A few blogs back, I suggested that one way to fight the lack of motivation to ride the bike come fall was to go out and do some exploring. Well, just to prove that I can walk the walk, my buddy Nat Ross and I did just that last week and I ended up discovering what just might be my most favorite ride in the Boulder area.
It all started last year when, on one of my favorite dirt road rides (up Four Mile to Gold Hill for you Boulder locals), I started wondering if there was a way to connect to the Peak-to-Peak Highway if I turned left five miles up Four Mile Canyon where I usually turn right. So, several weeks ago, my friend Brian and I went left and rode about six miles up past the hamlet of Wallstreet to the even smaller hamlet of Sunset on a very nicely graded dirt road.
At Sunset, there were three possibilities. First, turn right and head up the Switzerland Trail, and old railroad grade, toward the town of Gold Hill. Secondly, head straight up Pennsylvania Gulch toward the Peak-to-Peak Highway and lastly, turn left and take the Switzerland Trail up to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain. Brian assured me that he had ridden the last option on his road bike, but other Boulder locals disagreed as to the viability.
Now, just about anything is rideable on a road bike, especially if you are willing to push or 'hoof' it a bit. However, some feel that if you have to push too much then the road is really not suited for a road bike. I agree, but reserve judgment until after I have experienced the road.
Anyway, Nat, who was recently inducted into the Mountain Biking Hall of Fame and is a pro riding for the Subaru-Gary Fisher team is a perfect partner for these types of excursions. Not only does he possess more than enough technical skills to make up for my sorely lacking abilities, but he is always game to take the path less traveled and has the attitude to make it always seem like fun.
So, when the five-mile climb to Sugarloaf Mountain on the Switzerland Trail turned out to be a just plain fun and scenic romp, instead of taking the dirt road down the other side of the mountain, we headed west on a much smaller path in hopes of connecting to the Peak-to-Peak Highway. After seven miles of more enjoyable and scenic riding, oh yeah, did I mention the Aspens were in full fall foliage?, we finally hit the Peak-to-Peak Highway.
But, the best part, was that we came out at over 9000' on the Peak-to-Peak right at the top of the never-ending climb that make the ride from Nederland to Ward so uninviting. Not only had we discovered a new way to ride from Boulder to the Peak-to-Peak(4,000+' of climbing), but the route bypasses one of my least favorite climbs! It was like hitting the daily double at the race track. You gotta love exploring on a bike. Now, what about turning right at Sunset?