15 January 2013

Lizard's 2012

Happy Belated 2013

Top o' the New Year to ya!  Welcome to my annual Me, Myself and I post.  I'm engaging in a little mutiny on Snowcatcher's blog today; pray tell you won't mind.  2012 was a pretty good year, albeit a smidgen shy on total bike time.  Nonetheless, it was a good Lizard year.

February found the Snowcatcher and me in remote northern Arizona questing for the holy Wave.  Navajo and Hopi spirits (literally) parted the sky as we snuck in a beautiful day between snow storms.

Like a Fine Chocolate

Snowcatcher at Work

In the late '80s, I partook in geomorphic field research for Colorado State University in this area.  It was a delight to return and actually spend several days there with Snowcatcher.  The Grand Staircase/Escalante area is a magical place to which I always want to return.

February patience morphed into early March anticipation, resulting in us becoming Ride the Rockies collaborators.

May came along, and we found ourselves on our annual trek to Moab, Utah, for my birthday.  En route, we stopped and rode the west side of Independence Pass while it was still closed to winter traffic.  Nice, very nice!

Independence Pass

Sculptured Utah

I received a new toy for my birthday – a video camera.  Now I can create my own 15 minutes of fame with the click of a button.  I'm still in the learning process.  Sooooo… turn on the speakers, take some Dramamine and enjoy the videos in this post!

June finally inched into view, and we found ourselves in Gunnison, Colorado, for Ride the Rockies.  The route would take us west along the north rim of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison River to the small ranch and farm town of Hotchkiss.

Day two found us piercing Colorado's coal belt while panting east up the Elk Mountains via McClure Pass (8,755 ft.).  From the pass, we dropped into Marble and ultimately into Carbondale.  Yes, a quarry exists and marble from this area graces Washington DC.

Day three was a grind up the Roaring Fork River via asphalt/dirt bike path into Aspen.  From there it was up and over 12,095-foot Independence Pass, followed by the long drop into Leadville – a long day.

Looking Southeast From Independence Pass

Independence Pass Video
Music is MacArthur Park by Richard Harris and Love is Blue by Paul Mauriat

Day four was a steepish jaunt through the Tenmile Range culminating on 11,318-foot Fremont Pass.  A rough, screaming descent down Tenmile Creek into Silverthorne followed.

Tenmile Range

Tenmile Bike Path Near Copper Mountain Ski Area

From Silverthorne, we pedaled north to the northern terminus of the Gore Range and up Ute Pass (9,165 ft.).

Northern Gore Range From Ute Pass

The descent from Ute Pass was 20 miles of rough gravel-grinding on skinny tires at 100 psi, followed by a short stint of asphalt into Granby.  Ugh!  This was my most difficult day of altitude, rough road and heat.  I sat on our duffle bags in a stupor for a half-hour before even attempting to set up camp.  However, the town put on a good feast later that evening.

Day five was not only huge, but a rarity – Trail Ridge Road.  This is the highest continuous paved road in the states, climbing to 12,183 feet.  Because of the time spent above treeline, beating thunderstorms would be today's game, and the powers that be set up time checks and limits at points along the route.  Riders not making a time cut were stopped and sagged to Estes Park.  After a long cruise across the tundra, the route rapidly dropped into Snowcatcher's old haunt of Estes Park.  Can you say FUN!

Never Summer Range from Trail Ridge Road

Trail Ridge Road Video
Music is The Mountains and Daredevil Descent from Chasing Legends by Haik Naltchayan

Day six was to be a scenic backdoor route into Fort Collins via Horsetooth Reservoir.  However, wildfire operations put the kibosh on that, and we were routed down onto the plains, then north into Fort Collins, finishing at the Odell Brewery.

Descent Into Glen Haven Video
Music is Dead or Alive by Bon Jovi and Rock Me by Great White

Last July, I didn't ride the 2012 Double Triple Bypass.  I will ride this year's 25th anniversary event if I make the entry lottery.

August found us enjoying the USA Pro Cycling Challenge.  This year we enjoyed the Queen's Stage – Gunnison to Aspen via Cottonwood and Independence Passes, both over 12,000 feet in elevation.  We also watched the final stage, a time trial, in downtown Denver.

The Peloton Grinds Its Way Up Independence Pass

Early September was a trip to the beautiful Pacific Northwest for a wedding in Seattle.  Taking advantage of the trip, we rented a car and spent a couple of days in the shadow of Mount Rainier.  What a beautiful mountain!  I climbed Mount Hood, Oregon, several times while attending graduate school in Corvallis, Oregon.  I remember viewing Rainier from Hood.  I was in awe.  I never made a visit to Rainier during those years, and it was nice to finally be on the mountain.

Vicinity of Mount Rainier at Sunrise

14,411-foot Mount Rainier

Late September and early October was spent in the Grand Junction and Durango areas.  Grand Junction brought us an air show and the Blue Angels.  We also managed one of the finest road rides in the state, the Colorado National Monument just outside of Grand Junction.  While in Durango, we rode in the Durango Fall Blaze.

Colorado National Monument Video
Music is Le Tour De France from Chasing Legends by Haik Naltchayan

As the year wound down, Turkey Day weekend was a holiday of pedaling the river loops of the Kokopelli Trail in Fruita.  It doesn't get any better.  Gobble, gobble, gobble!

Kokopelli Trail Video
Music is Monaco and The Missile is Launched from Chasing Legends by Haik Naltchayan
The Grind from Off Road to Athens by Haik Naltchayan
The Will of a Man from Chasing Legends

And that's a wrap.  Lizard out!


  1. Wow! Earth sure is a beautiful place, isn't it?

  2. Breath-taking-beauty, your photos are medicine to our souls.

  3. Brett's guest blog made my day. I loved the videos. I watched every minute of every one of them. I felt like I was right there. And on the Kokopelli dirt trail, I don't know if that was a good thing since I found myself holding my breath and freaking out because that trail is way too close to the drop-off at some points. There is nooooooooooooo waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyyyy I would ride that trail! I'd end up scrambled at the bottom. Donna

  4. Ay caramba - what a workout for the brakes, those descents. Are all the turns properly cambered? (Hard to tell on some). I'll have to come back and take the rest of the videos one by one - they need a lot of buffering. (Easy does it! :) Controlling my speed.) Didn't we see the Trail Ridge descent in another post too? I watched that one twice when it was up before.

    Love the photo of the peloton climbing - there's something majestic and exciting about a long string of cyclists all engaged in the same noble pursuit.

    20 miles of gravelly descent sounds absolutely dreadful - the stuff of nightmares.

    Good luck with the Bypass lottery, and thanks for the guest post and exciting videos! Happy cycling in 2013. :)

  5. Tis a blessing ....all the beauty your eyes have experienced

  6. What a year! You had an incredible year of mountains and deserts. You saw so many beautiful places and took so many gorgeous photos. Our years were remarkably parallel - we both love similar places and vistas. I feel certain that we are going to meet by accident in one of those places someday!

    You've inspired me with this great post... and I admire you. Thanks for your friendship!


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