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Active Expert: Gale Bernhardt

9 Posts tagged with the loveland 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:




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.

625 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?





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 ~

703 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.




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.)



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 The Rules Committee will review change requests.


Ride on!

2,417 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: colorado, estes_park, loveland, trophy, elk, turd_trophies, good_goals

I am lucky to live in an area where open space is a priority for the two cities I frequent the most, Loveland and Fort Collins, Colorado. Open space is also a priority in the county we share, Larimer. The two city governments partner with the county on several open space projects and make connectivity a priority. Additionally,connectivity with Colorado State Parks is a priority as well.

In fact, The Big Ride covered trails that were funded by all four organizations.


Today I was chatting with Ernie Watenpaugh and he reminded me about the wildlife camera project at Bobcat Ridge Natural Area.


Lions and bobcats and bears, oh my!


It’s really cool to see photos of furry open space and trail visitors – or is that open space homeowners?


January 2011 has a mountain lion. Bears are in September 2011. If you go through all of the 2011 photos, you'll find a nice variety of wildlife.


There are times when I'm on the local trails and I feel like I'm being watched....

841 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: colorado, loveland, wildlife, bears, fort_collins, bobcat_ridge_natural_area

Yesterday’s mountain bike ride on the trails west of Loveland and Fort Collins, Colorado is a good example of why I maintain a certain level of fitness. I stay fit so that with minimal notice I can go out and participate in an adventure.


A few weeks ago, I had a chance to ride with a new woman, Andrea Gregory. She’s been a great inspiration for me, her technical skills are much better than mine. Her favorite trail in the area is Mill Creek (Horsetooth Mountain Open Space in Larimer County). Locals know that descending this trail involves steep, rocky and loose sections. There are tight corners, exposed roots and of course several obligatory trees near the trail to catch your handlebars if you’re not paying attention. She descends the trail with ease and rides most of it.


Andrea had this idea to do a ride she called The Whole Enchilada. Unfortunately, our calendars wouldn’t mesh and she did the Whole Enchilada ride with her husband, Joe, last Thursday.


I wanted the Enchilada. I dropped a note to my Sunday ride list and asked if I could rally some interest in a route similar to The Whole Enchilada, and luckily there were takers! We did The Big Ride.


The summary:

Ride distance: 42 miles

Out time (riding, hike-a-bike, mechanicals, refueling, regrouping, chatting with trail buds):       7:15

Moving time (I believe this includes ride time plus hike-a-bike, bike barely moving and stop time under 1 minute):       5:16

Time (I believe this is ride time):      4:53

Elevation gain:   5712 feet


You can find a map and ride details here.


I would describe the pace, when we were rolling, as steady and mostly conversational. This was great. Garmin Connect link above doesn’t show grade percentages or heart rate summary data, so I'll add attachments. I’m attaching two pdf screen shots from Garmin Training Center that show just over four hours of the ride was aerobic (Zones 1and 2). Don’t take “aerobic” and “mostly conversational” to mean an easy ride. It wasn’t.


It’s the technical sections, steep climbs and steep descents that make the ride tough. It’s difficult to describe Devil’s Backbone, which is the first technical trail in the ride. I’ll have to get some photos or video – but as everyone knows, those never do justice to a trail. In short, a good percentage of it is rocky. Continuous rocks, off-camber rocks and rocks on climbs. Unrelenting rocks.


In addition to rocky sections, The Big Ride route has climbs. Tough climbs. In the first attachment, The Big Ride, you’ll see a 40% grade on one of the climbs. This anomaly is when I decided to conquer a section of trail with a do-over. I picked up the front end of the bike and swung it around to go backand try again. So, this isn't a real trail number. The Big Ride 2 attachment, shows second grade over 30% and is also false. It's from a hike-a-bike out of Coyote Ridge, again I picked up my bike.


The remaining 10 pieces of the ride data showing grades right around 20% or more on the climbs, are indeed riding sections. Locals that have climbed Devil’s Backbone, Indian Summer, Blue Sky to Coyote Ridge, the service road at Horsetooth Mountain Open Space and the Towers Road can probably identify those sections right now in their noggin-memory-bank.


As for the hair-raising descents well over 20% and some over 30% - yes I believe those numbers to be true. These are scare-my-pants-off sections that many of the riders in the group descended skillfully. That doesn’t mean bombing downhill hell for leather; it means deftly dancing down the mountain.


I was nowhere close to deft. I walked some of the steepest, loosest descents. I will be deft on this trail. I will develop more skills. I dream of deftness.


Barb Schultz, absolutely a skillful rider, is someone I’ve seen often on the trails but have not ridden with until yesterday. She did the entire The Big Ride loop with me - and - did the loop last summer. She regularly does big, and bigger rides. She’s one of those endurance machines – and– has the technical skills to boot. She’s one more inspiration to bolster my technical skills.


In summary, I’m rich. I have tremendous fortune in great trails to ride, a buffet of excellent riders to learn from, a several excellent riders that love adventures, good health and decent fitness right now.


Rich, I tell you, rich.

1,137 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: colorado, loveland, devil's_backbone, fort_collins, mill_creek, horsetooth_mountain_open_space, larimer_county, mountain_bike_ride, coyote_ridge, blue_sky, herrington, indian_summer, lohry_state_park

In past blogs I’ve mentioned that I live in a city (Loveland, Colorado) where there are several bronze foundries and an international art show.


This morning on my way to have coffee at the Coffee Tree there was a huge bronze sculpture loaded on a trailer getting ready for transport. The title of the piece is “Rock ‘n Roll” by George Lundeen. A couple of shots are included below. The chain on the piece is real (and still flexible for now). The cyclist will surely need to replace the derailleur because it is crashed into a rock.


The snowboarder piece is “Up For Grabs”.


With the back of the studio open, I snapped a few more shots. The employees were very friendly. I’ll need to go back when I have more time in my day.





913 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: colorado, loveland, snowboarder, bronze, george_lundeen, mountain_biker

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.

2,770 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: estes_park, rocky_mountain_national_park, loveland, longs_peak, fourteeners, 14ers

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 . The Rules Committee will review change requests.



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



2,236 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: estes_park, loveland, elk_award, turd_trophy, ft_collins, windsor

Love Town

Posted by Gale Bernhardt Feb 14, 2008


I grew up and currently live in Loveland, Colorado. Yes, the sweetheart city. Love town.



Valentine's Day is a big deal around here. In 1947, the Valentine remailing program began. The largest of it's kind in the world, people send their Valentine cards to Loveland so they can be stamped with the special Valentine cache and remailed to anywhere in the world.



If you want to have your Valentine stamped next year, put the appropriate postage on it for the final destination. Put that envelope in another envelope and send it to:



Postmaster Valentine Re-mailing

446 E. 29th St.

Loveland, CO 80538



Each year a contest is held to determine the winner of the Valentine cache (for the stamp), the poem (used inside a special card) and the cover design for the card.



The 2008 stamp cache reads:



"From mountains high to lakesides blue, this heart's from Loveland so dear one, to you!"



It is reported that more than 200,000 cards and letters were handled in 2007,  from more than 100 countries. More than 12 million valentines have been re-mailed since the beginning of the program in 1947.



You can find more information about the program at this website.



Happy Valentine's Day ~



1,067 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: valentine's_day, loveland_remailing_program, loveland