Well, my biking log showed 121 rides totaling 2459 miles in 2008, all logged on my KHS Westwood and Dahon Jetstream XP folding 20er bikes. That is up a bit from 2007's total of 2182 miles, but unfortunately, my miles on dirt dropped to 1244 from 1422, while the miles on pavement increased from 759 to 1216.
I aspire to correct that trend in 2009 and ride more dirt (heh).
That said, I started the new year off with a road riding classic, Rim Rock Drive through the Colorado National Monument here in Grand Junction, that logged 50 miles into the "wrong" column right off the bat. Been pretty cooped up for the last couple of weeks with snow and ice and have only barely been able to ride the trails, so decided to swap out my knobby tires for the Marathon Racer semi-slicks the bike came with, pump up the shocks to "almost rigid" pressures, and hit the road.
The morning started off at a chilly 18 degrees, which felt much colder with the wind chill on my face at the 15-20 mph speeds I was able to maintain with relatively little effort with these tires. It was so cold I didn't want to go as fast as I could, which is pretty strange!
Soon enough though, the road turned uphill, and I had about a 500 foot climb on Monument Road from town to the entrance to the national park. That slowed me down and made me work, and I started to warm up a bit and figured I was going to survive the day after all. The red cliffs of the monument were starting to poke through the morning haze ahead, which also helped keep me spinning:
By the time I reached the park entrance, the skies were clearing out nicely, and I paused to remove a few layers of clothing before starting the biggest climb of the ride:
The main climb of the day was about 1000 feet of vertical in 4 miles. I must say it almost felt like cheating to do a climb like that on pavement instead of dirt, but I'll take it:
Switchbacks are always fun!
Ominous skies to the east, but luckily, I was heading west:
A 300 foot long tunnel bores straight through one of the large stone ribs that characterize the landscape:
There wasn't much traffic on the road, but I sprinted up through the dark tunnel as fast as I could anyway, and emerged to find that the other side looked a lot different:
After a while I reached the rim at around 6000 feet. The road up top winds along the rim of the canyons and offers many overlooks. It had been only intermittently plowed, and was frequently covered with a thin layer of packed snow that rolled very well indeed. The packed snow offered plenty of traction, and I was comfortable cruising at around 20 mph on the flats. Great fun!
Rim Rock Drive is definitely the "scenic route" between the two mountain biking meccas of Grand Junction and Fruita. This is just one of the many incredible views better savored by bike than car, just off the side of the road:
The Bookcliffs peeked through the haze from this overlook: