I started this ride by taking the RTD N bus to Ned at about 12:15 PM. I needed some spare tubes, so I stopped in at the very cool Happy Trails bike and coffee shop in town. Talked with Rachel, Barrister extraordinaire, and bike trail information specialist. Her little Trail Board project motivated me to write this ride recap. After a burrito, decaf Americano, and an amazing little date cake, I was off with 2 spare tubes. I hit the road and made my way over to the Peak to Peak Highway and started the 7 mile journey to the SD trail head.
The P2P climbs out of town for about a mile, and then at mile marker 34, you get a cool mile downhill blast. Enjoy it, because the next 4 miles are pretty much up hill. Just past marker 39 is the turn off for the SD trailhead (sign says University of Colorado Mountain Research center.) Another half mile and you’ll see the parking lot on the left. The trail head is across the road from the parking lot. Since I was warmed up by the pre-ride, I just turned right and got going on the SD trail. The first thing I noticed was scattered areas of snow, but the trail looked dry and ready.
I headed on, and the trail started to climb, and pretty much seemed to keep climbing forever. The initial assent was moderate on the technical side, with some large rocks and downed trees to deal with. I started to see much larger areas of snow around, and then I came to a small drift that crossed the trail. I stopped and took a picture, and kept going. About 45 seconds later I came around a hairpin turn, and ran into a huge snow drift that completely blocked the trail. I got off and navigated around it. I continued on and up, and made my way past a few more snow drifts, and walked up a pretty technical rock section, also documented in the photo section.
I arrived at an overlook, and noticed I gained some pretty decent altitude in a short time. I pushed on and enjoyed a few very short descents, followed by more climbing, and some serious downed tree action. The more altitude I gained, the bigger and deeper the snow was getting in some places. It was far too beautiful not to go on. After another nice climb, I arrived at a little stream crossing the trail, and spilling down a very small waterfall. The sound of the water was fantastic, so I stopped and took a 45 second video clip. I rode across the stream and up a ways when I started to hear some heavy water running down hill. I also heard some voices in the distance. Up until then, the only other pedestrian action I came across was a dude and two very cool dogs, very early on from the trail head.
So I came around a corner and was approaching a small bridge with three guys trying to hit a certain tree with snowballs. They were having a very good time, but never hit the tree while I was watching. At that point, my legs had enough climbing, and the trail just kept going up, so I hopped off and started what eventually would be a very long hike with bike. The trail was really blocked in many places with downed trees, and many areas of knee deep snow to make it though. Eventually I made it to the “Red Rock trail 5 mile” sign, and it appeared that a decent was on its way. Well, it did start to run downhill, but between the heavy snow and downed trees, there wasn’t much on bike time for these descents. And for every 100 yards that it seemed to drop, it would climb 200 yards back up. Still, it was just so freaking gorgeous up there that I didn’t want to stop.
So on I went, riding a few exciting descents where it was possible to sneak by the snow. I slid off the trail a couple of times, and landed in a snow bank, but all was well. At this point it was after 6:00 PM, and I needed to call home, since I stated I’d be off trail by “5 or 6.” Around 6:30, I pretty much ran into Brainard Lake road, and the end of the SD trail. I climbed on out, crossed the road to the parking lot, and pulled over and proceeded to wring a cup of cold water out of each sock. After a short rest, I headed down on the road in the direction of Ward. All the snow that was packed on the bike was blasting into the air and I sped down the descent I was craving. It was a great ride down.
Eventually I came to the P2P highway, and made a left and 50 yards up on the left was The Mill Site pub. I pulled in, called home, then ordered up some food and some hot coffee, took off my boots and let my feet warm up. Listened to some great tunes on the juke, had some laughs with a few of the locals, and about 45 minutes later it was time to go. I still had about 10 miles on the P2P before I got to Highway 7 and the drop back to Lyons. The ride from the Mill Site to 7 was spectacular! It was dusk, and mountain peaks were still catching some of the setting sun, not to mention it was 90% downhill! Before I knew it, I was at highway 7 and I slipped on down to Lyons.
Now it’s been about 20 years since my last, and only other decent from P2P to Lyons, and it wasn’t in the dark. All I can say is if that decent was a ride at Disney Land; the line would be never ending. From the minute I turned on 7, I was cruising like a bobsled winding down that canyon, with the rushing water from the St. Vrain accompanying me the whole way. I did not have one car on my side of the road the whole way down. It was totally mind blowing! I rolled into Lyons and realized my boots were completely dry from ride, and it was a warm spring night down there.
So I headed out of town to the Highway 36 turnoff. I stopped and contemplated the extremely long and boring ride back to Boulder on 36, so I decided to stick out my thumb and see what happened. Less than 5 minutes later, my bike was in the back of a pickup, and great guy was taking me to Boulder. He dropped me off at The Bus Stop in North Boulder, but that being a strip club, it was not the bus stop I needed. So back in the saddle, I was off and rolling to the south side of town to catch the last bus back to Lafayette. I arrived at the correct bus stop with 7 minutes to spare. Soon I was off and on my way home, and an end to a brilliant adventure!