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  1. #1
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    just starting

    I will be doing first trip/tour at end of this summer and am completely new to bike touring (avid road cyclist). Am in the process of getting bike, probably Windsor Tourist and would like to take about a two week trip out of Denver (have daughter who lives there, I live in south Florida) I"m considering at trying to go to Grand Tetons and back maybe TranAmerica Trail but don't know good route back and is it a "No No" to come back the same way you went. The other option is to stay in Co and find a good route.
    Also do you think you can get by with just rear panniers? I plan on camping and cheap motels if have to. Not sure if I will be doing a lot of cooking as I tend to eat anything and everything hot of cold. Any advice especially of good route for a newbie, would be deeply appreciated

    Steve

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    Senior Member Cyclebum's Avatar
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    Two large panniers and a rack pack will do it, especially if no kitchen, or even if there is. I know as I did a week tour one time and forgot to bring the front rack. Didn't realize it until I got to the start point, 400 miles away.

    A circle tour is nearly always better than an out and back. Psychologically and for scenery. If you could manage the time, try and include a ride down the Mickelson trail from Deadwood to Crazy Horse Monument and even Mt. Rushmore. Check the bicycle options on Google maps.

    Either way, you're gonna have to push it to do this in 2 weeks and have much time for sight seeing and/or headwinds.
    The bicycle is one of the great inventions of mankind. Delights children, challenges young men to feats of daring, and turns old men into boys again.--Me

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    Senior Member Newspaperguy's Avatar
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    One or two weeks with just rear panniers is fine. I've done a lot of routes with such a setup and it's been fine, as long as you've got communities and country stores along the way, every 40 to 60 miles and as long as the temperature doesn't get too cold.

    You'll need the towns and country stores to get your day-to-day supplies, especially food. If you try to carry a lot of food, the weight will add up in a hurry. If your route is very remote, then you'll need to pack more food.

    If your route is in an area where temperatures can get cold, you'll need to carry warm clothing, which adds a little more weight but a lot more bulk.

    As far as doing an out-and-back route or a circle tour, either works well. I have no preference either way. A circle route gives changes of scenery, but an out-and-back allows you to stop again at places you enjoyed on the way out.
    Life is good.

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    Hey I replied to your post on that other forum. What kind of terrain do you want to be riding in? If you go to the Tetons, that will probably take 9-10 days, 4 of them in the mountains, 1 on the front range, and the rest in the high plains of northern CO and WY - windy prairie.

    If you want to be in the moutains, there are endless interesting mountain loops right in CO, your daughter could probably drive you a couple hours away from the city so you can get out of the heavy traffic zone, and then it will just be all mountains all the time.

    BTW - out-and-back is only a no-no if you think it is.
    Links to resources:
    this book is very useful
    http://www.rei.com/product/688722/cy...ountain-passes
    this map is great:
    http://www.amazon.com/Topographic-Re.../dp/1881262103
    ...

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    Thanks for the reply; I'm kind of leaning towards staying in CO, so if anything major goes wrong (like falling off a cliff) I'm not far from a ride back to Denver. Someone was nice enough to suggest some routes in Co. (see below) Let me know what you think of those. Thanks again




    Steve,

    Here is a nice one, google says 463 miles. Since we did this there has been a lot of beetle kill in Colorado which may have affected parts of this route.
    http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&sour...ToCVgId_Rei-Sl 9PEH3fDlAhzFy9ix43EIrwQ%3BFYfrVgId1Bqq-Smdlwg7JJFqhzEh7ejfiTCkRQ&mra=ltm&dirflg=b&sll=38.542805,-106.829915&sspn=2.762389,6.696167&ie=UTF8&ll=38.466493,-106.034546&spn=2.765358,6.696167&z=8&lci=bike

    We also really liked the San Juan 8 trip. A bit of a drive from Denver.
    http://tsteven4.qwestoffice.net/gall...126665921&si=1
    The San Juan 8 is a bit hard core with the inclusion of a leg of the Alpine Loop over Cinnamon Pass on a 4WD road. You might think it is a bit like backpacking! We all walked a bit. It is extremely beautiful country though. A layover in American Basin near Cinnamon Pass to hike Handies Peak (14,048') and check out the wild flowers would be recommended. Redcloud Peak (14034 ft), Sunshine Peak (14001 ft) could also be done from a bit east of American Basin. Those two are usually done together in one day.

    If you want to make the first choice longer (613 miles) you could change it to
    http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&sour...8&z=8&lci=bike

    or even longer (681 miles)
    http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&sour...7&z=8&lci=bike
    If you do this version it is worth adding a layover day in mesa verde national park to ride out and back to take some cliff dwelling tours. You can see photos on the San Juan 8 tour.

    You need to be a bit careful with the google maps links, they tend to change the route with time and it might not be what I intended and I didn't check every mile. But I have ridden every mile (although not in the order presented) so as you narrow it down I can make sure they are correct.

    Southwestern CO has not had much beetle kill, so it is as beautiful as ever (which is to say very beautiful).

    All these are going to have a lot of climbing. I don't know how you would train for climbing and elevation in Florida. I would recommend some acclimatization to high altitude before you start in earnest. The only one of these with any dirt is the San Juan 8, and it has a fairly long section of moderate 4WD road. You should expect it to be cold at night up high, perhaps 30-40 degrees F.

    I could route you out of Denver if you really want or need to start there, but I think the first two days out of Denver (and back) may not be quite as nice. The nicest route I know out of Denver would head northwest over Trail Ridge Road (12183'), this would be nice riding but is a bit out of the way for the routes above. It is also possible to ride up the I70 corridor. We did go up the I70 corridor when we did the Western Express which we started in Boulder instead of Pueblo. The I70 corridor has lots of beetle kill these days. An amazing side trip in the I70 corridor is Mt. Evans, it is paved all the way to the parking lot above 14,000'. The parking lot is about 100 feet below the summit. I think this ride (Bergen Park - Mt. Evans - Bergen Park) is the most beautiful day ride I know of in the USA. Thunderstorms (specifically the lightning) are a definite problem on this ride.

    You may want to write these people for a free map. The scale leaves a bit to be desired but it gives a nice overview and details of the I70 corridor.
    http://www.coloradodot.info/programs...bicycling-maps

    Feel free to write back with your thoughts and I can help adjust the recommendations to your desires.

    Steve

    On 5/20/2011 9:10 AM, Steve Mrachek wrote:
    > Web site information request bysmrachek@bellsouth.net (Steve Mrachek) on Friday, May 20, 2011 at 10:10:30.
    > ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    >
    > realname: Steve Mrachek
    >
    > email:smrachek@bellsouth.net
    >
    > message: Steve,
    > I accidentally came upon your site and was impressed with your travels. I am planning my first "solo" unsupported bike tour and had planed to go from Portland to Denver. But now because of time restraints I am considering just doing 2 weeks starting in Denver (I have a daughter who lives there, I'm from south Florida) and ending in Denver. I am a avid cyclist but have done no long distance touring before. I'm just at the beginning of this experience and do not even have a touring bike yet, but have been researching. Used to do a lot of camping and backpacking in my pre marriage and children days. Was wondering if you could recommend a nice route leaving Denver and returning in about two weeks. I'm a little familiar with the area, did the MS 150 last year with my daughter (Denver to Ft Collins) and also dragged my wife on a 5 day hiking trip from Estes Park to Allenspark. Any advice on anything would be deeply appreciated. Thanks
    >

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    I couldn't make that first one work.. The others are all great. The third (681 mile) I think is less nice than the 2nd which is similar, but I like the section between Durango & Ouray better than the part a bit to the west, which is more out in the hot dry badlands, whereas Hwy 550 is right in the heart of the most beautiful mountains in CO.
    ...

  7. #7
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    Thanks for the reply, I'm leaning towards the shorter 631 miles. How long do you think I should allocate?

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    Here,

    http://goo.gl/maps/7881

    I broke it up with markers at the likely overnights, 12 riding days. You will almost certainly need 2 rest days. This is not an easy route. You could cut a little off by starting/ending in Buena Vista instead of Leadville - Leadville is very cool, there is an awesome hostel there (www.leadvillehostel.com) but it's super high - if you spend the night there the day before you start riding, you're going to feel like crap because of the altitude.

    This route could be done with a mix of camping and hotels - there are a couple of places where you can NOT get a hotel - most noteably marker "I" at the Blue Mesa Reservoir.

    If you run out of time, I'm pretty sure there's a (free?) shuttle bus up the Roaring Fork Valley, from Carbondale to Aspen, so you could cut a few miles if you're running out of time.

    You could also cut back a bunch by doing this http://goo.gl/maps/OfYZ if you are running out of time. It reduces miles but adds Cottonwood pass, one of the highest in the state, and partially dirt (on the uphill side). I have ridden this on a tour bike, it's fantastic.

    And if you are really strapped for time, just use I-50
    http://goo.gl/maps/Cq5V

    The more I look at that loop, the more I like it.
    ...

  9. #9
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    Thank you so much. I realize it will be difficult but welcome the challenge and the great scenery.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Smrachek View Post
    Also do you think you can get by with just rear panniers? I plan on camping and cheap motels if have to. Not sure if I will be doing a lot of cooking as I tend to eat anything and everything hot of cold. Any advice especially of good route for a newbie, would be deeply appreciated

    Steve
    I'd be inclined to use front panniers on low riders and the rest of the gear piled in a large seat bag or stacked on top of the rack. Or the smallest rear panniers and a small front rack with compression sacks secured to the top. Basically taking advantage of the front wheels inherent strength to take some weight and improve handling. Most folks riding with one set of panniers put them on the rear but that just seems like a way to wear rear wheel/tire faster and make handling twitchy riding up steep hills.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Newspaperguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeeG View Post
    Most folks riding with one set of panniers put them on the rear but that just seems like a way to wear rear wheel/tire faster and make handling twitchy riding up steep hills.
    I've normally had almost all the weight over the back wheel. It's not a problem, even going up a hill. I prefer to start with rear panniers and add front panniers when I need more than I can load on the rear of the bike.
    Life is good.

  12. #12
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    Thanks for the info, what do you think max for weight in rear panniers?

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