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Active Expert: Gale Bernhardt

16 Posts tagged with the estes_park tag

The route for the 2013 USA Pro Cycling Challenge wasannounced today. Here are the city stages and dates:

 

2013 USA Pro Challenge stages
August 19 Stage 1: Aspen/Snowmass Circuit
August 20 Stage 2: Aspen/Snowmass – Breckenridge
August 21 Stage 3: Breckenridge – Steamboat Springs
August 22 Stage 4: Steamboat Springs – Beaver Creek
August 23 Stage 5: Vail Time Trial (ITT)
August 24 Stage 6: Loveland – Fort Collins
August 25 Stage 7: Denver Circuit

 

The Loveland-Windsor-Loveland-Estes Park-Fort Collins proposed (not final) route covers many of the roads that I ride on a regular basis. We do the route from Loveland to Estes Park a minimum of once per month. This stage, called "the penultimate stage" by VeloNews writer Brian Holcombe, will be fun to watch. The canyon leading to the small town of Glen Haven, is a perfect place to make abreak. The sight-distance lines are short. If a move can’t stick there – the switchbacks will break those who are near the edge.

 

Here’s the proposed route:


View Larger Map

 

 

 

Below is a link to a ride from Loveland to Estes Park viathe switchbacks and back on Highway 34. This is only a small piece of the stage and it has 3,858 feet of elevation gain: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/164118280

 

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Detailed off-season plans for triathlon and cycling, along withevent-specific running, cycling and more triathlon plans found here.

 

Comments can be added on Facebook.

 

Ironman and half-Ironman plans available on ActiveTrainer.

441 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: route, estes_park, loveland, glen_haven, fort_collins, usa_pro_challenge, switchbacks

Sunday at 7:00 am I decided to check the wind forecast for our traditional Memorial Day weekend ride. See it for yourself below. What direction ARE those arrows pointing? Variable? Miscellaneous? Undecided? Probably in our face for the entire loop?

 

Loveland-Lyons-Estes.jpg

 

 

Twenty people were in my driveway, ready for a 90.2 mile ride that included around 6000 feet of climbing. The climb, as you can seebelow is around 50 miles, with the bulk of the climb between miles 26 and 51.This is the climb out of Lyons, Colorado towards Allenspark and then towards Estes Park.

 

Loveland-Lyons-Estes grades_blog.jpg

(Click on the image for a larger view. The grade near 20 percent was where I picked up my bike and turned it around at a stop.)

 

My strategy for the climb was to average the highest sustainable speed for the entire climb, which meant pegging Zone 4-5a heart rate and trying to hold that intensity for roughly an hour. Unfortuneatly, my heart rate monitor strap slipped down about 10 minutes into the climb and I couldn't go by heart rate as a guide. Since I was unwilling to stop and adjust it, because I was riding with a good group of people, I didn't get accurate heart rate data. You can see from the two files (one from 2010 and one from 2012) that barometric pressure influences the total elevation gained for the ride. - I'm pretty sure none of the climbs were flatter this year. ;-)

 

Though we had some gusty winds heading to Lyons andheadwinds most of the way on the climb, we were rewarded with a nice tailwindheading from Estes Park to Loveland. The temperatures were reasonable and we didn’t get rain or snow (which has happened in past years).

 

A nice way to spend any Sunday ~

473 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: colorado, estes_park, loveland, lyons

I’ve written about the Estes Park Challenge in past blogs and the Challenge was in a column that discussed how to set good, challenging goals.


To achieve 12 consecutive months of riding from Loveland, Colorado to the mountain town of Estes Park is not an easy accomplishment. There is often wind, rain, snow,more snow, rain mixed with snow and a shortage of time due to life that can get in your way.

 

Party.jpg

 

Left to right: Lou Keen, Mike Keen, Bruce Runnels, Lee Rhodes, Scott Ellis, Sherri Goering, Pam Leamons, Brandy Staves, Darcy Tigis, Ron Kennedy, Peter Stackhouse (event host) and Jerry Nichols. MIA: Dennis Andersen, Kathy Forbes, Kirk Leamons, Todd Singiser and me. 

 

For this year’s awards, 17 people achieved the goal by December of 2011 and one person will score a solid 12 in April. This year Jerry Nichols made the awards and they were stunning – a big, big improvement from year one when my artistic talent with poo proved to be lame.

 

As with every year the dried, lacquered and glued elk poo was part of the coveted Turd Trophy. Jerry took that theme, added cycling chain and a collage photo of all the riders to make the great awards. He cleverly included a box of Elk Duds with each award, stating that extra poo was collected. (He was kidding and the caramel duds could be consumed by humans.)

 

Elk-Awards-2012.jpg

Anyone living near Loveland is welcome to participate. Below are the basic rules.


Estes or Bust


Rules to achieve the world famousTurd Trophy Award

  • Ride toEstes Park once per month for 12 consecutive months.
  • The starting point can be from anywhere in Loveland, Ft. Collins or Windsor and no further west than the Big Thompson Elementary School.
  • Either route, Highway 34 or via Devil's Gulch Road (Larimer County Road 43 known as the Glen Haven route), is acceptable. If you ride via Highway 34, you must ride west to at least the Estes Park city limit sign near the Olympus Lodge. If you ride via Glen Haven you must ride west to at least the top of the switchbacks where you can see Longs Peak.
  • A return trip sans car and via bike back to Loveland is not mandatory, but encouraged when conditions are safe and fitness allows. (This means you only have to rideup (one way) to have the trip count towards your trophy goal.)
  • Riding from Loveland to Lyons to Estes Park via either Highway 7 or 36 counts. This ride can be one way just to Estes or round trip back to Loveland.
  • The honor system is strictly enforced - ride with or without the group, with a buddy or solo.
  • You can start any month of the year and go for 12 consecutive months or begin in January and go for a calendar year.

 

Rule clarification questions or rule change requests can be sent to gale@galebernhardt.com. The Rules Committee will review change requests.

 

Ride on!

1,618 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: colorado, estes_park, loveland, trophy, elk, turd_trophies, good_goals

Last Saturday I rode to Estes Park. I’ve written about this silly monthly ride to Estes goal in past blogs. We're still going at it.

 

Estes_Nov_2011_1.jpg

 

Most of the time, this ride is no big deal – but – some days it’s tougher to pull off than other days.

 

One of the marker points for successful goal completion is to make it past the Estes Park city limit sign. Last week I couldn’t see the sign – without some digging.

 

Estes_Nov_2011_2.jpg

 

I’m assuming that high winds earlier in the week blew the sign down. Some Colorado locations clocked wind speeds in excess of 115mph.Estes recorded 77mph on November 12th and several other days between the 12thand the 19th had gusty winds in the 50mph range.

 

Estes_Nov_2011_3.jpg

 

Though we had an early morning snow in Loveland, the roads were mostly dry by about 1:00pm. Since my husband Del volunteered to drive upto Estes and pick me up (so I wouldn’t have to worry about staying warm on the 30-mile descent and darkness) I decided to bag my November Estes ride.

 

There was around four to six inches of snow on the ground for a good part of the ride - but the roads were mostly dry or just a little wet. Though the air temperature was 35 degrees, I was able to dress so I didn’t get cold. Having the right gear is essential for a ride like this one. Additionally, because it is basically a 30-mile climb I can stay pretty warm on the ride. My toes got a little chilly at the end, but not bad.

 

I have to say it’s one of the best rides I’ve done to Estes because I got to see two big horn sheep rams up close. I saw one on a rock ledge about 12 yards above the road. The second one broke away from his herd and came trotting towards me while we were both on the road side of a guard rail. I stopped, not knowing if he was angry or not.

 

He came trotting toward me and jumped across the rail about 4 yards in front of me. He proceeded to dance up the rocks next to the road. He stopped about 4 yards to my right, above the road. WOW!

 

A car watched the whole thing unfold. The driver rolled down the window and said, “Wow that was something!”

 

All I could manage was “WOW!” followed by a wide-open mouth and then a big smile on my face. 

 

If it wasn’t for that seemingly insignificant goal, I wouldn’t have ridden at all that day. I just needed that goal to get me out the door and on one of the coolest rides I’ve had in awhile.

 

Wow.

 

Estes_Nov_2011_4.jpg

844 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: colorado, estes_park, estes_ride

As promised, I have a few more product reviews for you this week. The first two, Ibex and Craft, came from recommendations I received when I wrote the holiday gift idea column last year.

 

First some background. As the temperatures drop and we do our monthly ride to Estes Park body temperature management becomes an issue. If we begin at a temperature in the low 30s and climb some 2500 feet, everyone works up a nice sweat by the time we arrive at our mountain destination. The problem is the descent. Wet clothing next to the body on what is essentially a 30-mile descent in a cool canyon makes me cold.

 

What I typically do this time of the year is to carry an extra sports bra and base layer to Estes Park. I change those layers before descending.

 

I picked up an Ibex sports top a few weeks back and wore it on my last trip to Estes. What I found is the wicking properties of Merino wool kept me comfortable and I didn’t need to change sports bras. (I did need to take off my heart rate monitor though, because the elastic strap was cold and clammy by the end of our stop at the Notchtop Café.) Though not a good top for high impact activities, this sports top is a great choice for cold-weather cycling and skiing. No more cold, wet, clammy elastic straps. Excellent.

 

My second layer was the Craft Pro Zero crew. I did carry a spare to change at the top, but I’m not sure it was necessary. Between the Ibex and the Craft, I was totally comfortable.

 

The last product on my list is the Garmin 800. I had the older Garmin 800, so I was aware of all of the features offered. On the new touchscreen product – it is the touch screen and some of the navigational redesign that I love. The very best feature? It’s the touchscreen response while wearing long-fingered gloves. That rocks. Take note smartphone manufacturers - I don't want to remove my gloves to use your product.

 

Tomorrow we’ll be at 85 degrees for the high temperature. The historical range for today’s temperatures is 19 to 86 – a near 70-degree temperature swing in the possibilities. Ah, Colorado! Be ready for anything. 

735 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: estes_park, garmin, craft, ibex

Today I’m heading into a week of cycling. I love week-long bike tours for lots of reasons including stress relief, seeing scenery otherwise missed in a car, a fitness boost, time spent with great people, and the list goes on.

 

I’ve done Bicycle Tour of Colorado (BTC) and some other events over the years. This year it is BTC again. It seems that each year Mother Nature dishes out a weather challenge and this year is no exception.

 

Three weeks ago the Sunday group ride that leaves from my doorstep did a ride from Loveland Colorado to Rock Cut on Trail Ridge Road. I was out of town and missed the ride, but below is a shot of Scott Ellis as he stands next to one of the snow drifts. Scott is about 5’10” so you can see the drift is around 20 feet.

 

Ellis Trail Ridge Road_edited.jpg

BTC is scheduled to head over Trail Ridge Road on Monday and I’m not optimistic the ride will happen. The weather prediction this morning is 3 to 6 inches of snow on Monday for elevations above 9000 feet. A full 11 miles of the road is above treeline, with the highest elevation at 12,183 feet.

 

The road is exposed and dangerous in bad weather. It is normally some 20 to 30 degrees Fahrenheight colder than the two closest cities of Estes Park and Grand Lake. I suspect the Parks Service will close the road and we’ll be shuttled to Granby by gas-power rather than leg power. Just last week a man was blown off of his bicycle on Trail Ridge Road and he required emergency help. I doubt they want to be rescuing some 1500 cyclists.

 

I’d rather miss a day of cycling than risk serious injury.

 

I’ll let you know how it turns out.

1,450 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: trail_ridge_road, estes_park, bicycle_tour_of_colorado, man_blown_off_bicycle

Today I was off the back of the group ride. Waaaaaay back. It’s interesting how not riding your bike can, and will, make you slow when you get back on the bike. This is particularly true for rides over an hour and when compared to other people that have been riding.

 

I was kind of thinking (secretly hoping?) that I’m not like all the rest of you humans – I’m special.

 

Ah, special indeed.

 

Turns out, I’m just like everyone else. Dang.

 

Estes_2011_Jan3.gifEstes_2011_Jan4.gif

Two of today’s group, Peter Stackhouse and Bruce Runnels, are seen riding through “The Narrows” towards Estes Park, Colorado. 

 

It has been three weeks since I’ve been on the bike for over an hour. In that three weeks, I’ve been on a spin bike twice and no rides outside.

 

Sure I’ve been doing a bit of skiing, a little running, a dab of excuse making (reasons why I skipped an indoor ride). Sometimes a harsh visual, such as no other riders in sight, is enough to motivate me. Yes, this afternoon I feel more motivated. Will it last?

 

Time will tell.

 

One thing I can say for sure is that not riding the bike definitely makes me slow and I’m certain it does the same for you.

 

Will you ride this week?

 

Estes_2011_Jan.gif

Appropriately named a Colorado kickstand by Carl Ciacci

769 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: colorado, estes_park, cold_weather_ride, colorado_kickstand

Bicycles and bugling elk

Posted by Gale Bernhardt Oct 11, 2010

Did you know that elk bugle? Their bugling noise is part of rut or mating season.  Someone else took this video showing an elk bugling. It is one of the videos available online that shows the bugle within the first few seconds of the video.

 

Three of us rode to Estes Park, at the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park, and we were lucky enough to get within 50 yards of a bull elk and his harem. Lucky and cautious.

 

Elk-Rut-Estes---web.gif

 

Certainly we were lucky to see them; however all of us know how aggressive bull elk can be during rut. You can do an internet search on elk during rut and find them tangling horns with each other as well as attacking cars that they deem as a threat to their harem.

 

Watching the herd across the river from us dining on lush golf course grass, river grasses and drinking water from the Big Thompson River, we were filled with awe and respect.

 

It wasn’t long after I took the photo above that we heard the bugle of another bull on a hillside about 300 or 400 yards away. That bugle made the bull nearest to us exit the water, circle his cows and take a protective stance on the side of his harem closest to the potential intruder.

 

Once in position, he returned a bugle as if saying, “I’m ready for you buddy. Just try to come close to my harem and I’ll show you what I’ve got.”

 

We decided that while the bull was distracted watching the other bull in the distance, we would make our way down the bike path and back towards Loveland. A cyclist would be no match for an angry, protective bull elk.

 

(Below are a couple of shots of Scott Ellis and Bruce Runnels on the ride up to Estes. The Estes trip was Bruce’s longest ride in eight weeks, after his emergency surgery to remove 45 inches of small intestine. That’s another story…)

 

Scott---web.gif

Scott Ellis above, on the approach to the second set of switchbacks above the town of Glen Haven. Below, Bruce Runnels makes the climb look easy.

Bruce---web.gif

527 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: estes_park, rocky_mountain_national_park, loveland_colorado, bull_elk, rut, glen_haven

I know it is long past Memorial Day, but I’m behind on blogs.

 

A traditional Memorial Day ride for the past five years or so has been a loop from Loveland, Colorado to Lyons, Allenspark, Meeker, Estes Park and back to Loveland via Glen Haven or Highway 34. This year we decided on Highway 34, making the trip right close to 90 miles from my doorstep. A Google Maps of the route is here:

 

This year Bill Danielson took video for parts of the ride. He has some nice shots on the opening climb up Highway 7, in Estes Park and coming down one of my favorite rides, Highway 34 between Estes Park and Loveland Co. Check out the video below.

 

 

I posted a few still shots on Twitter, here they are for you:

IMG00035-20100530-1231.jpgIMG00037-20100530-1235.jpg

Longs Peak and Mount Meeker from two views off of Highway 7.

 

A great tradition indeed.

978 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: estes_park, rocky_mountain_national_park, longs_peak, gale's_ride, rmnp, allenspark, lyons, meeker

My brother-in-law, Farron, is in town visiting for a few days and he requested a trip to Estes Park. He wanted to have breakfast in the mountain town and take a chance on seeing some wildlife. Below is Farron at the overlook spot just before dropping into Estes. Today it was rather cold and windy in the mountains. (Note the snow blowing across the road.)

Farron-web.jpg

 

After enjoying breakfast at the Notchtop Café, we drove north of the city and spotted five bull elk. They were about 100 yards off the road, in someone’s back yard. The fellow laying on the ground looking at me is a beautiful six-point.

elk-web.jpg

 

When we drove further up the road to turn around, luck was on our side and we spotted a couple of wild turkeys.

turkies-web.jpg

 

Before heading back down the mountain, I needed to collect some elk droppings for this year’s trophy assembly. Though I only needed enough specimens to make 15 awards, it seems I couldn’t decide on which ones to take…so I gathered half a bag of them.  Then, with more material than I needed, I found the best poo pile of the day. I couldn’t pass it up.

galecollectingpoop-web.jpg

 

With my keen eye for collecting fine specimens, more than one person has suggested that I turn it into a business. I wonder if there is good market demand for elk poo knickknacks?

1,396 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: estes_park, elk, wild_turkeys

It was definitely the worst road conditions and the coldest ride start for me. It also ranks in my top two toughest rides to Estes Park.

 

Those of you that have followed the blog for awhile know that a few riders in our Sunday ride group have a goal of riding from Loveland to Estes Park once per month, year round. (From the Colorado Front Range of ~5000ft. to the mountain town of Estes at ~7500 ft., often taking the route that pops you up to  8000ft. before dropping into the Estes valley.) If you achieve the once-per-month goal, you receive the coveted Turd Trophy Award. And who would not want lacquered elk droppings glued to a fine, hand crafted, award?

 

As you might imagine, the months of December, January and February are the toughest to accomplish. Winter storms can make the road dangerous to ride on a road bike. Because the 32 mile trip from Loveland to Estes is mostly uphill, it is possible to dress warm and ride a mountain bike up; but not back down (due to sand and ice). Sometimes it’s not safe to ride the canyon at all, so ride timing becomes critical.

 

Yesterday there was some scrambling to organize a road ride to Estes. After road reports came back that the road shoulders were snowy, we decided to abandon the road ride idea. Several phone calls back and forth; looking at the upcoming forecast for snow and cold; the thought of riding indoors; trying to bag the December Estes; and some hand-wringing lead to two of us planning to ride to the top of the switchbacks with an 8:00 am departure time. Oddly, this same scenario is how the once-per-month Estes ride began a few years ago.

 

At 8:00am this morning, Todd Singiser showed up at my house. He commented, “Gee, the thermometer read 8 degrees when I got up.” This resulted in us laughing, making fun of ourselves and also convincing ourselves that it certainly warmed up since he got out of bed, pre-dawn. (Read: denial)

 

As we rolled out of town, it was definitely cold. It was colder than I remember at the start of any Estes ride. As we rolled west, I imagined what people in cars were saying about us. I suspect the word “idiot” was used more than once.

 

Remarkably, two of the toes on my right foot were the only thing that was cold after about 45 minutes of riding. Not bad considering we were riding in a shaded canyon, ice-capped river next to us and had a head wind to boot. Granted it wasn’t a stiff headwind, but headwind nonetheless.

 

After riding about 1:20 I tried to get a drink from my hydration pack. Even though I filled it with hot water and it has a neoprene cover for the drinking tube, I couldn’t get a single drop out. I did manage to dislodge the pea-sized ice chunk in the mouth piece, but the line was frozen. No water.

 

I had to take the entire line and wrap it inside the pack to thaw it out. After about 15 minutes I had water. Ah…

 

Del, my husband, agreed to sag for us. The plan was for him to leave the house roughly 1:45 after we left so he would meet us after about 2:30 ride time.

 

Worth mention is when the clock was at 1:20, I was wishing Del was there with us. There is a good chance I would have gotten into the car and called it a day. It’s only the 5th of the month, plenty of time to try another ride. Just keep pedaling, push the sag demons away. (As if I had a choice at this point anyway.) I was pathetically slow, unable to get out of my own way. Thankfully, Todd was willing to wait and ride with me.

 

At just over two hours of ride time, we saw Del and sag-dog Meeka. Wahoo! Though the road has gone from snowy shoulder to mostly snow packed, we’ve gone too far to quit now. Must keep pedaling…

Glen-Haven-web.jpg

 

Near the town of Glen Haven, head winds picked up. Perfect. Wouldn’t want this to be too easy.

 

Just west of Glen Haven are the notorious switchbacks. My computer has logged the grades of the switchbacks between 13 and 18 percent. I’ve gotten a couple of 20 percent readings, but I suspect those readings happened to come at the steepest part of the corner, which only lasts for a few feet. Below is our approach to the second set of switchbacks.

switchbacks_web.jpg

 

There is no doubt, this was a tough ride for me. The last two miles were the toughest. I was tired, it was windy and my left inner thigh was threatening to seize-up on me. It took us 2:53 to make it to the celebration point at the top. In the summer on road bikes, we can usually ride this distance in right around 2:00.

 

With Longs Peak over our shoulders, Del offered to snap a photo before we headed to Estes for something warm to drink.

top_web.jpg

 

The first thing I did was hit the hot tub when we made it back to Loveland.

 

After a shower and reviewing the photos, I decided to check WeatherUnderground to see what the morning temperature was when we rolled out. I’m glad I didn’t know before we left, because I might not have started.

 

Sometimes it’s better not to know it’s 10.9 degrees at ride start.

2,383 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: estes_park, mountain_bike, longs_peak, cold_weather_ride

On Tuesday of this week, I climbed Longs Peak for the fifth time. It’s still a tough climb.

 

Longs Peak (14,259) and the neighboring Mount Meeker (13,865 ft.) are both prominent in the skyline west of the Northern Colorado Front Range area. I’ll try to get a photo tomorrow morning; but for tonight you’ll have to imagine two massive peaks perched high above peaks in the Rocky Mountains, dominating the western horizon. Cities lying east of Longs Peak rest on the Front Range at a humble 5,000 feet, plus or minus.

 

Longs is the only “fourteeer” in Rocky Mountain National Park and is listed in the book “Fifty Classic Climbs of North America.” The peak draws the interest of both serious technical climbers and the enthusiastic recreational hikers as well. Know that if you attempt to hike the peak in a single day from the trailhead outside of Estes Park, you’ll need to be ready for a round trip from the ranger station that a park handout advertises to be some 13 to 15 hours.

 

The biggest challenge is to summit and get yourself below treeline before the afternoon thunderstorms arrive. For this reason, most people try to begin climbing by 3:00 am.

 

Based on previous experience, we decided to meet at a store on the west side of Loveland and carpool. My alarm went off at 2:30 am and I met four others at 3:30 am. We drove to the Longs Peak Ranger Station and met two other people. We started the hike at 5:00 am, each person with a headlight or flashlight, a pack full of fuel and around 120 ounces of water.

 

The first hour of the climb is in the dark. In the next hour, the sun is pushing its way up the eastern horizon, the makings of a beautiful sunrise. By this time, we are above treeline and making our way to one of the traditional rest, fueling and bio-break stops – the trail split to Chasm Lake and the continued trail to the top of Longs.

 

Below is a shot of the gang (Scott Ellis, Tony Meneghetti, Ed Shaw, Scott Rees, Pete Graham and Doug Pearson). Directly above Ed’s head is the eastern face of Longs Peak, known as The Diamond. Technical climbers can often be seen roping their way up this vertical rock.

 

 

The next recognizable section of the trail is The Boulder Field. As the name suggests, hikers must navigate a rock field with various sizes of boulders, from those the size of your computer printer to some bigger than a car. The next shot is looking across The Boulder Field toward The Keyhole, the near-hole formation silhouetted against the blue sky. 

 

 

I don’t have a shot of The Keyhole with people in it to give you a good perspective of the size. I’ll give you additional photo links at the end of the column.

 

From the ranger station to the start of the Boulder Field, the trail was a hike. At the Boulder Field, some jumping and scrambling was required. It is at the Keyhole where things get tough. Going through the Keyhole to the back side, you are typically greeted by wind. This is not welcome for several reasons, one of which is you need to negotiate a section of trail called the Ledges. Just as it sounds, the Ledges portion of the trail includes sections where you must face the wall of the mountain and keep your focus on the task at hand. Missteps here will include a long tumble down the mountain.

 

After the Ledges section, there is a transition climb to what is known as the Trough. Below is a shot of Doug, Scott, Tony and Ed getting ready to progress toward the Trough. Notice the red circle with a yellow center painted on the rock. These “eggs” mark the trail. 

 

 

The Trough is a “V” shape that includes fields of smaller rocks, sand and dirt to navigate. Many of the larger rocks are covered with the fine dirt and sand making the footing similar to walking on tiny marbles. The shot below shows the typical trail of rocks, over Tony’s shoulder, that we must navigate to get through the Trough. 

 

 

After the Trough is the area known as the Narrows. Just as it sounds, this area is narrow and extremely exposed. There are a couple of sections that I needed help getting up because I could not get hand and foot holds secure enough to lift myself up to the next section. A mistake in this section carries heavy consequences. My tactic was to look for the general direction of the next egg, then stay focused on the next 5 to 10 feet of trail ahead of me. That trail could be horizontal, at 45 degrees or vertical.

 

After the Narrows, it’s the Homestretch. This big slab of rock seems steeper than 45 degrees, though it could be the fatigue making me misjudge the grade. Most of this section is four-wheel drive (I’m using hands and feet to propel myself).

 

If you clear the Homestretch, you’ve made it to the top. We were up in just under six hours after leaving the ranger station. (We did stop several times going up, so this is not a continuous-movement pace.)

The top is a football field size area, made of big boulders. Below is a shot of us on the top, standing next to the rock that shelters the summit-sign-in canister.

 

 

After spending some 30-45 minutes at the top, we headed down. In some of the sections, going down is much worse than climbing up due to unsure footing on top of the rocks and ankle-twisting loose rocks. Add fatigue and altitude to the mix and you’ve got yourself a recipe for potential problems. Blood spattered on sections of the rocks is a callous reminder that the mountain can be unforgiving.

 

Focus, concentrate, vigilance…I kept telling myself.

 

The short story is that we did all make it down the mountain and to the safety of our cars about 11 hours after leaving them. The trip, however, was not without some physical payment. In addition to muscles crying from 7.5 miles of eccentric loading, some people got nasty blisters. Some blisters were patchable with a bandage of duct tape, other blisters forced the postponement of summiting the mountain. Scott Rees’s biggest blister stopped him short of the Homestretch and consumed the entire bottom of his big toe. When I saw the flap of dead skin covering his raw, pink skin underneath; the flap appeared to be about 1/8-inch thick – a good sized chunk of hide. He had more blisters, but this was the worst one.

 

I think nearly everyone had some blisters on their feet, though none as impressive as Scott's. I managed to twist an ankle in the Trough on the way back and had to duct tape it for stability. (I’ll show you how in another blog.) There were banged up knees, toes, arms and torsos from using the body as a brace to make another move or as a momentum stop.

 

This mountain can be cruel and unforgiving. It turns away people that are in great shape as well as those that don’t have the fitness that it takes to summit. As I wrote on my Twitter page, “I would rather be denied a goal due to fatigue, physical pain, weather or nutrition than fear (of starting, trying, being last, risking ego)”

 

How about you?

 

When is the last time you really challenged yourself?

 

More photos are available on this public Facebook page.  (You don’t need a Facebook account to view them, though my Facebook page is open if you want to be “friends”.)

 

Information about Longs is available on Wikipedia and on the National Park site.

 

More photos and a good route description are available on this site, 14ers, as well as others.

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On Saturday night, recipients of the 2008 Estes or Bust Elk Turd Trophy Awards were invited to a banquet hosted by Pam and Kirk Leamons. (Okay, it was snacks and an informal gathering; but this year was a huge improvement over last year when the gala event was held on my driveway, pre-ride.)

 

The emcee of the ceremonies was Todd Singiser, father of the once-per-month-12-months-of-the-year Estes concept. Below is a photo of Todd congratulating Lee Rhodes as Lee holds up his award.

 

 

Award recipients oooed and aaahed when they saw the awards this year. The stunning awards (photo below) were manufactured by Pam and Kirk Leamons. The hanger is made from old inner tubes and allows the wooden ornament to be proudly displayed in any location. Secured to the wooden platform are a few links of chain, a pine cone, Juniper sprig and a hand-picked elk specimen. Details of properly curing and caring for elk specimens will, perhaps, be covered in a future blog. This can be preceded by three easy tips to distinguish the difference between elk and dog specimens.

 

 

In 2005, only one rider (Todd) made it for 12 consecutive months. In 2006, there were six riders and nine in 2007. There were 11 riders receiving the award for January to December of 2008 and one more rider (Scott Barrow) is expected to receive the award in April for an April 2008 to March 2009 push. In the photo below, from left to right, are Kirk Leamons, Peter Stackhouse, Lee Rhodes, Nick Hansen, me, Scott Ellis, Pam Leamons, Todd and Chad Brent. Missing from the photo are Jo Campbell, Dave McClure and Scott Barrow.

 

 

 

 

Plans are already being made for the 2009 awards banquet. From what I know now, all of the 2008 recipients are planning to shoot for the 2009 trophies. In addition to that group of 12, I am aware of at least nine new riders giving the goal a shot.

 

 

In addition to the trophies, award recipients received some wise words from the elk:

 

 

 

 

Below are the official Estes or Bust rules for 2009. Good weather and tail winds to all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Estes or Bust

 

 

Rules to achieve the world famous Turd Trophy Award

 

  • Ride to Estes Park once per month for 12 consecutive months.

  • The starting point can be from anywhere in Loveland, Ft. Collins or Windsor and no further west than the Big Thompson Elementary School.

  • Either route, Highway 34 or via Devil's Gulch Road (Larimer County Road 43 known as the Glen Haven route), is acceptable. If you ride via Highway 34, you must ride west to at least the Estes Park city limit sign near the Olympus Lodge. If you ride via Glen Haven you must ride west to at least the top of the switch backs where you can see Longs Peak.

  • A return trip sans car and via bike back to Loveland is not mandatory, but encouraged when conditions are safe and fitness allows. (This means you only have to ride up (one way) to have the trip count towards your trophy goal.)

  • Riding from Loveland to Lyons to Estes Park via either Highway 7 or 36 counts. This ride can be one way just to Estes or round trip back to Loveland.

  • The honor system is strictly enforced - ride with or without the group, with a buddy or solo.

  • You can start any month of the year and go for 12 consecutive months or begin in January and go for a calendar year.

 

 

Rule clarification questions or rule change requests can be sent to gale@galebernhardt.com . The Rules Committee will review change requests.

 

 

You may not live near Estes Park Colorado, but you can still scheme up good, challenging goals.

 

 

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Estes With the Pros

Posted by Gale Bernhardt Dec 7, 2008

Big-name riders from Rock Racing, Chipotle, Rabobank, Toyota and Health Net were in Estes Park yesterday on the Sunday group ride. Tyler Hamilton and Tom Danielson are two of the names you might recognize.

 

Before I launch right into the adoring-cycling-fans photo, let me begin by saying the ride today was to bag our monthly Estes ride. I've mentioned this monthly goal in past blogs, and I can tell you that today's weather was better than any of our other December Estes rides in past years.

 

We started with ten people from my doorstep. Scott Ellis, Steve Douglas, Todd Singiser, Bill Frielingsdorf, Bruce Runnels, Ron Kennedy, Peter Stackhouse and Dave McClure. It was one of those rides filled with flats. There were four flats on the way up, Todd and Peter had two each. Ron turned around early due to family commitments, Peter and Dave turned around at the top of the Glen Haven switchbacks...would they regret it?

 

The remaining members of the group arrived at Estes later than normal, by about an hour-and-a-half. Not only due to flats, but we were riding at a winter-out-of-shape pace. After a leisurely lunch, we were getting ready to head back down when a "that's no amateur" rider walked in the door. More followed.

 

Steve, his shy self, walks right up to Tyler Hamilton and says, "Hey you look a lot like that Hamilton guy" and that opened up the conversation. Turns out several of us know mutual people.

 

The photo below was taken at our favorite haunt, the Notchtop Cafe in Estes Park. Blog readers, please check me on this - left to right: Tyler Hamilton, Scott, Steve, Heath Blackgrove, Todd, Bill, Gale, Tom Danielson, TeJay van Garderen (Thanks Steve), Bruce Runnels, Matt Cooke and Chris Baldwin took the photo (much to my dislike - I would have rather had him IN the photo). Anyway, thanks Chris.

 

 

 

The last time I saw Tyler was at the 2004 Olympic Games. The TT course was held just outside the city where the triathlon was held so a few of us walked up there to watch them warm-up and ride some of the course. The rest of the guys I have not met in person.

 

 

These guys were very friendly and approachable. How many professional athletes do you know are completely approachable (sans the triathletes, of course)?

 

 

Though not on my Sunday ride, they were out for a Sunday ride. I'm happy we were delayed on our trip up and got a chance to talk to them awhile.

 

 

Just how cool is that?

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2007 Turd Trophy Awards Gala Party...sounds fancy doesn't it? It wasn't too fancy this year, we gathered in my driveway to get the trophies before riding to Estes for our February 2008 goal. Not too much of a fancy celebration this year...but there are some good ideas for next year.

 

Below is a shot of several of the 2007 Estes or Bust award winners. Left to right are Peter Stackhouse, Diana Hassel, Scott Ellis, Todd Singiser, Jo Campbell and me. Missing from the photo are Lee Rhodes, Pam and Kirk Leamons. The elk commissioned Pam and Kirk to make the 2007 trophies. A close shot of the 2007 trophies is below the group photo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Riding from Loveland to Estes Park is my favorite ride. I love the Big Thompson Canyon. When we were riding to Estes yesterday, I was admiring the ice formations on the river. After the ride, I had to drive back up the canyon to get some pictures and video of the Big Thompson River. Several sections of canyon are included in this video link: (no longer available)

 

 

The road to Estes parallels the Big Thompson River. The road used to be right next to the river and that changed after the destructive flood of 1976. A short story can be found here with futher information available through the links on right column.

 

To be treated with respect and caution in bad weather, the trip to Estes on a bike is still awesome.

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