Sunday, December 12, 2010

A gift from La Nina

This time last year, I had already hit the trainer a few times and made a few trips to Pueblo for some dry riding conditions. This year has been a bit....different. There has been very little snow on the Colorado front range but the mountains have been getting a good amount. I keep thinking that every snow-free ride will be my last. So I just keep on  riding with a smile on my face.

Matt the Bagel and I met at Cheyenne Mountain State Park yesterday for a fun ride with my video camera. I edited the video and then added some helmet-cam footage from a warmer time...


Cheyenne Mtn. State Park footage from Alan Keeffe on Vimeo.

The forecast looks dry. Lunch ride, anyone?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Aberdeen!

Lately, I have been in the mood for an adventure. So the other day I am checking out the interweb and I happened to see Dave Wiens twitter page . He was talking about a new section of single-track that has just been completed at Hartman's Rocks in Gunnison, Colorado. Then he mentions a race coming up in a few days. Assuming that the race would cover the new trail, I started to plan a trip to Gunni. Then I started thinking: "what would make this even more epic?".  The answer: riding with Mick Hannah. For those who don't know, here is Mick:


Here is more:



So at 6 a.m. on November 6, 2010, I set out on a one day adventure.

Here is the sunrise on the Collegiate Range on the way across Southpark:















I met Mick on the way and we headed to Gunnison. Upon arrival, we immediately went to sign up for the race and that's when Dave informed me that the new trail wasn't going to be part of the course. Darn! We got our numbers and put them on our bikes thinking that we would still do the race.
That's when Giant Bikes race team manager Joe Staub showed up. He was to be our guide for the warm-up for the race. We climbed out of Hartman's and started riding the epic trails in the area until it looked like it was time to get to the start. Or...we could go out and sample the new 7 miles of single-track called the Aberdeen loop. Mick and I were both feeling like not racing so the decision was made!

Here's Mick and Joe having a snack at the start of Aberdeen:















Here is Mick (and Joe) fixing a flat on the sweet new single-track:















Here is a picture of the Aberdeen Loop sign. I recommend riding it counter-clock-wise.
















We ran into Scott N's college running coach. He was a history professor and knows the history of the area very well.  Here he is meeting Mick: "So you are a pretty good bike rider, huh?"...















After the ride, we headed over to the Gunni Sack restaurant and had burgers and beer. Dave called, wondering if we were still out on course since we were technically still racing. He laughed when I told him where we were, but I'm sure he was glad we weren't laying in a ditch out on course!
The post race party at the Gunnison Brewery was really cool and the people there were really nice but I had to get on the road so I couldn't hang out too long.

So 15 hours after leaving my house in Colorado Springs, I arrived home safe and sound. And tired. Definitely got the adventure that I was seeking!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Cheyenne Mountain Lodge

In 1925, Spencer Penrose built a six mile road to the top of  the northern summit of Cheyenne Mountain. The road ended above "The Horns". The cost was one million dollars to build and it wasn't a big hit with the locals. Nothing like a big zig-zag scar up a pristine mountainside, right?

Upon completion of the road, Penrose constructed a lodge where people could stay and admire the view, breathe the high altitude air and look at his menagerie of animals. It was called the Cheyenne Mountain Lodge or the Honeymoon Lodge. Here is a video:


I heard a rumor that in later years the lodge became a brothel, but I couldn't find any more recent history of it. In the early 1970's, the lodge was bulldozed due to vandalism and the high cost of upkeep and security. Too bad because it would be a really cool place to stay.

Now, it's a really cool place to hike (or hike a bike) and explore. Be warned that it is a no tresspassing area so I can't recommend visiting there. Nor can I give explicit directions on how to get there. I can say that purchasing a Pikes Peak Atlas will be worth the investment.

Here is a cool picture of the lodge:
























In the next picture, look just above where the car is parked. I heard it was a mountain lion cage. Today you can see the gate to the cement enclosure and the bars are still intact.

















Here is Russ walking up those stairs above the mountain lion cage:















Here are some pictures of the old footprint of the lodge. To the east you can see where they bulldozed the walls over the edge of the cliff.






























These old stairs lead to a cool little overlook:
















We had to go and check out the free standing overlook with the huge flag pole:















Here is a cool picture of the Horns from the overlook:















Here are our smiling mugs:















I think Russ found the fountain of youth because we look the same age yet he is a decade older than me!

I shot a quick video from our perch:
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I made a cool 3D image of our ride route and ride stats:














It was a long day on the bike since the original ride route didn't include the excursion to the top of Cheyenne Mountain. Russ was a great riding companion and never complained about having to carry his bike up a nasty trail 3 hours into the ride (or again, 5 hours into the ride. Ooops). We should all be so lucky to have such a great riding buddy.

I am super lucky because I have several.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Weekend in Gunnison

My co-worker Scott and his Dad Steve invited me to Gunnison last weekend to stay at the Island Acres Resort and do some sweet mountain bike rides. No-brainer, I was IN!

Here's Scott at Hartman's:

















Here's Steve at Hartman's:

















The plan was to ride in Crested Butte on Saturday with the one and only Dave Moe (Dave Meyer) as our tour guide and then the famous Growler race course at Hartman's Rocks in Gunnison on Sunday.

Here's me and Dave Moe with Mt. Crested Butte in the background:

















I met Dave waaaay back in the dark ages of mountain bike racing. We were dukin' it out at Lory State Park in Fort Collins, Colorado. It was my first Pro race and I was chasing Wade Wilderman with Dave somewhere out ahead of us. We were rippin' through the trees and somehow caught Dave at the start of a big climb. Right about then Wade dropped a chain and I passed him, then Dave who actually cheered me on! That just doesn't happen in bike races. The only other time it happened in my racing career was when I somehow passed another Dave who also lives in Gunnison. They raise some polite and friendly bike racers up there in the high mountain valleys.

The troops were gathered in CB on Saturday morning and we headed up Tony's Trail east of town. This is where we split into two groups: the smart ones who love great trails at an intelligent pace, and...The Others. Dave Moe led The Others.

Here is Scott at the point of group division:

















Dave has some hilarious phrases that he interjects into otherwise normal conversation.

Here are The Others gathered at the top of the first big climb. "That was a real booger-blower"- Dave Moe


















We were waiting for a rider who was beginning to show that he was too intelligent to be riding with The Others. His name will be Kenneth (name has been changed to protect the intelligent). Kenneth has never climbed 10 miles in a row at 10,000' of elevation and he was beginning to suffer. At one point later in the ride, Scott noted that Kenneth was "talking to the dinosaurs".

Here's the Hitman after we made a "left turn, Clyde" onto Deer Creek trail:

















While we waited for Kenneth to stop being so intelligent, I had plenty of time to take some photos. There is no shortage of scenery in CB in the fall:


















































Maybe those were the dinosaurs...

At this point Dave Moe told Kenneth that there were no more big climbs, "honest, Pocohontas". He wasn't lying, but there was plenty more uphill in the form of not so big climbs. At that point in the ride, Kenneth began projectile vomiting in order to flag down a passing vehicle. They carted his now super intelligence-enriched carcass back to CB in a random act of kindness.

Post ride, some of the others gathered at the Brick Oven Pizzeria in Crested Butte for some pizza and beer and to get one last morsel of Dave Moe-isms. Thanks, "Buddy Bear"!

We then headed back to Gunnison for an awesome home-cooked meal, more beers and to gather around the fire pit:

















Sunday, we had yet another home-cooked breakfast and headed out to Hartman's. The Other's group had lost a few to the intelligent group but we couldn't let that deter us. We headed out to do a lap of the now infamous Growler race course.

Here is a sample of the fine trails around Hartman's:


















Did I mention that Dave Moe has a trail or two named after him? He is responsible for about 70% of the awesome trails at Hartman's. He couldn't ride with us on Sunday due to "marital maintenance". :

















The riding was awesome and the groups had a great time, but the shadows were growing longer and we still had to drive home:


















Island Acres Resort is mountain biker friendly, dog friendly and they even have a bike wash:

















If you are extremely lucky, you can enjoy the home cooked goodness from Nancy and Pam as well as the hospitality of Steve and Tim. Thanks for the invite....can I reserve "same time next year"?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Monarch Crest Trail

Here are some stats for those who are into numbers:

Distance: 53.6 miles round trip.
Climbing elevation: 10321'.
Ride time: 5:01
Time spent climbing: 1:39
Time spent descending: 1:00(!)

 

I've always wanted to ride the Crest trail with a full-suspension bike and the forecast was unbelievable so I called the Bagel and the next thing you know we were slogging up Monarch pass on the way to the Crest.

If you have trouble loading these mini-videos, here is a link to the condensed version:

http://vimeo.com/14907677


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At the top of Monarch Pass, we stopped for a quick snack and to top off the water before heading up the short climb to the entrance to the Crest Trail.

video

Once you are on the Crest trail, you are at or near timberline (11000') for quite some time.

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 The trail has a variety of terrain from hardpack with embedded rocks to loose, rutted trail and even some scree.

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One of my favorite sections of trail is the one right before the end of the Crest. It's easy to go too fast and crash...but I didn't because I am old and wise.

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Here is the end of the Crest right before a fun jeep road descent to the top of Marshall Pass.

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From the top of Marshall Pass, we jumped on to the Colorado Trail for a while until we hit the Silver Creek trail. It starts out pretty rough and many people get flats there. There are some smoother sections as well.

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After Silver Creek, you actually ride down the creek for a minute, then the Rainbow Trail appears. We saw many people blow right by the trailhead which is too bad because it is some of the best single-track anywhere.

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The Rainbow Trail has many left turns followed by sharp climbs and then you get to the final descent which is another of my favorites.


At the end of the Rainbow Trail, you end up on Poncha pass.

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All that's left is the descent down Poncha Pass. Watch how close this truck tries to get to us. I believe he violated the 3 foot law by about 2-1/2 feet. Nice.

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We were both pretty tired all day but still rode at a respectable pace. I'd like to thank Hammer Nutrition for inventing Endurolytes. They saved me from cramping up two hours into the adventure and continued to save me for the rest of the ride. I highly recommend them.


Monday, September 6, 2010

Riding with the "Hit Man"

Last Saturday was the last ride for my Kermit Green Niner. It was developing some hairline cracks at the seat tube/seat stay junction. Of course Niner warranteed it but only after proof that the old one was destroyed. Talk about adding insult to injury:


Since I work at a bike shop, all it took was a quick call to our Giant Bikes rep and presto, my new bike appeared! It's a  2010 Giant Trance X2. Of course, I have modified it to fit my needs:


Now I am re-learning how to ride 26" wheels and on top of that, learning how to ride with 5" of suspension travel front and rear. Ummmm, yeah. It's cool.

That brings us to yesterday's ride. The Bagel was down and out so I called the one other guy who was ready to ride anywhere at the drop of a hat. Don "The Hitman" Hull:


Why is Don called the "Hit Man"? Well, when he first started coming into the shop, nobody knew exactly where he got the money to buy all those fancy bike parts so someone suggested he was a hit man. Later, we found out he may be in the import/export business which fits the hit man profile. He imports bullets into people and exports them into the ground! All unfounded rumors....or are they?

I have been wanting to ride the Ring the Peak trail from the Catamount Reservoir to Horsethief Park all year and with the forecast in the Springs being around 90 degreees, the time to head up to 10,000' is NOW.

Don and I parked at the Edlowe Road trailhead and immediately jumped on some sweet single-track. We then joined the Ring the Peak trail and headed South. My planned turn-around point was Horsethief Park at the remains of an old cabin:

                                       

Any time of day is a good time to eat:


On the way back to Catamount, we veered off of the Ring the Peak trail and rode a little known section of trail called "Magic Carpet Ride". I'd tell you where it is but then Don may have to come see you...


You won't believe it but I actually had my GoPro camera and made yet another video. Weird, huh?
This will give you an idea of how awesome the trails are wayyyy up in hills of Colorado:

Mountain bike trails around Pikes Peak from Alan Keeffe on Vimeo.



Friday, August 27, 2010

Riding after work with Matt "The Bagel"

Since we are both working on the southeast side of town, Matt and I like to meet at Cheyenne Mountain State Park after work for the occasional mountain bike ride. Yesterday was a typical 90 degree summer day but I happened to have my GoPro Helmet-cam....

I took a lot of video footage on our ride but for some reason, this particular trail stood above the rest for capturing the essence of why we enjoy the park. Maybe it was the late-afternoon sun. Maybe it's because I kept it on two wheels at a pretty decent clip. You decide (crank the volume and think: 80's):


Boulder Run in Cheyenne Mountain State Park from Alan Keeffe on Vimeo.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Tour of the Lakes w/trail maintenance

Matt "The Bagel" and I are both coming off of four or five weeks of not riding very much so we decided to do the legendary "Tour of the Lakes".

Prepping for the ride...











We haven't been at 9000' on a bike for a while and we strangely had to stop early for some bonk prevention.

Early pig-out.











We arrived at the "Rock" trail and Matt decided, after watching me slam my rear wheel on a rock obstacle, to fill in the gap with some old deadfall.

The start of the trail labor...
At the bottom of the "Rock" section, we always had to hike-a-bike up a steep little hill. I saw a way to make it rideable with a little (a lot!) of work.

Matt, doing some hard labor in the middle of a hard ride.
After we both bonked while using the hand-saw, we finally cut the old dead tree. Matt had the honor of the first test-ride of our new section:

Bottom of the Rock from Alan Keeffe on Vimeo.

There's still plenty of trailwork to be done up there, but at least we got started...

Now I have to recover from roughly 1/4 of the Leadville 100 at the elevation of 9000' instead of 10000' to 12000'. Glad I wasn't entered in that one.



 

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Copper Triangle

This weekend, The Colorado Cyclist sponsored a ride called "The Copper Triangle". It is a fully supported bike ride starting at the Copper Mountain ski area, climbing up Fremont pass down to Leadville, towards Minturn over Tennesee Pass to Vail and back over Vail Pass to Copper.

   Many of the employees of The Colorado Cyclist were there to help make it a good time for all. There were four mechanics, myself, Scott, Dave and Brandon. Scott and I were assigned to the top of Fremont pass from 6am to 11 am. Last year, there were four mechanics and it was super busy so I was a little bit worried that with only two of us it would be crazy. Although it did get pretty hectic at times, we took care of as many bikers as we could and sent them on their way.
  I brought my new HD video cam and took a bit of video. Here are the clips (I had to compress the file so the resolution is not the greatest):


video












Thursday, August 5, 2010

Regression...

Riding less and less lately. Who's to blame? Work? Monsoon season? Not sure.

I did get a chance to try out my new Kodak Playsport ZX3 video camera. It's the size of a cell-phone and can film 1-1/2 hours of 1080p HD video on an 8GB SD card. And it can film under water which is important at the moment. Ain't technology grand?

I did some filming in Palmer Park between rain showers and then got some stills from the video. Not the greatest clarity in the stills but the HD video is outstanding.

Dropping into "Little Moab"


Off of the big slab at the bottom of "Little Moab"


Fun descent above the dog park.


...then right back up.


The fitness is fading and the weight is creeping up. The next long ride is going to hurt!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Chicago

No biking this past weekend as Cindy and I did a turbo trip to Chicago to attend the wedding of Cindy's nephew. Here are some pics:

The bride and groom took us on a trolley ride around Chicago.


I got some cool shots while hanging out of the trolley window.


This is my award winner. The old lady looks unfazed by the city. The young people walking away and the long shadows have meaning open to interpretation.


Had a lot of movie flashbacks. The Blues Brothers sent the cops to this address.


We jumped off the trolley for this shot. Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline.


We bumped into the groom at the top of the Willis (Sears) Tower. He was wearing this.


That's our hotel with the pointy antenna as viewed from the top of Willis Tower.


Another movie flashback. Emulating Ferris Bueller from the movie "Ferris Bueller's Day Off."


Sitting on the 6" glass Skydeck 1353' above Wacker Drive.


Don't look down.


This is Erik looking a little wobbly. Game over, man. Haha.

Seriously, Erik and Ali are a perfect match and I believe they will be married to each other for the rest of their lives. The wedding was pretty unreal for a Colorado boy and I'm glad Cindy and I got to be there to enjoy it.