I've been posting more and riding less due to a slight illness. I hope to change that soon. One of the main reasons I started this blog was to share some of the wonderful Front Range routes I’ve found. Before I can share ‘em I have to find them. This post is about that. In another I’ll discuss following the route.
Finding routes has really followed two tracks. The first is following others. Well, not literally, but I have been following some of the routes that others have done before me. These include race routes like the Creekside Dirty Century, and the Gold Belt Century. I’ve yet to follow one of these completely, but they become the basis of a route. I’ve also used non-race routes as the basis of a ride. This includes routes others have posted on their blog, and routes I’ve found by searching Strava or Garmin Connect. I know this can be done through Map My Ride and probably other sites as well.
The second major path involves a lot of time staring at maps online. With a combination of the map, satellite, terrain and bicycling view in Google Maps I can usually find the gravel and avoid pavement. IT takes a bit of time, but in the end not too much. I’ve gotten more efficient, but it still takes a while to switch through all those views to determine road surface.
The more problematic drawback is that there’s no map view that I know of which indicates property boundaries. This is huge. Many of the gravel routes get a bit more remote and some of the roads are closed to public travel. I’m not talking just driveways here. Some of these roads appear to be through roads. Many of these are maintained privately by the several residents on those roads and so the road is considered private. This kinda sucks to encounter when you’re 35-40 miles into a loop and have to turn around. This is what I encountered attempting to go over Rabbit Mountain up to Carter Lake. You can get up and over the mountain, but on the way back down (headed North) there is a ½ mile stretch of private property which prevented the connection. It’s the only chunk of private road on the route and it prevents riding through at least without going stealth and risking trespassing issues – something I’m not likely to do. (Call me crazy but I just don’t like the look of the front end of a shotgun nor the jaws of a farm mongrel.)
So, how to deal with this? So far it seems pretty safe to stick to numbered roads. All of the numbered roads (e.g. Co Rd 73) are public - at least to my knowledge. However, this leaves out a lot of other roads which are not numbered, but which are open to the public (e.g. Old Flowers Rd outside Fort Collins). Really it just seems to be part of the game.
Private roads are what I run into most often, but another part of the adventure comes when the road has degraded. Co Rd 61 in the Pawnee National Grasslands is one such road. This road has become something between footpath and double track. While it looks like it can be ridden, it’s not exactly a road anymore. Something else came up in the PNG. There’s a point where I was heading South on Co Rd 69 and turned East on Co Rd 114 – I hadn’t planned on doing this. When I came up to the intersection I was greeted with a big yellow arrow indicating that the route turned left. Now there is a road that keeps going South, but the road goes from well-maintained gravel to double track, goes through a fence (ungated) and looks for all the world like a driveway. There was no private property or no trespassing sign so perhaps I could have gone straight, but it didn’t look wise. Not a huge deal, but something that made the route interesting. It’s always helpful to have an alternate plan when following a new route…but that’s a post for another day.
This has been my experience. It’s all part of the adventure. How do you find new backroad routes?