Saturday, July 30, 2011

Fun Ride: Lookout Mountain to Morrison to Home

It was 3:30 and I was ready for the weekend. Should I leave 30 minutes early or should I stay till 4? I wasn't getting anything done anyway, so I decided to head out. I had no plans for the night, so I needed something to do with my time. So I opened up Google maps and drew out a bike ride.

I had tons of time to spare, so a 30 mile ride was definitely doable. The route went up Lookout Mountain, then at I-70 it takes a mountain road to Bear Creek Canyon and heads down to Morrison. It looked awesome. It was mostly a gradual downhill from the top of Lookout Mountain, just more scenic than the usual way I get down from Lookout. Normally I'll take highway 40 along I-70, then follow C-470 down to Bear Creek. This seemed like a much better option with just an extra 5th category climb (easiest classification).

So I packed up my stuff, filled up 2 water bottles, prepared a peanut butter bagel for a snack, and headed out. All the road cyclists must think I'm some inexperienced nerd with my single pannier on one side of my steel frame bike. But I took pride in the fact that I wasn't passed a single time on the uphill even though I was carrying extra weight. Lookout mountain is such a cool ride. It's a 6.6 mile climb, but it's not super steep. What makes it great is the views. You get the amazing views of Golden, Denver, and Clear Creek Canyon without having an extremely difficult time getting up to the views. I was regretting not having my camera the entire time. I'll leave it in my pannier from now on.

Well Lookout Mountain was as wonderful as ever, but when I hit Highway 40, I crossed over I-70 and took Grapevine Road south. This was a very cool road. I only saw 3 cars the entire time and absolutely no bikes. I came to find out that there are no bikes because half of the road is dirt. The uphill was pretty gradual with only one steep section and the dirt didn't start until I got near the top of the hill. Along the road I passed lots of nice houses and crossed over a small pass and started descending to the Bear Creek Canyon. The dirt was a bit scary because I definitely don't have the right tires for dirt. The back tire has no tread, the front barely has any tread, and they are both pretty narrow for aggressively riding on dirt. The road going downhill was super steep at points and the views were very nice. There were spots of trees and open fields so that made for the good views, not to mention the mountains all around me. I made it to a poorly kept paved road and this was the coolest part. There were lots of houses and the road was really narrow. So narrow, 2 cars would have to be very very careful if they wanted to pass each other. The narrow winding road was a lot of fun to ride down and then I made it to Bear Creek Road.

I sped down the gradual descent enjoying the beautiful views. There were steep beautiful cliffs to the left and Bear Creek to the right. Only about a half mile down the road I heard a noise coming from my back wheel. It sounded like something was rubbing on each revolution, so I stopped and saw that it was a flat. I think the dirt road caused some tiny sharp rocks to get lodged into my tire and puncture the tube. 20 minutes later, I had the tube patched and was ready to move on. Upon close inspection, I realized that my rear tire isn't a very good one. It is thicker than the previous tire I had, but not super thick and it was starting to crack. I've been riding on it since Honeyman State Park in Oregon, so it's seen several miles. So I kept riding through the beautiful canyon till I got to Morrison, a small tourist town right where the foothills start.

The rest of the ride was rather uninteresting, but nice. I passed through Bear Creek Lake Park and then went along some roads, stopped to buy new sandals, then went home.

It was a very nice ride and I definitely recommend it to anyone. Lookout Mountain isn't too difficult and the rest is very manageable. The views and fun winding roads are worth the effort. Once again I'm reminded at how lucky I am to live in such a beautiful place.

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