Friday, March 10, 2017

First Bike Ride 2017 On Spruce Meadows Trail

First 2017 ride on my 2003 bicycle, still going...somewhat
This week was my first 2017 bike ride, not counting the 1.2 miler I did last week after adjusting my mountain bike after a couple years of neglect.  Not that it was finished or anything, as I found out after starting my ride on Spruce Meadows Trail, an 8.6 mile fairly easy pedal through the Greenland Open Space area, where cattle still grazes on specific plots for weeks each summer.
By the way, this area is one of the widest-open spaces in Colorado, where you can see for miles in most directions and get a real feeling for what "Open Space" really is.

Snow covered Pikes Peak, Spruce Mountain to the right
The first leg is an easy pedal 1.9 miles to the southwest, going toward Spruce Mountain.  Pikes Peak glistens with snow ahead, Spruce Mountain rises to my right.  The trail passes 2 ponds along the way, and winds around some drainage's.  The elevation increases 200 feet in this 1.9 miles, but is not difficult unless you are new to bicycling at 6800-7000 feet elevation.  After traversing the property, I crossed under Spruce Mountain Road in a large culvert made for this, and climbed the hill on the south side of the road.

Colorado often uses culverts like this for trails
Here is where I experienced derailleur problems where the gears kept shifting on their own, causing me to loose traction on the hill.  I got off and pushed my bike up to the picnic table beside the Spruce Mountain Trail where I often hike.  By balancing the bicycle frame on the table seat edge, I was able to loosen the tension on the rear derailleur cable to fix the self-shifting problem while changing gears and spinning the wheel.  Then I enjoyed a snack and watered-up.  The wind here was gusting in the mid-30's, and it was a cool 60 degrees if you were not pedaling.
17 years of riding this bicycle and some parts are now worn out.  I keep nursing the bike along until I can replace it.  The derailleurs, shifters and rear cogs may be next.  I bought it in Castle Rock in the early spring of 2004 (a 2003 model) and mostly rode it off-road and on bike trails locally, then mostly paved trails since 2010 when I upgraded the tires, hand grips, chain and added the rear rack.  I like the way the bike fits me, and the way it is geared.  I hope I can make it last a for few more years of easy bicycling.

Spruce Mountain ramparts...
Continuing to the right...
From here, I rode past the Spruce Mountain Trailhead and north up the meadow and past another pond toward Eagle Pass. It was hard enough riding uphill into the wind, but when I passed the cutoff trail, the wind was now blowing from my left, causing me to pitch over to the right, often catching my pedal on the rough and rutted trail.  I finally took my feet out of the toe clips so I could dab the ground to prevent falling while pedaling occasionally on the downhill leg.  The entire Front Range opens to my left, the town of Larkspur is straight ahead with Rattlesnake Butte on the left across I-25. It was a long 1.6 miles of dabbing grassland to Noe Road.  As I neared Noe Road, I got off and walked the bike the last few yards.

From the top of Eagle Pass, looking north toward the town of Larkspur
Noe Road is named for a pioneer farmer/rancher who lived in this area way back when the Native Americans caused serious problems for the settlers.  It is a dirt road, coated with what I call "Dipity-Doo" to keep the dust down, worth every penny in wind like we are having today.  Here I could continue along the trail with another 5+ miles of toe-dabbing through the meadows, or follow Noe Road 1.5 miles back to my car with the wind at my back.  I opted for the wind at my back and pedaled back to my car with no gear problems.

Looking back south to Eagle Pass
The trail is within 20 miles of my home, and I plan to come back when the wind is not as strong, and ride the whole loop at one go.  That may be a couple to three weeks from now as the weather is turning colder and some March snow is forecast.  My experience with these meadows is that a little moisture turns it all into a quagmire for a couple days, until the sun and wind dries it out again.

Trail Sign at Noe Road
To find Spruce Meadows Trail, south of Castle Rock exit I-25 at #167, turn west, bypass the Greenland Open Space Park, unless you need to walk your pet or get drinking water, carefully cross both railroad tracks and turn left into the Spruce Meadows Trailhead parking lot.
If you want to hike or bicycle a mountain instead, continue west to Spruce Mountain Road, turn left (south) and follow less than a mile to the first right, and turn into the Spruce Mountain Trail parking area.

Trail north of Noe Road, lots more grass, Rattlesnake Butte on right

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