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Just your average Wyoming Winter ride...(11 posts)

Just your average Wyoming Winter ride...PT
Dec 22, 2003 1:12 PM
My road riding has evolved to take into account that there's actually good riding in the Laramie, Wyoming area if you include the dirt roads. Now this may sound silly, but there are really only 7 paved roads that leave the city limits, and two of them are interstate. If you're not willing to venture off the pavement, they're all out-and-back type rides. If you include gravel and dirt, you can start joining up those paved sections into some mighty fine loops. There's plenty of authentic mountain bike riding to be had – some of the best to be found anywhere – but it's currently snowed in, and a cyclist does not live on single-track alone.

Kurt (my next-door neighbor) and I have recently acquired our respective dream bikes, based on nice cyclocross frames but outfitted for long rides on both pavement and gravel roads. I picked my Seven out of the RBR classifieds this summer and all I can tell you is that someone more intelligent than I was able to instruct the guys at Seven how to build the ideal road frame. Kurt has a brand new custom Black Sheep. Yup, we're yuppies, but at least we use our toys.

The classic Wyoming winter ride involves determining which sector out of the west the wind is coming from (southwest, due west, northwest) and starting out into the wind. You struggle out into a 20 to 40 mph gale for three-quarters of the time you've allotted for the ride, then turn around and big-ring it back home. On Saturday we headed southwest, in the general direction of Rocky Mountain National Park. The picture doesn't do it justice, but in the horizon you can see the snow-capped peaks of the Park. A long day will let you ride up to the mountains to the north end of the Park, with 90% of the miles on county and forest service gravel/dirt roads.

You can't do a ride in Wyoming without seeing two things – windmills and antelope (pronghorn). I was trying to frame both in this picture when the antelope sauntered off over the rise. I would guess we saw over 200 during our 42-mile ride. The only time I even remotely kept up with antelope while on a bike, I was doing 45 downhill and it still pulled away from me..

The low set of mountains behind me in the picture below still top out at over 8500 feet, and are a great place to explore on our "dirt-road" bikes in the summer. Right now, they're a great place to ski. On Sunday we loaded up our respective families for the 10 mile drive to the local nordic area and spent a couple of very happy hours skate skiing. Then we came home and went for another 30-plus mile paved-dirt-paved road ride. Admittedly by the end of the ride a blizzard was blowing in, but you have to expect that when it's December in Wyoming.

Great report!Alex-in-Evanston
Dec 22, 2003 1:17 PM
Let's see those mountains up close next time, and can I put in a request for a coyote shot?

Thanks again,

Great report!PT
Dec 22, 2003 1:26 PM
The mountains (on bike back) will have to wait until spring I'm afraid, and that is usually most other peoples summer (June).

On one early morning ride this summer, a coyote trotted across the road 30 yards in front of me and then right past an antelope -- within ten yards -- and didn't even glance at it. Then again, I've also seen an atelope chasing a coyote at break-neck speed, so the coyote was probably just being wise...
Great report..Dave Hickey
Dec 22, 2003 1:19 PM
What were the temps during the ride? It looks very cold(it was 70 degrees here yesterday). The one thing we have in common is wind. I struggled with a 30mph headwind for 20 of my 40 miles yesterday.
Great report..Alex-in-Evanston
Dec 22, 2003 1:27 PM
I struggled with a 30mph headwind for 40 of my 40 miles yesterday.

Great report..PT
Dec 22, 2003 1:36 PM
It was about 25 F on Saturday when we started out, but the wind (of course) made it seem colder. It warmed up throughout the day, and it was actually in the mid-40's when I rode on Sunday. When you get out on the prairie, wind-speed under 15 mph is classified as a light breeze and is worth noting because of its rarity, between 15 and 35 mph is standard and not worth mentioning, but over 35 mph you are likely to make the "Bit windy today" comment. I firmly believe that plowing into a head wind is comparable to long mountain climbs, and then wind at your back is like the descent down the other side...
Face protection...Dave Hickey
Dec 22, 2003 1:50 PM
I here ya on the headwinds. Here in Dallas, there is nothing to stop the winds blowing down from Canada or up from Mexico. The reason I asked about the temps is I noticed no face protection. You guys in WY are obviously tougher stock than us wimpy Texans......
I can't handle the heat...PT
Dec 22, 2003 1:58 PM
Even though a good bit of my youth was spent in the Mojave desert, I can no longer handle hot or humid weather. After 12 years in Wyoming, I can handle the cold pretty well. We also are really dry here, and the cold isn't as "biting" as it is in, say, the Northeast.

I also spent a good bit of time in the San Francisco Bay area, and I agree with Mark Twain and his comment that the "coldest winter I ever experienced was a summer in San Francisco" (or some close approximation of that).
great report..jimmyihatetoregister
Dec 22, 2003 1:28 PM
I live down below in Boulder, been to Laramie. I didn't realize there were so few paved roads. I've done the "Laramie Range Enduro" 2 years. Hopefully it will be back for 2004. I saw a rumor over on MTBR.COM. Looks like you figured out the best bikes to use on all those dirt roads.
The rumors are correct...PT
Dec 22, 2003 1:53 PM
A modified version of the Enduro is to return. The orginal promoters are not part of it, and the course will be different because of access issues across the sheep ranch just east of town. They're still planning on a 100 k course. The whole event will take place in the Medicine Bow Forest up the hill to the east of Laramie, beginning and ending in the Happy Jack area with "official support" only available midway through the race. I don't believe they've finalized a date, but the last I heard they were talking mid to late July...
re: Just your average Wyoming Winter ride...crewman
Dec 22, 2003 10:32 PM
Hey, we rode into Laramie with the "Pedal the peaks tour". I believe we stayed overnite at the high school.
The ride that day was a 120 miler, man was it ever flat out there.