Wow! I did NOT remember that being such a sad video! I do remember the verse:
No need to get uptighter
C'mon you little fighter
And get back up again
Oh get back up again
Fill your heart again... "
The plan was to ride up Deer Creek Canyon again. I planned to go a mile further than last time, which would take me past the steepest part. With that beneath my belt, I felt I would be able to ride to the top on my third ascent, perhaps next weekend.
Clouds hugging the mountaintops above Waterton Canyon put a quick end to any Deer Creek Canyon dreams. How could I resist?!?
The deep, heavy public display of affection (PDA) had morphed to just light kisses by the time I reached the top of Waterton, so I don't have a picture of the magnetism that drew me back to one of my favorite mountain bike playgrounds. But you get the idea...
Kiss the Sky
Of course, Waterton by itself does not an effective Ride the Rockies training ride make. However, I could link it up with some singletrack at Chatfield, then take the nearby hilly dirt roads through ranch land to build mileage. It's a loop The Lizard and I discovered while Waterton was closed, and we haven't done it since the canyon opened to the public again.
Even though I wouldn't be riding at true altitude, I would climb, I would build saddle discomfort necessary to help develop the callous necessary well in advance of any week-long cycling tour, and unbeknownst to me prior to the ride, my lungs would get a preview of what this summer might bring if our current drought continues. A little smoke from wildfires, and allergic bronchitis strikes again...
I also learned once again the lesson about staying fueled. I didn't eat until mile 26, and by that time, I was close to bonking. If I'd been on any organized ride, I'd have had rest stops every 13 to 22 miles. Rest stops are good reminders to eat. And move around, stretch and loosen tight muscles.
What does a cyclist devour after a 32-mile dusty, smoky ride during which insufficient calories were consumed? The whole package of twirly macaroni with broccoli, with a handful of fresh broccoli thrown in for good measure. Yes, the whole package. All by myself. Key Eric Carmen...
Even though I didn't eat properly during the ride, I did stay hydrated, and I'm pretty proud of that. Humidity was higher than normal, and the chilly day was gorgeously wind-free. Those conditions typically fool me into thinking I am not thirsty.
I wore bike shorts with fleece tights, two long-sleeved jerseys, two pairs of wool socks, full-finger waterproof gloves and ear warmers. I carried my raincoat but never used it. I stayed fairly comfortable throughout the ride, although coming down Waterton was a wee bit chilly on my ears, even with the knitted ear muffs. My hair was nice and fuzzy by the end of the ride.
I really should have taken more photos, but I was enjoying the ride, the workout and the scenery.
About halfway down Waterton, a family passed me riding up the canyon. They had four children, each on little bikes, ages about 6 to 10 or 11. The two youngest ones were begging dad, "Are we done yet?" "Is this the end?"
The oldest child promptly piped up, "No, we have three more miles to go, and then six miles back down."
The dad shook his head and chuckled. Methinks the older boy has some experience and is teaching the younger siblings. Brought back many memories of my own kids, and it probably was the cutest thing I beheld the entire ride.
I'd previously seen a bald eagle near Chatfield twice, and I hoped by riding the dirt trails, I might be able to find the nest. Mama would be sitting on the eggs now, or taking turns with daddy while hunting and feeding. Along the singletrack, I think I was the only cyclist, but there were tons of fishermen and even more birdwatchers. The secret is out! No sign of the eagle or the nest, but that won't stop me from looking again next time I get the chance.
Along the ranch roads, many of the bovine had calved, and the calves demonstrated maximum curiosity toward a two-wheeled passerby.
A couple of miles later, I passed a field of last year's mullein, now dry and skeleton, and the perfect perch for mountain bluebirds, who hopped from stem top to stem top in an attempt to escape the two-wheeled photographer who refused to give up. This picture is not from my ride, but from a year or two ago when the sun actually came out, which it never did during my ride. The little Nikon has too much of a shutter delay to capture shy birds.
About half a mile later, I spooked a kestrel in the deep, dried golden grass alongside the road. It flew up the road ahead of me, trying to stay ahead of me or get away from me, but couldn't manage to shake me. Initially it looked as if it might take a break atop a fence post, but then decided the power lines would be a safer distance away from me. When it landed, I finally could see it more clearly, and I understood why it had to take a break.
It had a mouse in its beak!!! Let me be more precise. It had a half-eaten mouse in its beak!
Oh, yes, how I wanted to get a picture. More than you will ever know! But I have that friggin' delay on the little Nikon, and I didn't want to scare the falcon away again and perhaps cause it to drop its lunch.
So check out this most excellent photo by Eugene Beckes, and you'll see what I saw, except just a little further into the meal.
It's rides like this that keep me riding. I love to ride. I love to stay healthy. I love to conquer formidable mountain passes. But when it comes right down to it, riding a bike gives me more opportunities to see breathtaking moments like this, something you just don't see from a car. Something you just can't appreciate fully on a television screen.
Seeing something like this in real life gives me the courage and motivation to keep looking for more!
11 February 2017
10 March 2017
Spring is coming!!!