I've written about a group of us having a goal of the "Ride to Estes Park Challenge" in previous columns.
Over the weekend, four of us decided to "bag Estes". The challenge for this month was road conditions. Due to recent snow storms, the road in front of my house remains totally covered and snow-packed. The main city roads are clear, but the road shoulders vary between clear, snow-packed and ice.
Loveland sits at roughly 5,000 feet and our goal destination, Estes Park, is directly west at roughly 7,500 feet. The good news is riding to Estes is primarily a steady climb at a gentle grade. This means it is relatively easy to stay warm going up.
The bad news is the roads are intermittently clear and snow-packed, depending on if a particular section of road gets any sun and what the wind does in that section of the canyon. Recruiting a ride back down the canyon is a must this time of the year because the road conditions and temperatures make it dangerous to descend.
Due to family commitments, Todd Singiser had to ride on Saturday. He decided to ride his mountain bike and go "the back way" which is less traveled than State Highway 34, "the front way." On Saturday night, he reported that he made it, goal accomplished.
He also reported that his toes got cold and he required a warm-up session in front of the fireplace at Drake. The road from Drake to the top of the Glen Haven switchbacks, around 10 miles or so, was completely snow-packed and the winds are ferocious at the top.
"Wear your fur-lined shorts, shoes and sunglasses - you'll need ‘em."
Sunday morning Scott Ellis, Peter Stackhouse and I decided that if Todd made it on Saturday, we could make it on Sunday. When we left my house on mountain bikes, it was 21 degrees. The sun was out and warming up the air temperature to about 30 degrees, but the ground snow and wind kept the feel cold. That is cold, but tolerable.
We decided to go up Highway 34 and perhaps have better road conditions than Todd. We were all glad that we rode mountain bikes rather than road bikes because sections of the road were not road bike suitable, even the front way. The mountain bikes make for a slower trip, but getting that nice, long aerobic ride in this time of the year is one of the benefits.
We did successfully make it to Estes and agreed that this trip won the "most difficult road conditions" award. We did agree that we have ridden to Estes in colder and windier conditions, but this one was tough due to the road.
Pam and Kirk Leamons were the smart ones, they bagged their December Estes trip on the 1st.
There are three other riders seeking that December goal. I'm hoping Diana, Jo and Lee all make it. If they make it, nine riders will get the infamous trophies to be revealed in another blog.