This is a holiday weekend here in the U.S., a sort of summer send off for some folks. Since summer is my favorite season, I refuse to say goodbye to it until the bitter end – like, when the snow flies. Then I consider admitting that summer may have passed. 🙂
This is a three day weekend from work for me and I had decided it was time to put a longer ride together. It has been too long and I had let some folks convince me that I’m not really ready to ride with the big kids. Well, phooey to that I say! No, I am by no means an expert mountain road rider nor am I ready for Iron Butt miles (1,000 miles in 24 hours) but that doesn’t mean I’m not capable!
My first and most recent longer ride had been in early July and it ended up being around 90 miles. This time I wanted to be sure and cover some new areas and go a little further. I mapped out a route that would cover just over 130 miles, all on pavement. No interstates, but four highways and some city streets were included.
As usual, my anxiety was a little high at the start of this ride – new territory, longer distance and it has been too long since I’ve ridden other than around town or to work. I knew this was important for me to conquer my fear and prove (to myself) that I am capable and can ride within my abilities and keep up with the flow of traffic. I set out early, hoping to avoid much of the tourist traffic as I was heading near Rocky Mountain National Park and Estes Park, Colorado.
The trip up to Estes was pretty peaceful and uneventful. I encountered a decent amount of traffic in Boulder, but I had expected that. The next town I travelled through was Lyons and while there was some congestion, it was MUCH worse as I was heading back through on my way home a couple hours later. Since I wanted to avoid the crowds in RMNP, my plan was to turn onto highway 7 in Estes Park and take the scenic route back towards Lyons and then home. I pulled over for a water break near the Longs Peak overlook and take in how peaceful it was.
I was pretty satisfied with my twisty mountain road navigation for the day. I’m not ready for sheer drops offs and peg dragging curves, but I am making progress. My skills are improving and my confidence and comfort level are also.
As I was heading into Lyons again, my fuel light started flashing at me. I was hoping that I was close enough to the gas station to make it, but not entirely sure. Thankfully I made it and didn’t have to resort to walking into town for gas. Lyons was full of tourists and the traffic heading up to RMNP was bumper to bumper, making me glad for my early departure. I continued on home via Hwy 66 into Longmont just to experience some new roads. Between Longmont and Boulder I even found a small bit of road construction where the pavement ended and dirt took over for a bit. That was a nice surprise!
Once home I was reflecting on my trip and noticed that my shoulders were rather sore. I think it’s time to research some bar backs and see if that keep my shoulders from hurting. I may also try putting the regular seat back on the bike instead of the lowered one now that I’m more comfortable. Longer days give me feedback about what adjustments need to be made so the bike is more comfortable as I keep pushing for more and more miles.
It may be the unofficial end of summer here, but there is still quite a bit of good riding ahead of me. I’m sure this won’t be my last “longer” day this year. In fact, I’m already planning the next one . . .