Saturday, October 20, 2012

Gettin' rowdy at Curt Gowdy

 If you were to jump into the Way Back Machine with Sherman and me and go back 3 years you'd find a report on the Rambler trip to Curt Gowdy.  Who really gives a rats-ass about a post about 8 stinky guys riding their bikes at a place in the middle of the least densely populated state and what does that have to do with this post you might be thinking to yourself. Well, it was the last time we went to Curt Gowdy, or a fall trip for that matter and I suppose enough time had passed for us to forget the soul-sucking-tent-destroying 60 mph winds and have another trip to southern Wyoming.

JT's plan (this is where we should have intervened as JT's plans ALWAYS involve getting up at some ungodly hour) was to roll out of SD at 3 a.m. (did you know there is a 3 a.m. where people are awake?) drive to Curt Gowdy so we can ride all day Friday, go to Ft. Collins and ride bikes around to a bunch of the breweries and then do a ride in the Snowy Mtns. west of Laramie on Sunday to return late Sunday night.  Sounds rad, lets do it!

I rolled out of NSS Headquarters around 3:10 in the luxurious mini-van ride of John M.  The plan was to meet up with the northern Ramblers at Mule Creek Jct. and if we left around the same time, our ETA would be the same, although since Jay was pulling a "camper" for us to stay in (more on this in a minute), we could leave a touch later and still meet up at the right time.  John and I got to MCJ and after a couple phone calls, we found they were about 20 minutes out.  As we see the crew roll into the rest area, I see that Jay is not pulling a camper at all, but a small house!  Seriously, this thing looks like a semi-truck rolling down the highway.  No shit, we're gonna be living in luxurious digs for the weekend!  I just feel bad for Jay's family as I am sure there is no amount of air-freshener that will clean up the smell in that 5th wheel from having 8+ guys creating a fog bank of pit-stench, sweaty cycling duds, nut-mist and ass-gas.

NW Gowdy Ride
Anyhow, we made it to Curt Gowdy and started riding.  The riding at Curt Gowdy is really cool stuff.  The work they did (and are doing) there is excellent, with trails for all abilities (which meant there was a lot of shit WAY above my riding ability).  The park is kinda divided into two halves, ride wise anyhow, the Northwest half and the Southeast half.  Both halves are rocky and technical, but couldn't be more different.  The NW is more forested with big, chunky granite rocks causing you to make big moves, rail steep ups and tire-rubbing-your-ass descents.  The SE is more high-plains-desert with broken rocks, dry, yucca covered trails.  There is a bit of transition in the middle where some of each blends into the other, but for the most part this is they way it is.  We rode the NW section in the morning and the SE section in the evening.  We rode down stuff above our ability, with some guys making some moves that were mind-blowing, and others being far more intelligent than the rest and walking down some of these steep sections.  I won't get into the minutia of the rides, you know "we rode over a rock here, then around a tree there, yada, yada, yada..." kind of stuff, but I will tell you we went on a ride in the evening that was forSURE a Rambler ride.

Nick, why is your crank arm off your
SE Gowdy Ride
Our ride for the evening took us on a trail called End of the Line which was cool and technical and made Nick pull his right crankarm off while leaving it attached to his shoe as he was trying to pedal up a tight switchback.  After a trailside fix we ended up on the Canyons trail which was marked "expert" and holy shit, it was!  With the sun setting we were carrying bikes down big, chunky rocks, down through gullies and back up the hill on the other side.  As we were nearing what we thought was the end, we looked across the "canyon" to see the trail wind back up another BIG hillside.  Riding home in the dark was going to be a distinct possibility.  We decided to ride back to camp on the gravel road and we made it back basically at dusk after Nick lost his crankarm again (and John having to go back to rescue him in the van).

Saturday's plan was to get up, have a big breakfast, saddle up the troops and roll down to Ft. Collins, in a car of course, get the bikes out and ride from brewery to brewery, taking tours and sampling the finest barley, hops and malt the fair city had to offer.  The liver is an evil organ and must be punished!

Starting the Odell Tour
John looks kinda happy...
Sampling one of many...
Beauty in a barrel!
We were on a touch of a schedule as we had lined up a SWEET tour of the Odell brewery.  I have a friend, Jeff Doyle, or just Doyle, that is one of the brewers there and agreed to take this motley crew on a private tour of the facility, and what a tour it was!  There is nothing that can describe how truly awesome the tour was other than to keep using the way over played adjective awesome, in the literal sense of the word.  We learned about grains, how high sugar beers make your teeth bad and make you fat, and learned about hops, we sampled beers that will never get released to the public, beers that were not quite ready to be released to the public and beers that were having their release party later that day and I'll tell you that there wasn't a one in the bunch that I couldn't love.  All of them were, well, awesome. I'll finish by letting the pictures do the talking and just say 2 1/2 hours later, we walked out of Odell's happy, very happy.  Our livers were a bit less happy, but it was nothing a little bike ride couldn't fix.
John mesmerized by the
beauty that is Woodcut...
John getting all hoppy!
John & Ginger Bear having fun.
What an AWESOME tour!

Jay and the Ice Cream-Stout float.
The rest of the day was just visits to the taprooms and not actual tours of the breweries.  Our next stop was the Ft. Collins Brewery for lunch.  A well needed break for food to soak up some of the alcohol.  The beer was good, but not mind-blowing like the Odell beer, but the food was great!  The problem with the rest of the day was we started at Odell's and the tour and all the beers set the bar really, REALLY high for the remainder of the day.  After being sufficiently fueled and a little less inebriated, we headed to Funkwerks for a quick beer before rallying the troops and heading to the brewery synonymous with mountain bikes, New Belgium Brewery.
New Belgium!

Nick rolling the stone.
As we rolled up to New Belgium we see that it is somewhat of a cluster-fuck there with about 500 people (and about 200 bikes) there.  We head in and have a beer or two and some of the guys play a game out back that is a cross between curling and shuffle board which was a good time, despite the fact that the place was bonkers.

This is the way I'm doing a bike tour
next time...
One more stop at Equinox brewing rounded out the day, and for me, none too soon.  It wasn't that I was drunk, although I could feel my liver writhing about in my body, but the fact I was FULL.  I couldn't get anymore beer in me cause there was no more room.  A short ride back to the car and we were off to Wyoming and our campsite.
Leaving the Fort and scaring kids
along the way.
Snow Mountains Ride
The Crew before rolling out.

We were up early Sunday to hook up with Bobki and Writer to head up into the Snowy Mountains for a more or less downhill run back to a little town called Centennial.  I had a bit of uneasiness about this ride as when I've been on a Writer led ride before there was a lot of bushwhacking and general being lost involved.  Thankfully there was none of that involved on this day.  The day started at over 10,500' on a ripping descent to a little mountain lake called Bear Lake, which at 10,000'ish feet looked super cold.  And JT could have told you how cold it was as he stripped down, jumped in, swam out about 30 feet or so, did one of those double breath gasps for air that you do when it is so cold your testicles are crawling up into your lung cavity for warmth, turned around and swam back to shore.  When asked, JT said he almost died out there.  We continued on our descent when Writer decided to get all rad and wheelie through some scrub when we were looking for the trial and rip his rear derailleur off.  Some trialside voodoo was performed and we had Writer back up and running, with a lot less gears, but still running.  We continued on to Centennial without getting lost, which was a nice surprise.
The finale.

Ginger Twin powers activate!
A LOT of beer later (seeing a theme here?) and some pizzas as we left Centennial to roll back to get Jay's camper and head home.  All in all an awesome (there's that word again, I need to get a fucking thesaurus) trip, but I did discover something about why we only do this trip every 3 years...we need time for our livers to regenerate.

Next Post: Ramblers take on the Mickelson and punch out their livers again!
Leaving Wyomin'.