Sunday, October 19, 2008

A Little Bike Ride

On Sunday the weather was absolutely gorgeous, so we decided to take advantage of it and go for a long bike ride (in a couple of weeks I don't think we'll want to get on bikes much!). There is an area west of the Flatirons/Green Mountain called Walker Ranch that we wanted to check out. On a hike in Eldorado a few weeks ago we ran into the Walker Loop Trail and it looked like a lot of fun. So, this was the day to check it out!

We hopped on our bikes and headed for the hills...literally. To reach Walker Ranch we needed to bike 4 miles to Chautauqua Park, then another 4.5 miles to the summit of Flagstaff Mountain, then another 3 miles to the trail head of Walker Ranch. Chautauqua was no big deal--about 25 minutes most of week was up a decent hill. Flagstaff proved a bit more difficult. The 4.5 miles is up a mountain, so we gained a good 2,000 feet over the next 35 minutes or so. Reaching the Summit Road (a spur that gets you to some hiking trails, an outdoor amphitheater, and some great views) we thought we were done with the elevation gain. Haa! The next part was even more treacherous. The road was so steep (>7.5 degrees) pedaling in the lowest gear was really, really hard. We both fought thoughts of getting off and walking, but we didn't! The next parking area, Stevens Gulch, offered great views and a chance to stretch. The road kept heading up until we got behind Green Mountain. Then we finally enjoyed a couple of downhills before the final descent to Walker Ranch.

Now, if you're a regular reader of the blog, you know we've done some mountain biking out here. Most of it has been a lot of fun. Sure, there's been a few technical spots where Dan attempts to ride and I just walk my bike, but it's been quite doable. Walker Ranch was not all that doable. I swear, someone needed to mark this trail as difficult and the others as easy or novice. The majority of this seven-mile loop was insane. It was steep (both going up and down), it was rocky, there were sharp turns and switchbacks, and there was even about 1,000 feet where EVERYONE (even the REALLY good people) had to carry their bikes because there were stairs cut into the side of the cliff. Let me tell you, walking your bike up steep hills is not a lot of fun, carrying your bike down a cliff is even less fun. All in all the 7 miles took us almost 3 hours to complete. Crazy!

After a snack, we were ready for the ride home, or so I thought. We were headed down the long, loose-gravel driveway back to the road and I slid off my bike. Yup, I was going too fast, tried to slow down, and then ended up in the middle of the road on all fours. I gouged a good chunk of skin out of my knee and arm and thought I needed stitches. Very fortunately, a ranger was passing by a few minutes after the accident. He had a first aid kit (ours was at home in the climbing packs...stupid us!) and a nice big pick up. Though I could have ridden home (it would have been a long and rather painful ordeal) the ranger offered us a ride. Thankfully, I didn't need stitches but I still did a number on my left limbs. After a few days of R&R I'm sure I'll be fine for next weekend's adventures. I better be!

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