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  1. #1
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    A ride in Rocky Mountain National Park

    A friend & I have been doing a lot of 'prep' rides this summer in anticipation of the Copper Triangle Parkinson's charity ride (held the 1st Saturday of August every year). As it turned out, we did so many prep rides that the CT felt just a little too easy & definitely too early to end the 'big rides' for the season. I suggested we add the Mt Evans 'Loop' to finish the season (Evergreen to Idaho Springs to Mt Evans to Evergreen). Since we live in Loveland, CO, my friend suggested instead that we ride into Rocky Mountain National Park & up Trail Ridge Road to the Alpine Visitor's Center. Even if it wasn't quite the altitude of Mt Evans, the advantages of riding more miles & being able to ride from home made it an easy decision!

    The biggest fear I had (aside from never having done this many miles in a single ride) was that I was immediately leaving for two weeks of sitting in a car & eating my way across five different states. Not a good training plan for this ride! Luckily for me, the US Pro Cycling race rolled thru Boulder that first Saturday after I returned from my road trip, giving me the chance to get some post-deconditioning miles in before the AVC ride. (That race day (25Aug12) saw 105 miles of riding to the race course & back; we broke the riding up with a lot of standing around between riding to several race viewing points, & I was glad I went!)

    In previous years I would've considered the 65 or so miles up to Estes Park & back a complete ride. We always take the extra time to ride thru Glen Haven, as that road sees much less traffic than the Hwy 34 canyon route. It would add a few extra miles to the day, but we decided to also go thru Glen Haven today as well. We left Loveland (elevation 4,982') at 7:15 am (Friday, Aug 31) & arrived at the Subway in Estes Park around 10:15 for our 'first lunch' sandwiches. About 1/2 hour later we were back on our bikes & rolling into RMNP. Time for 26 miles of climbing!

    Having never done this ride before, I was riding a little on the conservative side. The longest continuous ride I'd ever done prior to this was last year's 95 miler thru Estes & up to the Peak to Peak Hwy, & it didn't have the length of climbs this one does. We got passed by three young guys in full kit, but we also passed several other riders as we approached Rainbow Curve & tree line.

    When you arrive at the high point of TRR at Rock Cut (12,183' & 35% less oxygen than at sea level) you have to descend almost 400' for the four more miles it takes to reach the AVC. Like many of the rides around here, you have to climb to leave your destination! We arrived at the AVC around 2:15 & enjoyed our 'second lunch' sandwiches. At this point it had taken us 6-1/2 hrs of riding time to travel 60 miles.

    After answering questions for a few curious tourists, we left the AVC about 3:00 pm. It started raining lightly as we climbed back up to Rock Cut. My friend was riding his carbon racing bike & had not brought any extra gear for inclement weather. I was glad I was on my randonneur with full fenders & front bag (& camera!). I put on my wool skullcap, wool arm warmers, full finger gloves & windproof vest. I also had wool leg warmers & a wool headband with me, but didn't need to use them. Aware that the light rain would make the roads incredibly slick, I rode cautiously. My friend was more concerned about being above tree line & being completely exposed to potential hail or lightning storms, so he took off like a rabbit! I got stuck behind a line of cars & didn't catch up with him for many miles. Luckily the rain lightened & the roads dried out within about 10 miles from the top.

    We rode the entire way back to Loveland in about 3-1/2 hours, arriving home at 6:30 pm. On the trip back we chose the canyon route rather than returning thru Glen Haven. Unfortunately, we had a headwind the entire way from Estes to Loveland!

    The totals for the day were:
    Total Distance: 116 miles
    Total Climbing: 8,800 feet
    Total Ride Time: just over 11 hrs
    Total Cycling Time: just under 9 hrs
    Average Speed: about 13 mph

    Overall it was a fantastic day!
    Last edited by Eiron; 09-07-2012 at 01:47 PM.

  2. #2
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    Entering Rocky Mountain National Park.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails A ride in Rocky Mountain National Park-dsc05609.jpg  

  3. #3
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    A view of the alpine destination ahead.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails A ride in Rocky Mountain National Park-dsc05610.jpg  

  4. #4
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    Approaching Rainbow Curve (way off in the distance).
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails A ride in Rocky Mountain National Park-dsc05613.jpg  

  5. #5
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    Approaching Rock Cut (also way off).
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails A ride in Rocky Mountain National Park-dsc05619.jpg  

  6. #6
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    At the Alpine Visitor's Center.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails A ride in Rocky Mountain National Park-dsc05624a.jpg  

  7. #7
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    View from the Alpine Visitor's Center.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails A ride in Rocky Mountain National Park-dsc05623.jpg  

  8. #8
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    One of the climbs leaving the AVC (with rain just starting).
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails A ride in Rocky Mountain National Park-dsc05628.jpg  

  9. #9
    MB1
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eiron View Post
    Entering Rocky Mountain National Park.
    Wow.

    What a killer image.
    Quote Originally Posted by the_dude
    these are better than i was expecting, and my expectations were already rather high.

  10. #10
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    Nice photos! Drove through there in 2003, the 21st of June, in a snowstorm.

  11. #11
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    great pics, really makes me remember and miss my Boulder area riding show more bike!
    Lugged Steel Treks

  12. #12
    Burnum Upus Quadricepus
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    Nice. I did some riding out of Loveland in 2008. I've been to all the places you rode, plus Evans.

    My favorite memory is of the little shop in Glen Haven with homemade cinnamon buns the size of cantaloupes, and jugs of water outside labeled "For bikers!" Perfect rest stop on the descent, since you have to slow down through there anyway.

    And those headwinds on the descent must have saved you lots of brake pad life! ;)

  13. #13
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    What a killer image.

  14. #14
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    My last trip on TRR was 2010 right after they finished repaving the road.

    Estes Park to Granby - a great ride as we had perfect weather in early August.

    Love your pics.

  15. #15
    Bacon!
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    Beautiful pics.
    “To kill, you must know your enemy, and in this case my enemy is a varmint. And a varmint will never quit — ever. They’re like the Viet Cong — Varmint Cong. So you have to fall back on superior intelligence and superior firepower.”

  16. #16
    wots...uh the deal?
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    Flashing back to TRR from 2011 BTC. The climb was nice, but the snow and wind at the top was not. No, I didn't get any pics. (Gotta go back and ride it the right way sometime. When the view is a view...)

    Good pics. Nice to see what I missed.
    martymoose

  17. #17
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    Thanks MB1. It was very nice being on that road at that time of the morning. Very little traffic! :-)

  18. #18
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    Thanks wncbiker. Weather is always the wild card in this area! My friend had been turned back on two separate ride attempts due to nasty conditions.

  19. #19
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    *deleted*

  20. #20
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    Thanks Reynolds531. I would definitely miss the riding in this area if I moved away. (Are you asking for pictures of my bicycle, or for more people to post bike ride pics?)

  21. #21
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    Hi brucew, I did Mt Evans a few years ago, but I'd never ridden up to the AVC before. I really enjoyed it!

    Everybody talks about the cinnamon rolls, but I love the cherry cobbler at the Glen Haven General Store! :-)

    Yeah, I hate it when I have to pedal down the canyons... :-/

  22. #22
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    Thanks Barger285 & MerlinAma. We really had great weather, even considering the light rain on the departure from the AVC. We never had to deal with lightning or high winds, & once we got back below tree line things dried out quickly.

  23. #23
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    Thanks Ridgetop. I have a few more pics from the trip that I might post.

  24. #24
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    Hi mmoose, you can never be sure what's going to happen at the tops of the passes around here. Keeping the camera in the rear pocket of my front bag made it easy to grab for shots "on the move." I just wish I'd taken the camera out more often!

  25. #25
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    Rmnp

    We climb up Trail Ridge Road every summer around the 4th of July.
    Usually rains on us up at the top and it's almost always windy.
    THE best climb there is IMO. Taxes the lungs and legs. It only takes about 20 minutes to jam down...usually passing cars in the corners and then a stop in Grand Lake for a beer.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails A ride in Rocky Mountain National Park-rmnp1.jpg   A ride in Rocky Mountain National Park-rmnp3.jpg   A ride in Rocky Mountain National Park-rmnp4.jpg   A ride in Rocky Mountain National Park-rmnp5.jpg  
    Last edited by Trouble; 09-30-2012 at 04:34 PM.
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