Tuesday, July 28, 2015


This spring I had grand ideas that we be hiking and camping all summer, and then somehow it was the end of July. So I decided we would we head up to the mountains and camp at least one night. Hoping to get a spot in Brainard Lake, which is beautiful and very busy in the summer. We headed up, and stopped by the campground. It looked like several of the campgrounds were packing up, and a sign noted that you could pick a campsite at 1pm. So walked around the lake and had some lunch. 

Cooper wanted to take some photos - Lauren and I
 Cooper and Lauren eating lunch
 Of course we have to toss rocks and sticks into the lake
 And also wade in....
 We made  it to land
After playing around for a little, we headed back to the campground at 12:45 Getting there,we see several people setting up camp. Sadly it seems that the 1pm check in, is a guideline not a rule. Not to be deterred, we headed toward Nederland. Knowing there was a campground nearby we headed that way. Thankfully we made it to Gorden's Gulch and found a great place to stay. 

Again, Cooper wanted to take a few more pics, but it worked out since I have pics of the campground
 Lots of rocks to climb on.
 Cooper and Lauren helping me set up camp
After we set up camp, I asked the kids if they wanted to head back to the lake, or try a few local hikes that I knew about. But the kids just wanted to play around the campground. Worked out well for me to be able to sit and relax while they had a great time exploring. We headed into Nederland to ride the carousel, and meet Joel for dinner. After dinner headed back to the campground. We built a fire and just enjoyed the beautiful place. 

Carousel of Happiness - of course we have to ride the cow
 And the donkey

We had a great time, and were glad to get the chance to enjoy the great outdoors. Since we only have a few weeks until school starts it might be hard to get back out again, but I hope we can at least get one more night out under the stars. 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Nederland to Winter Park and back again

Jill thinks I'm crazy to want to continuously find and push my limits. She doesn't have this internal desire to find out how hard or how far she can go, but it consumes me at times. I spend the winter months staring at maps, searching out routes, reading accounts of adventures and trading stories with my buddies about "that one ride".

One of the rides that I've been eyeing for several years was riding up from Nederland over Rollins Pass to Winter Park. I'd seen the pictures of the high mountain peaks in the background as a rider rolled across the twin trestles that remained from the days when a working railroad used this to go over the continental divide. Several of my friends had organized trips going over and back, but it never worked out for me to join.

Finally this year the stars aligned that had good weather, schedule availability and me with enough fitness. This isn't an easy day in the saddle despite most of the climbing being on railroad grades. Its all above 9,000 feet (up to 11,600 feet at the top), its exposed and there are few bail out points. So when Jill told me she didn't really want to mess with loading up the kids to pick me up in Winter Park, it was up to me. Could I go over and back in the same day?

Thankfully, I've been putting in the miles lately. I've drug myself out of bed and ridden to work lots of mornings, hit up the neighborhood group ride on Saturday mornings and I decided I could do it. Ride within yourself, don't try to go too fast and you'll be fine.

The plan was to meet up Saturday morning, bright and early at the base of the Eldora Ski Resort in Nederland, CO. Wheels down at 7am, to go over and back you gotta go early and keep moving as electrical storms above tree line are not to be taken lightly. I met up with "the other John" in Boulder and we headed up. On the road up to the ski area, we passed The Punisher who was riding from his house to get a few extra miles just because.

After ripping a sock while getting suited up, The Punisher bailed me out before we even started. He grabbed a spare pair of socks from his office and off we went. We started up and quickly made our way over to the Jenny Creek trail. After some up, some down, some singletrack, a shoe-soaking creek crossing and some doubletrack we popped out on Rollins Pass Rd and continued heading up.

Pictures courtesy of The Punisher....

Rolling up Rollins Pass, all going well.

We made good time as we rolled up the gentle grades, until all of the sudden I hit something in the road. My front tire hissed loudly and tubeless sealant sprayed out. I pointed the puncture towards the ground, but the sealant just couldn't seal up the hole. No big deal, throw a tube in and lets get rolling again.

Soon we hit the point where the 4x4s and ATVs had to turn around, and then the ride started getting more fun and interesting. We hit snow as we pushed on, but temps were great and sunshine was abundant.

Soon we found ourselves at the base of the Needle Eye Tunnel, which is now collapsed and serves as a roadblock for most types of transportation. Not bikes though, given you have the lungs and the will to push or carry your bike up the side of a steep, loose trail cut in the side of a mountain.

Once up top, we were treated to a short but awesome section of high alpine singletrack that lead us to big views and the big draw for me....a chance to ride the twin trestles. Big views, big exposure and big smiles as The Punisher told me to take the lead to get to soak it all in for the first time.

Getting to ride over the trestles and listen to the squeaks and moans and soak in the views was just outstanding. The views are huge, the exposure is real and it was amazing. Once past the trestles, its a short trip to the top. We kept rolling right over the top, hitting the peak at 10:30am.

We cruised down the backside of the pass taking in the views and talking about the day ahead. We took the Broken Thumb trail down and headed over to some familiar singletrack through an old, now defunct ski area. After a good, fast section of trails it happened again...Flat number 2 for the day. A sliced sidewall that once again wouldn't seal up on its own. Another tube...I've had no flats running tubeless in two years and now two in a matter of a few hours.

The good news is that we were getting faster at changing flats, the bad news is that we would get more practice before the day was over. After fixing the flat, we made our way into town and stopped to get some lunch. Smelling fantastic and covered in latex sealant, we triumphantly stomped into Subway in Winter Park as the Jazz Fest crowd gawked at us.

After we all inhaled lunch, I bought a few tubes and we started checking the radar as the skies were quickly darkening. We took a bit of a gamble and decided to start back up the bottom section of the looming 14 mile climb back up to the pass. And then about a mile from our lunch stop, I blew out another tube. Got a little over zealous with a compressor with no gauge and a 26" tube that was put into 29" tube duty. Yet another tube changed, more time lost but still ready to push forward we took off again.

The rains were light, but continued steadily. As we ticked miles off and started reaching the halfway point, we were starting to heat up from the effort and our clothes getting saturated from the rain and sweat. We stopped to take in some food and decided to take refuge in the woods to try to wait it out a bit.

After more food, some discussion and sky checking we hopped back on the bikes and started to final push to the top. As we passed the rickety, old trestles at Rifle Sight notch the rain let up, but the fog settled in. Visibility was about a hundred feet and it was cold and damp. Getting too hot wearing a jacket is a real danger as above tree line can be cold and windy, which can set you hypothermic quickly. We took a conservative approach and rode a slower pace so avoid getting to overheated.

As we climbed, we were rewarded with increasing sunshine and the clouds started to part. Things were looking up. We had found that narrow window between storms. Now was the time to press, and off we went.

The miles to the top clicked away, and soon we found ourselves approaching the fabled trestles again. We made our way off the top on a combination of "trail" (use that term loosely) and roads that we were given special access to (because The Punisher is a big deal), which cut out a lot of slow, winding roads on the way back.

Back at the car at 7pm, some 12 hours after we started we shared some hand shakes, couple stories and smiles then headed towards our respective homes to see the families. A big day by all accounts, and something that I was proud to have accomplished.

Get busy living or get busy dying...

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Grammie Comes to Town

Mom was looking for something fun to do this summer, and thought a trip to beautiful Colorado would be fun. I am not sure she made the right choice, but we sure enjoyed having her. We tried to keep her entertained with all the great summer fun.

We started off with a trip to the Denver's Children Museum. We do not go that often, but we did find out they have a great new outdoor area that the kids loved. Including a sand pile, hay bales, zip line, and a great water feature. Of course we had to get in and of course we were swopping wet on the car ride home, but that never hurt anybody. All in all it was a great day, and I plan on taking the kids back before the summer is over.

Lauren checking out the stream
 Fire Fighter Cooper
 Lauren making bubbles
 Cooper VERY excited about a bubble that had just popped

We had to also get swimming time in as well. Having two neightborhood pools makes it very nice to just go jump in the pool for a hour or two. Cooper is swimming very well with summer and Lauren is a little fish and I expect her to lose the floaties soon. We try to hit the pool at least once a week, but with the cooler weather it is not always happening.

Happy Girl
 Cooper coming down the slide

 We also ran up to Estes Park. Sadly I had not been to Estes in about 5 years, so it was really nice to get back up there to enjoy a beautiful day. We walked around and just enjoyed the mountains.
Kids posing with the local wildlife
 Mom with the kids watch the rushing water

Just a few more random shots from the week. I must also note that I have gotten very bad at taking pictures, so I borrowed some of Grammie's for this blog. (Thanks Mom!!) I have really got to work on that or my kids will be missing years out of their childhoods :)

Grammie had brought Cooper's Bday gift early - Here they are playing with sprinklers he received
We have had a lot of fun with this since
 Playing a little air hockey.... I am not sure who won
Mom and I at dinner, I am beginning to think I do look a little like my Mom :)

We are so glad that Grammie was able to visit and hope she can come back again soon. Hopefully with Grandpa...... we would hate for him to miss all the fun (or maybe chaos is a better word).