I'm a weather report freak, check it a couple times a day much to my wife's chagrin, so last night the wheels started turning about how and where I was going to get the wheels dirty on Tuesday. Its supposed to be a rest week for me, but after taking off last night I couldn't resist the temptation. I decided my first foray back on to dirt in recent times would be the Dirty Bismark course, but with the addition of the newly opened to bikes Dowdy Draw trail. So I guess it was the Dirty DowMark course today.
Not technical in nature at all, heck the ride starts at a Target store, but its a mix of paved roads, gravel roads, doubletrack and some sorely missed singletrack. The big loop starts with a paved road climb in the bike lane on McCaslin Blvd for a mile or so before turning off onto the Coalton Trail, which is loose, rocky doubletrack. As soon you make the right turn onto the gravel, you see the climb that is approaching. Its not an overly long climb, but it does get to be a 10 - 12 degree pitch which makes you feel it a bit. I stayed in the middle ring, head down and fighting the wind and before I knew it I had crested the top.
I motored on in workman-like fashion to the High Plains trail, just keeping as aero as possible as I fought the stiff winds coming from the west. The High Plains is real singletrack, lots of baby head rocks and stuff, so it went by quickly. Before I knew it I was crossing Highway 93 and headed to Dowdy Draw for the first time. This trail starts with doubletrack climb, but quickly turns into a fun singletrack descent with a great view of the majestic Flat Irons.
I made my way back to the highway, and crossed without incident and continued on my way down the Marshall Mesa trail. In the direction I rode it today, its a ripping fast descent and strangely enough I had clear trail almost the entire day. Temps were dropping, but after the climbing in the early part of the loop it still felt great in shorts and a jersey.
I stopped long enough to snap a picture of the snaking trail, then hit the end of the fun stuff. Back on tarmac for a mile or so, before hitting a dirt road that is strangely fast despite being slightly uphill. Not long after that I was back at Target with all the busy shoppers.
A good ride on a great day. Just for kicks (OK who am I kidding, I'm a data junkie) I compared my climb time on the Coalton climb from the last time I rode this trail in November. Total time dropped 1:21 on an 11 minute climb, which I deemed significant. My overall ascent speed jumped from 7.7mph to 8.6mph even though I did more climbing overall. The loop in total was just at 18 miles with about 1500 feet of climbing, or so says the trusty GPS.