Friday, April 22, 2022

Common Sense in The Idiocracy

Colorado SB 18-144 AKA The Idaho Stop or Safety Stop Law was largely ignored by most municipalities in Colorado since 2018.  The municipalities who chose to not participate must now opt-out if they still feel that this is going to create madness on our streets because Governor Polis signed SB 22-1028 into law on April 13, 2022.  Interesting that the lack of enforcement during the pandemic has exaberated the dangerous driver problem here in Colorado and that appears to be of less concern to some local politicians who either ignored or were flat-out against this law due to their ignorance of its positive ramifications where the law is already in place.

When asked about this law by those who are not fully aware of its intent, the language in the bill says and backs up what I have been saying for years:

"Intersections are by far the most dangerous locations for bicyclists, in Colorado and elsewhere. The most recent data we have from the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), which is comprehensive for the state from 2017-2019, indicates that in that time frame 72.2% of reported crashes between bicyclists and drivers took place at intersections or were "intersection related." When bicyclists are able to get out of the intersection and away from that conflict zone before a potential crash can even occur their safety improves."

The Truth Is Out There

Monday, July 19, 2021

What Condition My Condition Is In


I just dropped in to see.

Traffic scofflaws are getting exponentially worse and more bold worse here in Longmont, CO.  In a previous post about motor vehicle operators not stopping at stop signs, I displayed disdain towards both hypocritical drivers and clueless local politicians.  Nobody seems to want to hear the truth or about any proposed common sense solutions to the escalating traffic problems here, especially the Enforcement angle. There has been a recent exception in that someone in the city's staff has at least seen the light that is Education of both drivers and at risk road users.  Yes, both need education and as soon as it warmed up this Summer another annual season began with the permeation of Sidewalk Salmon bicycle riders, who are a danger to themselves mostly, but can be to others.  With uneducated and/or careless road use getting worse, it's only a matter of time before we experience the deaths that always accompany this form of selfishness.

The rest of Colorado's Front Range seems to be experiencing the same road pains.  In this case, the selfishness of a driver was compounded by alcohol and methamphetamine inpairment when he took the life of a cyclist:  

I "knew" Mike Inglis from social media before I exited it a couple of years ago, friended up through mutual USAF Special Tactics friends.  That particular community is small and tight, with almost automatic respect.  Adding in that Mike rides bicycles and does so at a level that is akin to the levels we achieved in being USAF Special Tactics, I followed the two wheeled escapades of he and his wife.  When I read the above article a week or so after the incident, I told myself that I should find a way to contact Mike and at the very least offer condolences.  The opportunity arose at the Colorado Rockies Home Opener V2.0 when I saw him in passing at the ballpark.  I introduced myself and offered my condolences  He was very gracious and lit up when I ended our chance meeting by letting him know how fortunate he is to have a bicycle fabrication genius for a brother.  Rest Easy, Gwen

Thursday, February 4, 2021

My Top Five MTB Trails in Colorado

With the permeation of "Top" or "Best Of" lists on the internet, Colorado Mountain Biking Trails are a topic that gets a lot of attention.  From what I have seen, lists that reference this seemingly boundless resource often parrot each other in that they largely list only marquee trails.  This is something I find predictable, especially since most marquee trails are mostly a-technical in nature or lie within "destination" locations such as the Lunch Loops area in Grand Junction.

Without further ado and in no particular order...

The Wasatch Trail in Telluride

This trail is what I like to call the longest 16 miles in Colorado.  Though it starts and ends in downtown Telluride and features a "road" climb, it still manages to get out there.  The "road" starts out as a jeep road, however above Bridal Veil Falls it deteriorates down to barely a doubletrack that tops out over 13,000 feet.  The singletrack descent from the apex features a high concentration of switchbacks, especially above treeline.  There is also exposure throughout the descent, until it reaches the Bear Creek Trail that is an oft-trafficked road-sized trail that drops the last two and a half miles back to town.

Crosier Mountain Garden Gate in Glen Haven

There are three routes off of Crosier and the Garden Gate descent is by far the most difficult of the three.  The variety of terrain is probably the most unparalleled in this list, with some of the best technical sections I've ever had the pleasure to be challenged by.  Bring your big boy/girl pants for this one and hang on.

The Flight of Icarus in Fruita

Ridden as a shuttle or loop with a largely pavement road climb, there is nothing like this descent though it's largely a-technical in nature.  With its two distinct "wings" (right and left) drop close to 1000' in a mile.  Beware of closures and hunting season though.  The BLM deemed it illegal at one point, claiming it crossed patented (private) lands, yet it does not and never did.  They also claimed it was created illegally by mountain bikers when historically it existed as a cattle drive trail from Calf Point down to Hay Canyon, according to the first riders to descend it.  Be sure to check status before going.  An interesting footnote on the Left Wing (the lower descent), it was created by a bulldozer in the late 70's as a fire break by BLM fire crews who were fighting a fire in the area.  Added bonus, what other trails have an Iron Maiden theme song?

CDT Jones Pass From Herman Gulch in Bakerville

While most who ride this section of the Continental Divide Trail shuttle their bikes to Jones Pass and ride down to The Herman Gulch Trailhead off of I-70, I find it more agreeable as an out and back.  The changing trail conditions and technical nature above treeline allow for a much safer and rapid ride from the top after getting a preview of the descent while climbing.  The lower portion of the trail can be crowded with various trail users between Herman Lake and the trailhead due to its popularity, but once one gets above Herman Lake the crowd thins out to very few users.

Canyon Creek Loop in Sargents

Nestled in-between Monarch Pass and the bustling metropolis of Gunnison lies the Canyon Creek Loop.  The combination of the nature of the trail and its location between the marquee trails of Gunnison/Crested Butte and the Monarch Crest Trail go a long way in keeping the masses at bay.  Yes, some of the climb is unrideable as pictured above and that alone keeps a large portion of bucket listers away.  The views at the apex and largely a-technical descent down into the Canyon Creek drainage make it all worth it to me.  Adding in the lack of schmendricks overrunning the trail is an undeniable bonus.

Rules To Ride By:

Ride On Open Trails Only. Respect trail and road closures — ask a land manager for clarification if you are uncertain about the status of a trail. Do not trespass on private land. Obtain permits or other authorization as may be required. Be aware that bicycles are not permitted in areas protected as state or federal Wilderness. 

Leave No Trace. Be sensitive to the dirt beneath you.  Skidding ruins trails in creating ruts and/or washboards. Wet and muddy trails are more vulnerable to damage than dry ones. When the trail is soft, consider other riding options. This also means staying on existing trails and not creating new ones. Don't cut switchbacks. Be sure to pack out at least as much as you pack in. 

Control Your Bicycle. Inattention for even a moment could put yourself and others at risk. Obey all bicycle speed regulations and recommendations, and ride within your limits.

Yield to Others. Do your utmost to let your fellow trail users know you're coming -- a friendly greeting or bell ring are good methods. Try to anticipate other trail users as you ride around corners. Bicyclists should yield to all other trail users, unless the trail is clearly signed for bike-only travel. Bicyclists traveling downhill should yield to ones headed uphill, unless the trail is clearly signed for one-way or downhill-only traffic. Strive to make each pass a safe and courteous one. 

Never Scare Animals. Animals are easily startled by an unannounced approach, a sudden movement or a loud noise. Give animals enough room and time to adjust to you. When passing horses, use special care and follow directions from the horseback riders (ask if uncertain). Running cattle and disturbing wildlife are serious offenses. 

Plan Ahead. Know your equipment, your ability and the area in which you are riding -- and prepare accordingly. Strive to be self-sufficient: keep your equipment in good repair and carry necessary supplies for changes in weather or other conditions. Always wear a helmet and appropriate safety gear.

Now go ride your bike!

Monday, January 18, 2021

Essential Gear For The Budget-Minded Mountain Biker

 Does it have to cost a small fortune to live the Mountain Bike Lifestyle?  With the advent of the information age's assault on privacy, I find "articles" popping up on sidebars that are seemingly tuned to my interests through what is being viewed on my connected devices.  With the old adage of keeping one's friends close and enemies closer, a little time has been taken as of late to view what the enemies have to say.  Wading through the seemingly countless "articles" that are really just thinly veiled advertisements, the amount of shills claiming to have the answer for the best gear to ride in and on is staggering.  Not only do I find it staggering, but it's also amusing in a sad kind of way.  With all of the current discussion on "inclusiveness", one might think that there must be a better way for the socioeconomically disadvantaged to access the Mountain Bike Lifestyle.  There is, but the shills and their financiers don't seem to want a largely ignored portion of the population to know this.

This 1988 Marin Palisades Trail was a $40 CL purchase, restored with slight mods.

Your Bike

Mountain bikes can cost a small fortune nowadays, but they don't have to.  The availability of used bicycles through local online marketplaces or local bicycle cooperatives can be a gold mine for the budget-minded, if one knows what to look for.  What do you want to look for?  Basically the only things you need to look for are the integrity of the frame/fork (frameset) and serviceability of all components.  Frame design is not crucial, but a compact design hardtail is preferred as the sloping top tube provides much better stand over and handling than traditional road bike geometry where the top tube is parallel to the ground.

Shock, or no shock?  Most vintage suspension forks only add weight instead of performance, especially with the proliferation of "flow trails" in this day and age.  A well made rigid fork can provide the precise handling that even modern suspension forks will never match, especially at speed on the aforementioned flow type trails.  If you find that hard to believe, take a close look at forks in the BMX world where pump tracks and BMX race tracks (a big part of what flow trails were derived from) are prevalent.  Last but certainly not least, a rigid fork will teach you how to ride a mountain bike in lieu of "riding on" a mountain bike.  If you out grow your budget bike and have a fatter wallet to advance your skills beyond the limitations of your bike, the basic skills gained should be amplified nicely in the transition.

Protective Gear and Clothes

I find the term "kit" being used to describe what one wears to mountain bike in as just another marketing ploy.  I've been riding in regular clothes and shoes for around 20 years now and it's never hindered me.  Sure, some of the clothes can be of technical nature and they are, however they don't have to be bicycle specific or even a brand name to work well.  The two exceptions I use are a bicycle specific helmet and cycling socks.

Helmets?  First and foremost, find one that fits your noggin properly.  A poorly fitting helmet will not be comfortable right off the shelf.  The best way to buy a helmet (or any bicycle safety gear) is to try it on in a local bike shop, which is where one should purchase any of their bicycle specific gear.  The primary reason some helmets cost so much more than the less expensive is the number of vents they have to keep your head cool.

Gloves?  Go to your local auto parts store and pick up a pair of mechanic gloves.  You can try them on right in the store, so you know they fit properly before buying.  All of those expensive and over-engineered bike specific gloves are not much better, especially for entry level riders on a budget.

Shirt?  In dry climates with warm weather, Cotton is King and you can wear any old (or new) t-shirt.  For warm and humid climates, a tech t-shirt will work fine.  For cooler or cold climates, layering properly with a wicking tech base next to the skin works well.  Truly for the layering, one really only needs the tech layer next to the skin and a shell to slow down or stop the wind.  Everything in-between the base and shell layers can be almost whatever.  Yes, even cotton can work in-between the base and shell.  The tech base layer and shell can be found new and on the cheap just about anywhere online, or even in a local thrift shop or sporting goods secondhand store.

Undergarments/Shorts/Pants/Knickers?  After quite a few years of riding in bicycle specific shorts, I grew weary of the pad/chamois in them.  I don't remember being in diapers, but imagine that's what they felt like.  The wicking properties of a good pad/chamois are too crucial to ignore, so I found an alternative in wearing wicking technical underwear as a base for shorts, knickers or pants.  That was about 20 years ago as well.  Shorts, look for something somewhat light and durable that will be comfortable to you when in a bicycle saddle.  That may take some hit or miss work, but it's worth it in the long run.  Knickers/Pants, Good 'ol Government Issue camos/cargo are what I ride.  Again, available just about anywhere on the planet and too durable to ignore.  Extra added bonus points for double-knees, which have prevented multiple strawberry scrapes for me.  If you know someone handy with a sewing machine, just about any pants can be turned into knickers.  I had Specialty Outdoors modify a couple of sets of GI pants into knickers and they are better (IMO) than anything being made for mountain biking as far as knickers go.

Shoes?  With the re-advent of flat pedals in mountain biking, just about any sneaker will do.  Comfort and pedal grip are primary concerns, followed by design.  Most light hiking shoes will also work well, though for those inclined to ride longer rides or weigh over 200lbs should use a light hiker with a 3/4 internal shank in the sole for foot support.  I've ridden everything from slip-on sneakers, to steel-toed boots.

Is that all?  Yes, really that is all one needs to ride a mountain bike.  This is especially true at the entry level when one does not plan on venturing very far out into the backcountry.  The availability of municipal parks with practice tracks and trails is increasing constantly and any emergency trail gear that may be needed could be close by, especially since so many of these parks have maintenance stations right at the trailhead.  I'll follow up later with bare minimum trail essentials (including food and water) for those who wish to venture out further and have the piece of mind that they can self-sustain safely enough within reason.  Of course, Mountain Biking is an inherently dangerous undertaking and like The Spanish Inquisition, nobody expects some of the things that can and will happen out there.

Friday, October 2, 2020


The high country is still open here in Colorado and is as resplendent as ever.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Three States, One Speed

I've been eyeballing an area with intent to ride some gravel roads in three states on one ride and the opportunity presented itself yesterday.  A couple of friends were camped at Pawnee Buttes and invited me up to hang out.

I arrived early in the day and lounged around in the shade for a few hours and then headed out, figuring roughly that it would be about 45 miles.  Once again, the Weld County road department had put a blade to some of my intended route and I did my best to avoid those roads, especially on the way back from the apex of the ride.


Back in Colorado

Common Sense in The Idiocracy

Colorado SB 18-144 AKA The Idaho Stop or Safety Stop Law was largely ignored by most municipalities in Colorado since 2018.  The municipalit...