Super-Duper Heil Ranch

Ski Magazine published an editorial a while back where the writer was ticked-off about living in Boulder. Sure, it was tongue-in-cheek, but it was pretty accurate. And it’s true, Boulder doesn’t have a doughnut shop anywhere in town! That’s why it was funny. The truth is that everyone in Boulder is pretty much lame in comparison to someone else. The town, and even the county, is so full of extreme athletes, you can hardly throw a stone without hitting someone who climbs 5.14 or kayaks class V+ or holds the current U.S. pro cycling title. In general, merely competent athletes aren’t even also-rans in Boulder.

Topo map for the Super-Duper Heil Ranch ride. Only the read portion of the route was a repeat. I went into Boulder on the blue route and returned from Lyons on the green route. Unfortunately my topo map software is too old to include the trails at Heil Valley Ranch, so just imagine some twisty route between the end of the blue and the beginning of the green segments. Total route (dirt included) was about 60 miles.
Topo map for the Super-Duper Heil Ranch ride. Only the red portion of the route was a repeat. I went into Boulder on the blue route and returned from Lyons on the green route. Unfortunately my topo map software is too old to include the trails at Heil Valley Ranch, so just imagine some twisty route between the end of the blue and the beginning of the green segments. Total route (dirt included) was about 60 miles.

Case in point: Yesterday I had a rare day off while Jess had to work, so I decided to go for a long mountain bike ride. I’m not a big fan of driving to trailheads, but there really aren’t any trails very near the house. This is unfortunate, because there’s plenty of amenable terrain. Nevertheless, I decided to try riding the new Picture Rock trail that opened last year connecting Heil Valley Ranch to Hall Ranch in nearby Lyons. For years Super Hall Ranch has been a standard ride where you leave from Boulder and ride to Lyons before tackling Hall Ranch. Of course you ride back when it’s all finished, with perhaps a stop by Oscar Blues for beer and a burger.

My plan was a bit more ambitious because I was going to leave from Lafayette and combine Heil Valley Ranch with Hall Ranch and a lot more road. The first 15 miles went by pretty uneventfully, landing me at the Amante Coffee in North Boulder. On the weekends, this is possibly the most popular rendezvous spot for groups of cyclists (road and mountain alike), heading off into the mountain roads west of town. While I was sitting outside enjoying a mocha and some biscotti, up rode a former coworker, and current domestic pro cyclist, Tom Zirbel. You may have heard of him. We had a nice chat. He’s house shopping with his girlfriend between training and racing. Yesterday he was doing some motor pacing, where you ride fast (really fast if you’re Tom) behind a motorcycle.

Shortly thereafter, one of Tom’s teammates rode up, and since I’d finished my drink, I started up the canyon towards the trailhead. After a mile or two of riding, I was about to catch a pair of road cyclists when Tom’s teammate passed me like a bullet shot out of a gun. I looked down for a minute, and when I looked back up again he was about a mile down the road. Grant you, I was on a mountain bike with 2.4″ knobby tires, but I was still doing around 20 mph. Another minute later, I heard a motorcycle closing in on me. Tom shouted to get on (the pace line), and for a second I thought about doing just that, but there was no way. Even on the road bike it would have taken everything I had available to hang for even a mile.

After another 8 miles, I’d reached the trailhead just off Left Hand Canyon Road. From there, it’s about 2.5 miles of rocky climbing to reach the upper loops. Part way around the loop you then come to a junction with the Picture Rock trail that takes about 5.5 miles of almost exclusively downhill riding into Lyons. The new trail is a bit rocky at the top, but turns into some really fun singletrack in the latter half. There are even a few colorful bits of art (if you can call a rusted old bullet-riddled car art) to check out along the way. There are also a bunch of deer. Clearly they’re quite accustomed to people, because they weren’t the least bit fazed by my presence.

At the oposite trailhead, in Lyons, my day’s mileage was at about 34 miles (about 10 on dirt). When I packed for the day’s ride, the pantry was bare. Normally we have a few Clif Bars sitting around, but there just wasn’t anything to bring on the ride. At that point, I was super hungry, so I found a little pizza shop in Lyons and gobbled down their lunch special (2 slices and a fountain drink). My legs felt pretty good, but my butt was pretty sore. I have a long-term rant about bike shops not selling seats properly. There’s no good way to tell if a seat is going to work well for a rider unless you log some time atop it, preferably on your own bike. Therefore, my seat is less than ideal, and after a few hours and 30+ miles, so is the comfort level of my derrier.

At any rate, I needed to get home to shower and meet Jess for Good Friday service at church. Since I wasn’t wearing a watch and have no cyclometer on the mountain bike, I wasn’t sure what time it was. Nevertheless, the sun was out now, so I could tell it was well past noon, maybe 3:00.  I would have to pass on Hall Ranch and just ride back to Lafayette instead. I took a slightly different route, and made it back to the house by about 5:30.  In total, it was about 6 hours on the bike and about 60 miles of riding for a pathetic 10 miles per hour average. I’ll have to ride Super-Duper Heil Ranch again some day and see if I can improve my time.

Snow Day! (plus catch-up)

So Dave tells me that you guys don’t want to read long messages about much of anything, especially Twilight. (Except Emily. Thanks, Emily! I know you’re asking yourself why I’m blogging and not finishing Breaking Dawn. Never fear—I’ll get there.) Anyway, let me catch you up on our lives, in reverse chronological order. With as few comments as possible.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The city of Boulder is closed. Roads are closed. It took Dave and me an hour and a half to get home from work at 1:00 p.m. this afternoon. Blizzard!

Dave shoveling.
Dave shoveling.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Dave and I went rock climbing in the Flatirons. Almost everyone we know headed to the Flatirons that day—something about a beautiful Saturday at the beginning of spring in Boulder that draws you up there. We climbed part of the first flatiron. One pitch was enough for me, for starters. Dave led wonderfully and it was lovely to be outside and healthy again!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I got sick on Tuesday, March 10, and finally stayed home from work to go to the doctor on March 16. She prescribed two inhalers and a Z pack of antibiotics. My voice went wacky and I could sing a whole octave lower than usual. (Cool!) Although I wasn’t healed on my birthday, I was well enough to really enjoy opening presents (thanks, family!) and eating dinner. Dave sweetly agreed to help cook homemade noodles, homemade spaghetti sauce, and homemade chocolate cake with chocolate butter cream icing. Yum!

Dave cuts noodles.
Dave cuts noodles.
Sauce atop noodles.
Sauce atop noodles.
Is that spaghetti sauce in the corners of my mouth?
Is that spaghetti sauce in the corners of my mouth?

Friday, March 13, 2009

We’re playing music from the Leonard Bernstein opera Candide in band, so I went with my friend Jehanne to see the CU Opera performance. It was terrific! What talented people. The orchestra was wonderful and the set was both creative and very functional. The singing was amazing. I had always wanted to eat at Khow Thai, on the hill, which we did beforehand. Yum! I had green curry with tofu.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Dave went to Fault Cave with a few other people from our grotto. I stayed home to work on the Parish Visitor.

Graffiti in Fault Cave.
Graffiti in Fault Cave.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Church, followed by a baby shower for our friends Erica and Adam, followed by a book group that Dave and I have both joined with several other couples from church. Our first book was Reluctant Saint: The Life of Francis of Assisi, by Donald Spoto. It was terrific and we had a great discussion, so we’re reading another Spoto book for April: The Hidden Jesus: A New Life.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

We went caving down near Colorado Springs, to a cave called Huccacove. Dave and I had been there before—in fact, we attended a cave rescue seminar there. It’s a fun, kind of sporting cave without a lot of decorations. It was a beautiful day outside, although it did snow a bit while we were driving from Cave of the Winds to Huccy’s and then again a little bit when we got out of the cave.

Dave in the cave.
Dave in the cave.
Pretty formations.
Pretty formations.
Cave bacon!
Cave bacon!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

We headed to Ouray again with Gretchen and Andy for our last ice climbing trip of the season. I always miss it when it turns into spring, even though I’m always looking forward to mountain biking. We were afraid it was going to be too warm to climb! It was warm, but the ice was still solid. That made for a wonderful trip!

Dave climbing a hard, thin, mixed route.
Dave climbing a hard, thin, mixed route.
Jess belaying with the river raging (okay, flowing) behind her.
Jess belaying with the river raging (okay, flowing) behind her.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Mid-February, but warm enough to go mountain biking! We headed up to Heil Ranch. It was so fun to be back out on the trails, although it didn’t take too long for me to poop out. It was a lovely day in Lyons, but kind of overcast with a chilly breeze on our side of the mountain. Still, the first mountain bike ride of the season puts a grin on my face.