Bike Camping! To Estes Park.

Camp!


Here’s a photo dump from this weekend and a horribly penned-out story. There’s a rub. I’m much too tired to write, but if I *don’t* write it now, I’ll never write about it. Hmm.

Anyways, got up at 6:30am after no sleep.

Interestingly, when your studiomate’s ask: “Hey, what are you doing tonight?”

And you reply,

“I’m staying in, getting up early and riding my bike 85 god-damn miles, through mountains to Estes Park, to sleep in a tent, just to get up and ride back”,

they don’t give you the decency to tell the spontaneous after party to, “hey quiet down when you’re upstairs, my studiomate is trying to sleep, ‘coz he doesn’t want to DIE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD BECAUSE HE HAD TROUBLE CONCENTRATING FROM LACK OF SLEEP”. Fuckers. Honestly. Some of you guys laugh so god-damn loud, in your fruitless attempt to get conquests on of the members of the all-girl band. Give it up. They’re 15 years younger than you and you’re 100lbs overweight. If it works, it’s a freak-show. If it doesn’t: Well, it didn’t, ‘coz you told me to, “Check out my new website” this afternoon and didn’t tell me about your retarded, short-sided night shenanigans of the night. You laugh louder than some girls I hear have sex in the gallery. And I can hear everything. I keep count. Track. It passes the time while I smell cigarettes smoke in the No-Smoking gallery, I hear you play yet-another game of ping pong drunk and I hear the front door go, “CLANK CLANK CLANK”, since none of you, in your here time on Earth, have learned how to us a, “door” properly.

Aaaaaanyways,

Got up at about 6:00am, and snoozed till 6:30am. Hit the road about 7:00am. I had packed and double-checked my gear that night, so I had nothing to do but to find socks in the morning, which is enough for the morning, seriously.

Headed out to Arvada to catch Highway 72, which goes right into the mountains.

Now, the thing about these mountains is that they’re *mountains*, they’re not these pleasant, rolling hills in farmland.

I had somewhat neglected this little detail. I had looked at the map to Estes Park, but I didn’t not take a peek at a map with elevation.

Cripes.

Here’s me:

On top of a hill!

Next to a sign, with one of those silhouettes of a truck, going down a plane. I think it means, “You’re going downhill, really fast, in just a bit”

I meant it to mean, “This is the top of the random point you’re trying to get to – it’s all downhill from here!”

At the moment, I’m about… 25 miles in – I haven’t even gotten to Nederland. This was wishful thinking on my part. But, hey! I’m young, stupid and insane –

And you tell yourself these things, when you decide to take a 25lb bike, loaded with 25lbs of gear – *through the Rocky Mountains, to a place you haven’t been to in a few years.

You also tell yourself this, when you’ve never taken a bike, that hasn’t *actually* been designed to take 25lbs of gear and is actually decided to be raced offroad, down a god-damn mountain in Colorado.

A few things to note from this photo: I have some serious cleavage going on. It’s true: I have the biggest upper-body in all of sport-cycling. I can barely bench 205lbs. What does this conclude? I am taking Estrogen, to ward off the ill effects of Menopause. Or, I’m *Really* into a Dead or Alive kick, so much that I thought I was going South to Trinidad, but am going *North* and will be hopelessly confused and let down once I get to the destination.

I’m much more silly and funny than I thought I would be…

The other thing to note is that when I finished up this little photo shoot, I met another rider on the way. He seemed like a nice guy. Had one of those 5 BILLION dollar bikes. A LOOK something something. 650 tires, or even smaller, if that makes sense. He was a long-distance rider and I mean, seriously. He’s done this little ride called the Paris Brest Paris – it’s 1200 Kilometers and you do it straight through (or close to it) Takes about 4 days. Straight. We talked bike nerd talk and mentioned doing rides with his family. I thought that was neat. He had huge legs. He was zipping up a coat, since it was, fucking cold, and gets colder going down at a million mph, so I did the same and it was! It was cold going down and also it was down down down.

It leveled out and we rode together till Nederland, which was nice and then he high-tailed it to the grocers, I went to the café and my natural environment: a cup of coffee, a cute barista and some sort of egg sandwich made with a bagel. And… and an egg.

I got a lot of comments about the bike from the easy-going locals and the regular visitors of the café – motorcyclists. One couple was going to Estes Park too! They were most likely going to get there in an hour and a half. I was going to get there in… in 6. If I was lucky.

So, lemme tell you about riding a touring bike through the Rocky Mountains:

Now, of course, I am White, a Male and I grew up in Suburbia.

This means a few things, but mostly, it makes me think I’m a total bad-ass, without any evidence (a privileged, but after a while, you stop looking at shadows and take a god-damn walk around the park…) needed and even though I am over 25 by a month or so, I still think I’m invincible.

I have ridden up hills in the surrounding parts of the fair, Denver County. And that’s what they are: hills. You go up, you say, “hey what a great view, yeah!”, you munch on a Clif Bar and you go down, go home, eat some pizza and man, what a great day.

The difference between training on hills and riding in the middle of a MOUNTAIN RANGE is that, when you hit about 10,000 feet, you basically lose this rare element in the atmosphere called, “Oxygen”. It’s a little known fact, but this element is needed to sustain life and without it, after, say, 3 minutes, you start dying.

Couple this with the fact that you’re exerting energy riding a bike, and you have a whole hell of a lot of weight on you, things start getting, “tough”. But fun, hey, what would I like better to be doing? Playing videogames of doing the same thing? Pishaw.

As well as being deadly, it’s also quite beautiful. There’s pine trees everywhere, beautiful mountains, cars seem to be nice and mannerly towards you, etc, etc.

Kinda like this:

IMG_8354.jpg

A little after Nederland right at…. oh, I forget the name of the town. I had brought my windbreaker and my wool snowboarding socks. The windbreaker was a hand-me-down, the socks were probably the best thing I’ve ever bought in my life. I’ve probably (Don’t lie! YOU) gotten laid because of these socks – from a girl I’ve had a crush on, ever since I saw a photo of her wearing a pig snout while living in Boulder on a site called, “MakeOutClub.com” – about 6 years ago. Too bad, that didn’t work out. My only consolation is that I was able to fullfill an online crush fantasy. With the girl, that wears a pig snout. And looks like a pig. In the picture. Notice, I’ve come full circle and am now talking about my own failed conquests instead of this truly epic bikeride that hasn’t yet fully gripped me with its immensity of man-over-nature and all that. Nope: The male mind is at work now! Sex sex sex (months?)! Which is funny, it’s been a LONG TIME since I’ve had that. I wonder if I’ve become cynical… hmm…

Here’s another postcard pic for you:

Mount Meeker 13,911

I had thought this was Long’s Peak – a 14’er! Which means, it’s *over fourteen-THOUSAND!* feet tall. Wow. To give perspective, that’s 2300+ TIMES higher than me! Pretty huh? The snow above treeline, the puffs of clouds, hiding the ominous peak – it’s only missing like, the Swiss Miss girl.

This actually isn’t Long’s Peak. This mountain has the name of Mount Meeker. Which is sad. Sad Mountain. It’s 13981 feet tall. Which means, it’s 89 feet from being remembered as being anything interesting and is just a footnote in mountain… mountain stuff. Perhaps in 30 million years, the mountain shall grow some more! And will, finally, by 14,000+ feet tall. But that’s neither here, nor there, since human civilization will either have destroyed itself or devolve BACK to being little salamander-type things, swimming about.

So, I think after about 60+ miles of riding up mountains at my lowest, granny gear, with a average speed of probably about 9mph, probably less, I finally got close to Estes Park and met a huge downhill. Being very tired, this decent was a little scary, but. Oh. So. Very. Worth it. I can’t tell you how long the ride down was, it felt like it might have been between 10 and 30 minutes, but for all I know it was 100 feet and 30 seconds. The most important thing was, for what I could see, I didn’t have to go UP at incredible grades any more that day. And that made Justin, so very happy.

I immediately looked for a coffee shop when getting into Estes Park and have to say,

I had the best damn cup of Coffee I ever had.

It may have been the circumstances, going so long, pushing oneself to the absolute limit, breaking personal bests,

or, it may have been the shade-grown, organic coffee, whose quality is only created in a small, vacation destination, nestled in a hidden valley between two mountains, brewed in a coffee shop with a, hidden-joke type name, eluding to smoking illegal substances.

One may *never* know!

I sat down by a bench outside and munched on a protein bar and sipped my coffee. Pooped is the word. I was startled by something that looking like a soldier on a retarded-type scooter.

It was two police-officers, on Seqways. They were in good spirits and we shot the shite for a while. They seemed to be easy-going. I couldn’t think what crime would be like for this town: rich, small population – *I* was probably seen as almost vagrant. But, that’s either here, nor there.

Time to find camp.

Road West on HW 34 to Rocky Mountain National Park. At the entrance, my mileage for the day was something like 85. I’ve down lots more in a day, but not with so many climbs. I don’t think there’s too many routes that have so many climbs.

Of course, I am stupid and did not make reservations at the park. I am Last Child and tend to think such things are taken care of me and that I am somewhat special. I am not.

The forest ranger told me the closest camp was 50 miles away, and, since I’m on a bike, it may not be something I would want to go towards.

I agreed.

I turned around and went to a private campsite. They had a private, “POD” available and that sounded alright to me. My plan for that night was to put as much food in my mouth and pass out, until 6:00 in the morning, which is when Snoop Doggy Dogg (or so I’m lead to believe) has his crazy Gin ‘n Juice parties till. Perhaps he’s in town? I bet I’ll find out in the morning!

Setting up was a breeze, as I double-checked everything before going. Here’s the spot:

Camp!

I have a interesting condition, which I’m sure isn’t too rare: When I ride so much, so long, so hard, the last thing I am is hungry. My appetite is very suppressed. I could pass out and not eat and hey! That sounds real good. It’s like that incredibly psychedelic scene in The Wizard of Oz, where they take the shortcut through the flowers, the… …the beautiful, sweet-smelling…. flowers. So, I have to force myself to eat.

I ate some trail-mix, which I’m sure is quite sustaining for life and then boiled some water on my little camping stove. The stove worked well, the food was, OK. Hit the spot, but was still hard to finish. I tried out that vacuum sealed stuff that lasts for about a decade+, since it’s Light and hey, let’s see what I can do with boiled water.

Honestly, it’s basically just fancy Cup-o-Noodles and when I’m actually touring and what I got near me is a gas-station, that’s what I’m grabbing. Fancy Expensive too.

Yum!

Dinner

I few things I’d like to point out, in this part of my little slideshow:

Notice, I have glasses. I wanted my eyeball-loving friends that yes, I indeed took out my contacts and put them in the solution of Hydrogen Peroxide and… and salt for the night and did not, repeat: did NOT leave them in, all night. Thought you would appreciate that.

The other thing is, see what’s in back of me? Yeah! That’s my bike!

I was munching along and I peeped up at the sky and there were some majorly grumpy looking clouds, moving in fast, so I thought – “What do I do?! Do I leave my beautiful bike outside to get rained upon?! Hell no. I brought it inside my teeny tiny ultra-light tent, praying I wasn’t going to rip anything with the many sharp bits that make up a bike.

It barely fit and left me about enough room to almost sleep in. Here’s some more shots:

My bike lives with me inside my tent.

My bike lives with me inside my tent.

My head was going to lay on the left side of that last slide. Notice the semi-sharp shifter bit? Yeah, that was conveniently at eye-level. Luckily, I brought a towel (Never Forgive Never Forget!) and was able to wrap the shifter-bit around that.

You’ll also notice the bungee chords going every which way. That’s to stop the bike from collapsing on me, in the middle of the night. The bike doesn’t really fit inside. Luckily, I went to school to learn about working withing constraints and being creative with the space and materials given to me. And like a loyal road dog, the bike took more room than myself in my tent and probably, sucked up all the heat for itself.

I passed out about 8:00pm and wished, for the rest of the night, that I had a pillow. I thought I could do without, but I was wrong. I thought I could just stuff the sack the sleeping bag was in with clothes to use *as* a pillow – which was what I learned in Cub Scouts.

The problem was, I was packing as light as possible and the only clothes I had that weren’t wet were my cycle shorts from the day past and, well, they smelled Like Ass, so that was out. The pad I brought really didn’t work that well. Perhaps it’s the pad, but perhaps it’s the fact that I was lying on a dirt pile. I shall experiment…

Woke up at 6:00am, which was amazing, but I guess anything’s possible on 10 hours of sleep. Packing up was easy enough and I really didn’t have much to eat before heading off. Some more trail mix and such. Stopped at the coffee shop again, but the coffee was just so-so. Had a bagel. Headed out.

So,

I thought going into Estes Park with that hyooooge downill part meant I was basically at the same elevation as I was before.

Well, not quite.

I took the HW 36 route out, since, even though I *think* I’m invincible, I’m not and I doubt I could make it that way again. And it’s fun to go back a way you didn’t come in.

And HW 36 is easier. WAY easier.

Climbed a bit to get out of the valley and then, literally, it was all downhill to Boulder.

Talk about fun. Something about maxing your speed on a heavy, hard-to-control bike down, out of a mountain range is just, really fun. Luckily, the bike handler well and wasn’t nervous. It just felt like a really big car or something.

I doubt I went past 40mph, but it felt fun racing through those turns, seeing the beautiful scenery and wondering where Edward Abbey was smiling down upon me, pleased that I left no trace at my campsite and even went back a few hundred feet to pick up the coffee cup I had dropped. Or something romantic-likes-‘n-stuff.

Made it to Boulder County in no time. Random-road-side-photo-op! With-Dashes!

Coming back towards Boulder

Notice my jersey zipper is down and all-sexual. Not what I wanted. I am wearing all the clothes I have because it is COLD. I neglected to see the Estes Park News, which, on Thursday basically had a front page new story (hey, it’s a sleepy town) that it snowed on Thursday. The zipper was broken. Probably not going to buy another jersey from that company.

And there’s a bike race! I was so glad it wasn’t that day! Since! The road, would have been impassible, what with your people on your ‘spensive bikes, with your aerobars going Really Fast in a straight line.

What I did see was tons of cyclists. I guess it’s popular in Boulder. I hope they were going somewhere interesting. HW 36 here is a good road to ride a bike, but it’s also fucking boring. It goes for miles. Straight. After doing the thing in the mountains this *was* a nice break, since I just needed to point the bike straight and tell myself I’ll take a break once I get to Boulder proper.

And, I made it to Boulder, no problem had some tea and left for known water from Boulder to Denver.

Took about 9 1/2 hours, including breaks to get to Estes Park.

Took about *6* hours to get back. On tired legs.

So you see. Which way was up and which was down. Here’s the route, we’re going clockwise, starting about about 5 o’clock:

Route to and from Estes Park

See the red, “Dot” on the upper left? That’s where everything stopped going up. Everything before that, was going up. See the diagonal, from Estes Park, all the way out of the mountains? That’s everything going DOWN, HARD. Everything after that to Boulder was also losing altitude, but a bit less noticeable.

And that’s my trip. I’ve suddenly become very tired, so I’m going to wrap this up. Sorry for all the speling mistakes. Pray that nothing of mine ever gets published.