• Dirt road recon

    The plan was simple. Get in 6 hours of dirt with some long dirt climbs. Since the weather has been in the 70's and 80's over the past 2 weeks mother nature gave us the green light to ride high and hit up the Forest Service roads. Carney and myself scouted some maps over the past few days and came up with a loop of roughly 75 miles and 7,000 ft of vertical. At 10 AM, we departed from Fort Collins with everything we would need to survive for 6+ hours strapped to our bikes and backs.

    Dirt road recon rideThe first 1 hour and 20 minutes was pavement on Stove Prairie Rd. Soon enough, we got to the first dirt/gravel road known as Buckhorn Canyon Rd. This road is nothing but a 1.5 hour false flat that climbs up to roughly 8,000 ft. As much as I hate to say it....it was the hardest part of the ride. Seemed a lot harder than it was. Or was it the back-to-back interval days leading up to this training ride?

    Dirt road recon rideOff of Buckhorn Canyon Rd we then headed north on Monument Gulch Rd. Yeah, they call it a road, but it's a roller coaster. On a bike it's a riot. Steep climbs and bombing downhills highlight this section of trail....err.....road.

    Dirt road recon rideMonument Gulch starts off pretty mellow with a trail made of kitty litter. Meow. Soon, it gets a lot narrower and rocky and rooty.

    Dirt road recon ride
    After bombing some roller coaster trail off the backside of Monument Gulch we got onto some pretty cool dirt road.

    Dirt road recon ride
    Wasn't long....came to another fork in the road. Since I only had a 6 hour training window today we decided to head back east towards Fort Collins.

    Dirt road recon ride
    We opted for forest service road 152. Also known as Old Flowers Rd. To call it a road is being generous. I would rather look at it as a glorified trail. Wide, steep, and rocky. Not to mention, it gets pretty hairy towards the mid sections with some water ruts and killer downhills.

    Dirt road recon ride
    As I said...steep, loose, some rocks...and good views.

    Dirt road recon ride
    Carney pounds out one of the final rocky climbs on Old Flowers Rd.

    Dirt road recon rideThe later miles of Old Flowers are a relief. Throw it in the big ring and make your way back to Stove Prairie Rd.

    Dirt road recon ride
    Once you get to Stove Prairie Rd you have 2 options. One, turn right and take about 20 miles of rolling pavement back to Fort Collins and around Horsetooth Mountain. Or, go straight....climb about 900 ft in 1.4 miles at 12% grade, then bomb all downhill on Rist Canyon Rd back to Fort Collins. We opted to suffered up the climb. More of a mental test than anything.

    Dirt road recon rideCarney prepares to summit the top of Rist Canyon Rd. Guess what? It's 8 miles all downhill to town. The icing on the training cake!

    Dirt road recon rideHere is the profile and HR data for the entire ride. It says we only climbed 6,700 ft for the entire 6 hours....but it felt like a lot more. One thing is for sure....there are tons of miles of these kinds of roads just west of town. The options to put on a underground event are really good. Now the question is....100 miler or 200 miler? Time to dig into the maps a bit more.

    Six hours down. 12 hours more to go. Six hours tomorrow and 6 on Monday. Lets see how the recovery process goes over the next few days. Plan tomorrow is a 130 mile out-and-back to the top of Trail Ridge Rd. Weather will play a big role at 12,000 ft.

    Oh, and there are roughly 40 photos from today posted here.