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Monarch Crest Trail System - Mountain Biking on The Ragged Edge

Monday, September 22, 2014

Part 1: Planning an Epic Ride

On Wednesday, September 17th, myself and my three mountain biking buddies, Jason Andrew and Steve, lost our collective minds and decided to ride Monarch Crest. More specifically, our plans included:

(1) Taking a shuttle from Poncha Springs to the top of Monarch pass.
(2) Riding Monarch Crest Trail to Green Creek Trail
(3) Blasting down Green Creek Trail back to Poncha Springs
(4) Driving to Salida to get a burrito and a couple of beers at the Boathouse Cantina.

We did exactly as we planned. End of story. Uh, well, not exactly

Part 2: Hardcore Mountain Biking

Hardcore: (adj.) intense, relentless, tough, or extreme.

Mountain bike trails are rated in terms of difficulty.

- White Circle: Hard surface with no obstacles.
- Green Circle: Firm surface with 2" obstacles.
- Blue Square: Challenging single track with an average grade of 10% and 8" obstacles.
- Black Diamond: Very difficult technical trail with grades
steeper than 15% and obstacles up to 15".
- Double Black Diamond: Extremely difficult narrow technical trail with
grades steeper than 20% and obstacles taller than 15".

You can likely guess where the rating of the trails my buddies and I decided to ride. Here is a link describing the Monarch Crest trail.


Monarch Crest is rated as "Black Diamond" or "Very Difficult". Here is a shot of the Monarch Crest Trail I found on Google.

I really was not able to take photos on difficult trail sections, such as the one above, where one little mistake could get you serious killed.

Adding to the ride difficulty was the elevation of 11,963'. The ascent was 2,281', which is a little misleading. The first 1,600' of the ascent is in the first 2.5 miles. Riding where there is very little breathable air while climbing a steep grade for 2.5 miles is exhausting! Some climbing sections were 30% plus!

This is another Google photo of the climb up Monarch Crest. On steep grades, you have to shift your weight forward to keep the front wheel on the ground. But if you lean too far forward the rear wheel will spin-out. This is strenuous work and harder than it looks. Andrew's chain broke on this climb. Fortunately, we had a chain tool and an extra connecting link.

A broken chain was not the only "mechanical" we would have. We were prepared for breakdowns on the edge of the world.

At the summit of Monarch Crest we turned down Green's Creek trail. Here is a link to Green's Creek Trail.


Green's Creek Trail is a "Double Black Diamond" or "Extremely Difficult". You have to be crazy good to take on a double black. You also need a good bike. Here are some shots of Green's Creek Trail.

There are some monster drop-offs. The published average speed for Green's Creek Trail is 6 mph. We ripped down this trail at 13 mph! I know that does not sound fast. We spent a lot of time in the air and it seemed like we were doing 100 mph.

The dark timber made it hard to see obstacles. There were some sharp switchbacks on this trail that were hidden until you were right on top of them.

There is a trail here somewhere! Steve blew a front inner tube. Fortunately, he had a spare tube, tire tools and quite a few CO2 canisters.

This trail beat the living daylights out of me. My Santa Cruz Bronson is made for these types of trails. The bike could fly down Green's Creek trail.

"Brawny" requires a an athletic rider to give his best. I think I let him down. After 30 miles of tough riding, I was thoroughly exhausted.

Part 3: Photo Essay of the Ride

We had to be in Poncha Springs at 10:00am. The drive from Denver to Poncha Springs is 141 miles so we had to leave pretty early. We got to Poncha Springs with time to spare.

Here are Steve and Jason unloading the bikes from Steve's truck. Steve is the guy in white unloading his 29" Santa Cruz Tallboy. Jason is the guy in blue. Both Steve and Jason were professional mountain bike racers. Both guys are good technical riders. I can hold my own considering that both guys are 15 years younger than me.

I think my Specialized Stumpjumper "Ultra -Stumpy" may have been a better choice for this ride. Ultra-Stumpy is a lot easier to ride long distances than Brawny. However, Brawny is pretty flashy!

Here is the shuttle. We arrived at the top of Monarch Pass at 10:30am

The Shuttle arrived at the top of Monarch Pass at 10:30 am. The shuttle was full with 10 hardcore mountain bike riders and one really sweet Pit Bull. The dog belonged to the shuttle driver. This sweet and friendly dog confirmed my belief that a good owner can raise a good dog from any breed. She really took to me and wanted to follow me up the trail.

This is shot I took of Andrew, Jason and Steve. We are getting up to the elevation where the trees are sparse.

We are moving pretty well. We are still have a ways to climb.

Here is Shot of Jason and Steve at the top of the world.

The good news it is all downhill from here. The bad news is that going down is not going to be easy. Here is shot of some very good bikes plopped-down on the side of hill.

From Left to Right is Jason's 27.5" Silver and Blue Giant Trance; my 27.5" Santa Cruz Bronson Carbon "C" X01; and Steve's Santa Cruz Carbon 29" Tallboy. Unless you are an extreme mountain biker, the combined value of these 3 bikes seems excessive at $24,000!

Here we are after we got down Green's Creek trail. We still have a long dirt road to follow back to Poncha Springs.

Andrew is the tall guy closest to me. He is less experience than Jason, Steve and me. Andrew made up for his relative lack of experience by being half my age with a lot better reflexes. He has just got married, bought a house and is getting ready for arrival of his first child. Yup, he is a just a kid! Great guy, though.

After Green's Creek Trail the ride back to Poncha Springs was a nice leisurely dirt road in the "green circle" category. We goofed off quite a bit. Here is Steve stopping just in time before running me down.

When we got back to the truck, we did a quick change of clothes and wiped most of the crusted sweat off using wet wipes. We made the quick drive to the Boat House Cantina in Salida.

I think we made the 7 mile drive to Salida in 4 minutes! Beer and burritos were calling us.

The Boathouse Cantina is in the historic district of Salida and overlooks the Arkansas river.

The bar section of the restaurant actually hangs over the Arkansas river. The food was good, the beer was great and the view was spectacular. There was a paved bike path that follows the Arkansas for many miles.

Water in Colorado is clear, cold and fast moving. You can see the smooth concrete bike path in the foreground.

Nice atmosphere. We were there very early and almost had the place to ourselves.

The food was great.

I had the Chicken Taco Salad, which likely had a bazillion calories. I also downed a pitcher of water and a couple Elevation Brewery First Cast IPAs for medicinal purposes only. Elevation is mini-micro brewery in Poncha Springs. I think they only make enough beer for local restaurants.

Part 4: Hard Lessons Learned

(1) Bring More Liquid:
The most important lesson I learned during this trip is to bring more hydration liquids. I had a 64 ounce hydration pack and 24 ounce frame bottle. I thought 64 ounces of water and 24 ounces of PowerAde was enough. I was wrong. The extreme dryness at 12,000 feet dehydrates a rider quickly. I have ordered a 100 ounce bladder for my pack. I may also get a bigger pack so I can throw in some bottles.

(2) Bring More Quick Energy Foods:
I had brought one package of Jelly Belly Sport Bean and one GU Energy Gel pack. Again not enough.

For lunch on the trail I brought a good turkey sandwich, chips, apple and 2 Cliff Bars. I needed to bring 5 Cliff Bars.

(3) Test Changes to the Bike Prior to an Epic Ride:
I changed my front tire from a Maxxis High Roller to a Maxxis Minion DHR II ("Down Hill Racer") the night before. The Minion worked great on the descent, as I expected. However the Minion had increased rolling resistance on climbs. The marginally better traction on the descent was not worth the extra effort on the climb. I have ordered a new High Roller for the front.

I had to change tires. The original tires were shot. My Bronson is hard on tires. Of course, if I didn't take the bike into the jaws of death every time I ride, the tires would last longer. BTW, we saw two other riders with flat tires on the trail.

(4) Be in Better Cardio-Vascular Shape prior to an Epic Ride at 12,000 feet:
By the time we hit the wicked descent down Green's Creek Trail, I was already very tired. I had to ride very conservatively to save my strength. I know how to ride conservatively. I just don't like to!

Jason is a triathlete. Steve is a kettlebell and spin instructor. Andrew is 28 and is a technical mountain climber. My skill level is appropriate for extreme mountain biking. I was just tired and dehydrated so I lagged behind.

Part 5: Parting Shot

I call this photo "Edge of Forever".

The sky, clouds and mountains seem to go on forever. This is a pretty place that was eerily quiet. In a few weeks this place will be covered with deep snow. The birds are gone and the squirrels have headed to lower elevations. We actually ran into a dusting of snow at the summit.

Thanks for reading my epic blog!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GHK1962 9/28/2014 8:37AM

    1st - WHAT trail?!?!?! Trail? I see no trail in many of those pics.

2nd - Uhmmm ... you are comparing yourself to the tri/instructor/young'un? They, my mountain biking friend, should be comparing themselves to you!

3rd - That cantina place looked awesome. But ... what kinda brewski did you get?

At any rate, looks like you had a blast ... and learned some things that also ended in you getting to buy some new goodies. Win all around!!!

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APONI_KB 9/26/2014 10:33AM


Those ratings are just like skiing.

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LMB-ESQ 9/25/2014 8:31AM

    There was actually a trail in those pics?? Haha... hardcore is not quite the word... :-) Another epic adventure and great pics. By the time I finished reading I wanted a beer too! emoticon

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KENDRACARROLL 9/24/2014 7:48PM

    Thanks for sharing your adventure!
Great pictures. I'm all for beers at the Boathouse Cantina :)

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    I'm not sure how I ended up at your blog but I am glad I did. Ninety percent of what you are discussing here is completely foreign to me (my bike is pretty and has a basket for my books and a bell). But I completely loved this! Thank-you so much for sharing all the photos and for explaining all the technical details so carefully. You made it accessible. I really get a sense of how much fun you had in spite of the many challenges. Green's creek trail is scary--------but damn that must have been a blast! I might look into this not-previously-considered sport when spring arrives here.


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LINDAKAY228 9/22/2014 10:26AM

    It was all good! You definitely deserved the food and beer after that ride! I would have thought that would be enough for hydration too! Glad you said it wasn't. Awesome ride! COurse not one that I would try LOL. But you have experience and like those and I love that you share those photos with us. Get some rest before the next ride! And before taking on someone half your age ha ha.

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TERI-RIFIC 9/22/2014 10:20AM

    emoticon very entertaining read! Thanks for sharing because I'll never experience it. You are a wild guy!

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ROXYZMOM 9/22/2014 10:14AM

    I love this blog!!
As I read this I couldn't help but feel an overwhelming sense of peace and accomplishment for you. You have totally come back from your bike accident and are on top of your game! You are riding on 6"wide trails up and down stone, sticks, mud, rock and gullies with professional mountain bikers 15 years younger than you!
I love your determination and perserverance!! I know it was so hard for you for a while.

PS I love the pictures too!! What an awesome place!


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NATPLUMMER 9/22/2014 9:54AM

    Yikes!! You guys are crazy and totally earned your food and beer!!

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Drug Dealers for Bike Junkies - Santa Cruz Bronson Fix

Monday, September 01, 2014

Part 1: One Percent

Not so long ago, I was thinking a Pivot Mach 6 could be a good addition to my stable. The Pivot Mach 6 is a bonafide mountain ripper.

The Pivot Mach 6 is made for fast descents on technical terrain. The bike climbs well enough to get a gonzo crazy rider to the top of a mountain; where said rider can plummet down the mountain at extreme speeds. This somewhat dangerous form of entertainment is partaken by a minority of riders known as the "One Percent".

Part 2: Ninety-Nine Percent

A person that wants to get some exercise while riding through pretty countryside does not need to spend $6,000 to $10,000 for a high-tech wonder bike. Trail bikes, such as the Specialized Rockhopper Comp, are designed to serve the needs of 99% of recreational mountain bikers.

This sensible bike costs $1,050 and rides nicely. Here is a short video showing the Rockhopper in action.


As you can see, the Rockhopper is a competent trail bike. This bike has a nice SRAM X5 2x10 drivetrain, Tektro hydraulic disk brakes and Rockshox front fork. The frame is made from heat treated 6061-T6 aircraft grade aluminum and is fairly light.

Lots of manufactures make good mountain bikes at the $1,000 price point. If you want to ride deep into the boonies, these value-priced mountain bikes will very likely get you back.

There are mountain bikes that cost less than $1,000 that are fine for riding on dirt roads and smooth trails, However, these less expensive bikes are heavy, generally wear out quickly and have low-end components. One of the better inexpensive mountain bike is the Trek Marlin 6 with the Shimano Altus group and Suntour XCT coil fork.

This bike has 29" wheels and lists for $599. Shimano Altus component are recreational grade and work okay. However, shifting gets a little iffy when pedaling up a moderately steep hill. The Trek Marlin has a 3x8 or 24 speeds. The rear cogs have a "Mega-Range", which means that low gear is very low.

When approaching a steep hill, you need to get into low gear before you start climbing. Low-dollar derailleurs tend to lock into gear under heavy pedal pressure. If you are in too high gear when you start climbing, you won't be able to downshift. You will probably bog-down and end-up pushing your bike up the hill. Mountain bikes in the $500 to $600 range are targeted at beginners that want to give mountain biking a shot. These entry-level bikes sell very well.

Part 3: Drug Dealers For Bike Junkies - The Golden Bike Shop: Danger Zone

The motto for the Golden Bike Shop is "Drug Dealers for Bike Junkies". Here is a shot of the motto on a Golden Bike Shop water bottle:

I wandered into the Golden Bike Shop to see about reserving a Pivot Mach 6 demo bike for the weekend. I like to take a bike I am interested in buying on a few long trail rides before laying-down a big wad of cash. Golden bike shop has a huge demo fleet.

I had demoed a 2014 Santa Cruz Bronson Carbon X01 that impressed me to pieces. However, I checked with shops that sold Santa Cruz bikes and found that the 2014 Bronson bikes were sold out.

The 2015 Santa Cruz bikes were starting to trickle-in. The 2015 Bronson had a lower component specs on fork and crank. The 2015 Bronson was still a good bike. Unfortunately, the 2015 price was higher.

As I filled-out the paperwork for the Mach 6 demo bike, I asked the shop guy if they were going to sell any large frame 2014 Santa Cruz Bronson bikes from their demo fleet. He told me that they had already sold the demo Bronson bikes.

Then he said, "Which Bronson are you looking for?" I blurted out, "I want a 2014 Santa Cruz Bronson Carbon C with SRAM X01 and FOX Racing TALAS RC2 FIT Fork!" I felt a little like Ralphie in a Christmas Story. I almost added, "And a thing that tells time!"

The shop guy says, "We got one!" I follow the guy over to bike racks.

I had looked for a Bronson when walked past the bike racks on the way in. This shop is full of great bikes, One particular bike is easy to miss.

The shop guy points to a brand spanking new 2014 Santa Cruz Bronson. The bike is Tennis Yellow. The tires showed that bike had never carried a rider.

Here is a factory photo of the Tennis Yellow 2014 Bronson Carbon C with the 1x11 SRAM XX1/X01. I looked at the price tag. The original price was $8,400. The price was marked down to $6,800.

I asked him what the best he could do on the bike. He says, "I'll go figure that out, right now." He goes back to the computer by the checkout stand. He punches a few numbers into the computer. He pulls out his business card and scribbles a number on the back. He hands me the card with his best price.

I couldn't believe the price he had put on the card. I expected a few hundred bucks off, maybe. The price quote was $5,750! We are talking a $2,650 discount from list. I just said, "Wow, that is good price!" I was ready to pull the trigger. However, I told the guy, "I wanted to noodle on it bit." He said, " No problem. You have been a good customer. I can put a hold tag on the bike for a couple of days."

I am pretty sure he knew he had me hooked. I bought the Bronson two days later.

Here is a photo of my new bike the first time the tires ever touched dirt. My first ride was on some nice easy single track at Beaver Ranch.

Here is a photo of the trail. This nice trail get a little steep later on.

This is a very nice trail system. I had the place all to myself. The Bronson really pedals well. The bike is wicked fun a on steep rocky downhill due to 6.25" of plush suspension. Surprisingly, the Bronson climbs with ease.

The Bronson is back on the rack wearing the appropriate amount of dirt. I had the bike out to Buffalo Creek and Three Sisters several times. Although the Bronson doesn't feel fast, I seem to overtake other riders very quickly. I have yet to be passed by another mountain biker.

The control characteristics of the Bronson are fantastic. The only problem is the rear tire is wearing out very quickly.

Thanks for reading my blog.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:


    Sounds like you're getting your fix.

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GHK1962 9/2/2014 10:59AM

    Man .... I have left my mountain bike in the garage for so long as I've gotten into road riding ... but reading your blogs makes me want to take it out. Though admittedly, I have never actually ridden on trails!

I liked the review you gave on the Rockhopper and the video ... while the shots were easy trails it totally looked like the dude was having fun just riding about.

And ... n+1 bayyybeee. NEW NEW NEW - You need to wear a vid-cam as you ride and post one with the new beast!

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KAREN42BOYS 9/1/2014 9:40AM

    Looking forward to the stories you'll tell about this yellow beastie!

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NATPLUMMER 9/1/2014 9:20AM

    I'm certainly the the 99% as far as bike riding goes ;-) you, my friend, are nit. (Not)

Comment edited on: 9/1/2014 9:20:34 AM

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ROXYZMOM 9/1/2014 8:32AM

    That is a pretty bike. I love the color. Did you name it "Bronson"?
You must have a huge storage area at your house!


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LMB-ESQ 9/1/2014 8:05AM

    I saw the email notice that you had a new blog up very early this morning (read: no glasses, blurry sleep vision and a teeny tiny cell phone screen) and did a double take at your title. "Does that say 'Drug Dealers'?" I put my glasses on and read it again. Haha... you are a bike junkie, aren't you? Enjoy your new toy!

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APONI_KB 9/1/2014 7:45AM

    you'll put your eye out


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TERI-RIFIC 9/1/2014 7:08AM

    Nice looking bike. Great deal. emoticon emoticon

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PMRUNNER 9/1/2014 7:07AM

    I can't imagine you get passed by many bikers, even if you were riding a low end clunker! Enjoy your new toy!

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TWEETYKC00 9/1/2014 6:11AM

    That is really cool! Happy riding.

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JSTETSER 9/1/2014 5:55AM

Go SpeedyDog, GO! emoticon

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I spend most of my money on bikes and beer. The rest I just waste!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Part 1: Bikes, Bikes and More Bikes

I just have to face facts. I am a mountain biker. I like the smell of a pine forest. I love the feeling of dropping like a rock down steep trail. I enjoy the challenge of switchbacks and the wonderful feeling of a flowing along winding single track.

Here is a photo of some fast easy single track:

This trail is at Elk Meadows in Evergreen, Colorado. This is a nice trail that is a favorite of hikers, bikers and trail runners.

Colorado has some very well-developed and nicely maintained trails.

This trail is at Meyer Ranch in Conifer, Colorado. At the start of this trail there is a long and steep climb. After the climb, the trail runs pretty flat and is quite scenic.

On these nice smooth trails any good mountain bike will do just fine. My ancient 2007 Specialized 26" Stumpjumper Pro Disc hardtail , called "Little Stumpy" flies along nice single track.

I love Little Stumpy but he has limitations. Little Stumpy gets downright skittish on rough and rocky trails.

I also have a blazing fast bike, which is a Specialized 29" Stumpjumper Carbon Expert . I call this bike "Ultra Stumpy". Ultra Stumpy is an endurance racing bike and is scary fast.

Ultra Stumpy's long wheelbase and slack steering makes the bike stable at high speed. Low speed handling is good but not great. High speed handling is superb.

I have a 2012 Specialized 26" Camber Comp named "Little Cam". Little Cam is a pure trail bike and is lightning quick but not fast. I completely updated Little Cam with a Fox Factory suspension, Shimano XT group, carbon handlebars and carbon seatpost.

Little Cam is really sensitive to tires. I have experimented a lot to find tires that work. I am still looking. Little Cam can turn so quickly that the tires tend to slide or skip sideways, which is not a good feeling.

Part 2: They Don't Call This Place the Rocky Mountains for Nothing

Fortunately, in Colorado there are mountain trails that are rocky, rough and steep!

This nasty trail is at Elk Meadows and is not too far from the nice single track shown in the first picture posted above.

This is a shot of a bad chunk of real estate called Bergen Peak,

This is actually more difficult than it looks. A trail bike with 120mm (4.7 inches) of suspension travel, such as Little Cam, will bottom-out on this rocky terrain, which results in a rough and jerky ride.

Ultra Stumpy has larger 29" wheels and 130mm (5.1") of suspension travel and rides better over rocky terrain than Little Cam. However, Ultra Stumpy wants to accelerate on a descent.

Using the brakes causes the bike to be slow in responding to steering input. Ultra Stumpy is a white-knuckle ride on steep and very rough terrain. The bike is just too fast.

Part 3: Enduro - The All Mountain Bike

A recent development in extreme mountain biking combines the long-travel of gravity racing bikes with the utility of a trail bike. The result is a bike that is designed to take on any and all terrain. An Enduro bike can take on smooth single track and nasty near-vertical trails strewn with rocks roots, loose gravel and fallen trees. Here is video on Enduro/All-Mountain riding:


I tried a few Enduro bikes at the Golden Bike Junkie Fest Demo Day. I was extremely impressed with the 26" Pivot Mach 5.7. This bike just flew over any and all obstacles. I tried the all-mountain Pivot Mach 6 with 27.5" wheels. The Mach 6 was great on the descent. But seemed to take a lot of effort during climbing.

A few weeks ago I went to Wheatridge Cyclery to pick up yet another set of tires for Little Cam. I wandered over to look at the new Santa Cruz and Yeti bikes. Both Santa Cruz and Yeti make high-end mountain bikes for serious riders with more money than good sense.

Santa Cruz and Yeti only build mountain bikes. I found out that the shop had a demo Santa Cruz Bronson available in my size. I plunked down $90 for a three day demo ride. I walked out the door with a sadly beat-up 2014 Black and Orange Santa Cruz Bronson Carbon XO.

Here is the demo Bronson in the bed of my truck. You may be able to see the new SRAM 1x11 XO drivetrain in the photo. This bike has Shimano XT brakes, Maxxis Tires and FOX suspension, which are my favorite components. The Bronson Carbon tips the scales at a bit over 26 pounds.

Here is the Demo Bronson propped against a bench at Elk Meadows.
This shows the 1x11 drivetrain.

There was a nice family riding on this trail. The mom was riding a 1980's Diamondback rigid "iron dog" that likely cost less than the tires on the high tech wonder I was riding. They passed me while I stopped to take in the view.

Many times I am so intent on riding that I don't do a lot of sight-seeing. Elk Meadows is designated open space and cannot be used for anything other than recreation.

I had a great time. The Santa Cruz Bronson handled beautifully and was fast. I took the bike into some very rocky and steep terrain. The long-travel 150mm+ suspension worked beautifully. The bike was stable through rock fields but still maneuverable. I really liked this bike.

I want one.

Part 4: Sticker Shock

I took the demo Bronson back to Wheatridge Cyclery. I talked to a salesman to see if they had a Bronson in my size for sale. The 2015 models had come out and they lacked some of the features of 2014 that I had demoed. I got sticker shock when I saw that they wanted $8,600 for the 2015 Bronson Carbon-C XO AM, which is the newer version of the bike I demoed.

I knew the Bronson was an expensive bike. But they had really cranked the price up for the 2015 bikes. I decided I would check out the bikes at my favorite bike shop. A few days later I went to the Golden Bike Shop. But that is a subject for another blog and this one is too long already.

Thanks for reading my blog.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

APONI_KB 9/1/2014 7:51AM

    I own a mountain bike in that it said mountain bike on the tag when my parents bought it in 1986 for me to head off to college. Dad called it my "parking sticker". It's a Giant Iguana and I still have and love that bike. It only went out on a few trails when I was younger and more fearless. I've pondered getting a real mountain bike with shocks n'all and doing some mountain biking, tough really as I live smack in the middle of the city.

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ROXYZMOM 8/31/2014 12:27PM

    My hubby and I are talking about hitting some trails in our area in Maryland. I decided to go back and glance at a few of your blogs to get motivated.

The first set of pictures in this blog look do-able for me -- as I scrolled down -- oh, my!!

I know you have a lot of experience so I won't get too intimidated!!

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NWFL59 8/18/2014 5:02PM

    Oh boy, I see another blog about your next new bike! Your riding is definitely too fast and scary for me. I'll stick to the flat mounds of Florida. hope your ankle and other parts are feeling better. emoticon

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LISAINMS 8/15/2014 2:47PM

    All that bike porn and nothing about beer!

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GHK1962 8/13/2014 12:29PM

    Gotta love a title with either the word "Bike" or "Beer" in it. To have both is like having your cake and eating it too. Like having both your favorite teams go to the superbowl ... and win. Like not having to choose between Ginger or Mary Ann. Errr...ok, I had better stop with the analogies now ...

Anyway, AWESOME trails. I only dabble very briefly with mountain biking ... but nothing so extreme. (I was briefly introduced to trail riding on an actual built wooden trail through the forest ...that was freakin SCAREY.) A friend of mine who is retired is TOTALLY into going up to the mountains and trail riding. He goes at speeds that is crazy stoopid ... flys down trails where he 'thinks" they are based on what he might be seeing ...YOW. I bet you are similar. (He also is an ex machinist ... he builds a lot of his own bike components. Who in the hell does that?!?!?!?

I'm interested to see if you eventually succumb to the 2015 Bronson ... though it seems you want to look for the 2014.

Good riding dude!

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MARGARITTM 8/13/2014 11:49AM

    OUCH on the bike price!

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KAYOTIC 8/13/2014 9:21AM

    You really know your bikes and bike components! I learn something new every time I ready your blogs....

And sticker shock is right! Any chance of getting a discount on a "gently used" model? emoticon

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PMRUNNER 8/13/2014 7:12AM

    Would love to get out west and ride some of those trails! Had a good ride at a local mtn bike park in NY last weekend. I ride my road bike during the week to help keep in shape for when I can ride some single track. Happy trails!

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KA_JUN 8/12/2014 11:26PM

    Sweet, nice blog! I hear very good things about the Bronson.

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LIVESTRONG2010 8/12/2014 8:56PM

    Wow no way on trail like that. I for one love my road bike and stay on the road!

Ride Strong and Pedal Safe!

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HKARLSSON 8/12/2014 8:40PM

    You BIKE on trails like those? Nope. You are a braver man than me.

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KENDRACARROLL 8/12/2014 3:24PM

    Great trails! I'm thinking hiking though.

Having a hobby we're absolutely passionate about is awesome. Having the funds to support an expensive hobby is even better :)

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IFDEEVARUNS2 8/12/2014 1:28PM


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LINDAKAY228 8/12/2014 12:20PM

    Different bikes for different trails! I love the trails you ride! Unfortunately, I never had the desire to ride them. But to hike them I love everything you mentioned plus the chance to take in the scenery and lots of pics! The important thing is that we love what we do. We both love the same areas but you love the ride and that's awesome that you can do it again!

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HILLSLUG98239 8/12/2014 12:10PM

    Ack! I got nervous just looking at those pictures. I dab on asphalt.

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DESERTDREAMERS 8/12/2014 10:07AM

    Beautiful trails! Have to admit you sucked me in with your blog title emoticon. Wow, the bike are WAY more expensive than I thought!

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NATPLUMMER 8/12/2014 9:47AM

    emoticon emoticon Do you save any for models? ;-)
It always amazes me how much bikes are. Greg and I were running a couple of weeks ago and saw somebody on an Elliptigo. I was saying that I wanted one but they were expensive and he asked how much...about $3000. He said some bikes are well over $10,000.

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LMB-ESQ 8/12/2014 9:40AM

    Haha... you buy bikes like I buy swimsuits. But at $30 to $40 a pop, I think I'm spending a little less than you are emoticon Definitely not spending $8600 on a swimsuit!!

The trails are beautiful! Since I am not a mountain biker, I won't be sharing a ride with you anytime soon. I would love to hike them though, and then share a beer after!!

Happy riding!! emoticon

P.S. I think this is the first blog I've seen for quite awhile where you weren't addressing your injuries. That's great to see!

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LOSER_ZIMM 8/12/2014 9:33AM

    emoticon I love to bike, but not mountain biking!

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Official Fitness Test

Monday, July 28, 2014

Part 1: Football Officials Fitness Test

Although I am not sure why, I have been a high school football official for 16 years. For the first 14 of those 16 years, the Colorado Football Official Association ("CFOA") pretty much ignored physical fitness. I suspect that the Colorado High School Activities Association ("CHSAA"), which is the governing body for all high school sports in Colorado, decided that sports officials should be in some semblance of physical shape.

Yesterday, July 26th, was the first football officials meeting of the 2014 season. This meeting is called the "Master's Clinic'. At this meeting we are told about new rules and points-of-emphasis. For the past several years, points-of-emphasis have been on player safety.

We also have to pass a physical fitness test. We always have the Master's Clinic at a high school. Last year we all had to run a 1/4 mile in under 2 minutes and 30 seconds (2:30) and a 40 yard dash in under 12 seconds. A lot of officials did not pass this test. I ran the 1/4 mile in 1:24 and to 40 yard dash in a tad under 7 seconds. In other words, I passed with time to spare.

Part 2: New Test for 2014 - Agility and Flexibility

This year the directors of the CFOA decided to make the fitness test easier and concentrate on agility and flexibility. The directors decided on 130 yard shuttle run. Here is a diagram of the shuttle run.

Prior to starting, we placed one of our bean bags on the 15 yard line, and another bean bag on the 50 yard line. Bean bags are used as an aid for ball spotting during a game.

Here are the details of the fitness test:

(1) Start on the goal line;
(2) At the word "go", sprint to the 15 yard line and pick up the bean bag;
(3) Sprint back to the goal and place the bean bag on the line;
(4) Sprint to the 50 yard line and pick up the bean bag; and
(5) Sprint back to the goal line.

The clock starts at the work "go" and ends when the goal line is crossed while carrying the "50 yard line" bean bag. Any official that takes longer than 40 seconds to do the shuttle run is given a "failing" grade and is ineligible to work Varsity games.

There is a re-test in two weeks at the second meeting for those officials that failed this test.

I was worried that my right ankle could not take the strain of running and stopping. My right ankle went through reconstructive surgery on January, 31st. My ankle is okay but not 100%. I was wearing turf shoes so I wouldn't slide. I was concerned that my right ankle would give way.

As I stood on the line with 6 other officials I was worried. 130 yards seemed like a long distance. I was also concerned that the fitness test required stopping and reversing directions 4 times!

I was in the first heat. I was also the oldest guy standing on the goal line by a minimum of 20 years. I had no idea if I could pass the test. The Starter said, "Get ready - GO!"

I took off as fast as I could go. I ran to the 15 yard line. As I approached the bean bag, I pivoted on my left foot and quickly planted both feet sideways. I ended-up looking directly down the 15 yard line. My right foot was slightly beyond the line and my left foot was a few feet in front of the line. I timed this move so I could just reach the bean bag with my right hand. I scooped-up the bean bag, pushed off on my right foot. In a cat's eyeball blink, I was sprinting back toward the goal line.

I was in front of the pack when I got back to the goal line. I used the same quick sideways move to put the bean bag on the goal line. I then ran down to the 50 yard line to pick up the next bag. I used the quick sideways move at the 50 yard line and shot back toward the finish line. I got passed by one young guy at about the 20 yard line.

As I approached the finish line that timer was counting off the seconds since the start. I was amazed to hear the timer shout 21.. 22.. 23. I crossed the finish line at 24 seconds! I was just a second behind the fastest guy.

I was pretty happy. My right ankle held-up; I blazed trough the test; and I didn't pull any muscles!

Part 3: Plateau

After my initial 15 pound weigh loss, I hit a plateau. However, I am getting stronger and more fit. I did a long, and somewhat brutal, mountain bike ride yesterday. My clothes are fitting better so I am not going to get in a twist about stalling-out.

I forgot just how challenging dropping weight can be.

Thanks for reading my blog.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GHK1962 7/31/2014 11:24PM

    Wow ... that sounds like it was NOT a cakewalk ... and the fact that you did awesome is ... well ... AWESOME!

That pivot -push off turn around move sounds pretty cool dude. Did anyone ask you about that after?

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KAYOTIC 7/30/2014 9:31AM

    Nice results on your fitness test! Guess your ankle is fine after your surgery, probably nice for you to know. emoticon

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FANGFACEKITTY 7/29/2014 5:55AM

    I wonder how they are coming up with what your physical tests and acceptable results are supposed to be? It sounds a little haphazard right now, but I am sure they will eventually find some balance between a meaningful test and keeping enough officials to man the games.

Great job for an "old" guy!

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KENDRACARROLL 7/28/2014 4:56PM

    Old guys rock!

Great job on the fitness test and the weight loss. The plateau will break in its own time.

Comment edited on: 7/28/2014 4:56:42 PM

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LINDAKAY228 7/28/2014 12:47PM

    Congratulations on acing the test and that your ankle did so well during it! Don't worry about the scale if the other things are improving. Keep going strong!

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BA5454 7/28/2014 12:34PM

    emoticon Your test sounds harder than my test in the Air Force (timed sit-ups and push-ups and a run). Way to go on passing it! You rock, Bruce!

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NATPLUMMER 7/28/2014 9:35AM

    emoticon I am so happy your ankle was happy!!

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LMB-ESQ 7/28/2014 9:04AM

    Wow... great job! Showing up all those younger guys :-) Well, you did say you were an impossibly fast runner. Glad the ankle held up!

Interesting that the athletic association never stopped to think about safety and fitness for their officials. I don't watch much football, but I do attend soccer games and those officials get run over or knocked around by players at least a couple of times in every match. Considering how many times you've been injured even though you are apparently in much better shape than many other officials, it makes sense they finally started paying attention. If for no other reason, they have to protect themselves from liability. But better for you too.

I hope you have a great, productive football season, and NO MORE INJURIES! emoticon

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TERI-RIFIC 7/28/2014 9:00AM

    Way to go, Dawg! Plateaus are tough, especially when you are very near your goal. But your level of fitness is great- good to not be obsessed by the scale. My son is a hockey referee. Being a sports official is quite the challenging job.

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MARGARITTM 7/28/2014 8:54AM

    Nice job and very interesting - I am pleased to see that the officials must be able to "walk the talk".

In my experience as a mom of 2 (now adult) active males I have seen some coaches and officials that didn't appear to be in shape to go out and pick up the newspaper!

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DEW1960 7/28/2014 8:31AM


Don't worry too much about plateaus, your success is not defined by the scale alone.

You are doing great!

Daniel Walker


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ROXYZMOM 7/28/2014 8:20AM

    I love this blog! You did awesome! Great job figuring out how to maneuver the turns! I bet it felt great to beat the younger folks!! emoticon

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Of course you hurt, it's supposed to hurt. So keep pedalling!

Monday, July 07, 2014

Part 1: A Bicycle is a Unicycle with a Training Wheel

When I was 14 years-old I decided I wanted to work on my balance. I bought a Schwinn unicycle with proceeds from my paper route. I had no idea how to ride a unicycle. I had even less of an idea on how to learn to ride a unicycle.

My older brother taught me how to ride a bike, which in retrospect, would constitute cruel and unusual punishment in any court in the land!

I was on my own trying to learn how to ride a unicycle. I spent many hours pedaling my unicycle back-and-forth across the driveway using the garage door for support. I fell off a lot!

Slowly, very slowly, I started to get the hang of it. At first I could do just a few peddle strokes without leaning against the garage door. Then all of a sudden I felt a surge of confidence and I took off down the driveway. It worked! I could ride a unicycle!

I learned how to pivot the unicycle, balance without moving, backup, hop sideways, and jump over stuff. I could stand up, move the seat out of the way, and pedal just standing on the wheel.

The coolest thing I could do was go up and down stairs! I used my unicycle to collect from my paper route customers. The tips rolled in! I could almost always get to the door on my unicycle, ring the doorbell, take the money, make change and give the customer a receipt, without getting off the unicycle!

In the last 40 years, unicycles have become really cool.

This is an Nimbus Oregon 26" Mountain Unicycle with a Surly Nate "Fat" tire. This bad boy has a hydraulic disk brake and downhill pedals. For the modest price of $830 you get an all-terrain unicycle that can take on any technical terrain.

But wait a minute - I already have seven really cool bikes. How much trail time is this killer unicycle going to see? It already takes me a week to ride all the bikes I have. I decided to pass on the ultimate unicycle.

Part 2: One of The Best Bike I Have Ever Been On

Earlier this year I attended the Bike Junkies Fest hosted by the Golden Bike Shop. Here is link to my blog about the event:


One bike I demoed really stood out. I fell in love with the 26" Pivot Mach 5.7 Carbon XT/XTR PRO.

This bike is a rocket and has 150mm (6") of trail gobbling suspension travel. Although the Mach 5.7 climbed well, the descent was where it shined! When I hit the lower part of Chimney Gulch I just let the bike go!

Here is the lower part of Chimney Gulch. This trail segment consists of anti-erosion timbers, big rocks and steep drops. I hit this nightmare going over 20 mph. I just relaxed and let the bike do the work. The Mach 5.7 floated over the obstacles. Even to glance at the brakes during this rough segment was certain death! At the end of the bumps was a 90 degree corner. I threw the bike into the corner pretty much thinking I was dead meat. The bike tracked through the corner like it was on rails!

I was in love.

But the Pivot Mach 5.7 is really expensive. Even on sale this bike is $6,000. To afford this bike, I would have to part with my Specialized Camber "Little Cam", Specialized Allez road bike, Surly cross bike and my Honda CRF230 dirt motorcycle. I am already selling my Suzuki DL1000 street motorcycle to get a bigger down payment on a new car for my wife.

I already have plenty of great mountain bikes. I had to pass on the Pivot Mach 5.7.

My best bike is a 2012 Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Carbon Expert. This bike is fast! I installed bigger disc brakes to help control speed. "Ultra-Stumpy" is an endurance racing bike. The Pivot is an all mountain bike. However, Ultra-Stumpy has 130mm of travel and can take on bad terrain. I think I am set.

Part 3: Better Ride Mountain Bike Training Camp

I decided to attend a three day mountain bike training camp that will be held in Evergreen, Colorado, on August 15th through August 17th.


I find mountain biking more strenuous than road biking. When I ride my road bike, I pretty much stay in the saddle and pedal. When I ride a mountain bike, I am rarely on the saddle. Mountain biking takes more upper body strength than road riding.

The uneven and loose surface can knock the front wheel all over the place. Even though mountain biking can result in some spectacular crashes.

I consider mountain biking safer than road riding since I regard careless drivers to be a lot greater hazard than a few rocks.

This is a mountain bike trail near Golden called Apex Trail. This trail has a few rocks here and there.

I have a month to get in a lot better shape before the camp. My ankle is healed and I am increasing my running and riding. I have a mountain biking specific strength workout that I have just started.

Even better news I am down 15 pounds!

Thanks for reading my blog.


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PDQ1203 7/12/2014 4:50AM


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LMB-ESQ 7/10/2014 10:42AM

    "Bike Junkie" Yup, that's you :-)

Rocks versus drivers? Well, in ordinary circumstances, I'd agree that drivers are way more hazardous. But honestly, Bruce, you put yourself in out-of-the-ordinary circumstances all the time. Are you sure you weren't the model for the Epic Failure poster? Looks plenty hazardous to me!

emoticon for 15 lbs! Excellent!

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BOILHAM 7/9/2014 7:39AM

    Great to see you're back in the saddle and enjoying those rides. You are a beast, enjoy the training camp.

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LINDAKAY228 7/8/2014 7:14PM

    I agree with you about the mountain being safer than the streets! My mom used to get upset about my hiking in the Gila National Forest when she was alive. I told her I stood much more chance of getting run over in town (even on the sidewalk because sometimes people leave the road ha ha) than I did in the mountains! I remember Evergreen, because we lived 35 miles outside of Denver towards Evergreen somewhere (I was 6 when we left so don't remember much) in the mountains and I remember my parents taking us to Evergreen sometimes. Don't remember too much about the town because my memory is fuzzy about my very young childhood LOL but the name sticks in my mind. We moved to New Mexico the summer before I started 1st grade. Kindergarten was an option you paid for back then (dating myself I thing). Glad you get to go to this! I loved the unicycle story. It remind me that I had forgotton that I had a friend in high school who could ride a unicycle. She didn't do it a lot by then, more before I met her I think. She rode it in a local 4th of July parade one year. Small town and I think I only saw 1 or 2 others over the years on unicycles. However lots of people riding street or mountain bikes. Mountain bikes were often seen on the trails when I was in the mountains. I miss those mountains! Love to read your stories!

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TERI-RIFIC 7/8/2014 7:29AM

    Just looking at Chimney Gulch makes me nervous. Thanks for an entertaining and informative blog. Have a great time at the camp. I hope you blog about it. It's fun to read about things I would never do but look like great fun when others do them. I could hike those trails, though. emoticon

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BA5454 7/8/2014 7:04AM

    Bruce you make me hurt, lol. I loved the trail that had a 'few' rocks! Mountain biking is something I've never done, but I can see why you think it's safer than street/road biking. Hope you have a great time at bike camp! P.S. Too bad the unicycle is out of the picture, it's kind of a neat thing. Had no idea they even made them anymore.

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PMRUNNER 7/8/2014 6:18AM

    Have fun at camp! Sounds awesome!

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KA_JUN 7/7/2014 11:23PM

    MUNI, nice! Good to hear you're out there sending it on the trail! Ride on!

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CHARITYAK 7/7/2014 10:34PM

    I have a 2013 specialized stump jumper and adore it! Was always a Trek girl up to that point.

And recently did a 100K Tour de Cure and there was a guy who did the entire thing on a unicycle! What a stud!

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ROXYZMOM 7/7/2014 10:15PM

    I will bet learning how to ride that unicycle has helped you tremendously with riding your bikes on that tough terrain. I haven't ridden a unicycle, but can imagine it's all core.

Congratulations on your weight loss. I am so happy for you to be back on your bikes! Can't blame you for staying away from cars. That was a very long year for you!

Comment edited on: 7/7/2014 10:16:27 PM

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SHESMITH1 7/7/2014 8:50PM

    A true bike junkie! Don't ever quit!

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NATPLUMMER 7/7/2014 7:43PM

    Wow…a unicycle! I'm totally impressed!!
I'm glad your ankle is letting you get out to run and ride. Yay for 15 pounds!!

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    Down 15 lbs! Nice!
Yup, just a couple of rocks here and there on the Apex trail :)
What little (hybrid) off road experience I have, I can't even imagine riding a trail like this.
I'll stick to hiking for the crazy terrain.
Training class sounds like fun.
Ride on & spark on.

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    emoticon emoticon

You and your bicycle adventures are an incredible look into the life of an extreme enthusiast. Love it!

You'll get into shape and you'll have a blast at the camp.

Congrats on the weight loss. That is awesome!

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