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  1. #1
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    Visiting Colorado Springs in May - ride advice

    Good morning, Coloradoans!

    I have a work conference in Colorado Springs in May, and I am planning to head out a day or two early to take advantage of the amazing riding you locals get to take enjoy whenever you feel like it. I am seeking advice on where to ride, where to rent a bike, and where to get a good trail map. I am flying into Denver but would prefer to ride closer to the Springs, where I am staying.

    I ride mostly cross-country in Maryland and Virginia, and I enjoy technical singletrack...both flat & fast and ups & downs, as long as the downs aren't toooo crazy. I am a competent technical rider and am in good shape (except maybe by Colorado standards--I hear you all do 30-mile rides and climb 5.13's to warm up before work every morning). I don't mind suffering on some climbs in order to ride a great trail. My sweet spot is probably 16-22 miles, depending on the terrain, although I do wonder how my sea-level dwelling body will fare in the thinner air.

    I look forward to any information and suggestions you can offer. If anyone is in the Springs area and wouldn't mind an East Coast tagalong on a ride in May, even better. Thanks!

    Steve

  2. #2
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    Rent - Criterium Bicycles Criterium bike shop

    Ride. For some X country Cheyenne Canyon, For fun technical Palmer Park

  3. #3
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    Thanks, Funrover. I'll check them out!

    Steve

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    Where is your conference?

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    It's at the Antlers Hilton in Colorado Springs.

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    The Antlers is in downtown. The Santa Fe Trail/Front Range Trail runs north-south for some odd 40 miles, it is a great jumping off point to connect to many riding areas like Red Rock Open Space (5 miles west of downtown off the Midland rail-to-trail).

    If you have the time a great ride would be leaving downtown SW to Stratton open space (nice single track) climb to either Gold Camp Rd (dirt) then up Buckhorn and down Capt Jacks down Spring Creek connector onto Columbine then back through Stratton Open Space then return.
    Colorado Springs, CO

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by slobaugh View Post
    It's at the Antlers Hilton in Colorado Springs.
    Cool, you're right downtown then. I looked to see if there are any shops closer than Criterium that rent bikes and it doesn't look like it. Colorado Springs West comes up on a google search, but they didn't mention anything on their web page. Unfortunately, Criterium is on the north side of town and most of the good riding is on the south side.

    Like Rideithard mentioned, the Chutes/Buckhorn/Captain Jacks/Chutes loop is a good place to start. I'd say it's the "must ride" trail here with about 2,000 feet of climbing and a really fun "bobsled-like" downhill with lots of banked corners. It isn't very technical, but the lose gravel will keep you on your toes. It should be really easy to find directions and probably GPS cordinates online for this ride.

    Another good choice would be Palmer Park on the east side of town. Palmer Park is a city park with about 30 miles of trail ranging from flowy to OMG technical. I think Criterium has a map, but it won't do you much good since many of the trails don't have signs on them. If you ride there, plan on just making it up as you go and then follow the blacktop road back to your car when you're done. Since it's bordered by city on all sides, you can't really get lost there.

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    Thanks, Rideithard and Kristian. I really appreciate the solid insight from some local riders.

    I will keep in mind the cross-town trip for the bike rental as I make my plans. Both of the riding spots you mention sound good (Funrover mentioned Palmer Park, too)...can you tell me roughly how long the Chutes/Buckhorn/Captain Jacks/Chutes loop is? Ahh, decisions, decisions!

    Are either of these areas particularly rough and rocky? I don't normally ride with any armor, but I recently picked up some knee pads and armor for some more aggressive, rocky trails I'm looking at in Virginia and Maryland--I've got a job that requires me to be physically fit and able, and at 34, I don't heal up quite as quickly as I did when I was 16. I don't want to be the only tool on the trail wearing protection, but on the other hand, looking like a tool doesn't bother me as much as it used to.

    Thanks again.

    Steve

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    Mileage isn't as relevent out here--it's the vertical that matters. I would guess that the Chutes/CJ's loop is in the neighborhood of 12 miles, but with 2,000 (vertical) feet of climbing, it's considered to be a fairly big ride. Edit: if that isn't enough mileage for you, you can ride around Stratton Open space which shares the same trailhead as the Chutes.

    I wear armor on every ride so I'm probably the wrong person to ask that question to. I can't imagine why anyone would ever ride Palmer Park without armor, but most people don't wear it regularly. If you ride there and you DON'T fall, you're walking too much--you should bring armor IMO.

    Cap'n Jacks is considered to be more of an XC ride than Palmer Park so very few people ride armor there. However, with the lose gravel and the higher speeds involved, I think it's a good idea. It was after a crash on that trail about 15 years ago that I started riding armor on every ride. Edit: This loop is a climb followed by a downhill so you can climb with your armor on your pack and then put it on at the top. In Palmer Park, you're just as likely to fall on the climbs than the downhills so you would wear it the whole time probably.
    Last edited by kristian; 03-26-2012 at 11:47 AM.

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    Many thanks again. I do need to keep that vertical distance in mind...I did a 24-mile ride this summer along the lower slopes of Mt. Bachelor in Oregon, and what looked to be merely a long, tough ride turned out to be borderline epic because of all the climbing!

    Good advice on the armor, too. I am with you as far as better being safe than sorry, so I will probably armor up wherever I ride.

  11. #11
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    Bike info

    Pro Cycling just west of where you will be does not have rentals but they do have a very nice Demo fleet, the staff is knowledgeable and friendly most of the time

    Near the bike shop you can ride Red Rock, Stratton, Buckhorn and further west into the mountains. Lots of places to ride with varied terrain, this year the snow was light so all the bigger rides like the Rainbow Trail near Salida might be open and shuttles could be running so you could have a chance to ride at 12k in May if that's of interest to you.

    Dam,
    Bikes are FUN

  12. #12
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    Check this out, Stratton Buckhorn Jacks Columbine by amnewsom at Garmin Connect - Details that ride from near downtown was 22 miles
    Colorado Springs, CO

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    Thanks JoeMTBR and rideithard. I may very well check out the demos at Pro Cycling, and good point about the light snowfall--being an East Coast guy, I wasn't even thinking about things like the snow line. I guess riding at 12k is probably something worth experiencing!

    That ride looks pretty sweet on the Garmin site--impressive time, too, especially given the healthy altitude gain. Like I said above, I'm a decent rider in good shape, but I fully expect to get smoked by most of the locals. Humility is good for the soul.

  14. #14
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    Ute Valley Park is within easy riding distance of Criterium. Ute Valley has I don't know how many miles of decent varying terrain, from very technical to easy fire road type riding. It is a good place to spend an hour or two.

    Another option right from Criterium is to head north about 4 miles on the Sante Fe Trail and ride the Falcon Trail on the Air Force Academy. It is a 14 mile loop that has a great variety of terrain.

    BTW, I learned to ride in Virginia. I was fairly well prepared for most of the technical riding when I came to Colorado, but the altitude was a bit of a surprise. Some stuff, like Templeton in Palmer Park, blew my East Coast mind for technicality. It was a great learning experience.

    No matter what you choose out here, I bet you'll have a great time. Definitely take the effort to follow through with your plans and get in a couple days of riding.
    Last edited by baker; 03-28-2012 at 05:47 PM.
    baker

  15. #15
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    Colorado Springs

    I did this for someone else asking the question a while back so here you go:

    Disclaimer: I use a FF pretty much all the time, especially when shooting video for stability purposes; however that being said, "I use a FF pretty much all the time" regardless now (I like my teeth)

    Palmer Park:



    Ute Valley:



    Monument Preserve (starting at the Stoopid Trail); the lower stuff is very flowy!:


    Buffalo Creek (Black Jack...aka the crazy stuff there), the rest is flowy:


    Pikes Peak (ehh...wouldn't hit it unless you live here)



    There is also the Falcon Trail on the Air Force base, Cheyenne Mt Park, Jones, etc etc
    Depends on what you are looking for.

    Good luck, let us know when you're in town, hopefully someone can show you something.

  16. #16
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    Thanks Baker and Muddywings. I am curious and apprehensive to check out some of the technical terrain at Palmer Lake--I may not be able to resist at least a short ride there, even if I go elsewhere as well. Your reaction to the technical terrain sounds like my reaction the first time I skiied in Colorado after learning to ski in Vermont. Yikes!

    I haven't looked at the videos yet, muddywings, but I definitely will this evening. Thanks for posting them! I assume by FF you mean a full-face helmet? My Fox helmet has extended rear head coverage, but I haven't gone the FF route...yet (other than on a trip to Whistler, but it would be suicide to do otherwise there). I hope I don't regret not having one in Colorado, especially if I hit Templeton in Palmer Lake!

    I would indeed love to hook up with some of you locals for at least part of a day. I will be getting into town Saturday evening, May 12, and I plan to ride May 13. If my legs (and the rest of me) are up to it, and I don't go hiking with some guys from my office, I may hit it again on Monday, May 14. I know most of you will probably be working, but that is our travel day.

    Thanks again guys.

    Steve

  17. #17
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    FYI. Palmer park and Palmer lake are two different locations

    Quote Originally Posted by slobaugh View Post
    Thanks Baker and Muddywings. I am curious and apprehensive to check out some of the technical terrain at Palmer Lake--I may not be able to resist at least a short ride there, even if I go elsewhere as well. Your reaction to the technical terrain sounds like my reaction the first time I skiied in Colorado after learning to ski in Vermont. Yikes!

    I haven't looked at the videos yet, muddywings, but I definitely will this evening. Thanks for posting them! I assume by FF you mean a full-face helmet? My Fox helmet has extended rear head coverage, but I haven't gone the FF route...yet (other than on a trip to Whistler, but it would be suicide to do otherwise there). I hope I don't regret not having one in Colorado, especially if I hit Templeton in Palmer Lake!

    I would indeed love to hook up with some of you locals for at least part of a day. I will be getting into town Saturday evening, May 12, and I plan to ride May 13. If my legs (and the rest of me) are up to it, and I don't go hiking with some guys from my office, I may hit it again on Monday, May 14. I know most of you will probably be working, but that is our travel day.

    Thanks again guys.

    Steve

  18. #18
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    FYI: I think Baker had a typo--Templeton is in Palmer Park, not Palmer Lake (there was another thread yesterday about camping in Palmer Lake). Baker, if that wasn't a typo and there is a mindblowingly technical trail in Palmer Lake, you've got to share the goods

    I usually ride on Sundays so I'd be up for some tour guide duty on the 13th. (unless that's during our May trip to Vermont--I forget the dates my wife scheduled it for).

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    Thanks for the clarification guys. That would be classic me to be standing in completely the wrong location, wondering why everyone was so stoked about a flat path around a lake.

    I will be sure to post something here right before I head out there. I'm really looking forward to it!

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by kristian View Post
    FYI: I think Baker had a typo--Templeton is in Palmer Park, not Palmer Lake (there was another thread yesterday about camping in Palmer Lake). Baker, if that wasn't a typo and there is a mindblowingly technical trail in Palmer Lake, you've got to share the goods
    LOL! Yes, that was a typo. No awesome technical trail around Palmer Lake!
    baker

  21. #21
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    PM me when your trip gets closer if you want a guide. I have the luxury of riding every day and enjoy showing off the tons of great rails we have.

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    If things don't work out with the other folks who've volunteered to ride with you--PM me if you need a guide. I'll be back in town at that point (so I'll be suffering from the altitude just like you) and I live right next to the Palmer Park. Like most local 'springs folks on this board I'm also very familiar with North Cheyenne Canyon, Cheyenne Mtn State Park, Air Force Academy, etc. as well. Definitely going to be easier for you if you take a local along with you--cheers.

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    You guys rock! I will definitely be in touch and would love to ride with some of you--it will be much more enjoyable on many levels. Thanks for the kind offers!

    I have not really asked about clothing and equipment. I know Colorado is notorious for sudden, wild weather swings. What sort of clothing do you recommend I bring/wear? I plan to have a decent size Camelbak, so I can pack a light jacket and anything else you might suggest I have along for the ride. Long-sleeved jersey? Pants or shorts?

    Also, I ride a SJ FSR Expert at home, but I just converted from a light XC-racing hardtail...I am guessing a trail bike in the range of the SJ FSR would suit me well for most of the rides you all are suggesting, right? I ride clipless pedals, and was planning to bring them with me, but if you think platform pedals are a much wiser/safer option for most places, I am comfortable enough without the clipless pedals to ride platforms.

    Thanks!

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    Quote Originally Posted by muddywings View Post
    I did this for someone else asking the question a while back so here you go:

    Disclaimer: I use a FF pretty much all the time, especially when shooting video for stability purposes; however that being said, "I use a FF pretty much all the time" regardless now (I like my teeth)

    Palmer Park:



    Ute Valley:



    Monument Preserve (starting at the Stoopid Trail); the lower stuff is very flowy!:


    Buffalo Creek (Black Jack...aka the crazy stuff there), the rest is flowy:


    Pikes Peak (ehh...wouldn't hit it unless you live here)



    There is also the Falcon Trail on the Air Force base, Cheyenne Mt Park, Jones, etc etc
    Depends on what you are looking for.

    Good luck, let us know when you're in town, hopefully someone can show you something.
    Those are great videos, muddywings. I have a much better idea of what some of the riding is like...and I am that much more anxious to get out there and hit it! Some of those sections are definitely YIKES hairy. I think I've answered my question about what sort of bike to rent/demo--I will gladly suffer extra on the ups for some extra travel!!!

    Thanks for sharing!

    Steve

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    Quote Originally Posted by slobaugh View Post
    I have not really asked about clothing and equipment. I know Colorado is notorious for sudden, wild weather swings. What sort of clothing do you recommend I bring/wear? I plan to have a decent size Camelbak, so I can pack a light jacket and anything else you might suggest I have along for the ride. Long-sleeved jersey? Pants or shorts?
    You are definitely right about the weather--it could be sunny and 75 degrees or it could be snowing and 30 degrees. May is certainly unpredictable--hard to say this far out. You might check a week or so before you come out for a better read on what to bring.

    Quote Originally Posted by slobaugh View Post
    Also, I ride a SJ FSR Expert at home, but I just converted from a light XC-racing hardtail...I am guessing a trail bike in the range of the SJ FSR would suit me well for most of the rides you all are suggesting, right? I ride clipless pedals, and was planning to bring them with me, but if you think platform pedals are a much wiser/safer option for most places, I am comfortable enough without the clipless pedals to ride platforms.
    I've been riding my HT Fuji as that's my only bike left in Colorado and have no problems riding in any of the places suggested. A FS rig will be better in Palmer Park but let's remember in the early 90's we were riding non-suspended rigs in there and having a blast. Personally I wouldn't worry about the bike--just get one that fits. I've been riding clipless pedals for like 20+ years so that's the only choice for me but I do see a lot of folks rockin platforms at Palmer Park (if memory serves MuddyWings rides them). If you ride North Cheyenne Canyon or the Air Force Academy I would definitely want clipless.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by kristian View Post
    FYI: I think Baker had a typo--Templeton is in Palmer Park, not Palmer Lake (there was another thread yesterday about camping in Palmer Lake). Baker, if that wasn't a typo and there is a mindblowingly technical trail in Palmer Lake, you've got to share the goods

    I usually ride on Sundays so I'd be up for some tour guide duty on the 13th. (unless that's during our May trip to Vermont--I forget the dates my wife scheduled it for).
    I didn't realize that the 13th was Mother's Day. Since this is my wife's first time to celebrate that day, I'm out. Have fun!

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    Quote Originally Posted by bena1916 View Post
    You are definitely right about the weather--it could be sunny and 75 degrees or it could be snowing and 30 degrees. May is certainly unpredictable--hard to say this far out. You might check a week or so before you come out for a better read on what to bring..
    I will check back the week before I come out and pack with flexibility in mind.

    Quote Originally Posted by bena1916 View Post
    A FS rig will be better in Palmer Park but let's remember in the early 90's we were riding non-suspended rigs in there and having a blast. Personally I wouldn't worry about the bike--just get one that fits. I've been riding clipless pedals for like 20+ years so that's the only choice for me but I do see a lot of folks rockin platforms at Palmer Park (if memory serves MuddyWings rides them). If you ride North Cheyenne Canyon or the Air Force Academy I would definitely want clipless.
    I rode nothing but hardtails for almost 20 years until I got my first FS bike this January, and as you said, I enjoyed all the riding I did immensely. That said, I love riding a FS rig now, and I welcome the ability to handle (or more comfortably handle) more rugged terrain due to the amazing technology in today's bikes! Also like you, I have been riding clipless for almost 20 years, but when I rode in Oregon last summer my FS rental had platform pedals, and I was glad for them in a few sphincter-clenching technical spots. Going up was a little tougher, but not as bad as I had feared.

    Thanks for the tips! I will bring my shoes and pedals but play it by ear.


    Quote Originally Posted by kristian View Post
    I didn't realize that the 13th was Mother's Day. Since this is my wife's first time to celebrate that day, I'm out. Have fun!
    Heh. At least you realized that *before* you bought plane tickets and made hotel reservations. Fortunately, my wife was very gracious about it when I realized it and broke the news to her...so I will still be out there riding on the 13th and 14th, and I don't think I will be sleeping on the couch when I get home.

    Congrats on your new little one, Kristian. Bummer we won't be able to ride, but that is awesome! I have a boy, 6, and a little girl about to turn 2, and I can tell you that the cliches are cliches because they are true: the time flies by. Enjoy every moment, even when they have you up late in the night. (Not that anyone asked, but my boy is destined to be a technical, XC master who analyzes every angle and grits his way to the finish. My little girl, OTOH, will be a DH/freeride force of nature with no fear or hesitation.)

    Thanks again all.

  28. #28
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    I think Bicycle Experience and Ascent have demo bikes as well. What day of the week are you going to be here? If you have lights maybe you should bring them, if not I'm sure you could borrow some and join the many that night ride.
    Id rather wake up in the middle of nowhere then in any city on earth........Steve McQueen

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    I will check out those shops as well. One deciding factor may be which (if any) shops will rent me a bike rack. For various logistical reasons having to do with my work conference, I would rather not have to try to rent one from the car rental company.

    I will be out there Saturday night, planning to ride Sunday (Mother's Day--d'oh! See my comment two posts up) and Monday if I can still move my legs and the altitude hasn't sucked all energy from my East Coast, sea-level dwelling body.

    I own a primitive NiteRider single light system, minus the battery, which crapped out years ago. I only used that back in college, though, to ride to and from occasional evening classes. I am not sure I would be up for a night ride--but I guess there's a first time for everything!

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    I'm counting down the weeks, almost days now, until I come out there. I have narrowed down the list of trails I would like to ride to...who am I kidding? I haven't narrowed a thing. I am pretty intrigued by Palmer Park though, so I don't think I want to leave without at least checking it out for a while. Other than that, I may have to flip a (multi-sided) coin.

    I'm out on some training down in the warm, humid south, and while I may be keeping in pretty good shape down here, I am not able to ride, so I am sure my riding shape will be less than what I like when I get out there. I should be able to go for one good long ride the weekend before I come out. At least my body and lungs are adapting to life at more than 5 feet above sea level down here...when I'm standing.

    Steve

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    Quote Originally Posted by slobaugh View Post
    I'm counting down the weeks, almost days now, until I come out there. I have narrowed down the list of trails I would like to ride to...who am I kidding? I haven't narrowed a thing. I am pretty intrigued by Palmer Park though, so I don't think I want to leave without at least checking it out for a while. Other than that, I may have to flip a (multi-sided) coin.

    I'm out on some training down in the warm, humid south, and while I may be keeping in pretty good shape down here, I am not able to ride, so I am sure my riding shape will be less than what I like when I get out there. I should be able to go for one good long ride the weekend before I come out. At least my body and lungs are adapting to life at more than 5 feet above sea level down here...when I'm standing.

    Steve
    Have fun Steve, you will love it out here!

    Here's a good vid to get you stoked about Palmer Park

    <iframe src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/8260808?title=0&amp;byline=0&amp;portrait=0" width="400" height="300" frameborder="0" webkitAllowFullScreen mozallowfullscreen allowFullScreen></iframe><p><a href="http://vimeo.com/8260808">Palmer Park</a> from <a href="http://vimeo.com/user1586099">RR</a> on <a href="http://vimeo.com">Vimeo</a>.</p>

  32. #32
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    Sweet video!
    baker

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    Palmer park is just great. I did Captain Jacks and Ute yesterday and while Jacks is aerobically challenging and pretty much the longest downhill singletrack of the ones you mentioned, its too much of a gravel pit to be perfect. Ute is good, but it doesn't compare to Palmer Park.

    I don't know what Criterium charges, but the cheapest rentals I have seen in town are at Ted's Bicycles. He has been in town for 30+ years and for multiday rentals he will charge $25 a day for a FS ride. He is also about a mile from two of the entrances to Palmer Park (and about 500 meters from my house :-)).

    Palmer is a great place to get your legs and lungs ready for a climb like the Chutes and Captain Jacks link-up (I think it would be closer to 2.5K ft of climbing for that link-up).

    Cheers and enjoy the Springs.

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    Very sweet video indeed! I have to admit it made my East Coast palms sweaty. I am sure I will be challenged and pushed to my limits, and I am hoping I will pick up some new skills (not to mention some serious humility). I reserved a bike and rack from Criterium today. Based on their stock, I had to go with a 29er, which I have never ridden before, but from the looks of Palmer Park, I will not mind the larger wheels one bit!

    I am still trying to decide on what to ride and when (I have Sunday and most of Monday to ride, although I am sure I will not have the legs or lungs to ride all of both days), but I am committed to riding Palmer Park at some point. I would be happy to tag along with anyone here and ride whatever the heck you feel like riding.

    On a separate, but not unrelated, note, does anyone have suggestions on good restaurants and bars in the downtown area, ideally walking distance or at least close to the Antler Hilton? I am not hugely into the bar scene (did I mention I have two kids?!), but Saturday night when I get in and Sunday after a long day of riding, it would be cool to have a fun place to hang out for a while in the evening. I may as well take advantage of having some free time!

    Thanks again guys. You have all been really generous with the advice, and I hope I get to ride with some of you (and buy you a beer, of course).

    Steve

  35. #35
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    Based on the weather guesser's latest 7 day forecast, it looks like a 20% chance of rain on Sunday and a 10% on Monday (meaning it will probably rain both afternoons) The Cap'n Jacks loop described above is REALLY good after a fresh rain since the decomposed granite clumps together and gives miracle traction--we call this a powder day. I'd suggest that for Sunday. (BTW, bring rain gear). You can ride there during or right after rainstorms without worrying about damaging the trail.

    I'd suggest a morning ride on Monday in Palmer Park. When it's wet, Palmer Park can turn your bike (and you) into a clay-cicle which is not fun (especially with rental bikes and cars). More importantly, it's the highest spot in a 10 mile radius so lighting is an issue. If you're done by 2:00pm, you should beat the storm. Naturally, you should check the weather once you get here and refine your plans.

    Regarding restaurants, I'm a big fan of Phantom Canyon which is literally right accross the street from the Antlers--good beer, great food and a nice (but sometimes loud) atmosphere. Il Vicinos is about 2 blocks away on Tejon and they have great beer and pizza. If you're interested in Mexican food, Jose Muldons is about 6 blocks away on Tejon. If you're on a corporate card and want to splurge, Macinzies Chop House is great. Actually, there are lots of good restaurants on Tejon so I'm sure you'll find something easily. For what it's worth, I am NOT a fan of Judge Baldwin's which is the brewery located inside the Antlers (or The Famous for which is another fancy steakhouse on Tejon).

    Have fun!

    Edit: I was just thinking about you renting a rack at Criterium. I'm guessing that it's a trunk mount rack probably, but in case it isn't, the Antlers has underground parking--don't drive your rental bike into the ceiling!

    Regarding the 29er, you're going to enjoy it. It's a big plus for XC stuff like Cap'n Jacks. I don't think they are quite as nimble on the techy stuff like Palmer Park, but if you attack things straight on, it will roll over stuff a lot easier than a 26er.
    Last edited by kristian; 05-08-2012 at 03:05 PM.

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by gbug View Post
    Have fun Steve, you will love it out here!

    Here's a good vid to get you stoked about Palmer Park

    <iframe src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/8260808?title=0&amp;byline=0&amp;portrait=0" width="400" height="300" frameborder="0" webkitAllowFullScreen mozallowfullscreen allowFullScreen></iframe><p><a href="http://vimeo.com/8260808">Palmer Park</a> from <a href="http://vimeo.com/user1586099">RR</a> on <a href="http://vimeo.com">Vimeo</a>.</p>
    Some of those look familiar...some I gotta find now that my tendon is reattached to my shoulder! (I'll see if I can dork up the other side now)

  37. #37
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    Steve,

    Are you interested in riding the Falcon Trail at the USAF Academy on Monday morning? It's a fun 13-mile loop! I can meet you at Criterium around 9-9:30, and we can head out from there (which would add about 10 miles to the ride)...or drive to the trailhead. Choice is yours!

    I'm free that day, and would be happy to show you around! I just moved out here in March, people have been really good to me, and I'd love to help someone else out in some way as well!

    Let me know and we can exchange contact info!

    Chris

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    You're going to love Palmer Park and the 29er will be great there. I switch between my 26" FS and my 29" hardtail there regularly and they are both a blast. It's a surprising place for being inside the city. Wish I could get out and ride with you.

    As for foods... I agree with the above post about Judge Baldwin's - there are lots of better places within a couple blocks. Phantom Canyon is good, Jack Quinn's is amazing and Il Vicino is also very good. Try out our local Bristol Brewing beers, which should be on tap at most of those places (and in bottles at nearby liquor stores). Quinn's and Il Vicino are right next to each other and only about 2 blocks from The Antler's - anyone can give you directions (get to the corner of Colorado and Tejon and you're there).

    Enjoy!
    2004 Specialized FSR Pro
    2011 Specialized Stumpjumper Comp 29er
    Civilian Luddite 29er SS

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    Thanks again, guys! Kristian, that is all really solid advice...expecially the trail/weather beta. Okay, and the bar info is most excellent too. I love craft and microbrews, so I am psyched to try some of the local stuff I can't get in Maryland. I will be sure to pack rain gear. Besides that, a Camelbak, basic first aid and bike repair supplies, is there anything else I should really have? Rattlesnake repellant? Shiver.

    Thanks also to you and SpringsRubicon for the encouragement about the 29er. I am a little concerned about agility and losing momentum on climbs, but at worst, I figure between the altitude and unfamiliar bike, I have all kinds of excuses when I'm sucking wind! I went for a mud-fest this weekend on the trails by my house, but turning into a clay-cicle sounds like another level entirely...that I would prefer to avoid.

    I am narrowing things down, and I was about set on Palmer Park one day (probably Monday at Kristian's suggestion) and Cap'n Jacks on the other, but it would be nice to be able to ride with someone local on Monday...so Chris, I think I may take you up on your offer to ride the Falcon Trail that morning. Let me mull things over a little more, but I will send you contact info in a PM so we can coordinate. I am guessing I will wimp out on the extra 10 road miles because I am going to be doing a lot more miles in two days than I usually do as it is!

    Any opinions on hitting the Falcon Trail and missing out on Cap'n Jacks? I would love to say I will do both, but it may not happen. Thanks again guys. I am definitely excited, and all your generosity with time and wisdom is awesome.

    Steve

  40. #40
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    If you want some Alpine riding do not miss out on Jacks. Falcon trail is nice but the views do not compare. Also if it happens to rain Jacks is the place to be, as it drains very quickly with no mud. Have fun bro!

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by slobaugh View Post
    Any opinions on hitting the Falcon Trail and missing out on Cap'n Jacks? I would love to say I will do both, but it may not happen. Thanks again guys. I am definitely excited, and all your generosity with time and wisdom is awesome.

    Steve
    Falcon is fun, but it isn't in the mountains (it's foothills), the views are of the Air Force Academy (very cool, but it's buildings, not a cool canyon and overlook views of COS), and the ride is more flowy than whooaaahy. I'd lean to Cap'n Jacks's--especially if it's moist.

    Here's a nice Jack's video from ColoradoPaul last winter.

    Late for work!

    Not sure how to embed the video, but the link works at least.

    In the interest of fairness, here is a video that Jaydude took of Falcon Trail.

    Last edited by kristian; 05-09-2012 at 02:10 PM.

  42. #42
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    +1^ Capt Jacks > Falcon Trail.

    I'm a bit out of shape but willing to ride anytime on Sunday at either Capt Jacks or Palmer Park. Or if you're up for it I would be willing to hit Capt Jacks early on Sunday morning--call it about a 2ish hour ride riding up the Shutes, Upper Columbine, Buckhorn, Capt Jacks and back down the Shutes. Then a late afternoon Palmer Park 1.5ish hour ride and then you could hit the Falcon Trail on Monday. With those 3 rides you would definitely get the feel of the what the area has to offer.

    I also could ride early on Monday morning in Palmer, say 7 am for a couple of hours assuming of course it didn't rain the night before--gotta love that Colorado clay.

  43. #43
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    Thanks for the video links, Kristian. I have to admit both trails look like a lot of fun, but I hear what you guys are saying about getting that alpine experience.

    Quote Originally Posted by bena1916 View Post
    +1^ Capt Jacks > Falcon Trail.

    I'm a bit out of shape but willing to ride anytime on Sunday at either Capt Jacks or Palmer Park. Or if you're up for it I would be willing to hit Capt Jacks early on Sunday morning--call it about a 2ish hour ride riding up the Shutes, Upper Columbine, Buckhorn, Capt Jacks and back down the Shutes. Then a late afternoon Palmer Park 1.5ish hour ride and then you could hit the Falcon Trail on Monday. With those 3 rides you would definitely get the feel of the what the area has to offer.

    I also could ride early on Monday morning in Palmer, say 7 am for a couple of hours assuming of course it didn't rain the night before--gotta love that Colorado clay.
    That sounds like a good plan for Sunday, especially the Jacks in the morning, Palmer in the afternoon option. I was thinking it would be good to ride Capt Jacks or something similar first to get used to the bike and get my legs under me before stepping out on a ledge (literally) at Palmer Park. Then I may try to hook up with Chris Monday morning and ride the Falcon Trail. (We'll see what sort of puddle of patheticness I am on Monday morning, but I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.)

    Steve

  44. #44
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    I'm just about finished packing...with all the gear I'm bringing for biking and what I need for training for a week, it's going to take two suitcases. Zoinks! It's worth it though.

    At the risk of sounding like a broken record, thank you all again for the advice, and for taking time to share your knowledge and experience riding in the Springs area. It has made me really psyched for the trip. It looks like I will get to meet at least one or two of you, and ride with you, which is awesome. As most of you know, riding with a local who knows the trails increases the enjoyment ten-fold. I think I will be on Cap'n Jacks and nearby trails Sunday morning, and probably Palmer Park in the afternoon. I will try to hit Falcon and anything else my blown out legs and lungs can handle on Monday, which looks like it will be gorgeous weather-wise. I hope to see some of you out there.

    If I can, I will post here where I will be Sunday night, and I would be thrilled to buy a beer for anyone from mtbr. That holds for Saturday night, too, but I don't think I'll have a chance to post from the time I land in Denver until I go out for dinner. If you will be out in the Springs that night, though, shoot me a PM and I'll respond. Again, as most of you know, the information you've all shared is a heck of a lot more valuable than a beer, so I owe you!

    Steve

  45. #45
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    So where did you end up riding and where are the pics?

  46. #46
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    I took him up the Chutes, Buckhorn, Jacks and back down the Chutes. I think total time was about 2 hrs ish--I'm not sure he really appreciated the altitude :-) and all the climbing off the get go but he was smiling by the time we got back down the Chutes. I then took him over to Palmer and we rode Little Moab, Templeton, Cobbles and Edna Mae--I was going to hit Caretakers on the way to the Overlook but by that point he was just about well done so we skipped it. He said he was going to the AFA on Monday but I haven't spoken with him to confirm if he did or didn't.

  47. #47
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    Hey guys! Sorry for being radio silent there...as soon as I got done riding on Monday, I had to head over to Ft. Carson for several days, and I just got home from there last night. As Bena said, we did Chutes/Buckhorn/Jacks/Chutes Sunday morning and Palmer Park in the afternoon. You guys have some serious climbing out there, and some serious altitude, but also some seriously fun downs! My lungs did not love the hour and twenty minutes or so of non-stop climbing (nor did my legs, to be honest), but I enjoyed the entire ride. Thanks Bena for not really dropping the hammer on me and crushing my spirit! He kept me going all the way up, graciously took some pictures of me up top, and led the way down at a fun but sane clip. That 29er really liked getting on a line and carving though--what a fun bike to ride down something like Chutes!

    Palmer Park was like nothing I have ridden before. Again I have to give credit to my guide and my bike for getting me through some hairy, but fun, technical terrain. Once I got warmed up and comfortable, I had a blast, and it was nice to end the day riding something technically difficult but not too physically demanding. Conditions were great, by the way--cool and cloudy in the morning, light rain and some drizzle in the afternoon.

    (I forgot or was too tired to take any pictures of what we rode at Palmer Park, which I'm kind of bummed about. It was cool looking terrain, but also, as much as people ooh and ahh over pictures of high mountains climbed, I can only imagine the looks when you show someone a picture of PP and tell them you rode down that! It might blow some East Coast minds.)

    Monday I rode the Falcon Trail's 13-mile loop with chrisgardner and again had a blast. My legs were pretty toasted (thanks for the tip about blasting them with cold water in the shower on Sunday, Bena--that saved my bacon for sure), but I was a little better acclimated. Still, I struggled up some long, but not steep, climbs. Chris had to wait for me a time or eight, but he too was encouraging and motivated me to keep pushing. We blasted through some great singletrack, some of which reminded me of stuff I find on the East Coast, and he even found us a couple of fun technical areas to challenge ourselves with. And what a beautiful campus! We had warm, sunny weather, and like Bena, Chris snapped a couple pictures of me during the ride, which was nice.

    I found some great food in downtown Colorado Springs, including Phantom Canyon and Il Vicino's. I also made it to Southside Johnny's during the week with a bunch of guys I work with. Pretty good food, good beer, and a fun blues band. Good times!

    Thanks all again for the suggestions, advice, and encouragement. I had an awesome time out there and wished I could have ridden a lot more. I am more excited about riding than I have been in a while, but I am going to have to seek out some bigger rides here in the east...we just don't have the vertical drop to work with that you guys have! If I can get out there again, I won't hesitate!

    If any of you come east, drop me a note.

    Steve

  48. #48
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    Pictures!

    Not that you guys want to see my mug, but here are a couple of pictures from my rides. The pictures don't show it, so you will have to use your imaginations to see the maxed out heart rate, straining lungs, and lactic acid-filled legs. But the stupid grins are nevertheless totally genuine.

    The first picture is from the top of Buckhorn (forgive me if that's not right...it's the top of whatever it is you are on before you start going down). The second is from near the midpoint of the Falcon Trail. I was smiling because Chris hadn't yet told me we still had another tough climb ahead of us. The third picture is from the top of a mountain/hill near Seven Falls that I hiked later in the week. Cheyenne Mountain is out of the frame to my left. Going back down through the scree fields was the closest thing to skiing I have done without snow. The fourth picture is the view of Cheyenne Mountain from the top of the climb.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Visiting Colorado Springs in May - ride advice-2012-05-13_1357_master.jpg  

    Visiting Colorado Springs in May - ride advice-2012-05-14_1363_master.jpg  

    Visiting Colorado Springs in May - ride advice-2012-05-16_1383_master.jpg  

    Visiting Colorado Springs in May - ride advice-2012-05-16_1379_master.jpg  


  49. #49
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    Glad to hear you had a good time, Steve. Nice to see some locals step up with good hospitality, too. The Springs is a great place to ride and live. :-)

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SGH-I777 using Tapatalk 2
    baker

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