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  1. #1
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    Grand Loop Race '08

    Admit it. This event has wiggled into your conciousness...perhaps as something clearly to avoid, perhaps as some good early season armchair entertainment, and for a lucky few something to set your sights on.

    For those in camp 3 there's an added element to consider. Snow.

    Columbine Pass sits a stones throw from the Tab trail on the Uncompahgre plateau. It's the best guage of snowpack for the GL highpoint - but it's an underestimate. Last year I attempted a solo TT of the GL in mid May, 2 weeks before the race and was met with 6-8 feet of snow on the north facing parts o the Tab trail. Utterly impassable, a tough thing to learn at mile 220...I ended up riding over Columbine pass on the divide road that trip and it was snow free.

    Here's the current situation on Columbine.



    Last year Columbine was snow free at this time. This year - well it's sitting at the typical annual peak snowpack. A lot can happen in 5 weeks - but I don't see the upper part of the Tab on the Unc being clear by race time. 2005 saw similar snow levels as this year and the pass didn't clear out until ~ May 20. Doing the math, I'd guess the Tab to be too snowfilled until about mid-June this year.

    Sound like fun? Who's in?
    Dave

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  2. #2
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    Oooh, I was waiting for someone to make the '08 virginal post.

    Since work is popping for me to fly to a conference in Provo on 5/26 and graciously letting me fly out of GJ on 6/5, I'm in.

    I was wondering about the snowpack up high, but the way I figure it, even if I make it to the snow and get turned back to the roads, it'll still be a hell of a ride.

    If the snow is too deep to make it through, what's the possibility of picking up the trail on the 'other side' somewhere off a divide road-ish vehicle access point and finishing out on the northern lower portions of the Tab such as section 7 -> 9 on the trail map? I'm assuming the snow would block out riding sections 3, 4 and 5? Or do I start looking for good clearance prices on ultralight snowshoes?

    Jim

  3. #3
    I'm from Utah
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    Ah, ya'll will be fine.

    Try this link: http://www.gottagoitsnows.com/snowshoeing/003.html

    Seriously.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by zips_mi
    Oooh, I was waiting for someone to make the '08 virginal post.

    Since work is popping for me to fly to a conference in Provo on 5/26 and graciously letting me fly out of GJ on 6/5, I'm in.

    I was wondering about the snowpack up high, but the way I figure it, even if I make it to the snow and get turned back to the roads, it'll still be a hell of a ride.
    Lucky you and yes it will still be a helluva ride. When I hit snow last year I knew I had to come back for the full meal deal so just blazed out on the Divide road. If I wasn't going to come back, I'd have turned at the junction in this map below - it would have been sloppy/slushy but doable. Maroon line is the Tab, Divide road is in black.



    You'd miss the alpine singletrack by taking that route (and of course not finish the GL), but you'd get to experience the all day hike a bike of the Roubideau section - not to be missed! Still an enormous ride by any standard.

    As for the snowshoes, that would be the first time anyone hauled them across the KT...even with snowshoes, the bigger issue would be navigation. It's deep forest, skinny trail that is invisible under deep snow. It's one of those things you'd have to experience perhaps. If it looks like there is snow for the race and folks will attempt to get through a snowy tab trail I'll supply the GPS for the first few miles.
    Dave

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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by hairball_dh
    As for the snowshoes, that would be the first time anyone hauled them across the KT...
    Haha... It would be an interesting sight for sure. I'm paring down the kitchen sink and extracurricular stuff for this run, so really, no snowshoes for me.

    As for navigation though, I would assume someone on snowshoes dragging a bike through the snow would leave quite a racket...

  6. #6
    Cycling, FTW!!
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    Snow? no problem Dave. My snowshoes fit right on my rack, so I can move my rack or use my Pugs.



    Seriously though, navigating the Tab is going to be frustrating at best. I recently tried to ride the pugs on part of the 24 of Steamboat course that I know like the back of my hand. But the snow level is as high as the branches above the trail so I couldn't even see where the trail should have been.

    5 weeks ya say, huh? I guess I haven't been paying much attention to the calendar.
    "When you pay $340 to do a 24 hour race you'll only have enough money to eat mustard sandwiches the rest of the year." -TD

  7. #7
    Just go ride!
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    At least tire tracks would be easy to follow in the snow! Of course, the person up front making them might be lost too...

    And, if you're interested in a bit more hike-a-bike to avoid civilization and stay lost, the Grand(er) Loop (w/ the Paradox reroute) is a good choice! Well, "good" might not be the right word, but if there's any way to make that friggin' monstrous loop even more epic, that's the way to do it.
    The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not. -TJ

  8. #8
    Grizzly
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    Quote Originally Posted by hairball_dh
    ...perhaps as something clearly to avoid,
    Every year I fight with the idea of doing the GL. This year I sort of thought it would not even be an option with the snow. It looks like that might be the case.

    Are you really going to head back out there knowing you will most likely get turned back again?

    At least the streams on the upper KT should be flowing nicely!
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by alizbee
    Every year I fight with the idea of doing the GL. This year I sort of thought it would not even be an option with the snow. It looks like that might be the case.

    Are you really going to head back out there knowing you will most likely get turned back again?

    At least the streams on the upper KT should be flowing nicely!
    It is a monster of an event requiring all sorts of tactical energy. It's tough to beat the experience that follows...but no way would I start if I thought I'd get turned back at mile 220. The only thing that I find attractive on that route is a SS finish, I rode it aplenty last year

    Other events are beginning to steamroll my conciousness anyway that will over-ride any desire to hit GLR this year. The GL will still be there in the fall.
    Dave

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  10. #10
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    Hey Davey-Pants-

    Thanks for getting this started.

    Drove around the S, W, and N sides of the La Sals today on the way back from AZ, and it's surprising how fast the snowline melted back in just 4 days of ~semi warm temps. Waaaay too soon to tell if it's gonna be do-able come ~5/30, but I'd be happy to reschedule if folks thought that were the prudent thing to do.

    You tell me.

    Cheers,

    MC

  11. #11
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    I think its a great date for this race. I feel like the snow would just add to the experience and I am willing to bet there is a pretty good trail going by the end of May. Your not participating in this race unless your looking for an adventure. I say start May 30th even with the snow.

    I am thinking about starting my little summer ride from GJ on that Friday or Saturday with a prologue stage on the GL with a little White Rim thrown in there for good measure. I'm not looking to race it but I'll be seeing you guys out there.

    That is if I get my CDW bags before then...

  12. #12
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    I'm in for this years version of fun and games. How could I not be after having to pull the plug after 250+ last year. I'm just a working stiff who has to put in for vacation time. Dialed in for May 30th sun and snow tour. I understand others wanting to try for a later date, that's cool, but I'll be there anyway seeing what the beast will throw our way for the '08 version.
    Later
    Dave

  13. #13
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    May 30 here

    My work schedule has locked in and says it has to be May 30 for me.

    I don’t have an answer for to much snow except if absolutely needed take a DQ and ‘go around’, probable on Divide Road?

    Never having been on the high part of the Uncompahgre I don’t know if that is a feasible ‘last ditch’ option? I think this is what Dave did on his 'pre-ride'?
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  14. #14
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    Well, it is *only* May 1st, but we in the Grand Valley awoke to a fresh blanket of white today--still coming down as I type this. Not great news for Grand Loopers, but us desert dwellers will happily accept any moisture that chooses to smile on us.

    The flip side is that all week long the river has been rising and (so I'm told by my bc skier friends) even at ~12k the snow wasn't freezing up anymore. It *could* still happen...

    MC

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by trail717
    My work schedule has locked in and says it has to be May 30 for me.

    I don’t have an answer for to much snow except if absolutely needed take a DQ and ‘go around’, probable on Divide Road?

    Never having been on the high part of the Uncompahgre I don’t know if that is a feasible ‘last ditch’ option? I think this is what Dave did on his 'pre-ride'?
    I've been up there when the first few miles of the Tab are under snow. Even with a GPS track it would have been a near impossible feat...

    It looks to me like for a race of this magnitude you can't reschedule the start - it takes too much time to do, prepare, and get said time off. It also is completely impractical to start an event on an impossible route.

    What's the answer? A lot can happen in 30 days - but the long range forecast isn't showing much love. Last year was dry as a bone and fairly warm yet it didn't melt out until a few days prior to the event. This year is another beast.

    AFAIK, the GLR has never been done in a big snow year (what happened in '05 MC?). Rather than cancel the event or send riders on an impossible venture (that's frustrating, BTDT) I'd propose a route alternative. Rather than do the powerline loop and Tab singletrack, as soon as you hit the Divide road hang a left for a few miles until the Roubideau jeep trail descent is reached. That could still be iffy, but it would be easy to follow if covered in snow. I can't imagine snow would linger on the drainage traverse section...the course would be marginally shorter by perhaps 2-3 hours, but most importantly, doable.

    BTW - Divide road was mostly dry and a fine alternative/way out last year mid-may. It didn't feel like a shortcut at the time, but during the race I realized how much of a shortcut it really was!
    Dave

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  16. #16
    ride long and explore
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    I'm a newbie planning to give the GL a shot this year and just came across the thread. Postponing a week or two would work for me, but as Dave mentioned, it might be a better plan to try to modify the Tab section a bit to accommodate those that have less flexible work schedules.

  17. #17
    Scott in Tucson
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    Quote Originally Posted by hairball_dh
    BTW - Divide road was mostly dry and a fine alternative/way out last year mid-may. It didn't feel like a shortcut at the time, but during the race I realized how much of a shortcut it really was!
    It is quite a short-cut, and enough of one that it doesn't seem fair to cut it w/o adding something...

    Maybe it's time to consider following Stefan's lead with the Koski traverse...? It seems a shame to cut-out one of the few pieces of ST on the route, but it seems like snow is always going to be an issue there.

    If the route were simply amended so every year the ST is skipped, the race could also be held a little earlier, hopefully under cooler temps.

    Thoughts, Mr. record-holder and Mr. former-record-holder ??
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  18. #18
    Just go ride!
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    My $0.02

    Quote Originally Posted by Krein
    It is quite a short-cut, and enough of one that it doesn't seem fair to cut it w/o adding something...
    If the goal is to make the race about the same length/difficulty, adding the Koski Traverse and skipping the Pool Creek singletrack would be a *very* unfair trade! In terms of mileage, it might be a wash, but with respect to routefinding, rideability and elevation gain, there is really no comparison - not to mention that adding the Koski Traverse also means no resupply or phone check-in on route.

    Although I am not planning on riding the GLR this year, it seems like a good protocol would be to keep the singletrack as part of the race, and let the race leader make the call once (s)he gets there. If the snow drifts are too massive to get through or they make it impossible to determine where the trail goes, the race leader makes the call to backtrack/detour. All other racers have to go to the same point the leader did in order to keep the race fair. If the snow *is* deep enough to necessitate a detour, it should be fairly obvious to trailing racers where the leader started the detour.

    As far as cooler temps go, it was plenty cold up there during the '07 race! Earlier could be better for the Koko and Paradox, later could be better for the Tab... For a race of this magnitude, I think the weather is always going to be a tremendous factor in the race outcome no matter what start date is chosen. Perfect, or maybe a bit cold last year, waaay hot in '06, windy and smoky in '01 or '03 was it? It is a crap shoot, but 6/1-ish seems pretty well picked.
    The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not. -TJ

  19. #19
    Just go ride!
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    Quote Originally Posted by hairball_dh
    Admit it. This event has wiggled into your conciousness...
    From the webpage,

    "Many, many people have come to 'race' the Grand Loop over the past 5 years. None of them have finished."

    I don't think that statement is so accurate anymore...
    The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not. -TJ

  20. #20
    Scott in Tucson
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    No doubt the Koski would be an unfair trade. I wasn't suggesting it would balance it out, but without the singletrack and given the possibility of an earlier start date, it might make some sense to add it.

    Put differently, it might be an opportunity for us to include the Koski -- to bring the GLR onto the "real" GL route. I don't know -- Stefan, is it worth doing / including?

    I don't really like the idea of letting the leader decide. Seems too nebulous and potentially confusing to me. But that's just me.
    Author of TopoFusion GPS Software. MTB+backpacking = bikepacking.net. Ride Diary.

  21. #21
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    Opinions.

    Quote Originally Posted by Krein
    No doubt the Koski would be an unfair trade. I wasn't suggesting it would balance it out, but without the singletrack and given the possibility of an earlier start date, it might make some sense to add it.

    Put differently, it might be an opportunity for us to include the Koski -- to bring the GLR onto the "real" GL route. I don't know -- Stefan, is it worth doing / including?
    Well, I would have to say yes on adding the Koski Traverse because it adds to the epic flavor of this already epic loop, and also sticks to the true Paradox Trail which, for me (as you know), just felt like the right thing to do. However, my reasoning/opinions are likely not the same as other people's. I could sum it up by listing the pro's and con's.

    Pros:
    Even less pavement on route.
    Even less civilization on route.
    Trading maintained gravel roads for primitive trail
    More tricky routefinding

    Cons:
    More hike-a-bike
    Miss out on the descent into Paradox
    No resupply on route
    More tricky routefinding

    So, that makes +4 and -4, but again, for me the lack of pavement and even less civilization far outweigh the others. It's so hard to find a ride that is as "out there" as the GLR, and adding the Koski Traverse quite simply makes it even more "out there".

    Regardless, I would hate to see the ST get removed. By all means, cut the silly powerline loop and join the ST as quickly as possible, but so much of the route is already on gravel roads, that even when wasted and sleep deprived, the ST is a real treat!
    The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not. -TJ

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stefan_G
    So, that makes +4 and -4, but again, for me the lack of pavement and even less civilization far outweigh the others. It's so hard to find a ride that is as "out there" as the GLR, and adding the Koski Traverse quite simply makes it even more "out there".

    Regardless, I would hate to see the ST get removed. By all means, cut the silly powerline loop and join the ST as quickly as possible, but so much of the route is already on gravel roads, that even when wasted and sleep deprived, the ST is a real treat!
    Seeing how this event has never been done in a big snow year - and only madmen or englishmen would do the Koko or Paradox after than June 1 - this sounds like a simple, good solution.

    In big snow years, do the Koski traverse and skip the Tab ST. In lower snow years or early melt years, do the classic/current route. Seems like a good solution.

    Starting any earlier than the end of May still won't work in a big snow year as the course still goes to near 10k...so either way I think the existing date is as good as one could hope for, except perhaps October. October is nice everywhere but everyone is fried by then
    Dave

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  23. #23
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    I am considering the GL this year at about race time, but will be in tour mode. I've been watching the snow pack for a couple weeks now. It is melting, but there is a ways to go. I don't know if this will work, but the following link is to a NOAA outfit that does spatial snow analysis. You can clearly see the light snow layer from this past storm. Should be gone in a day or so. The Columbine Pass snotel mentioned earlier is the little square dot on the south side of the snow area that follows the high line of the Plateau.
    bp

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  24. #24
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    Weekend pre-ride, want to come?

    I plan on riding a bit of the Paradox Trail, check out trail, water availability, test my current multi-day set up & home did GPS files, will be riding a very ‘relaxed’ pace, take some pictures etc etc. Plan to camp at least 1, probably 2 nights (Fri & Sat)

    Planning a loop that starts in Nucla. Will park the van in Nucla, ride Hwy 97/141 down to Uravan and follow ‘Old/Alternate section’ of the Paradox Trail up to Spring Creek & then on up to Pinto Mesa, (with a ‘if I feel like it’ option of continuing on up to Divide Rd & checking out the snow pack on the Tab), take Delta-Nucla Rd back to Nucla .

    Company welcome, meet in Nucla? Also I can transport 1 person + several bikes from & back to Grand Junction.

    I will be in Grand Junction this week for some work and plan to leave GJ for Nucla Friday afternoon, early enough to get in a few ride hours that Fri evening. Have to catch a flight out of GJ on Monday so need to be back in GJ by Sunday night.

    Note: Weather permitting (the current Nucla 10 day forecast looks good, says 70/40 deg, Sunny& PC for Friday/Sat/Sun)

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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by BPrider
    I am considering the GL this year at about race time, but will be in tour mode. I've been watching the snow pack for a couple weeks now. It is melting, but there is a ways to go. I don't know if this will work, but the following link is to a NOAA outfit that does spatial snow analysis. You can clearly see the light snow layer from this past storm. Should be gone in a day or so. The Columbine Pass snotel mentioned earlier is the little square dot on the south side of the snow area that follows the high line of the Plateau.
    bp

    http://www.nohrsc.nws.gov/interactiv...pe=0&js=1&uc=0
    Thanks for that link, that's awesome. Looks like there's 50-75" snow depth on the Tab singletrack right now...
    Dave

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