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Illustrated Ride Report: Boulder Valley Open Space(48 posts)

Illustrated Ride Report: Boulder Valley Open Spacelonefrontranger
Oct 14, 2002 8:23 PM
Welcome to Colorado!
(A cliche' postcard shot of the Indian Peaks, from the park / open space behind our house) - This view is actually part of several rides we do, by default of the run/bike path that circles the lake and leads in various directions. It's also handy because the path starts in the cul de sac 3 doors down.
Your Tour Guidelonefrontranger
Oct 14, 2002 8:25 PM
With my handy Italian SUV
Thanks for the tour! It was a great trip! (nm)KenS
Oct 15, 2002 10:27 AM
Starting Outlonefrontranger
Oct 14, 2002 8:29 PM
The first nice stash of trail begins about 3 houses away. A lot of the MUT here in Boulder is crushed stone, easily rideable with a road bike as well.

The trees in the neighborhood are getting some nice color.
Growth = Sprawllonefrontranger
Oct 14, 2002 8:31 PM
The sad thing about the lifestyle being so desirable here is the fact that so many folks want to take part in it. Five years ago, this was all farmland. Now it's suburbia, as far as the eye can see.
Now this is more like itlonefrontranger
Oct 14, 2002 8:34 PM
Ahh, getting off the beaten path, otherwise known as Colorado Pave. The growth and corresponding sprawl has led to many roadies cultivating a taste for dirt - the dirt secondary roads, that is. Hey, you can ride wherever you like and not get yelled "Single File" at all day. The tradeoff is you have to learn to like loose fillings.

Doesn't look so bad, you say? Well...
Colorado Pavelonefrontranger
Oct 14, 2002 8:35 PM
Take a look from another angle :)
Barrier Practicelonefrontranger
Oct 14, 2002 8:38 PM
Well, at least the dismount part. Everyone who rides open space out here soon cultivates their own version of dealing with the many gates. Yes, it's open range, and the one rule you MUST follow, is always, always close the gates.

A few MTB'ers I know have learned the art of opening and closing the gates without ever unclipping. I merely have to settle for doing good dismounts / remounts.
We're headed up therelonefrontranger
Oct 14, 2002 8:40 PM
The white watertower framed between the two trees actually sits on top of Gunbarrel Hill, a large mesa that really doesn't look all that impressive until you've climbed it...
Hazy Mountainslonefrontranger
Oct 14, 2002 8:44 PM
Normally the mountains would look so close you'd think you could touch them. Last night a cold front came through and created a hazy inversion. The mountains aren't performing to expectation, and my desired shot of the Flatirons is less than impressive. Oh well, you'll just have to use your imagination...

You don't have to imagine much to see the nice stash of singletrack, placed right next to a quiet, smoothly paved road. Ahh, the best of both worlds. I'll choose the singletrack today.
Scenic Bridgelonefrontranger
Oct 14, 2002 8:50 PM
For whatever reason I'm always convinced to stop for my first snack at this point. I'm usually at about 45 minutes to an hour, and it's a good excuse to look at the scenery. In summer, the towering sycamore trees provide welcome shade, and in the winter it's peaceful and contemplative.

We've had an unusual drought this summer, so it's very good to see water in this creek at last. On the left in the middle distance, you can see the "white rocks" that give this particular portion of the open space trail it's name: White Rocks Open Space.
Halfway Uplonefrontranger
Oct 14, 2002 8:52 PM
Well, a few minutes ago, we were way down there on the left, near that lake. I was sort of hoping to get a better sense of height from here, but we'll settle for looking at the view... or what you can see of it for the haze. We've still got a bit of climbing to do, though.
Now it gets fun!lonefrontranger
Oct 14, 2002 8:59 PM
The fun thing (and the hard thing) about climbing Gunbarrel Hill is that it's intercut with a lot of little ravines and gullies. So you actually climb it about three times for every one. The trail gets super fun, fast, twisty and rolling through here. BipedZed and I did this last winter and he had a blast kicking my butt up and down these things. I usually end up feeling like I've rented third rate lungs by the time I get to the northwest end of this trail.

By the way, my ride route is a loop that comes back in on this section of trail, so on this one we get to climb everything twice :)

Oh, yeah - the best part of riding skinnies on this stuff is you learn pretty quick how to ride a 2-wheel drift through sandy loose corners.
The view from the toplonefrontranger
Oct 14, 2002 9:02 PM
This is from right up by the top, looking northwest from the watertower. The mountains are getting a bit more apparent, although still pretty marginal for here. You can sure see a lot from up here. The odd looking little knob in the middle distance is Haystack Mountain. You'll see it closer soon.
For the roadies...lonefrontranger
Oct 14, 2002 9:05 PM
Okay, I know we've seen a lot of dirt so far. Here's a nice roadie route. Good shoulders, smooth pavement. I often use this route going towards the town of Hygiene on road rides. We'll be hanging a left at the crest of the hill and heading along that line of yellow trees. You can see Haystack Mountain a little closer now.
Boulder Rezlonefrontranger
Oct 14, 2002 9:08 PM
Here's the infamous Boulder Reservoir, near where the race was held last week. Instead of racing this week, I went out with the camera instead... This is also very close to the start/finish of another Boulder institution, the Boulder-Roubaix road race, held on long, long stretches of...
Colorado Pave Part 2lonefrontranger
Oct 14, 2002 9:11 PM
This is the first section of dirt on the Roubaix course. Yes, folks, it's a road race, and no one wins it on a mountain bike (or a 'cross bike for that matter). Requires nerves of steel and cast iron buttocks.

Come April, there will be about a hundred and fifty waterbottles strewn all over this stretch of road.
Contemplating the viewlonefrontranger
Oct 14, 2002 9:13 PM
This is just such a nice shot, I decided to shoot a panorama. Photoshop is a wonderful program!
The reason to own a 'cross bike:lonefrontranger
Oct 14, 2002 9:18 PM
Trails like this abound on the plains just east of the Front Range. I'd feel a little silly riding this with your typical dualie bike, but the 'crossie just soaks it up and begs for more. When it gets too cold and snowy in the high country, these trails beckon.

I don't even begrudge the owners of the McMansions in the background, because they were the ones who helped buy up the open space to preserve their view.
Wild Lifelonefrontranger
Oct 14, 2002 9:24 PM
It amazes me how the camera never captures what you actually see. I'm using a cheap digital with no zoom, so if you look very carefully, you can see a coyote-shaped blob up on the ridge. He's about 150 yards away, howling his crazy head off at a couple walking their Akita (that's a dog) on the trail ahead of me. He didn't seem to care about the humans, or me taking pictures for that matter. The Akita, on the other hand, was having a fit.

I see something new and different every time I ride this trail. This time it was the crazy coyote, plus about a million bluebirds. They come down from the high country this time of year to take advantage of soft living at backyard bird feeders. Flocks of them would fly up off the fences on both sides of the trail, and then fly along with me as I rode. Strange.
The Front Rangelonefrontranger
Oct 14, 2002 9:28 PM
The mountain views never really got good, but this one is pretty nice. This is a shot of the Flatirons, Boulder's "signature" mountains. The ridge the coyote was standing on is to the right, in the middle distance, so you're looking back at where we've been.
They farm all kinds of weird stuff out herelonefrontranger
Oct 14, 2002 9:32 PM
Yet again my lack of a zoom lens is bumming me out. These are llamas, and usually they have them out in the pasture next to the road, but for whatever reason they weren't today. In the spring they have all kinds of cute little babies that look very much like stuffed toys.

There are also ostrich farms, buffalo farms, emu farms... Boulder basically attracts all kinds of different thinkers.

Here's Haystack Mountain again, looking at it from a different angle now.
We're headed up there tomorrowlonefrontranger
Oct 14, 2002 9:35 PM
Here's a view of Left Hand Canyon. Up there is Heil Ranch, which will be the subject of tomorrow's illustrated report :)
Singletrack Stashes aboundlonefrontranger
Oct 14, 2002 9:43 PM
If you know where to look, that is. This is a nice 2-mile long stash of singletrack that you would never believe existed - it runs behind some McMansions as an easement to a golf course. I had no idea it was here until a couple weeks ago when a MTB friend showed me the entrance. It's perfectly legal, too.

Dig the weeds. One thing you learn out here is to keep both tires religiously on the trail. One word: GOATHEADS! (they're nasty thorns and damn are there a lot of them this time of year...) This is Goathead Central, but you can survive if you have the will. All it takes is a little finesse, and the understanding that basically everything that grows in Colorado has stickers of some kind.

Oh yeah, carrying 2 tubes AND a patch kit helps, too. Mr Tuffys help even more...
Singletrack Stashes aboundwahleyed
Oct 15, 2002 5:43 AM
I was going to ask you about the pictures of you fixing flats! ;)

I remember riding these trails and fixing flats quite clearly. What's a flat or 2 on a day like Sunday though.
Thought about taking onelonefrontranger
Oct 15, 2002 7:16 AM
The pic with the sweet twisting singletrack (Left Hand trail) and the McMansions in the background was actually taken as I was fixing a flat. That's the second or third time I've had to stop there for a flat, in fact - so I guess it meant I had my composition well thought out.

The only downside of the Left Hand trail is there are about two dozen gates on it.
Stickers, toolonefrontranger
Oct 14, 2002 9:47 PM
I was inspired to take this shot, as the teazle (that's the name of the weed in this picture) was actually the basis for the graphics on the team kit I'm wearing in the second shot. It's a common sticker-type weed that grows all over the Midwest and Plains states. It makes for pretty dried flower arrangements, and bloody shins on mountain bikers. It was our "club mascot" on the team I managed in Ohio.
Backlit Grasslonefrontranger
Oct 14, 2002 9:50 PM
This was just a really cool picture. I liked the way the grass and fence wires were lit up by the sun.
The peaceful town of Gunbarrellonefrontranger
Oct 14, 2002 9:55 PM
Remember how I said this was an out-and-back? Well, here we are back at the base of Gunbarrel Hill, getting ready to climb all the way back over it. The camera really flattens the perspective, but trust me, it's a long, long, leg-sapping false flat up the alluvial shield to the point where the mesa "wall" kicks in, then it gets quite steep. Here you also get a taste of the sleepy little town of Gunbarrel, where absolutely nothing really ever happens (and we like it that way, too). I'll never understand some of the place names out here.
Place namingLO McDuff
Oct 15, 2002 6:54 AM
According to my wife's grandfather, the name is based on a story of a man who traded a gun for a farm on the hill north of White Rocks, i.e.,Gunbarrel Hill.

In the early days of the Coors Classic, there was a time trial out of Niwot to the top of the hill. It was called the "Three Bit*hes".
that %&*$ hill...lonefrontranger
Oct 15, 2002 7:12 AM
Yep, know those three ladies quite well, thank you :) My commute is from Lafayette to Niwot, meaning I ride up and over Gunbarrel Hill in both directions every day.

Still a long way to the toplonefrontranger
Oct 14, 2002 9:58 PM
Trust me, this is a long climb, and it only gets steeper as you go. Note how long the shadows are; twilight comes early in October (even more so when you're on the eastern edge of the mountains!).
I'm on top of the world!lonefrontranger
Oct 14, 2002 10:03 PM
Well, maybe just my little corner of it. Here's the view looking east from the watertower at the top of Gunbarrel Hill.

On a 'cross bike, this climb is a leg-breaker coming up, and a nail-biter going down. See those odd humps on the left margin of the track? Those are waterbars (otherwise known as mondo huck-a-jumps) and in Colorado, they grow 'em big and mean. You get crazy speed going down this thing, and you can catch some sick air off of these. Sick in many senses of the word, too, if you aren't sure how to land it on skinny tires in loose gravel...
Wow, I'm cutting the light a bit thin here...lonefrontranger
Oct 14, 2002 10:05 PM
Looks like I'll have to hurry to make it back. It's getting kind of cold, too.
Twilight Flatironslonefrontranger
Oct 14, 2002 10:07 PM
There are the mountains that have been hiding in the haze all day.
Brrr - This is what happenslonefrontranger
Oct 14, 2002 10:11 PM
When it's getting really dark, and really cold, and the shutter speed is just too slow to compensate for the fact that you're shivering and trying to keep your bike from rolling down this tempting little descent. You can see the bridge at the bottom - this descent is fast, fun, steep and sandy, and you can get quite sideways if you don't keep your head on straight.

Blurry, but kind of interesting in an impressionistic sort of way...
Last onelonefrontranger
Oct 14, 2002 10:14 PM
Because it's just getting too dark to take anymore pictures. A nice closing shot of a twilit lake, with the Indian Peaks in the background, right before I scamper my freezing butt home. I'm still about 3 miles out. Fortunately most of the ride back is trail and open space, because I didn't pack lights!
great shots - thanks - nmMJ
Oct 15, 2002 12:08 AM
Fantastic (nm)Scot_Gore
Oct 15, 2002 4:08 AM
Why!!!scary slow
Oct 15, 2002 6:18 AM
why in gods name do i live in florida. i guess deep down i really like the fact that half the state is paved. great pics and thanks for the tour!
Awesome pictures - looks like great riding for sure! (nm)aliensporebomb
Oct 15, 2002 7:25 AM
Awesome pictures - looks like great riding for sure! (nm)atpjunkie
Oct 15, 2002 10:05 AM
really great stuff. been meaning to do this myself, gotta borrow a digital camera. used to spend some time in Boulder, how I miss those hills and vistas. one photo (with paved road) looks like a spot where I put out a field fire started by an errant cigarette thrown from a truck. I got there just as it started and put it out with my feet and a water bottle. That pastoral riding looks fun.
Two things: You always refer to yourself as "fat chick", FYI ya ain't
Second RE: the Akita, good thing it was on a leash, it most likely would have taken off and killed that Coyote. People don't realize those dogs are NUTS!!!!! A couple friends had two Akitas (2 sisters) one couple had one the other her sibling. Their Tally
2 cats, 1 Jack Russell Terrier and a Koy fish. The poor Jack Russell dug it's way into the yard and the Akitas knocked a flower pot into it's hole trapping the poor thing, was quite sad.
So if you own one or live near one keep your pets away!!
HmmEager Beagle
Oct 15, 2002 12:54 AM
Colorado looks a little different from Surrey UK - I can't quite put my finger on it.

Oh yeah - that's it! The open space, the lack of cars, the nice trails, the clean air...

I am beginning to hate you already.

To make matters worse, every now and then my wife gets out her photo album from here uni days when she spent a year at Boulder, just to rub it all in a little harder...

I'm coming to live with you...Velocipedio
Oct 15, 2002 3:08 AM
Don't worry. I don't take up much sapce and I cook.

Beautiful countryside!
This is not Colorado! It's Ohio!Pack Meat
Oct 15, 2002 6:34 AM
Nice try there Lonefrontranger but I'm here to tell the people the truth. The pictures shown here are from Ohio not Colorado. Colorado is not that beautiful and doesn't have trails and riding like that but Ohio does, I've been there, I've seen it for myself. You didn't show any pictures of cowboys with gun racks or trustafarian hippies asking for money. I'm sorry to inform everybody on this board that this is a gross misrepresentation of Colorado. If you want to find stuff like this you must move to Ohio not to Colorado.

Pack Meat
What?! - no Nag-bashing??lonefrontranger
Oct 15, 2002 7:21 AM
Dude, you're losing your touch. I'm disappointed. I actually put the 'nag in a couple of these shots just to bait you...

Oh, and look closely. Can't be Ohio, there aren't enough Budweiser cans in the ditch.
The Endless Skywaypeter in NVA
Oct 15, 2002 2:18 PM
What a great place to road ride without the road! I'd bring my bike next time in Boulder if airline fees weren't so ridiculous now.
re: Illustrated Ride Report: Boulder Valley Open SpaceMasterBlaster
Oct 19, 2002 12:49 PM
Thank you for the tour! When I see pictures like these it makes me wonder why I moved from Utah to Southern Cali. I miss those wide open spaces!