Monday, December 13, 2010

McNamara 10th Mountain Division hut, Aspen, CO

Last winter I missed out on making a winter trip to one of the 31 10th Mountain Division Huts.  Eric, Dru, Ben, and four of his friends and I signed up.  Dru, Eric and I departed Denver at about 6AM Friday morning, and the other crew was about 3 hours behind.  After a few stops on the way we managed to find the parking lot.  I had a couple maps which we thought would be helpful.  The McNamara hut was new to all eight of us.  The Hunter Creek Trailhead has lots of spurs nestled in the very expensive surrounding Apen neighborhood.  The three of us trekked on talking away and checking the maps as needed.  After about an hour and 45 minutes and very little elevation gain we ran into a local skier and 5 dogs.  She was quite surprised to see us out in this part of the woods and commented that she never saw anyone else there in the winter.  She also told us that we missed a turn about 2 miles back....  We realized that we could not trust our maps and better pick up the pace a bit.  The forrest service road that we were supposed to turn on was a steady climb with a couple trails that shot off to either side.  At about this time I got a pone call from Ben, who was calling to find out why our tracks suddenly ended.  I told him what we did and where to go.  Typically the trails to the huts are marked with blue diamonds.  Not one blue diamond had been seen at this point and daylight was ticking away.  The climb continued.  Finally there was a tree marked with a blue arrow, which all of us agreed it had to be the way.  At this point I was kind of on a mission.  My goal was to get to the hut before darkness and cold set in.  I broke trail the whole way and pushed the group as hard as we could go.  I saw a few blue diamonds throughout the push, but they were few and far between.  The first large meadow we encountered did not have any indicators of which way to go before the open space.  I hugged the treeline to the left but avoided a small depression.  After breaking trail through knee deep or better snow the group made it to another section of trees on either side of the "trail."  No blue diamonds, hmm...   So much for guidance and reassurance.  I carried on and still did not see any sign of an actual trail.  Eric changed direction to see if the trail went another way.  Dru stayed in middle and acted as a go between for communication purposes.  After a 200 yards or so I finally found another diamond and I yelled as loud as could to communicate my find.  From here on the trail was quite easy to follow.  Thick pine trees covered in snow were on either side of us, but the climb still continued.  I started "seeing" a hut through the trees.  They always turned out to be mirages.  Darkness would probably become a problem between 4:30 and 4:45.  I was starting to get nervous.  We knew we were on a trail, but not once did we see a sign that confirmed we were on the trail to the correct hut.  At about 4:25 I saw a sign that said Hut Boundary and soon turned a corner to see the hut.  I was relieved to see the hut just before dark.  The door had a combination lock on it.  I memorized the code and dialed it up.  No luck.  Jostling the lock did not help.  Eric soon turned the corner and he read the look of disbelief on my face.  I did not need to say anything.  The door did not open.  I tried again and reset all of the numbers and the door opened!  Six hours and 11.2 miles and our journey came to an end.  Inside the hut the thermometer read a balmy 35 degrees.  Fire was the first thing on my mind.  All three of us huddled around the wood burning stove drinking warm tea that Dru made in an attempt to warm up.  Ben and his group followed our tracks to the hut and arrived at about 6:15.  The eight of us had the hut all to ourselves Friday night.

Saturday morning Ben and crew hiked down as they were only staying one night.  Relaxation was on tap for the morning.  The early afternoon adventure was to summit Bald Knob.  Dru, Eric, and I cut straight up looking for the steepest pitches to get us to the top.  The views were worth it.  We saw Aspen Mountain and several other cloud covered mountains.  The hut was full (16 people) Saturday night.  A group of 10 came up from Carbondale and Glennwood Springs.  Three others from Boulder also made the trip.  I met someone from Tomahawk WI that knows a few of my friends that grew up there.  It was a fun night.  Later at night Eric, Justin (from Carbondale), and I made a pretty sick sled run through the woods.  Sunday morning the run got a little out of control as the mist made it very fast.

It was a great weekend.  I pretty much don't like winter and snow, but I know I would really miss weekends like this if I lived in a place without winter.  I just hope it continues to stay in the mountains.

 thats steep
 Bald Knob first track

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Century Saturday and another new record

Today Erik A and I knocked out a cold 100 miles on the road bike.  I had to stop and get hand warmers about 24 miles in.  Not sure what the temps were while we were out.  The sun wasn't out either, which worsened the weather.  Todays bike ride was the 24th consecutive month with at least one 100 mile bike ride.  I also surpassed 7,000 miles for the year and last years mileage total as well, which marks a new yearly mileage record.  Last year 7,000 was a big mark for me.  This year I did not have any mileage goals, but think that 7,000 is pretty impressive since I rode my mountain bike a LOT more this year.  Its time for a celebration Great Divide Brewing Co Imperial Stout.  Todays numbers here.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Late season Southwest mountain bike trip

Both Eric and I had a few days of vacation and wanted to get out of town.  Eric just bought his first mountain bike, so I thought this would be a good chance to learn him how to ride it.  We decided we would head towards Hurricane UT as the forecast looked OK and Fixie Dave lives there.  You can't beat having someone you know to recommend trails to ride.
We stopped and rode Fruita on the way out

Little Mesa slickrock

Saturday nights dinner at Dave's

Saturday we rode Little Mesa.  I think there were 9 riders including Dave, Eric, and Craig Bierly.  It was really interesting talking to Craig as he is retired and drives all over the country to bike.  He is on a non stop adventure!  The trails were slickrock, but when we were out, we also rode on snow which made the rock slicker, ha ha.  It seemed like a really fun place to ride and I hope someday I can go back and ride all the trail has to offer.  Snow kept us from riding the outer loop.  Afterwards, we headed back to Dave's place where we made dinner and talked bikes all night.  Sunday we awoke to snow.  We packed up the E and headed off to find dry dirt in Vegas.
Cottownwood Loop trailhead
Vegas in the background

Confused mountain bikes
Practicing bikepacking
Wait...that is indoors

The view from the 29th floor at Circus Circus, and yes, we stayed on the top floor

Off to Vegas..... to mountain bike?  Yes, that was actually the plan.  Vegas was about 2 hours from Hurricane UT, and with warmer temps forecasted, it seemed like the place to go.  I kind of did some research before departing Denver to see what trails sounded like fun.  The Cottonwood loop sounded decent.  It is an area consisting of lots of random trails that go all over the place and a few big loops.  The trails are located on two sides of the highway which was an easy way to divide the trails into two days worth of riding.  The first day consisted of a fair bit of climbing.  After about 6 miles and 700ish feet of climbing, one of the locals asked us if we had had enough climbing.  We both laughed and thought little does he know.  After a couple hours of heading in about the same direction we were wondering if the trail ever looped back to the car.  We were surrounded by clouds that looked like they might bring rain from two different sides.  The trail dropped us below a ridge that both Eric and I recognized.  The road and trail up to the top was rideable, but the grades were 25% to 30%.  Saturdays ride ended with about 3 hours and 3,000 ft of climbing.

We figured since we were in Vegas, we might as well try to find a place to stay on the strip.  Circus Circus was the hotel of choice.  Exploring Vegas had to be done since this was my first time there.  Eric and I walked through many of the casinos and crazy buildings.  No, I did not gamble at all.  The only vice was drinking a few beers.  

Monday it was back to the Cottonwood trails to explore more.  The other side of the highway did not have much climbing, but the trails were a little bit more technical.  A couple hours on the bike and it was back to Hurricane to stay with Dave.  

It was good to have a long weekend.  It seemed like Eric enjoyed riding mountain bikes quite a bit.  Both Eric and I greatly appreciated Dave showing us around and letting us stay in Hurricane.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Holidays are the hardest times to be away from family.  Its easy to miss grandma's or mom's home cooked meals.  Fortunately I am lucky enough to have made friends in Denver who were nice enough to ask me to share the holiday with them.  This year Jeremy, Kim and Eric came over to my place.  It was the second year in a row I hosted Thanksgiving.  As you see above there was plenty of good food for all.  Thankfully I have the internet so this could help us with dinner.  At the time of posting, there are 3,000 more hits, so we aren't the only ones using this, ha ha.  Football games and Dumb and Dumber were on the TV.  Eric and I even prepped out mountain bikes for this weekends adventure.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Century Saturday and a new record

Its probably kind of funny that I post a new record right after my last post (rest).  Anyway, Erik, Eric, Jeremy and I set out to do our November century on 11/6.  The highs in the Front Range were in the upper 70s and with winter supposedly approaching and shorter days ahead, we figured this was the best opportunity.  In the back of my mind I kind of thought I would push myself and see how many miles I could do.  I thought our planned route would put me at about 115, which it was actually a bit lower.  We rode out to Nederland and did a loop, gps details here.  It was a really good route and highway 72 was new to me.  Overall it is a pretty good descent (72) and some surprising climbs.  After we all hit 100 miles and parted ways, I decided I would head out to the Cherry Creek Res where I do a lot of my quick road rides.  I was not sure how many miles I could push out because of how I felt, dwindling supplies, and the sun.  Well, I ran out of sun, so I ended at 125.34 miles, which is a new overall record.  Our November century was my 23rd consecutive month with at least one 100 mile bike ride.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The most difficult part of being a cyclist for me

rest 1 (rst)


1. Cessation of work, exertion, or activity.

2. Peace, ease, or refreshment resulting from sleep or the cessation of an activity.

3. Sleep or quiet relaxation.

4. The repose of death: eternal rest.

5. Relief or freedom from disquiet or disturbance.

6. Mental or emotional tranquillity.

7. Termination or absence of motion.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Jim's week out West

My friend Jim from Wisconsin came out to visit this past week.  We did not have any definitive plans since Colorado is usually in a period of transition this time of the year.  Lot of biking and camping was what we were hoping for.  I picked Jim up at DIA and went straight to Chris and Marni's.  We ended up going "hiking" for a while up in Boulder.

 Sunday we drove out to Buffalo Creek to meet Ben who did a ridiculous ride from Denver.  He got in something like 80 miles and 11,000 ft of climbing including what we rode together.  Temps were a bit cool but pretty nice.  We rode the typical Thursday night loop, details below.  The ride elevation is between 6,600 ft and 8,000 ft, which is difficult for flat landers, but not really bad.  Most people who have not seen the landscape of Buffalo Creek are impressed by the rock and burnt areas.  Its probably a really good transition early on in Colorado.  Garmin stats.

 Jim and Ben
 Me riding through high mountain Birch trees
I did not have my V8 I guess

The weather looked like it was going to be bad in the Front Range.  We packed up the E and headed to the desert to enjoy 80 degree weather.  Our first stop was the Kokopelli trailhead just west of Fruita.  Lunch was at Paradox Pizza in Moab.  Monday night we camped under the stars down Willow Springs "road."
E packed with toys

Monday nights campsite

Tuesday we rode Sovereign.
Jim climbing
Tuesday night we did the tourist thing in Canyonlands national park.  We even saw the sunset over the Green river.

The best place to watch the sunset in Canyonlands, on the side of the E
 Overlooking the Green river and the White Rim trail, its been a while since I've seen it from this vantage  point.  I hope they fix the Mineral Bottom switchback before long.

The sun nearly set over the Green River

Wednesday we rode Porcupine Rim from town.  It was about 10 miles and 1,800 ft of elevation gain before we even got to the trailhead.  A little video for those of you who don't know.  Garmin stats.
 The Lev at the trailhead

Wednesday evening we did the tourist thing in Arches National Park.  We watched the sunset by Delicate arch.  

Delicate Arch
 The Lev had a great day, I only hoped beer with the same name would be a great way to end the day
Wednesday night's camp spot

After days of mountain biking, we decided it would be fun to try to do Lefthand Canyon on the road bikes, which is a classic Front Range climb.  And what good would a long climb be without a great descent.  I surpassed 50 mph on the downhill, and this is not the first time I've done this on the way down to Lyons.   Garmin info.
Mike and Eric joined in for the fun.  Jim is third in the picture (not counting my shoulder, which can be seen).

It was a great weekend, we were able to get quite a bit of adventure in.  On this trip Jim logged a few good firsts-first time in Utah and first time sleeping under the stars.  Dining out at Fugo De Chao, which is a Brazilian steakhouse in downtown Denver, was the only way to finish the trip.  First rate service and first rate food is all I can say.  It was a great way to spend my vacation.  I can't even imagine how much fun it was for Jim since everywhere we visited was new to him.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Night mountain biking

Night riding a local front range trail.  I am the first rider, Ben is the second rider.  The video was taken by Jesse

Monday, October 4, 2010

Normal weekend for some, not so normal for others

I have not been posting as much the last half of the summer as I used to.  It seems to me the content of the majority of my posts is the same.  Camp somewhere that is amazing, ride my bike places that make most people envious, repeat.  Three plus years in Colorado and I still think that I am incredibly lucky to live here.  This past weekend Ben and I got to share some of the amazing riding and camping we do every weekend with Jesse and Tyler Welnak (Ben's brother).

Ben picked up Jesse and Tyler Friday afternoon and I met them out for a night lap.  We got about an hour and a half of riding mostly in the dark.  After the ride we drove to Idaho Springs for dinner at Tommy Knockers brewery.  Tiger road was our camping spot for the evening.  Morning temps hovered around upper 20s lower 30s, which is pretty nice for October at 9,600 ft.

Sunday we got up, ate pop tarts, and went into Breckenridge to fuel up to ride stage 2 of the Breck Epic. The ride consists of some tough fire road climbs and a really good section of the Colorado trail.  The climb up the section of the Colorado trail took us to over 11,000 ft.  Mountain bikers in Wisconsin do not get climbs that last for miles, and the reward, descents that last miles.  All the suffering led to a decent that puts a smile on any rider no matter where they are from.

 Saturday nights camp spot

 Jesse on the final long decent
 Typical views during the day
Ben, Jesse, me, Tyler
Sunday Mark and a couple others met us for a lap around the Indian Creek trails.  Conditions were pretty much the same, perfect.

The four mountain bike rides (if you count Thursdays night lap at Buffalo Creek) were a lot of fun.  While Colorado is to dry this fall, the warm weather has given us plenty of time to log miles on the mountain bikes.  I hope I can find weather like this past weekends somewhere as Jim will be visiting me next week.  More vacation and lots of biking, can't wait!!

Breck video slideshow thing by Ben

Indian Creek video slideshow thing by Ben