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Dipping a Toe: Biking to COS and Back06/22/2015

Pikes Peak and the New Life megachurch in northern Colorado Springs.

Pikes Peak and the New Life megachurch in northern Colorado Springs.

[I think I’m going to shift up the content of this blog. I’ve been doing the “weekly update” thing for a few years now, and, honestly, I find it redundant and personally unstimulating, especially with the whole Strava platform now for documenting my training. (I also keep a private, personal training log. So, yeah, redundant.) The plan from here on out will be to have short little snippets/reports of only the “significant” occurrences in my day-to-day exercising and adventuring. I put “significant” in scare-quotes because the significance of any of this stuff is only significant to me. No doubt, there will also be occasional forays into opinionated semi-rants about something or other, but really the idea is to have a casual, slightly longer-form forum for recording my more meaty goings-ons. Rather than simply re-presenting the numbing minutiae of my mountain activity. (Don’t worry, the minutiae is important to me; I just think that it’s rarely important for anyone else to see it.) Hopefully I can be consistent with all this. Going forward, the idea will be to whip these out day-of, with little thought or effort, so that content will be fresh and up-to-date. Best laid plans and all that…]

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The bone stress injury in my right shin this spring/early summer has seen me (necessarily) turning my focus to biking for the time being. After a few weeks of getting the hang of things, I seemed to finally hit my stride (pedal stroke?) in the first couple weeks of June and my brain starting seeing this activity as something more than an injury-induced evil. Instead, I started conjuring up visions of a future where I actually keep riding the bike even while healthy enough to run and scramble. A future where I commit to self-powered adventures and mountain link-ups. Maybe even some bike-packing, which, as far as I can tell, is just a slightly more adventurous-sounding way to denote non-pavement bike touring. (In fact, I can almost guarantee this future. I think I simply have to commit to a mix of athletic endeavors going forward if I’m going to maintain health and sanity.)

As a (very small) step in that direction, when my parents drove to Colorado a couple weekends ago to visit my sister in Colorado Springs, I decided that I’d just ride my bike down and back instead of driving. Seemed logical.

The plan was to bike down on Friday (June 12th), visit with my family Saturday, and then bike back on Sunday. The massive convenience of having my sister’s home as a destination meant I could pack super-light, which also meant I could ride my speed machine, carbon, road rig, too—a huge bonus. Because everything else feels like a clunker compared to that steed.

In fact, beyond the usual stuff I carry on bike rides (extra tube, tube patch kit, tire levers and CO2 cartridge in a tiny seatbag; phone, cash, debit card, tiny multi-tool, and another CO2 cartridge in an Ultimate Direction Jurker Essentials belt—yes, I basically wear a fanny-pack while biking, I stopped caring about cycling fashion rules very early on in this process…doesn’t stop me from passing plenty of kitted out dudes on the big climbs :) my main concession to the vaguely “tour-y” nature of the weekend was to pack a pair of casual shorts, a t-shirt, a toothbrush, charging cords for my phone and watch, and a small bottle of chain lubricant into a 5-liter roll-top dry bag. I simply slotted this roll into my extra bottle-cage and clipped the closure around the bike frame. Easy peasy.

Turns out the dry bag was a really good idea.

I started out around 8am on Friday morning under a very low cloud ceiling. Couldn’t even see the Flatties. Within 10min of rolling away from my front door—not even across town yet—it started raining, then pouring. It continued to pour for the next 3hr, only relenting as I was leaving south Denver and nearly to Sedalia. Due to Colorado’s record-breakingly wet spring, I’ve been riding in the rain a lot these last couple of months. But this was something else; it rained hard and barely ever let up.

Of course, in the midst of all of this—I’m actually going to blame this on the cold rain—I flatted as I was climbing out of Golden up towards Dinosaur Park for the descent past Red Rocks into Morrison. Due to cold hands, my bike-handling abilities were way below par and in navigating a construction site I clumsily dropped off a curb into a puddle instead of finessing it properly. For about 15 seconds I thought maybe I’d got away with it, but nope, within a couple of blocks my rear wheel was on the rim, victim of a pinch-flat no doubt.

Bugger. Normally it only takes a couple of minutes to swap in my spare tube and inflate it and be back on the road. However, in the continuing downpour my frigid paws barely let me get the tire back on the rim and all told I was standing motionless in the cold rain for 10min. This, coupled with the subsequent downhill into Morrison meant my core temp was way down and I spent the next few miles through Bear Creek Lake State Park and the C-470 bikeway sprinting every uphill trying to stave off the shakes. Good times.

Cloud-shrouded view of the Rampart Range on Rd 105 between Sedalia and Palmer Lake. Really nice riding.

Cloud-shrouded view of the Rampart Range on Rd 105 between Sedalia and Palmer Lake. Really nice riding.

The second half of the ride was a real pleasure, however. After Sedalia, the route changed to SH105—a bucolic, rolling, low-traffic byway into Palmer Lake—the clouds lifted, the sun even tried to poke through a few times, and I had a gentle tailwind all the way into Colorado Springs. Six hours-40min and 117mi later, I rolled into my sister’s driveway. Success! The dry bag worked perfectly. What a great little piece of gear.

Saturday, before spending the rest of the day with my family, I had a wonderful, sun-washed 70mi ride of nostalgia as I visited some old road biking haunts around Colorado Springs from my college days—Marksheffel Road, the Broadmoor, Cheyenne Canyon, etc. I will say, however, the COS infrastructure disaster (due to local government voting down any kind of tax) is for real. The prevalence and severity of potholes in that city is abominable.

Cache La Poudre Ave on the Colorado College campus, looking at Pikes Peak. Fond memories.

Cache La Poudre Ave on the Colorado College campus, looking at Cameron Cone and Pikes Peak. Fond memories.

On Sunday, I got an early start, hoping to get back to Palmer Lake before the traffic started to pick up. For some reason, this was one of the best rides I’ve had all spring. Despite a slight NNE headwind the whole way (something that usually has me questioning my will to live), I was full of energy and powered the 105mi back to my doorstep in a bit over 5hr with no calories and the only stop being to refill a water bottle in Bear Creek Lake Park. It was some nice affirmation that biking can provide the same feelings of integration and flow that are such a pleasant side benefit in running, scrambling, climbing, and skiing.

Overall, a nice introduction to using the bike purposefully to cover some serious miles. Conceptually and athletically, I’m finding that it has some real appeal.

28 responses to “Dipping a Toe: Biking to COS and Back”

  1. Michael says:

    Tony – love this new approach to updates. For what it’s worth, I’m also here for music, literature, and rants – so hopefully these still make appearances.

    Bummed you won’t be able to take a run at Hardrock this year. Will you be crewing for Joe at Western States?

    Thanks for taking the time to do this. Always an enjoyable read.

  2. Awesome, glad to hear you are making the most out of this and truly enjoying it. Have been wondering these past few days if you were going to have a go at the Grand Loop. Doesn’t get much better than these high pressure days around the solstice. Andy Hampsten (Giro winner, twice 4th at the Tour, Alpe D Huez winner), after completing the Grand Loop with a few mutual friends, told me it was the hardest ride he had ever done. Right up your alley!

    • anton says:

      Absolutely, Jeff. I actually set out planning on doing it last Tuesday, and then, contrary to the forecast it was raining as I was leaving town so I bailed and rode up to Brainard instead and down to Lyons and finished with SuperFlag (my first time!). Actually a good call, as I could see Longs/Estes getting rained on, too, while I was riding the P2P. It’ll happen, but I gotta make it happen before the monsoon kicks up!

  3. Gord says:

    Hi Anton, I am coming out to CO for a couple of weeks, can you recommend a internet site to check out weather conditions? I just wanted to get an idea what the weather will be when hiking in the mountains. Thanks!

  4. Jessica says:

    Truly enjoying the new style of blogging. Looking forward to following all the small stories that make up training adventures.

  5. Philip says:

    Hi Anton,

    I like the new style for the blog. Although, I have to admit I really enjoyed your day-to-day outings as well. But I always wondered how long it would take for you to lose motivation. Waaaay longer than I anticipated :)

    Looking forward to reading great stories.

  6. pittbrownie says:

    Hey traitor, it’s the local old farts that keep voting down tax increases (and bitching most loudly on the infastructure) here in COS. A group of us are trying to get Manitou to annex Old Colorado City so we don’t have to deal with that mess anymore.

    • anton says:

      Manitou shoulda annexed OCC decades ago, great idea! Those are the two gems in the PP region. I may still retire to Manitou :-) I completely believe you on the illogical politics/grousing.

  7. Jeff says:

    Ditto to what PB said above. The issue is not the local government. The local government realizes what a mess the city’s finances are in. The problem is that local government can not get a tax increase approved by the incredibly conservative voter base down here.

    Ideally Manitou annexes downtown Colorado Springs as well.

  8. Kevin says:

    I like your day to day logs. You mentioned you publish them elsewhere, can you let me know where?

  9. Drew says:

    Hi Anton,

    What is the appeal to completing your long 4-5 hour expeditions without any calories? What benefits have you experienced from tapping into your ‘reserve’ tank for so long?

    P.S. I am not a nutritionist. Just curious!

    Thanks

    • anton says:

      That particular day I just didn’t have any gels with me and didn’t feel the need to stop. Most days that I ride 100mi I stop around the 3hr mark for a pastry and an espresso…usually New Moon Bakery in Nederland or Kind Coffee in Estes Park.

  10. Josh says:

    Tony,
    I wanted to second Michael’s mention of continuing chat of lit, tunes, and rants.

    Enjoyed the “15 hours” video with Billy Yang. No surprise there his work is impeccable.

  11. David Hill says:

    Coolness on the new blog format…but gotta say seeing your weekly totals for mileage, hours, vert, etc. was really inspiring stuff. I’m sure others feel the same way – but also understand the redundancy and mental drag on your part. Hope you make it to the start of UTMB.

  12. Dave says:

    Okay, everybody else has already weighed in on this, but I’ll say “me too” – I like the free form blog format. Some of your best previous posts (race reports, coffee rants, etc) have tended towards this format, so if it floats your boat, go for it. Heck, you’d probably lose a shockingly low percentage of your followers if you switched to pig latin. Please, use your powers for good…

    I too live and run in Boulder, and often think I should get out on my road bike once in a while. However, my inability to change a flat is the primary (and embarrassing) reason I don’t wander too far from my home. I mean, come on! I’m a big MUT running guy, but seem to lack the hand strength to roll a 700cc tire off the rim. Maybe I should just suck it up and strap a spare to my back.

    p.s. I’m sure you’re following the exploits of Scott J. out east (awesome) and Al Sal out west (sadly, not surprising). Yin and yang…

    Cheers!

  13. Vern Lovic says:

    Love it that you’re really digging the bike. I first jumped on a Fuji 10 or 12 speed in Hawaii in 1985. It was a world of difference from the bikes I’d ridden previously. Didn’t take long to jump into the sport of it and start buying Cannondales.

    When is your first bike race then?

    Also looking forward to more frequent blog posts!

    Cheers man!

  14. Josh says:

    I’m still riding my Fugi Palasade from that generation. Love it! Made a few updates, but a nice lite frame. A good friend saved it on a dumpster dive mission and made only one request “never put a kickstand on”.

  15. Patrick says:

    I figured since you didn’t mention packing walking shoes that you must be using toe clips or maybe SPD type Mt bike shoes instead of clipless pedals?

  16. Barry Bliss says:

    Awesome.

  17. Dave (Scotland) says:

    Hey Anton, it’s your blog buddy – you do what the hell you like! ;-D lol
    I too love the whole package though, running, literature, music and coffee.
    It’s through you I know love TVOTR.

    Just wanted to confirm you’re going to UTMB, hopefully I’ll see you :-)

    Dave

  18. Dave Moo says:

    Hi Tony,
    I’ve also been dealing with some injuries and cannot run. Thanks for reminding me that the bike is a great tool to get out. I’ve been spending my time on the road and it has been great for my head space. Here is wishing you wellness.
    Dave

  19. viktor says:

    Whatever you do, please do not stop writing. Apart from a great runner, you are an awesome writer. Like your prose very much. Seriously.

  20. Martin says:

    Really like you new style of writing here. These short reports from your adventures, are a real pleasure to read! Keep em rolling please. Best regards, Martin/Denmark

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