Thursday, July 17, 2014

Riders from Willow Creek Pass to Walden

Some scenes from a nice day for the riders!

Sage country leaving Granby

Closing in on Willow Creek Pass

Vernon Smith and Paul Foley looking sharp at the pass ...

... and now it's downhill to Walden!

Then suddenly you're in North Park again

Who's that gent in the Colorado High Country jersey? 

It's 2011 veteran Marcel Marion from Quebec.

 Paul Foley chows down on one of Tammie Nakamura's hearty offerings ...

... while Vernon does some bike cleaning.

Emma and Jon Dixon pull in in comfy conditions after a chilly start.

- jle

Finally ... an Nice Day!

After fog, mist, and temps in the lower 40's early on, things brightened up into a glorious, sunny day with puffy clouds.

Jeffrey Hewlett - who took a sleep break in Grand Lake - was the first over Cameron Pass and is past Rustic as I write this.  He and others weren't sure how to react to nothing particular going on, weather-wise.

Along the same lines, riders who've reached Walden such as Paul Foley, Vernon Smith, Marcel Marion, and Jon and Emma Dixon are in good spirits, and all the riders who stayed in Steamboat got to catch up on their sleep.

I'll post some photos of the above, cheery riders a bit later ...

- jle

A Rough Time!

Later on day 1 and through most of day 2, our riders were pounded and drenched by successive passing showers.

Greg Conderacci, riding with Andréa Matney, shared these photos west of Walden heading to Steamboat Springs Wednesday evening.

Rider encountered inch-per-hour deluges of rain, sleet over the Snowy Range summit, and hail that made road navigation tricky, as in these shots.

If there was any good news it's that the showers came and went, bracketed by outbreaks of sun.

The other good news is that Thursday and Friday have picture-postcard mild, sunny, and dry forecasts.

Let's hope so!


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

CHC14 Riders Are On Their Way!

46 riders headed off at 4am today on the third Colorado High Country 1200. 

Conditions were ideal - dry, calm, temps near 60º, the air cleaned by overnight showers.

While some riders rode in ones and twos, there were at least a couple larger groups such as this one climbing the little rise before Hygiene.

First light came arount 5:15, as another group rounds the curve onto Woodland Road.

We wish all our riders bonne route, bon courage, and a healthy dose of fun!


Monday, July 7, 2014

Some of our Route Checkout!

Pat and I checked out segments of the CHC route over the July 4th weekend.  We had a great time ... but were envious of you!  We drove up US-287 through Laramie, the 2012 route, but you will be taking the easier route - eastbound - over the Snowy Range.

In the Big Hollow, a treeless expanse west of Laramie, you cross the historic Overland Trail.  You may wish to veer off for a pause to look at this plaque as you whiz down from Centennial to Laramie.

At the base of the descent from (climb for us to) the Snowy Range, is Centennial, home to the Friendly Store, with friendly folks, with items to buy, and fragrant and restorative breakfast in the cafe, which you might consider!

It's wildflower season in the high country!  These alpine blooms grow only in certain places, and in this case with a nice snowy backdrop.

Perhaps you will be able to pause a moment at the Snowy Range high points to take a look.

It's 64º here (summery temps) at above 10,000 ft. near noon, later than you may be passing.  Here is Pat Heller, our esteemed volunteer coordinator - whom you will see on the course - expert birder and on the lookout for some interesting species.

The road between Walden and Saratoga offers vast vistas, but more climbing than you'd think, over a ridge that gives you quite a view, on the way downhill to Saratoga.

North Park, the plateau at 9,000 ft. which you will be visiting as you pass through Walden, is surprisingly scenic, with lots of water and marshland.  That's what makes it a favorite of moose, which you may see, and the site of the Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge.

And yes, we did see some moose - this one at Cameron Pass.  You may, too!


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The CHC Stages - a Thumbnail Sketch

The Colorado High Country is divided into four recommended stages, corresponding to the staffed controls with overnight sleeping spots.  The first and second stages are the most prolonged and challenging, after which things get easier - intrinsically at least.  There's no accounting for weather or how you're feeling.

This is a thumbnail sketch of the big themes for each stage.

Over the July Fourth weekend in 2011, Tim "Foon" Feldman and I pre-rode the route, so we'll include links to those blog reports with more photos.  You may also wish to follow along with the course narrative, with more details about terrain and services. 

The Poudre River, climbing Poudre Canyon on the first day.

Stage 1 – Louisville to Saratoga WY – 224 miles

  • Horsetooth Reservoir – scenic; a few stiff climbs
  • Poudre Canyon to Cameron Pass (10,276 ft.) – 57 miles of climbing, very gentle except for final 12 miles
  • North Park – Open, marshy terrain, 9,000 ft.
  • Walden to Saratoga – 67 miles rolling terrain, no services 60 miles – be sure to resupply at Walden

Cameron Pass looking west - you can see the irrigation ditch
cutting across the flank of the Never Summer Mountains.

The terrain alternates between wooded mountain climbs, and open sage and prairie.

North Park - an open marshy and sage area you will revisit.

Catherine Shenk's photo of the Snowy Range on our 2010 recon ride.

Stage 2 – Saratoga to Steamboat Springs – 197 miles
  • 20-mile climb to Snowy Range
  • Big Hollow” west of Laramie – few trees; can be windy
  • 6-mile stiff climb past Jelm after Laramie
  • Walden to Steamboat Springs – 60 miles with no services - be sure to resupply at Walden (staffed control)
  • Muddy Pass (8,772 ft.) and Rabbit Ears Pass (9,426 ft.)
  • 7-mile descent from Rabbit Ears Pass to Steamboat – a steady, engineered 7% grade – keep an eye on your speed – esp. descending after nightfall or in showers

Lake Marie at the summit of the Snowy Range Highway.

Stage 3 – Steamboat Springs to Walden – 181 miles

  • 18-mile climb from Toponas to Gore Pass (9,527 ft.) – not a tough climb
  • Byers Canyon between Kremmling and Hot Sulphur Springs – a scenic section
  • Grand Lake, Lake Granby, and Shadow Mountain Lake on the Grand Lake spur – traffic but a shoulder
  • 21-mile climb to Willow Creek Pass (9,621 ft.) - first two-thirds shallow after initial climb over ridge

Grand Lake, one of three lakes below the Continental Divide.

Stage 4 – Walden to Louisville (147.5 miles)

  • 30-mile climb to Cameron Pass (10,276 ft.) – If you climb early in the morning, the descent from Cameron can be chilly, but the later you get off, the more up-canyon winds you may encounter lower down, so it’s a balancing act
  • 57-mile descent of Poudre Canyon – food/drink at Rustic (halfway down) and big breakfast/lunch potential at Vern’s in LaPorte
  • Larimer and Boulder County roads to the finish – You may encounter other cyclists, for a change.

Climbing Cameron Pass from the west on the final stage.
Savor this extended descent on the way to the finish!

Narrows section of Poudre Canyon, midway down.
Bonne route!