Saturday, June 30, 2012


Author:  Leon Matz

I had a wonderful 10 day trip to see my daughter Heather in Colorado Springs. On the way to CO I chose to go do the 4 climbs on my list in Wyoming.  After a long drive to Billings from Puyallup, I decided to do 3 climbs on the next day: Alt. 14, 14 east, and Granite Pass. I don’t know about you but other than Yellowstone Park I thought WY was a rather dry, windy  and  rather ugly state. My first day proved that wrong.  The beauty in the Big Horn Mts. was impressive.  Beautiful canyons, and 9,000 ft. picturesque meadows were plentiful. The first day ended with me real tired after riding 101 miles and climbing over 13,900 ft.  I had the good fortune of riding up the second climb with a guy from Ohio. I was impressed with his ability to climb even though he had not climbs to train on in Ohio.  Day 3 was a long climb up  to Powder River Pass. A long 26 mi climb with 5,300 ft of gain. After descending I then had to drive up the same climb and decided to have a quick lunch at the top (just under 10,000 ft.). I actually took an hour nap in the car. The outside temp was over 70 deg.  and the stop was very enjoyable.  After driving  down the other side of the Big Horn Mts. the temperature started to really climb  on my drive to Cheyenne. It topped out at 104 deg.

On day 4 I drove to Estes Park to meet my daughter Heather and her boyfriend. The drive was scenic except for the view of the Ft. Collins fire.  Estes Park is a very beautiful town kind of like a bigger Leavenworth.  By the time we started riding the temperature was already  in the 80’s.  The 19 mi climb with over 4,800 feet was pretty tough.  I was real impressed with Heather and her boyfriends ability to climb.  It was real special to have them join me on the climb. It turned from warm and calm to windy and cold at the top.  When we returned to Estes Park a new fire had just erupted with bits of ash flying all around.  We watched the helicopters struggle  to put out the fire. They finally did but we found out later 20 houses were destroyed. After a quick stop in Boulder for some ice cream we headed to Colorado Springs.  Upon arriving freeway signs indicated that a fire erupted in Waldo Canyon. A Canyon that Heather had planned to take me on a hike into. 
After a day off the bike I decided to try a popular climb up Cheyenne Canyon.  Of course  it is a Strava Climb.  Danny Pate was one of the top climbers at 16:42.  My 25.03 was far from impressive and only put me in the top 5 in my age group.   At the top I was leaning over my handle bars trying to catch my breath. A mt biker road up a separate climb but came right by me.  We exchanged some pleasantries when it finally became clear to me that I had just conversed with Chris Carmichael who lives and trains in CS.  Kind of neat.
The next day Heather and I went on a ride to Garden of the Gods (real beautiful place) and got a close view of the fire. It was pretty depressing to see.  That afternoon a thunder storm hit the fire area. (no rain) The fire quickly spread and coated the whole town with smoke. As you have seen on the news two people died and 300 homes were destroyed.  Heather’s house was a long ways from the fire but  our hearts really went out to the people who did get hit by the fire.
The next morning I got up real early since the road I was going to take was closed by the fire and I had to drive an extra hour to Cottonwood pass.  2/3 of the way up the climb I met a guy who lives in Buena Vista and does the climb once every couple weeks.  Wow would that be neat. I then enjoyed a beautiful drive to Aspen to do Independence Pass. It was another long and challenging climb.  As I got close to finishing it started to rain. Luckily I got to the car before the clouds really opened up.  The 2 climbs totaled 69 mi and 8,200 ft.  It was nice to have all 7 climbs done. I then drove to Moab to visit Arches National Park the next morning.  If you haven’t visited that area yet, please do.  It is incredibly beautiful. Bicytcling magazine calls Arches one of the most beautiful rides in the country. With 354 miles and 40,550 ft of climbing I hope I am ready for the Grand Fondo.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Skate Creek Loop (Second Edition)

Cyclopath Ride: Skate Creek Loop (Second Edition)
Author of this post: Jim Wilcher

With the original Skate Creek ride cancelled due to a forecast of an inch of snow at Paradise and high winds up to 40 miles per hour! The Cyclopath in charge called off the ride (thank you Leon) and subsequently two makeup rides were formed. It was Leon, Mike and Tom forming the first make up ride on the following Thursday and then John Winter, Dan, Jim, Mark, Rod and his friend David rallied to form the Saturday group.

David (left), Rod (center) and John

Mike Hassur calls this ride the "first real mountain ride of the season" and even though it is a mere 80 miles, it packs a real punch and serves well as preparation for the rides soon to follow; like next weeks Triple By-Pass.

Saturday group ride summary:
It was a 7:30 AM departure from Ashford with friendly conversation as usual. Oops, only a few miles in and POW, Mark flats. Back on the road and the pace is picking up -- Rod is out in front and by the time we reach Longmire, Rod takes off with David and John in hot chase, while most of us return to a more moderate pace. We stretched out on the long road to Paradise, up, up and into the cloudy mist. At the top, Rod, David and John head to the lodge for hot drinks. It turns out that Mark flatted again at the Nisqually River bridge and Dan, being the fine wing-man he is, helped Mark with his second tire change. Upon reaching Paradise, Dan and Mark decided to head back down due to time constraints and a lack of spare tubes.

Warming up by the fire at Paradise Lodge (hot coffee already consumed)

Detailed ride description link:
Read Rod's blog called Riding With Rod, and his wonderful description of the ride in Skate Creek Loop part 1,  Skate Creek Loop part 2 and Skate Creek Loop part 3 where Rod learns a lesson in refilling his water bottle in Packwood! Rod's a fun guy and his blog is fun to read.

David, Jim and John at the finish

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Skate Creek Loop (First Edition)

Cyclopath Ride: Skate Creek Loop
Author of this post: Mike Hassur

Tom, Mike H, Leon, and Les left the starting point just outside of Ashford at 6:50 AM.  The temperature was around 45 degrees, and there did not seem to be any threat of rain. We reached the Nisqually Entrance in short order armed with Mike’s Senior National Park Pass (which gets him and three additional riders in for free), but we didn’t need it as there was no ranger in sight when we rolled through

The ride to Longmire was filled with conversation and went quickly. Things got steeper at Longmire, but the conversation continued and we were at Paradise before we knew it.  A few hundred yards before we arrived at Paradise a brown bird about the size of a chicken sauntered across the road just ahead of us. He disdainfully refused to acknowledge our presence even though we were pretty close. We figured that this was a grouse and a review of Internet photos seemed to confirm this.  Paradise was a quick stop to eat, drink, and put on our jackets for the descent.  As we passed the Paradise Visitors’ Center, a fox calmly watched us roll by.  He was just as relaxed in our presence as the grouse had been. 

We zoomed down from Paradise to the cutoff road over to Reflection Lake.  It was chilly but not too cold (in the 40’s). The descent through Steven’s Canyon to the Box Canyon Rest Stop was beautiful as usual with great views of the valley below us and water cascading off of the rocks above us. We soon reached the Backbone Ridge climb.  Some conversation and a brisk pace (thank you Leon and Les) brought us to the top in short order. The descent to east park entrance was fast and fun followed by an even faster pace line from the park exit to Packwood. 


After a quick stop at the Packwood Shell Station, we headed to the Skate Creek Climb. Our agreement was that we would ride the first five miles of the climb together (it’s about a 10-11 mile climb) and then pick it up. At precisely 5.00000 miles, Leon took off.  We followed him as best we could; but, in the end, Leon was alone at the top of the climb. The weather for this last climb was good – not too warm (in the 60’s) and sunny. We all felt pretty good at the top and enjoyed cruising the last 10 miles back to our cars. 

This was a great ride.  The weather was really good for the entire ride, and the company was excellent. Here’s hoping that Saturday’s Skate Creek Loop Ride (Edition #2) goes as well.