Riding on dirt

Grit flies off back tires

Fishtailing in sand

Ruts catching the wheels

Granny Gear up a sharp incline

More sand

Heart rate going up

Man, these tires are huge

I rode a mountain bike on the terrain it was built for.

Colorado Springs has miles of hike&bike trails.  Since our first visit last May, I wanted to ride them.  Taking our bikes from the Ozarks to the Rockies is possible, but packing four extra wheels on top of everything else is not probable.  I wanted a chance to ride with Sam during our most recent trip and had told him so.  He had access to a friend’s trail bike, but the schedule did not work out.  We had two days to pick from, the afternoon of Sunday the 4th, or anytime Wednesday the 7th.  Jan decided not to ride with us, but to spend more time with the grandchildren.  Sam and I picked Sunday afternoon.

We went to his LBS, Criterium Bikes on Commerce Drive [they did not pay me to say that] and rented a couple of trail bikes.  We adjusted the saddles, helmets, loaded our bottles and started off.

Getting ready

We went north on the Pike’s Peak Greenways Trail.  The sun was out and the bike felt good.  Sam kept up a steady clip and we soon hit the dirt.

Sunday brought out a large number of citizens on the trail.  Most were walking, some with their dogs (all on leads and well behaved, thank you).  A number of cyclists were out, also.  Some of them warned us of their intent to pass, some did not.

The pavement had ended after we had gone a little over a mile and the trail paralleled a main north/south railroad track.  A train came out of the north as we went by.  Now, I love trains, but being a cyclist, I kept going and did not stop to watch it at close range.

When the trail crossed into the Air Force Academy the name changed (I think) to New Santa Fe Trail.  Regulations forbid leaving the trail while on Academy property.  This could be a hard reg to follow since the land around the trail is all undeveloped.  Scrubb, sand and trees offering a perfect place to sleep/camp.  But you can easily hear I-25 and its constant hum (roar!) of traffic, so it would not be like camping way out in the wild.

This was one of my goals for the year, to pass this sign

The terrain was up and down.  Sam said that I did real well for a Flatlander.  My heart rate was certainly going up and I was glad that I had been commuting all winter.  I also pointed out to Sam that even though the Springs was only 6,000 feet in elevation, he had been living there for over a year and was well acclimated to the area.  [I was impressed with how you handled the altitude. For only being in Colorado for 24 hours, you either kept your suffering to yourself and handled it like a champ or you didn’t have problems at all. Which would make me a chump. 🙂 – Sam Hoover]

A view to the SW from the USAFA

I remember from trips out west back in the 1960s how the pine tree smells filled the air.  I finally got that aroma on this ride.  Cool dry conditions and pine trees are hard to beat.

At about the seven mile mark we had our last climb and reached a plateau.  After going a ways more we decided to turn back.  We each had a bar, a drink, and took in the sights.  Here is a short video that Sam made.  The route back was mostly downhill.  Our time out had been 54′ with the return trip taking 38′ making our average speed a little over 10½ mph.

Riding the trail is quite different from being on the road.  Obviously, speed is different as is the terrain itself.  I have to really pay attention to the path instead of the scenery.  Also, I learned that drafting does not work out too well.  Sam’s back tire was always kicking up dirt and grit onto me and at our speed, drafting is pointless anyway.  I had to get used to the front suspension, but that only added to the overall enjoyment of the experience.


Later in the week I gave what assistance I could as Sam worked on the back brake on his road bike.

For us to remove a brake is a Big Deal

 He had talked to his LBS and they gave him some guidance on tightening up the cable.  His work was successful and he pronounced the brakes much improved.  He took his steed out on the parking lot for a trial run.

He then graciously allowed his dad to ride his bike.

I bent my elbows so that I would Look Good. One may not be a good rider, but one should try to Look Good....

Jan and I look forward to a return trip to the Springs.  Perhaps Jan can ride at that time.  Thanks to Sam, Katie, Evie, and Max for the wonderful time.  And thanks to Sam for his editorial comment and video.  Much appreciated.

Stay happy,


About rlhoover

A perspective on life and cycling in the Ozarks. I started serious cycling in 2008, after seeing my wife be on the bike for a few years. We have biked many places and hope to continue. I am no where near being a real good cyclist, but I have fun trying to improve. Who am I kidding? Me? Improve??
This entry was posted in bicycle commute, Colorado Springs, Commuting, Cycling, Ozarks, road cycling, springfield missouri and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Riding on dirt

  1. tootlepedal says:

    Trail riding, bike repairing, looking at mountains and going to the air force academy….it’s a busy life. The mountains look good.

  2. One SHOULD try to look good, irrespective of one’s ability. Perception IS reality. And you looked good!

    • rlhoover says:

      Thanks, Miles. Jan and I always tell each other to “Lood good!” whenever we meet other cyclists on the road. It’s worth a good laugh and come to think of it, anyone who gets out there instead of being on the couch, Looks Good!

  3. Pingback: A Change Of View | Two Feet Off the Asphalt

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