Sunday, May 22, 2011

Flagstaff, and then some

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Today I drove up to Boulder and rode the route pictured above. I've been meaning to give the Flagstaff climb a go for quite a while now, so I started from there and made a good loop out of it. I wrote down my turns on a strip of masking tape and stuck that on my top tube so I would be sure not to get lost. But maps rarely tell the whole story when you're planning a ride in unfamiliar territory.

I parked near Chautauqua Park in Boulder and went straight for Flagstaff. I knew that I should have rode around a little bit to warm up first, but I'm not exactly known for my patience.

The climb up Flagstaff did not disappoint. My lungs were burning, heart was pounding, legs were threatening to quit, and in short, I was in pain until the exit from the Boulder Mountain Park and the turn downhill. Not that the climbing was completely finished or anything, but there's a pretty good reprieve from it for a while after that.

I stopped briefly at the turn onto Gross Dam Road (point B), caught my breath, and verified that I was on the right track. Everything from point B to point C on the map is dirt and gravel. It took me by surprise and made me a bit nervous, but my road bike handled it just fine. Admittedly, I took it really slow. A wipe-out or a pinch flat would really have put a damper on things.

Gross Reservoir
The stretch on Coal Creek Canyon Road (Highway 72, from D to E) is some very scenic, very fast riding. I'd been on that part before last summer. Traffic on Highway 93 can be pretty hairy, but it doesn't last too long.

Shortly after point G, there is a sign that indicates that you have to abandon Marshall Drive and get back onto Highway 93. But that only applies to cars. A multi-use path picks up where the road leaves off. The route is mostly on paths until you get back to Baseline, and a good bike lane will take you back up to Chautauqua Park.

I envy those who live close enough to the mountains to be able to do this kind of ride from their front door. But I'm going to be making every effort to get out there and hit the hills in the coming weeks. My climbing legs aren't anywhere near where they were at the end of last summer. Hopefully I'll get them back in shape in time for the Mount Evans Hill Climb in July.

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