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Mid-Season break; or What I Did On Summer Vacation(1 post)

Mid-Season break; or What I Did On Summer Vacationlonefrontranger
Jul 17, 2002 2:39 PM
I've had a lot of stuff going on at work, too, but I've taken a forced "midseason break". I'll probably go to the Niwot Crit this Sunday, but it all depends on how I feel.

Yesterday I rode Heil Ranch for the first time on my 'cross bike. For those of you not from the Front Range, this is a relatively new trail to the Boulder area; 7 mile loop in total with about 2 miles of lung-busting climb. The trail "tread" itself was originally designed pretty wide and fairly non-technical, but a year of use has seen lots of loose rocks rise to the surface, and the formation of some decent ruts and sand pits to trap the unwary skinny-tired freak (like myself).
The trail in question doesn't have a good map available, and I don't have a digital camera, so you'll have to use your imagination on the topo provided below:

http://www.topozone.com/map.asp?z=13&n=4443131&e=474492

Heil Ranch trail runs up Geer Canyon (red cross), west of Allens Lake. The road indicated up Geer Canyon is the fire road you start / end on. The trail gives awesome views of Fairview Peak, makes a loop along the ridgeline overlooking Central Gulch, then drops back down to the fire road on some swoopy fun switchbacks.

For all those who doubt the ability of a 'cross bike, I can now safely say that you need worry no more. This trail is a tough one even for some MTB'ers - not necessarily technical (it's 3' wide in most places), but there is a lot of climbing and enough rocks (both hammered-in and loose-rolling-around style) to satisfy the most avid Paris-Roubaix devotee; think of the gnarliest jeep road you know and you've got the picture. I managed the entire climb sans one nasty sandpit on my fully rigid euro-trash Campy 10 Dream Cross. My boyfriend rode with me on his Trek 8900 disc hardtail, and I stomped him pretty good going up the climb for no better reason than lack of gearing options - it was pedal that 36/25 or fall over, so I chose the "just pedal faster" option! (hint: this is why the single speed guys kick major ass)

Meeting riders coming the other way as I was climbing was sometimes exciting, since the downhillers on their dualie bikes don't cotton onto the fact that a 'crossie doesn't have many choices of line. Only one near miss and no hard feelings. My squeaky toy handlebar mojo (the Road Runner; beep! beep!) tends to defuse these situations before they get too stressful.

I find that on serious stuff like this, the cross bike climbs MUCH faster and generally rode faster through all but the really sketchy crappy sandpits or rock gardens, but you definitely lose some time on the bumpy, switchback descents to the pure MTB guys.