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  1. #1
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    New to cycling and Fort Collins

    I recently started cycling after moving here from Seattle, WA this summer. I currently commute down Taft Hill Rd. to Loveland for work. I'm looking for something fun and different to do on my days off and I was thinking of riding with a group.

    I've never done any group rides, so I don't really know what to look for. I'm a bit worried about finding a group that will travel at a speed that's comfortable for me. For reference I average about 16 mph on Taft Hill Rd. including the time I'm stopped at lights. I also feel that I'm pretty bad at climbing...I think once my fitness has improved some more I will be a bit better. I like it fairly well, but I'm pretty slow.

    Anyway, and suggestions on a group to ride with? I will normally be off Thursday, Friday, and/or Saturday. I've done a bit of searching and found the PEDAL group in Loveland, and Your Group Ride in Fort Collins, but I wanted to check here to get a bit more advice. Thanks!

    -Andy

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    I don't have any suggestions but you live in an area with wonderful riding.

  3. #3
    impressive member badhat's Avatar
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    your best bet is to subscribe to some ride notices on velocal.org

    theres a TON of rides here, from the Fort Collins Cycling Club, to Velo-One, to shop rides out of several local shops...

    yourgroupride.com also has a great deal of info about the bike scene in FC. it is a bit race-centric but still has good group ride and route info.

    and of course i am a pretty good resource too.

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    Thanks for the tips. Are there any particular route that you would be a good way for someone of my experience to explore the area?

  5. #5
    Gilpin County Wheelman SKYLAB's Avatar
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    The ride up and over Horsetooth to Masonville and back provides a little bit of climbing and you get the flat stuff in Ft Collins on Taft Hill to warm up and cool down on.
    I don't live in the area but I've been cycling with a friend there several times this past summer.
    I'm sure you'll get lots of tips here.
    And you know that notion just crossed my mind.

  6. #6
    impressive member badhat's Avatar
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    oh definitely

    i'm not sure about your fitness level, or how comfortable you are with distance and climbing, so i'll just toss out a list of the local routes and rate them appropirately, but the nice thing about most of them is that miost of them are steady climbs, so if you try, and you get worn out, you can just turn around and have an easy ride home.

    on the really easy side is the trail triangle. get a city bike map, and find the poudre trail, the spring creek trail and overland trail road. they form a triangle that runs from the north west to the east side and back to the southwest side of town. Poudre and Spring Creek are multiuse trails and they have lots of families and pets and a few blind corners so this isnt a trail to go fast, but it is a really nice way to see a lot of fort collins. the loop is about 30 miles and doesnt have any significant climbing, though the city does gain altitude from east to west, so if youre concerned you might start on the east side, so that your return leg is the easy one.

    for a little more of a challenge, check out the horsetooth dam road. start at JJs, at harmony and taft hill road, and take harmony (38e) up to the south dam, and then turn right (north) over the south dam. you will face three short but hard climbs and three dams before you divebomb down into the town of belvue, where you have the option of going left and riding rist canyon, going right and tackling bingham hill road, or turing around and doing the dams from the north. which is similarly challenging to starting from the south.

    another approach to the dams is from stadium hill, which is accessible from overland trail road just north of drake. (this shortcuts the south dam. but a lot of folks think its the hardest section in this area- personally i think first climb going south from belvue is harder)

    bingham hill is a nice little climb that starts on the north side of town off of bignham hill road, just south of its junction with the poudre trail. its about a half mile long, nothing too crazy, but a nice little effort to see where your fitness is.

    Rist canyon is a route that starts in belvue and carves up a fairly low traffic rural road to about 8000 feet in about 12 miles. its a local favorite, and the site of our annual hillclimb. much of it is a long and relatively steady grade, but towards the top theres two very hard sections, the second of which is over 12% for at least a half mile with some tight switchbacks. but its a great road, with some beatuiful views.

    Masonville/Buckhorn/Stove Prarie is a somewhat tougher and longer route from FC that conects to either the poudre river OR to the summit of Rist Canyon, and is often ridden as a loop, either up rist down buckhorn or the other way around. arguing about which way is harder is a local roadie passtime. This route starts at JJs, like the dam route, but instead of turning right at the top of the first climb, go straight towards hoursetooth mountain park. you'll face a couple of steep short climbs on the way to horsetooth mountain parks parking lot, which is a fine turnaround and also has water and bathrooms except in the winter.

    from the mountain park parking theres a fast downhill for about three miles to masonville, which has a general store thats pretty well stocked but last i checked didnt take credit cards. kep on going straight through masonville and youre riding up buckhorn canyon. its longer than rist, with a lot more up and down, and several REALLY hard stretches, including a final mile and half to connect to the top of rist canyon thats sheer pain, 12-15 percent for 1.5 miles. definitely the hardest stretch in this area.

    I think that riding this loop clockwise (masonville, buckhorn, rist) is MUCH harder than the other way. the intervals are pretty intense, lots of up and down. some people think rist is harder cuz its a relentless long climb.

    thats a lot to get you started, but beyond that theres some routes around carter lake in loveland, some great country roads around longmont and hygene. anred feather lakes north of town, lots of rolling open straight roads east and north of town, hwy 34 to estes, then devils gultch, bear lake, trail ridge... lots of options once youre comfortable riding something like buckhorn.

    i dont think theres much around here any mroe challenging than the buckhorn rist loop, though theres lots of scenic options, and lots of ways to add miles.

  7. #7
    impressive member badhat's Avatar
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    theres a great book called road biking colorado by michael seeberg, its readily available in colorado bookstores that has a couple hundred great colorado road routes, pics, descriptions, and elevation profiles. it includes profiles on just about everything i just mentioned, and has maps to give you more specifics. highly recommended.

  8. #8
    Senior Member UGASkiDawg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by badhat View Post
    oh definitely

    i'm not sure about your fitness level, or how comfortable you are with distance and climbing, so i'll just toss out a list of the local routes and rate them appropirately, but the nice thing about most of them is that miost of them are steady climbs, so if you try, and you get worn out, you can just turn around and have an easy ride home.

    on the really easy side is the trail triangle. get a city bike map, and find the poudre trail, the spring creek trail and overland trail road. they form a triangle that runs from the north west to the east side and back to the southwest side of town. Poudre and Spring Creek are multiuse trails and they have lots of families and pets and a few blind corners so this isnt a trail to go fast, but it is a really nice way to see a lot of fort collins. the loop is about 30 miles and doesnt have any significant climbing, though the city does gain altitude from east to west, so if youre concerned you might start on the east side, so that your return leg is the easy one.

    for a little more of a challenge, check out the horsetooth dam road. start at JJs, at harmony and taft hill road, and take harmony (38e) up to the south dam, and then turn right (north) over the south dam. you will face three short but hard climbs and three dams before you divebomb down into the town of belvue, where you have the option of going left and riding rist canyon, going right and tackling bingham hill road, or turing around and doing the dams from the north. which is similarly challenging to starting from the south.

    another approach to the dams is from stadium hill, which is accessible from overland trail road just north of drake. (this shortcuts the south dam. but a lot of folks think its the hardest section in this area- personally i think first climb going south from belvue is harder)

    bingham hill is a nice little climb that starts on the north side of town off of bignham hill road, just south of its junction with the poudre trail. its about a half mile long, nothing too crazy, but a nice little effort to see where your fitness is.

    Rist canyon is a route that starts in belvue and carves up a fairly low traffic rural road to about 8000 feet in about 12 miles. its a local favorite, and the site of our annual hillclimb. much of it is a long and relatively steady grade, but towards the top theres two very hard sections, the second of which is over 12% for at least a half mile with some tight switchbacks. but its a great road, with some beatuiful views.

    Masonville/Buckhorn/Stove Prarie is a somewhat tougher and longer route from FC that conects to either the poudre river OR to the summit of Rist Canyon, and is often ridden as a loop, either up rist down buckhorn or the other way around. arguing about which way is harder is a local roadie passtime. This route starts at JJs, like the dam route, but instead of turning right at the top of the first climb, go straight towards hoursetooth mountain park. you'll face a couple of steep short climbs on the way to horsetooth mountain parks parking lot, which is a fine turnaround and also has water and bathrooms except in the winter.

    from the mountain park parking theres a fast downhill for about three miles to masonville, which has a general store thats pretty well stocked but last i checked didnt take credit cards. kep on going straight through masonville and youre riding up buckhorn canyon.
    its longer than rist, with a lot more up and down, and several REALLY hard stretches, including a final mile and half to connect to the top of rist canyon thats sheer pain, 12-15 percent for 1.5 miles. definitely the hardest stretch in this area.

    I think that riding this loop clockwise (masonville, buckhorn, rist) is MUCH harder than the other way. the intervals are pretty intense, lots of up and down. some people think rist is harder cuz its a relentless long climb.

    thats a lot to get you started, but beyond that theres some routes around carter lake in loveland, some great country roads around longmont and hygene. anred feather lakes north of town, lots of rolling open straight roads east and north of town, hwy 34 to estes, then devils gultch, bear lake, trail ridge... lots of options once youre comfortable riding something like buckhorn.

    i dont think theres much around here any mroe challenging than the buckhorn rist loop, though theres lots of scenic options, and lots of ways to add miles.

    I can verify that climb from Stove Prairie to the top of Rist is a gold plated b*tch
    Quote Originally Posted by kimconyc View Post
    He's not mother Teresa. He's a friggin cyclist for crying out loud. Why is this so hard to understand for so many people?

    Think of it like the WWE but on bikes; it's just a big show with real-live suffering and soul crushing.

  9. #9
    So it is LAJ's Avatar
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    I actually think the counter-clockwise loop for Stove Prairie is a little tougher. Just seems to be a steep climb from Poudre Canyon with no real break. At least climbing from Masonville, there are some sections that go down for a little relief.

  10. #10
    impressive member badhat's Avatar
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    i've never done the buckhorn/stove prairie loop via poudre canyon. too much traffic.

    if i go counterclockwise i do rist.

  11. #11
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    Thanks so much for the detailed post! That will give me something to mull over and decide what I'm going to ride tomorrow afternoon.

  12. #12
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    Well I rode along the horsetooth dam road as suggested by badhat, and returned to town via bingham hill road. This was a definite challenge for me, but it was very enjoyable. I really struggled up the hills, and had to stop and rest several times, but I made it.

    After I get some more miles under my belt commuting, and feel like I'm in a bit better shape I want to try it again and see if I can make it through without stopping quite as much.

    Thanks again for the suggestions!

  13. #13
    Gilpin County Wheelman SKYLAB's Avatar
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    That climb out of Stove Prarie to the top of Rist is stupid hard. Relentlessly steep.
    I love it!
    And you know that notion just crossed my mind.

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