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DENVER ON THE "RIDE THE ROCKIES" 1998

 

PICTURES OF THE SANTA FE CENTURY

PICTURES OF TRAILS IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD

 

A RIDE UP WATERTON CANYON

Pictures taken in February, story written in July!!

RR:  WATERTON CANYON - A NEW PERSPECTIVE

Waterton canyon follows the S. Platte River from Waterton to Strontia Springs dam, about 6.5 miles up.  It is located on the far southwest side of the Denver metro area, approximately 25 minutes by car from my home (in good traffic).

The route follows a former paved road that was and is used for the dam construction and maintenance, and also maintenance of several waterways and waterworks along the way.  It has been allowed to return to dirt, and in some places has had gravel/dirt mix placed on top of the deteriorating pavement.  Therefore, it is a good trail for hybrids and mtn. Bikes, but not for road bikes.  The road terminates beyond the Strontia Springs dam about 1.5 miles, where it becomes the start of the Colorado trail, a "single track" type of trail which eventually ends in Durango, about 450 miles away

Therefore, for many, many mtn bikers the route up the canyon is sort of a pleasant annoyance for 6 miles until they can get to the single track at the top, and many travel this route just as fast as they can, both up and down.

And so, generally, have I.  While I don't do much of the single track at the top, I usually see how hard I can hammer both up and down the track, going 16-18 mph up and 20-25 mph down, generally looking at the road to gain the fastest time possible.

Tonight, riding up in a light rain with my wife, I decided to use a different approach.  Thinking about the suggestion I had given to another poster who had become a little bored with riding - specifically, take time to smell the roses and see thing from a different perspective - I decided to take that advice myself.  So, instead I went up at about 8-10 mph, and I am so glad that I did, for I saw things quite differently.  And here are some of the things I saw

Cliffs.  The cliffs going up the canyon are amazing.  Towering at times to 300 feet up the sides, these striated gray and rose colored rock are imposing and awesome.  I had never taken the time to actually look up as I went along to try and see the tops of these precipices.  Nurtured within the cliffs were an amazing display of flowers - yellows and reds and purples and pinks. Growing out of the cliffs I saw trees which actually grew horizontally and then twisted 90 degrees towards the sky.  There were amazing rock formations whittled and carved by mother nature, one being an almost exact 10 foot replica of snoopy, the dog in peanuts.  In the cliffs were nests for birds, including raptors and others.  Hiding places for mice and squirrels.  I truly had never noticed just how imposing these were, particularly as you go up the canyon.

Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep and deer.  How neat to see a herd of 15 bighorn sheep climbing on those sheer vertical cliffs.  Many people miss them, as they blend in so well with the colors and textures of the rocks.  Climbing nimbly, occasionally loosening a rock which falls to the roadway below, scaring a biker or a hiker.  It is incredible that they too don't fall with the rock, but they never seem to!!  and there is always the occasional deer hiding in some glen or jumping across the roadway.  And, last time I was up, there was a 2.5 ft rattler easing his (her?) way across the roadway.

THE S. PLATTE RIVER.  We have had a rather wet summer here.  The river, even late in summer, is flowing full.  Along this section it roils and boils over many huge boulders and rocks, tumbling and splashing.  This is relieved by deep pools of slower water and two dams, both associated with water delivery. One is the diversion of the Highline canal, which sends now unneeded water to former farms that used to populate the Denver area.  It is all houses now. However, the water is still diverted, forming a 70 mile line of cottonwood trees accompanied by a heavily used hiking and biking trail throughout the south and east Denver area.  It was at this small diversion dam that I told my wife, several years back, that "there are no snakes in the water, it is too cold" and immediately, as if upon cue, a snake comes swimming easily across the pond right at my wife and myself!!  the other dam diverts water to Denver for drinking, and forms a beautiful small lake with water against the rose colored cliffs, giving beautiful reflections off the smooth surface of the pond.  In the water are numerous fish, and along the rocky shoreline are several fisherman.

TREES AND VEGETATION.  As you go up the canyon, the trees change from plains (none) to scrub oak to pines, fir and big cone and blue spruce.  Between the cliffs there are northern facing hillsides covered with spruce and fir juxtaposed against the brush of the southern facing hillsides, creating an intricate quilt work of green and blue textures and colors.

 

SOUNDS.  The sounds in the canyon are delightful.  The roaring river as it tumbles over rocks and small falls.  The quiet of the slow water, ponds and small lake.  In one spot i could hear three different levels of sounds of water running over rocks.  Tonight there were thunder heads, and you could hear loud blasts of thunder punctuating against the other sounds.  Birds call, the brush bristles with some small animal or bird inside.

FEEL.  The wind and rain against your body; the warmth of sunshine as it peeks around the clouds.  The sudden blast of cool air as you go higher in the canyon and round a bend.  The always present updraft as you head back down.  The texture of the gravel and sand on the road against your shoes as you stop.

AND, FINALLY, OTHERS.  Friendly bikers and hikers who return your greeting. Watching two fishermen catch a trout just below the Strontia Springs dam, with the roar of the water squirting out huge quantities from the outlets in the middle of the dam.  Chatting with three bikers who had just moved here from Hawaii, and were just learning about the rocky mtns, and riding their bikes in this type of country.  Eating a picnic lunch with my wife in a shelter during a thunderstorm with rain around us and lightning in the distance.

I really enjoyed taking the time to smell the roses tonight.  You do the same on your own rides sometime.

 

FINISHING RIDE THE ROCKIES - 353 MILES OF COLORADO PASSES AND HIGH COUNTRY

 

FIRST REST STOP IN LEFT HAND CANYON. JUST GETTING STARTED

AT THE TOP OF RABBIT EAR'S PASS - ABOUT 250 MILES INTO THE TRIP

THE TOP OF TRAIL RIDGE ROAD - OVER 12,000 FEET

NORA RIDING IN THE 1999 RIDE THE ROCKIES. WE BOTH RODE THIS YEAR, AND TOOK TURNS SAGGING EACH OTHER. WE DID NOT TAKE MANY PICTURES!!

DENVER'S NEW LEMOND BUENOS AIRES ROAD BIKE, WHICH I USED IN THE 199 RIDE THE ROCKIES. WOW!! IS THAT EASIER THAN RIDING A MN. BIKE. 6,000 MILES ON BIKE

NORA'S SPECIALIZED HARD ROCK - SHE RODE SOME OF THE RIDE THE ROCKIES ON THIS HEAVY BIKE!!

DENVER'S OLDER SPECIALIZED HARD ROCK MTN BIKE. HE RODE THE 1998 RIDE THE ROCKIES ON THIS BIKE!! 6,500 MILES ON BIKE

NORA'S CANNONDALE.  DUE TO PHYSICAL PROBLEMS, SHE GOT TO RIDE HER NEW BIKE ONLY A LITTLE THE SUMMER OF 2000 and none the summer of 2001.  BUT, THIS next SUMMER WILL BE A DIFFERENT STORY!!

ANDY'S 3 WHEELER!!  HE LOVES TO GO ON THIS BIKE!!