I was itching to get out on the Coker recently, so I got out my handy state atlas and started searching for close rides. The High Country is still filled with copius amounts of snow, so I had to stay away from there. I was feeling tired so I didnt want to go over 80 or so kilometers, with of course climbing. I decided on a route that is only 28 kilometers from my doorstep, i.e. close. When I am in good shape I would try this ride from home, but this time I drove to the town of Basalt and started there. I was on the road semi early, around 8:00 am.
I had this scenic strecth of road to myself for the first hour or so. I had to share it with the wildlife though. Deer, and other four legged creatures would poke their heads out to see what that white haired guy was riding. I would smile back and keep spinning the Coker. The Frying Pan River is rated as “Gold Medal” fly fishing water, which means fly fishing only and catch and release. It is a river that is common to anglers world wide. The river is dam released, so it has pretty consistent flow year round. Trout are the primary fish caught and released there. The ride itself cruises along on a very mellow winding road. This road for the first 13 miles ever-so-slowly gains altitude. There are many areas along the way that are lined with steep sandstone buttresses, similar to what you see in Southeast Utah. The slopes are steep along this secluded gorgeous river valley. The birdsong this morning seemed particularly clear, and the air was crisp, around 7 Celcius (45 F).
At mile marker 13, (21km) the ride changes from easy to difficult. I was ready for some climbing so I got myself pumped up, hydrated and ate appropriately and went for it. The next hour was all excellent climbing, averaging around 400’ (122 meters) altitude gain per mile (1.6 km) of riding. I reached the dam quickly and was rewarded with the gorgeous view of Reudi Resevoir and the Continental Divide beyond. The ice on the Resevoir is just beginning to melt away, but I would say that 80 % of it is still frozen over. The road climbs immediately into the alpine environment, leaving the high desert below. It climbs way above the resevoir which makes the scenergy more breathtaking. The road itself goes almost 40 miles (64 km) before it turns to dirt. I went about 25 miles (40km) before I stopped to turn around. Little communities dot the road above the upper end of the reservoir. During the summer months, these little communities thrive with summer tourist, but this day these communities were dead still. I saw two cars in 3 hours of riding, which made for allot of deep thoughts and meditations.
I arrived at my turn around point 25 miles, (40km) in about 2 1/2 hours. A couple of balance bars later I got back on the GB4 36er and headed back to the town of Basalt. There was one big hill to climb to get back above the reservoir. This climb went well and I stopped at the top to take a picture. I don’t usually stop much to take pictures, today I took 4 or 5. Red tail hawks, falcons, golden eagles, and lot’s of other birds soared above me as I spun my way back to the town. I stopped again at the dam on my way down and snapped a few pics. I was having a great day and was so grateful for being there, that I wanted to enjoy that particular view before I dropped back down into the Frying Pan River Valley. By this time, the road had become a little more crowded with bikes and vehicles. For the first 4 or so hours, I was blessed with little or no traffic, perfect spring weather, and excellent road conditions.
As I dropped into the valley I could see why this place is so popular and diverse. There were anglers landing record Rainbow trout every 100 yards or so. There were bicyclists by the dozens pedalling away. There were picnikers enjoying the beautiful Colorado outdoors along the roadway. And there were ranchers riding horses and doing spring chores on their ranches all the way into town. This place was thriving with human activity that afternoon. My bum was getting a little sore, so I stopped a couple of times to give it a rest and check out the activities. After getting back on the Coker one time, I was nearly scared to the point of falling off. I was cruising along at about 14 mph (22 kmph) when a heard of Big Horn Sheep came out of the brush in front of me at a good rate of speed. I think there were about 10 of them, little lambs with their ewes and big Rams with horns almost 1 meter around were knocking horns with each other. That was very impressive, they (rams) would face each other, raise high on their back legs and lunge forward head first into each other, knocking there horns together. The solid sound of this collision would echo throughout the river valley, wow. They like to live in this valley, so are somewhat domesticated. I was able to stop, find my heart on the side of the road, and snap a couple of pictures.
The final push to town came just as the afternoon thunderstorm let loose. It was the first rain I had been in, in over 7 months, I had been in snow up to last week. I loved it, I felt like I was being washed clean of my winter grime build up. The smell from it was refreshing to my senses. It only lasted long enough to get my sunglasses wet, and then I was back in town.
It was another epic coker adventure for me. The scenery was world class, the wildlife was sweet, the weather was ideal, and the length of the ride was just right for early season. Lot’s of people smiled and said cool things to me. When I was out there aways before my turnaround point, I felt like I was the only one there. That doesnt happen very often on my rides. Going hours w/o seeing anyone adds an uneasy feeling but rewarding twist to the whole adventure. The GB4 36er was perfect and besides my bum getting a little sore, I felt great the whole day. Cheers to all of you uni riders and especially you long distance coker heads!!! Get to Colorado someday and let’s ride.
Here is the link to the gallery of my ride.