Subject: Short loop from Boulder
4 mile Canyon - Gold Run - Sunshine Canyon - Boluder : 24 miles with about 3,500 feet of climbing
I had errands to run today and a special place to be around 2 PM, so I didn't get to ride till almost 4 PM. Then I headed up 4 Mile Canyon toward Salina CO. It is about five miles of paved road to Salinas, uphill most of the way, but a moderate up hill, so there is only about 1,000 feet of climbing. There is one long downhill where you give back almost half of that gain. I took it easy on this part. It was hot (90F) and dry with a gentle headwind.
When I reached Salina I headed up the steep hill on Gold Run Rd. This road, which is paved for the first half a mile and then hard packed dirt, starts at a ten percent grade and then gets steeper. Its maximum grade is certainly less than 15%, but it has long stretches that are at least 12%. I was not loaded, but I still used my 16 inch granny for about half of the next five miles. The road climbs over 2000 feet in that distance. With the right gearing (low...) it is great climb. Spectacular beauty, great quiet, with hardly any traffic. Nice. It was also nice that I could sustain 2000 ft per hour climbing rates. Maybe I'll make it up Mt Evans.
In Gold Hill, Gold Run Rd ends and the road down to Lefthand Canyon continues on the other side of Main St. It was interesting to see that thatroad, Lick Skillet Rd, has a steep road sign, while Gold Hill Rd doesn't. 12 % sustained isn't steep enough for a steep road sign? I stopped at the Gold Hill Inn. It was 5:30 PM and they didn't start serving supper till 6, so I sat on the front porch to wait. Several folks came by, and I smiled and said hello. I didn't get much response from any of them, so I decided Gold Hill wasn't the place I wanted to eat supper. I left the porch and rode up the big hill east out of town. I wasn't sure where I was going, but it looked like the views would be spectacular from up there. They were. Then I came to the Gold Hill Memorial and I remembered (it has been 25 years since I was on these roads) where I was. I was on Sunshine Rd which is a spectacular, part dirt, part paved, very curvy, long down hill (almost 3,000 feet in 8.5 miles) into Boulder. In getting to the top of Sunshine Rd I used my lowest gearing. In getting down again I did a lot of careful (sand on packed dirt isn't good for traction even when it is smooth dirt and lots of this road is corrugated badly) braking. About half way down real pavement begins and I was able to enjoy 40 mph plus descents. Those descents often were punctuated by slow corners. One true hairpin was all too familiar: I crashed my motorcycle there over 25 years ago.
In Boulder I stopped for supper and then rode up Boulder Canyon on the new (too me) bike path. This path ends at the start of 4 Mile Canyon, which was perfect since I'm staying at the Boulder Mountain Lodge which is located right at the start of 4 Mile. I'm actually in the same unit I lived in 30 years ago next August. At that time this motel was called the Wagon Wheel and was run as apartments during the school year. My then new wife and I lived here from August '68 till May '69. I'm here for nostalgic reasons, but you might want to stay here because it is the best campground for bikes (maybe the only one) in Boulder. During the summer on weekend days especially, you'll have to be here at 10 AM to have a chance of getting a camping site. Today, a Monday, there were still sites available at 3 PM. No reservations, just first come first served on campsites. They are nice sites right next to 4 Mile Creek and the place has a small pool and a hot tub and lots of good riding just up the canyon.