Thank you, Peggy and Linda!

As night falls, the precip is abating, and it looks like a quiet night for those still out on the course sailing to Steamboat.

A big thanks to Jim Kraychy, who's staffed the Walden transit control for Monday and Tuesday, and to Rick and Sherrie Isham, who staffed the Saratoga control, and bore the brunt of hungry riders arriving and departing!

-jle

Update 4: Tuesday Morning Report

All the riders had cleared Walden yesterday by 5:45, and with that, Jim Kraychy reported: "All riders accounted for through Checkpoint #4.  Nothing but crumbs left in their passing wake. The kitchen is bare. Will make another trip to the grocery store tomorrow AM."  Good to see the riders upholding true rando values in the nutrition department!

This morning, most riders left Saratoga for the Snowy Range between 2:30 and 4:15am, given themselves plenty of time to face (and enjoy) what should be the toughest day.
 
More photos from Catherine Shenk ...
 
Jim Solanick gets ready to start his 21st (?) 1200k:
  

Toshi Nemoto on his first 1200k!







 Bill Olsen on his third 1200k for the year:


John Flanigan and others at the secret control:


Ron Himschoot


-jle

Monday, July 11, 2011

Update 3: Monday's Conditions

These threatening looking colors below belie a fairly docile and beneficent day for our riders.  The storms that built up later in the day were, as per previous days, most intense here on the Front Range, which the riders escaped during the dry and sunny conditions earlier on.

Have a look west of Ft. Collins and Cheyenne to see where riders spent the latter part of today:


Riders reported some showers at Cameron Pass, but conditions at Walden have been dry, and Saratoga has enjoyed blue skies with puffy cumulus this afternoon.

All our riders have made good progress today, and why not?  With brilliant scenery up the Poudre, tasty snacks at Walden, and at Saratoga the aroma of two gourmet soups (which as I write the earlier riders are already enjoying), it's so far been a moveable feast which hopefully all the riders are relishing!

-jle

Update 2: More Pix from Start and Secret Control

Some pictures from Catherine Shenk at the start!

Mike Sturgill and Richard Stum confer about gear:


An echo (or prelude) of Paris-Brest-Paris?


Peggy Petty on her second 1200k of the year. (First was the Texas Rando Stampede.)


 JLE encourages these inaugural riders to set a good example for future riders
by maximizing their enjoyment of the CHC 1200:


Roland Bevan gliding into the secret checkpoint:

Update 1: Start and Secret Control!

The 48 CHC riders are now off and have started a sunny climb up Poudre Canyon.

Riders gather at the starting line:


Charlie Henderson gives final tips for handling mountain weather:


... and at 4:00am sharp, they're off!


Dawn brings a nice start to the day:


... and a Secret Checkpoint!


Riders approach the checkpoint conveniently at the crest of a hill:


Steve Le Goff scans the horizon for more riders:


Catherine Shenk signs Sara Kay Carrell's card:


And off the riders go, for cinnamon rolls at Vern's and then some good climbing!



-jle

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Pre-Ride Day 4: Cameron Pass - Poudre Canyon - Louisville Finish!

Other Segments: Day 1 - Day 2 - Day 3

We push off later the final morning - 4:35am -  the faintest light already ringing the horizon - if nothing else, to see the moose that might be standing in the road before we get too close.

First sun hits the Never Summer Range:


We've just seen an elk in a meadow
and a pair of white-tailed deer (not common in Colorado) jumping the road in front of us.

Here are more wildflowers, which we saw outbound, but were whizzing past too quickly to photograph:


The "real" four-mile climb to Cameron Pass begins:


Near the summit, a scenic view of a snowy couloir (I think):


The pass is still in shadow, but we've been warmed by sun on the way up:


Foon stops for a bite in the warming sun (temps in the 30's):


And now it's back to the rushing Poudre River, buoyed by a tailwind:


Most dramatic at the Poudre Narrows (just past the Narrows Campground):


After giant cinnamon rolls at Vern's in LaPorte, we are fortified for the toasty final miles.
We encounter Boulder County cyclists, out for their brief but high-performance outings.
We try to appear fresh.

It's actually only 99º


We have enjoyed this ride immensely and hope you will, too!

-jle

Other Segments: Day 1 - Day 2 - Day 3

Friday, July 8, 2011

Stretch Your Legs!

Looking for a few miles to make sure your legs and bike are still functioning nominally? Here are a couple of short outings from the ride start. Note: both of these are more interesting than they appear on a map! (These maps courtesy of Microsoft Streets & Trips.)


Eldorado Springs - Cherryvale (18 miles) - Cross US-36 and turn right (through the shopping area). Once you summit Davidson Mesa on Marshall Rd. you are into open country with great views of the Boulder Flatirons. This route takes you up South Boulder Creek to the mouth of Eldorado Canyon. You can turn around at the town's "wall," where the road turns to dirt.
Return as you came or via Cherryvale, which is a very pleasant road, and South Boulder Rd. is ok, too.

Morgul Bismark (14 miles) - This is the classic Morgul-Bismark loop (named for Davis Phinney's pets) - a bit more climbing than the other route, but even better views! (Good views of Eldorado Canyon and the Indian Peaks defining the Continental Divide.) Go over US-36 and continue up McCaslin to Hwy. 128, from there to Hwy. 93. Here you can descend the couple of miles to Marshall Rd., or depending on time of day, just come back the way you came. (The 1½ miles on Hwy. 93 are downhill but without shoulder. Not generally a problem, but you be the judge.)
Give either of these a try and soak up some Colorado mountain scenery!

-jle

Pre-Ride Day 3: Gore Pass - Grand Lake - Willow Creek Pass

Other Segments: Day 1 - Day 2 - Day 4

After a quiet climb up the Yampa valley, through sleeping Oak Creek,
the first sunlight hits the snowy Flattops:


There are interesting formations
- like Finger Rock right beside the highway after Yampa -
and these:


Temps have now dropped from the 40's in Steamboat, to the upper 30's at near 8,000 ft.
The store at Yampa has big variety and opens at 5am:


After chatting with the store owner at Toponas,
we make the turn towards Gore Pass:


The entire stretch is quiet and serene, with open meadows giving way to forests.
Here are some of the many wildflowers on the route:


For the Kremmling checkpoint
we choose the Big Shooter cafe,
espresso and other coffees, ice cream, and calorie-rich pastries:


The two-mile climb from Granby to the "lake elevation" brings us to
Lake Granby, with the Continental Divide as backdrop:


The road past Lake Granby to Shadow Mountain Lake to Grand Lake
 rolls slightly upward, which you may notice
after your turnaround at the Grand Lake checkpoint.
Lots of recreation traffic, but good views.

The ascent to Willow Creek Pass starts with a stiff three mile climb,
to get into the proper valley (Willow Creek).
After that it's a gentle most of the way, usually with a tailwind.



Near the pass is a stone wall geologic feature:


Alpine meadows and snowy peaks come into view for the final two-mile jaunt:


The descent actually rolls a fair amount before flattening out at Rand.
Suddenly you break into the expanse of North Park:


A slight tailwind and slight downgrade make for a pleasant end of day:


At least we give a pronghorn antelope something to look at:


The by-now familiar Walden welcome sign,
"Moose-viewing capital of Colorado"


The North Park Inn is convenient and rustic:


With plenty of daylight to spare, on this shorter day,
it's time to reflect while replenishing nutrients and minerals:


So now it's off to bed as the sun sets!

Next: Day 4 - Cameron Pass - Poudre Canyon - Louisville Finish

Other Segments: Day 1 - Day 2 - Day 4