I have been meaning to write a post about this ride… ….well, since September….but alas, work calls and that month of September slipped away with trade shows and recovery from said trade show. Posts have turned to Cyclocross subjects and so here I am…writing …about a ride that happened late summer, just as December snow moves in…….forgive me if it’s a bit long-winded.
Anyway, back to the title of the post here. Birthday + Gravel. Out riding a stunning route (most of which is gravel) on my birthday??? What could be better? I know what could be better…having an awesome family that is willing to drive support with cold beers, birthday cakes and friends waiting at the end of a one-way epic with a beer hand up….how ‘bout that for better? Yep, that’s better.
September 1st my birthday…39….. (again)! A Saturday this time around and falling during Labor Day weekend…. the days leading up to it my wife asks me what I’d like to do on my birthday….I think about it and since we have this amazing summer camping groove going, where her and the kids will meet me at a pre-determined location while I ride my bike there I opt for this option. Once there we set up camp, hike, fish, build campfire, sip beers and roast marshmallows all the while hopefully making lifetime memories for our kids. I hope when I’m long gone they will look back and talk about the times when their half crazy dad would ride miles and hours from home to camp…….maybe they’ll carry that tradition on with their families? I had been eyeing this particular route for a good many years. We had camped there before kids…. So it was set….destination: Trappers Lake….Flat top Mountains southwest of Steamboat.
The night before the trip we load the camper van with our provisions. I make ready my bike with all the items one might need ….tool roll/check….frame pump/check….bottle cages/check….tubes/check….
I wake the next morning for an early start. I roll away from our house at 6:30am….beat the heat and any storms that might brew. The first 20ish miles are pavement and give me a chance to wake up and start putting food down my hatch. I roll to the coal mine and turn left up the first two climbs towards Trout Creek where the dirt will start. Cool morning, I’ve judged my clothing just right.
I descend off the second climb and turn right up Trout Creek….dirt/gravel from here on out. I stop and let out just a few psi to soften the ride. The road follows Trout Creek so the pitch is gentle, but steep enough to let you know you are going up…and up. Towards the top there are switch backs that take me over the final kick of the climb…the 4th rated climb in less than 30 miles.
Turning south well above the small mining town of Oak Creek I make the connection between a side road and the main route that will cut through the Flattop Mountains. On the small connector road I encounter at least a thousand free roaming sheep and the South American sheep herder watching over them….along with 3 giant sheep dogs….that for once don’t chase me down. They are the only living things I’ll encounter all day until camp.
Next I turn right and start the climb towards Dunkley Pass (9,764 ft)….the first of two major passes of the day that will take me to just about 10,000 feet above sea level. I’m feeling good and then I see the sign that tells me I have 11 miles of climbing to this summit…on really loose gravel. I settle in and enjoy the views. I top out and have yet to see a car since I left Steamboat. The view at the top is amazing…cool fall breezes blow across the pass and I start the 10 mile descent to the next valley. 10 miles is a good ways to descend on really loose gravel….I’m using the entire road…..I reach the bottom and the deserted town (all of two buildings) of Pyramid. I pass through and start to climb again….the start of Ripple Creek Pass….longer and higher than Dunkley.
At this point in the ride my right knee is killing me which is very strange as I rarely have knee pain on the bike. I continue to push through the stabbing pain.(Later I would find my saddle to be 1.5cm higher than normal…I switched to and older saddle…ooops.) Getting closer to the summit….only about a mile to go to the top and I’m out of water. I started with two large bottles on the bike and two large bottles in my jersey pockets. I blew the intake calculation and there are no water stops on the route……..I push along. At this point in the ride I start to look over my shoulder for my support car. On past rides they would have caught me by now and been able to fill my bottles….but no sign of them. I slowly tick forward. Between my breathing and the wind I hear a faint noise…. the rattle of a large diesel engine…..It could only be one person….my friend and co-worker GLight….he’s in full rally mode in the Excursion + camper trailer combo coming up the pass. He passes me and pulls over. A beautiful sight for my sore legs. He almost asks me if I want a ride in the truck to camp..he knows not to..…still 20+ miles away, I like to finish what I started. I don’t even hint at the option…I ask for water and I think he gave me a coke but I can’t recall…..he rattles up the pass and I get back into my groove. Top out….Ripple Creek Pass (10,343 ft)…..10 miles of down, down, down….the gravel is even worse than the pass before…….I think to myself if this route was fully paved it would rival any that are in The Tour. Seriously….it’s that type of ride. Low valleys, high passes, scenery that makes you glad to be alive. I sing down the back side of Ripple Creek Pass….literally… I sing out loud as I use the entire road, still using caution in the corners……but bombing none the less….
I bottom out at Lily Pond (which is a marker for a trail head) and make the final left turn that will delivery me to Trappers Lake. Ten more miles of dirt/gravel….ten more miles of climbing….at the end of an epic day. I decide as I climb that this ride punishes you ever harder as it progresses. There is no easy rolling….it continually ramps up as the mileage adds up…along with the climbing. This will become a summer ritual….
I hunker down on my bike and grind out this last climb. I look over my shoulder hoping…no…. begging for my family support car to catch me. I have to stop and pee….a good sign…at least I have fluid in me…..
Up, Up I go….cars are now passing me and kicking up crap loads of dust. These cars are coming from the west side of the Flattops which is an easy access point for weekend tourist and fall color hunters….the dust is really making the end difficult….again, over my shoulder I look….where are they? God, did something happen? I’m worried now….my family usually passes me half way through my rides and leaves road side Cokes and water bottles along the way….they leave notes…: “For Jon, please don’t take.” Those Cokes and bottles over the summers are always there…..like bread crumbs leading me home.
5 MILES TO GO
My family appears behind me….they roll up to me and say “daddy”!!!!! I’m wiped out. They press on …we don’t talk about getting in the car…..”See you at camp” I mutter…..
Shortly after they pass I hit the final wall both physically and literally. The road kicks up one more time in the last 2 miles to camp….I’m “tick tacking” across the road….I’m D-O-N-E…..DONE. I make myself finish out the ride and swing into camp…..family and friends….a beer hand up from Glen before I can roll to a stop. Like a pinched inner tube I deflate quickly at camp….beer, camp chair, in chamois….I’m not moving for awhile.
Happy Birthday to me….one I will never forget.
Our kids play, we hike and sip cold ones by the camp fire. Truly as memorable of a birthday as I could wish for….
The next day we canoe around Trappers Lake and I land the biggest Cutthroat Trout of my life. Life is good and I’m dam glad to be here….turning another year older…ain’t so bad.
I tried my best to make my phone battery last so I could “Strava” the ride and prove to all (2-3 I’m sure) of my followers that this ride REALLY did in fact happen. Well, phone batteries suck and mine died at mile 30ish…into an almost 80 mile ride. I did manage to take a few photos, but really once the phone died the weight of the “Strava” world was lifted from my back. So I rode…and rode and rode. I later routed the ride on Map My Ride so I could see the numbers….they are:
80 miles total
Start elevation: 6,750 ft
Dunkley Pass: 9,764 ft
Ripple Creek Pass: 10,343 ft
Trapper Lake: 9,600 ft
60 of the 80 miles are gravel…and not the sissy type…real deal National Forest, don’t try to ride you road bike here type of gravel.
10,000 total feet of climbing
Gels, Waffles, PB & J….+ one save my ass hand-up from GLight who was driving the route with his family and camper in tow. Next time he’ll be suffering through the ride with me.
Psychlo X SL (older 6/4 model)
Back in the Spring I opted to sell off my real deal road bike in favor of having 3 Cyclocross bikes. One of which is my double ring, road bike, gravel adventure bike….the other 2 are for racing and training Cyclocross.
So back to the bike….my set up….
Psychlo X SL (older 6/4 tube set) stock 56.5cm size
SRAM Red group
Compact rings 34/50
Canti brakes (TRP Euro Mags)
Ksyrium wheels (11-28) cassette
Challenge XS 32c File tread clincher tires
A bike and set up that can truly do just about everything. I swear I could ride this bike forever.
By no means is this the toughest ride in the world and I am thankful for having been able to bag this on my birthday. A present that was all wrapped up in goodness.
Thanks for reading.
Wow….December 4th and winter has really yet to hit ….at least here in the northern Colorado Rocky Mountains that surround Steamboat. The dry spell continues into early December, which puts us within reach of the winter solstice on the 21st. The “shortest day” of the year….or at least the one with the least light….. Which after that day we start adding light to each day, so really we are about done with winter right? Not so fast…..The skiing might stink, everything around us is this dry brown color and we are still to this day logging miles on bikes…on the trails and roads…..that’s not normal. Usually the dirt has long been covered up by a good coating of snow….dirt only a memory of the summer.
The fat bike riders in the group are wondering when it will dump…the skiers inside of us wonder if we wasted money on that season pass and new gear. The long time locals tell us hey! “winter really usually doesn’t settle in until Christmas’’. So we wait. Not idle on our hands but out riding bikes, building bikes and putting our energy into some really great projects that will come to light in early 2013…NAHBS anyone?
So we move forward….some of us scrambling to hit the last weekends of state level Cyclocross racing, and planning our indoor trainer sessions that will take us to Nationals and even further to Masters Worlds in late January.
Two back to back winters with slow starts and early departures….like I’ve said in an earlier post it’s “bonus time” for mountain dwellers…..especially being a cyclists of sorts.
I’m sure any day I’ll wake to a 2 footer that has buried those items in the yard I was supposed to pick up before it hit the fan…there they will stay until the thaw in April.
For now we’ll take the mild start, we all know it could and will change any day now.
We are loading up the Moots sprinter van and heading to the warmer climates of San Diego, California this weekend. Moots will be on hand for the 5th Annual Black Mountain Bicycles Demo Day on December 1st. Black Mountain Bicycles has been a Moots dealer for the past few years and does a knock-down job getting customers out on bikes. We will have a wide array of models and sizes for you to ride. Our own Michael Loomis will be piloting the sprinter van and be on hand to answer all your Moots questions during the demo day.
Come out and take your Moots dream bike for a spin. We’ll have: Vamoots RSL’s, Vamoots CR’s, Mooto X RSL’s, Mooto X Ybb’s, Psychlo X RSL and several of our MX Divide dual suspension bikes. Bring your pedals, helmet, ID and see what Moots Handbuilt in the Rockies is all about.
Thanksgiving is now under our belt (hopefully not too much adjusting needed) and we push forward to the meat of the holidays. Hopefully you are spending time with family and friends. Here around Moots and Steamboat we are doing the same. Another dry start to the winter has meant for later than normal bike rides on trails and roads that are usually swallowed up by snow many weeks ago. We refer to it as “Bonus Time”….exactly what it says…these are bonus rides that could be over with the next passing weather front. Not completely over, because many of us ride no matter the conditions….the nice conditions just make it a couple less layers. We plan our week by the forecast….sometimes riding on days when all you want to do is rest…forcing ourselves to pull on the chamois, roll along and bask in a little slice of heaven….Yep, I know real tough problem to have…we should be so thankful.
Here’s to Bonus Time….see you out there.
This coming weekend (Sunday to be exact) Colorado Cyclocross will see one of only a few “Gold Level” Cyclocross races take place. Our good friends and standout Moots Dealer Alpha Bicycle has taken race promotion by the horns and have laid out a course to remember. Double pit, double sand pit, grassy knolls, and enough twists and turns to satisfy and most picky bike driver. If you haven’t seen the Alpha Bicycle green, white & black kit at a race this season you might of had your eyes closed. Alpha Bicycle has really put together a great team of racers and a stunning amount of support at each race. Going above and beyond to even help in the pits when others outside the team need help (thank you Aaron).
The weekend is not far off, so make your plans to join Moots at this stellar event. We’ll be on hand with the Moots Sprinter van, coffee, donuts and a collection of beautiful Moots bikes for you to check out.
Come get your Hup on with one of the best bike shops in Colorado.
We’ll see you there!
“I NEED MORE COWBELL!”
We are selling a 2012 Limited Batch of our Ti Sticks to Benefit for Bicycle Colorado.
We are swinging into the heart of Cyclocross season across the US and are looking at the historic event of having Elite Worlds in our country. This season represents the first time Elite Worlds will be held outside Europe….ever. That’s a big deal, but even local Cyclocross series and are hitting historic high numbers and the buzz of Cyclocross is louder than ever before. Whether you are supporting your local series, the USGP of Cyclocross, US Nationals, Masters Worlds or Elite worlds we know Cyclocross fans are a rabid bunch. A good time at the races extends beyond your race….cowbells & beers in hand help cement course-side friend ships during this winter expression of cycling love.
We are donating all proceeds this year to BICYCLE COLORADO. Our goal is to raise nearly $3,000.00 through the sale of these Limited (qty 35) Moots Ti Sticks. Bicycle Colorado promotes bicycling, increases safety, improves conditions and provides a voice for cyclists in Colorado. Even if you don’t live in Colorado you benefit from the work they do when you visit our state or when your state level advocacy group goes to bat for cyclist in your area.
Here at Moots over the last couple of years have made a limited number of Moots Ti Sticks…or what we call our version of a COWBELL. At this point in time including this batch there are 75 or less in the world…making this a very rare item.
In 2010 we made a Limited batch of Moots Ti Sticks that raised $3000.00 for IMBA trail work. (see check hand off above).
Ti Stick…. What?
We take a beautiful piece of our US made Titanium and have our talented welders weld in a stop at each end, trapping a smaller piece of titanium inside the tube. When you shake the Moots Ti Stick is makes a sound that is both distinctive and slightly annoying to a suffering racer. A complete stand out in the “Cowbell Community”.
How to buy?
You can go to our online MOOTS SHOP TI STICKS to purchase one of these Limited handbuilt beauties and have it in time for your next weekend of Cyclocross-Supporters-Fan-Club-Meet-Ups…..Hup! Hup! Hup! All the while….. Feeling good that we will be putting that money towards a great cycling organization.
Moots is making a sweep through the Mid-west before winter really sets in this year. On that sweep we are attending the Cincy3 International Cyclocross Festival in Cincinnati, Ohio. BioWheels of Cincinnati is our long standing Moots dealer and is the backbone of this amazing event. Moots will roll into town for Saturday’s event at Kingswood Park. We will be on site starting 10:30 am till the last race of the night. We will have demo bikes on hand and you will be able to ride a Moots between the hours of 11:00am and 5pm. Stop by and meet Corey from Moots, take out a demo and learn what Handbuilt in the Rockies is all about.
Moots will have the following bikes on hand for demo. Bring a driver’s license and a credit card to demo one.
18 MX RSL,19 MX YBB, 20 MX Divide, 50CR, 52CR, 54CR, 56CR, 60CR, 54 RSL, 56 RSL, 58RSL.
It’s been a couple of weeks since the big USGP of Cyclocross Show came to Fort Collins and I finally got the photos back from the developer (I kid)….these are just a few of them. We had some good times with our Cyclocross family that came to town from all points around the US. The event was run smooth and our fair state is known for some of the toughest fields you can face. The course in Fort Collins is quickly becoming a favorite on the circuit.
Next up is Boulder Cup weekend this week. Could be snow …or at least some moisture on/in the ground. See you at the races!
Chris King PF 30 installed in a Psychlo X RSL
Yes, as the title says, a Chris King PF30 built with the precision we have grown to know from the maker of the finest head sets and hubs know to man. Now, that is my opinion and mine alone, but I’d venture to say if you chatted with those that love high quality-US-made bicycle products you’d hear few grumbles if any. Like most, my first experience with Chris King products came in the form of their headsets. It was the candy that you read about in bicycle magazines before the internet was invented by Mr. Gore. It was a bicycle part of mythic proportion…press it in, forgetaboutit….simple as that. Sure, it costs some dough up front like all good quality things, but it would last, stay adjusted and they came in cool colors. Done deal. That headset, that first one Chris ever made, I’ve seen in person in the Portland facility…..kept under glass with a date stamp. Very “real” “stuff” to me. And so it goes…headsets lead to hubs, hubs lead to bottom brackets, and so on….not a single product being released without thorough testing and proven field feedback. The right way to develop products in my/our minds.
Now we find ourselves in a modern day era of cycling development; Cyclocross bikes are getting disc brakes, road bikes may follow, standards on bicycles for us handbuilt guys are some-what settling out. 44mm head tubes are the norm, tapered forks, and the Press Fit 30 BB’s….. Some items that have allowed us to push tube diameter and wall thickness to new levels that add real ride quality differences to our products, while maintaining our love of joining tubes to tubes via handcrafted tig welds.
As many have seen in the press the good folks at Chris King started showing a new bottom bracket right around Euro bike. The press was quick to pick up on it and for us we had been bursting at the seams since we had heard about this back in early August. Moots made a trip to Portland for a dealer event and it just wouldn’t be a trip to Portland without seeing our (and dropping off donuts) good friends at CK. So we dropped in and took the tour. An hour later as we are leaving the front doors, they whispered some thing about PF….our ears perked up and we said…yes please! So we stayed in touch and at Interbike they had delivered the unit you see above. Chris King quality through and through.
Now the one you see here is a prototype and may change from what we see in the final production unit. I can’t talk too much about the insides other than this….
Installation: Perfect tolerances… (just like their headsets)…the unit pressed in smooth as butter. I used a mix of waterproof grease and anti-seize between the bb shell and the cups (my personal prefered mixture)
Bearings: Chris King beauties….smooth.
Mileage: I’ve been riding it for almost 4 weeks….3 cross races, home washings and this last weekend a day of mud that was up there with the great MUD-POCALYPSE of 2011 followed by the dreaded power washer. Put away wet on Saturday night. Now, if this was a different make of PF BB on Sunday morning the crank would have been frozen (rusted bearings) in place. I am happy to report that when I made my way to the Moots Sprinter van on Sunday morning for another day of USGP Cyclocross battle, my crank spun freely without the slightest hint of resistance. An A+ performance in my book.
My next test for it was a race on Sunday morning that resulted in no creaks and extra power from the smooth bearings to take me to a podium finish on the day. Kidding on the bearing/power thing, but really it performed flawless and remains creak-free today…..(I had to ride at lunch just to make sure).
King will have the same BB with 24mm (King made) slip in adaptors as well. So if you haven’t bought into the 30mm spindle thing or you are running Shimano cranks, have no fear, solid bearings and cups are coming our way.
If you have been on the fence for one of our RSL’s that uses PF30, don’t be afraid of the bearings…we now have what looks to be a match made in heaven.
I’ll update as the season and power washings unfold.
Questions? Let me know!
Just another Thursday right? Not really, it’s a beautiful Fall morning in Steamboat, a big Cyclocross weekend staring us in the face….hopfully ALOT less doping news today from Team ”CHOAD”….and then this lands in my in-box. No mention of weight, of which I’d say it’s pretty damn light. Carbon hoops wrapped in handmade goodness from Holland, with of course an orange theme….October, Halloween? Spooky. What we have here is an Mooto X RSL with all the trickery one could dig up from the Weight Weenies catalog….never mind the cost and really who cares.
More to come on this as I gather details of the build from the owner.
Enjoy your day and remember, bikes are fun, dopers are dopers and “choads” are the good guys.