Sunday, November 7, 2010

Pedaling and a Pint

...or three.

One last week of great weather in Colorado, but my abdomen was still ailing me. I decided to take a full week off of running, but hit the bike instead. Ended up with 3 decent rides in the last week, with no significant intrauterine pain (a good sign), though I still feel it when I cough, sneeze, or think about doing a situp. More on that as time goes on.

Leaving my apartment on a bike requires much monkey business to get into a groove. Yes, there are some great bike paths, such as the Highline Canal Trail which stretches over 70 miles, but many of them are not entirely practical for transport. I used to be able to get out and crank on county roads and highways immediately.

Falcon Brewing, Parker
However, I still have the pleasure of exploring new territory. I've never actually been to Parker, so that seemed like a good goal. The Cherry Creek trail roughly gets there, but has some gaps and twists. Luckily, I brought a printed map...which fell out of my jersey pocket. I kind of wandered around a bit before picking up Jordan Rd., which is a halfway decent N-S route. Finally got passed the "Welcome to Parker" signs, when I started looking for Parker proper. Had a hard time finding it, ended up on the bike paths again, when I saw a map, showing that "Main Street" was nearby. So I did find the downtown, which was very small but quaint. I recognized the Falcon Brewing Company logo, and stopped in for a quick pint. It's a decent brewpub that seemed like a fun place with great service. They only had a couple house beers on tap, in addition to some visiting beers (bonus). I tried the Hog Daddy Amber, which was incredibly thin and light. I guess that worked well for having to ride back home, but didn't have the body and flavor I'd expect. Still a nice place though, not as much a destination but worth checking out if you're in town.
This ended up being a 50-mile roundtrip with some of my detours.

Dry Dock Brewing, Aurora
Been wanting to check out Dry Dock due to great reviews online, and its only 7 miles from my house. But first, made a detour to Aurora Reservoir to soak in the last of summer in November:

Got to explore more of the bike trails in Aurora itself, which were nice, as well as some rolling hills on the roads. Man, I love hills, so that felt good, took some aggression out. The loop around the lake is longer than I would have thought due to the jagged shape, and the miles are marked: a nice place on an uncrowded weekday. Nearest I can tell from the signs, the entrance fees truly are for vehicles only. Heading back home gave me another even 50 miles. There is a dearth of bike lanes and painted shoulder lines in Aurora, but I did find a bright white one on Quincy that appeared brand new. After a few miles, I came upon some cones that blocked the lane off, and then a painting truck. I asked the guy if he painted the line, he did and smiled-- I thanked him and told him I "just used it."

But for every positive...
Quick rant...Skippable
I did decide to take Hampden, as traffic was relatively light mid-afternoon. There are three freaking lanes in each direction, but no shoulder. I was pinned to the right side, when a convoy of large construction trucks violated my 3 foot space and gave a honk, which did nothing but startle me. Now I did see them coming, and I had barely enough room on the side, but I need to set the scene up for you: these trucks were 3 abreast, at the back of a pack (meaning there was nobody behind them for a quarter mile), speeding up needlessly to a clearly visible red light ahead. No, I was not riding with my head down and headphones on -- like I said, I know who's around me in situations like that. It's incredible how little we ask or demand out of driving. And, had something happened to me, my poor wife (I've warned her about this many-a-time) will have to deal with armchair yokels telling about how bikes shouldn't be on the road, and why wasn't he on the taxpayer-funded bikepath that's only 3.8 miles north of that route, or why didn't he take the 3-times-as-long Route "X" instead, or his red bike and jersey weren't as visible as a blaze orange bike and jersey with a blinking headlight would have been, or I saw a different cyclist ride through a stop sign the other day and therefore they all suck, blah blah blah. I'm getting old for this and don't seek out crappy conflicts, I just need to get used to the area, and then I will take the longer-but-safer routes. Yes, Google-map "Bicycling" option -- Got it, but it's not perfect (see, "Huron Street", below).
/End Rant

Actually, that was the only negative encounter all week, and it was on a road that I didn't really want to be on in the first place. Not bad, considering. Looked forward to a pint at Dry Dock.

Dry Dock doesn't serve real food -- some snacks, and a free popcorn machine (bonus), but it is all about beer. The attached store sells homebrew supplies. It has a large patio, taken up at the time by cigar smokers (you decide if that's your thing or not). However, you can bring in your own food, and there's Mexican, Chinese, and sushi nearby. The beer board has a host of award listings on it, in addition to 2009 GABF Small Brewing Co. of the Year. I was debating, when a local barfly named Tim said I should try the hand-pulled Old Ale. He offered me a sip of his, so I did -- then demanded a refill from the bartender, ha! Excellent choice. I had a taste of the oat malt stout and vanilla porter as well, both very good. A great place that I look forward to visiting again. Unfortunately, nothing to drink for the missus, and the only other drawback would have to be the growler refill prices. They "start at $8" but I think that was only the IPA, other stuff was $10-$20+. So I don't know if I can make this a regular refill spot. But I would consider this place worth going out of your way, even as a destination, if you're into beer and visiting the Denver area.

Old Chicago, Fort Collins
Another great day of weather on Friday. There was some talk of going to a friend's event on Friday in Fort Collins, but I called J numerous (7) times throughout the day and she didn't answer her phone. The logical thing was to ride my bike up there unannounced, about 75 miles, and hope to catch a ride with J but figure out the details later if it turned out I couldn't. I've done Denver to Fort a few times for various reasons, but I had wanted to do a door-to-door (apartment to old condo) ride anyway, and the weather wasn't going to be any better. On the road bike, I roubaix'ed my way through the sandy, soft-surface Sand Creek trail before Platte River North -- a section around Commerce City which was surprisingly enjoyable. Then I crossed over 25, some ugliness in getting over there to Huron Street, which was green on Google maps but not all that pleasant up into Northglenn. I found a few official bike trails along the way, pursued some of them to dead ends, basically ended on Huron again. That's as much as I printed out, happy when it finally opened up to CR7.

Happy to be on County Roads -- able to crank along without stopping or navigating. Played the game where you hit a dead end, then head West again before the next Northerly road. Also played the game where roads unexpectedly turn to dirt, been there before, and you debate pressing on (always) or turning around (never), even if you get yourself into 4 miles of choppy roads. This is where Boulder tri-geeks on $5k bikes curse their GPS's or call for a ride, but the only thing I cursed was the washboards as I flew down the hills (not wanting to skid on dirt) and hoped the dirt isn't too loose at the bottom. It did lose its romanticism after awhile as I was slowed down big time going up the hills expecially. Finally got closer to Mead and got pavement back.

J finally answered the phone when I was almost in Loveland, saying we didn't have plans anymore. Then she was somewhat annoyed(!) at me -- what? I was cool with whatever, thinking it was a bonus that I could carpool with her on the ride home. But it was perfect time for happy hour at Old C's, the one on Harmony where my name is on the wall -- twice -- lots of good memories. Mother in law Debbie met us just like old times, and I saw a few coworkers as we sat out on the patio. Just before heading home, we called friends Neil and Deej and stopped there....Ended up driving home around midnight. Good times!

It took an 'injury' and lack of competitive running events to get me back on the road bike a bit more for the first time in months, but glad I did. Red bike, you've taken me lots of neat places -- thanks!

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