Sunday, June 23, 2013

Yampa River Core Trail, Steamboat Springs

Yesterday's bike adventure brought me the experience of being stopped in my tracks by a big green frog.  Sitting, he was bigger than my hand.  When he decided he didn't want to be run over, he jumped away, and from nose to tip of toes, he was easily a foot long.  I've been challenged by geese, squirrels, prairie dogs, chipmunks, and all types of birds, but never a frog.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled blog post.

Thursday I put my suitcase in the trunk, strapped the bike to the rack, and headed uphill to Steamboat Springs.  I was going for a work-related meeting, but because of the long drive (almost 4 hours) I went up the day before.  My intention was to drop my bags, change my clothes, and ride my bike.

Steamboat Springs is at 7,200 feet above sea level, and I immediately noticed I was having mild trouble breathing.  Not that that was going to stop me. There was a bike shop next to the hotel, and I went over to get a map of bike trails in the area.  Despite my regular biking and pushing my limits, I know I'm not ready for mountain biking, so I asked about a trail that was relatively flat, and paved.  Steamboat is in the Yampa River Valley, and the town has built a paved bike path that goes about 8 miles round trip along that river.

The difference between it and the St. Vrain Greenway trail that I usually ride (which runs alongside the St. Vrain River in my town) was that the trail was a bit more winding, and definitely had more hills and valleys.  There were a few hills I was afraid I couldn't make it up, but I did it, even if it was in 2nd gear.  The worst were the underpasses that went under roads; these were usually narrow, had a sharp turn, and when you got out of the sharp turn, you had a steep uphill to get back up.  The sharp turns made me slow down, which didn't give me any head start on speed for getting up those sharp inclines.

My knees creaked, I groaned, but I made it up every single one.  I doubled back to try to get an extra mile onto my ride.  I ended up with 9 miles, 9 hard miles.  It was completely worth it.  And what a view!  The river was relatively full, and rushing over the rocks.  The trail also went past the Botanic Garden, which had a musical event going on.  So I got a serenade as I went by.

I hope I get to try some other trails around Colorado as time goes on.  I will not do street/road riding at this point. There are too many accidents between cars and bicycles to be comfortable doing that, unfortunately.  But I think it's time for me to look closer at some nearby trails, and expand my horizons a bit.  I am not bored with the greenway, but my experience means that ride is getting easier for me, and I need to keep myself and my body challenged.

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