Waking up to sunshine in Boulder isn’t unusual, no matter what time of the year it is. Today, though, was exceptional even by Colorado weather. 18C and sunny, no wind, no clouds. That would be a perfect English summers day. I started the day looking forward to skipping out of work early and getting on my bike and starting the 2011 cycling tan. I had class from 11-1 and aimed to be on my bike by 3pm. Of course, as it was such a nice sunny day, nothing went to plan. A at 4:30 I was scrambling around the house trying to work out how much lycra I would need to satisfy both the uphill and the downhill sections of Sunshine Canyon. Hence, taking advantage of the lovely sunny day turned into sneaking out in the last stretch of daylight and heading uphill in rapidly decreasing temperatures.
The last snow in Boulder was about a week ago, so only a few lingering patches were remaining by the side of the road. Looking up to the continental divide in the last daylight showed that the high mountains are pretty well covered at the moment.
Thanks to my brother, I now have headphones that work, so I attacked the first few pitches of the climb with Crystal Castles playing way too loud in my head: I constantly find it amazing how much faster I feel I can ride when I have a soundtrack. I timed my ride just right so that all the evening rush hour traffic would be passing me on the climb… I managed to avoid getting run over and the traffic started to die down, the light faded and the view got better and better
The sun setting behind the continental divide (sugarloaf mtn on the left):
My aim was to make it to Gold Hill, a sleepy and quiet old mining town perched in a dip on top of the hill about 1000m above Boulder. The last 3 miles of the road are dirt:
The switchbacks get a little steeper and the full panorama of the Denver metro area is revealed:
The clear night and lack of a moon meant that it went very dark very quickly. Luckily, I had a portable sun (in the form of a Trout Light) on my bars, and a Joystick on my head (Thanks to Trev!).
I stopped at the top to layer up and take some food. After an hour of climbing I was 10 miles and 1000m above my house, and knew that I would be home in 20 minutes! For the ride up I had on shorts, jersey and a wind stopper vest. the way down I added a skull cap, arm and leg warmers, neck gaiter, extra pair of gloves, and the obligatory newspaper down the chest. nothing is comparable to newspaper in terms of wind proofing for the price!
A few patches of ice and a lot of gravel meant that some speed checks were needed for the way down. I think I scared a car driver who really wasn’t sure what was flying down the canyon at 30mph: Maybe my lights need some kind of auto-dimming feature!
Ride time: 1hr 35 minutes
Climb time: 1 hr. 10 minutes
Descent time: 25 minutes
I love Colorado winters!