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Deranged Touring Cyclist
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This year I plan to ride the Tour of the Moon for the 4th year. For those who remember the Coors International Bicycle Classic from the 80's, this was one of the race's best known stages. The location was also featured in the bike movie "American Flyers". These days it's no longer a race, but still an amazing cycling event.

The terrain has to be seen to be believed: the best section of the route features a 23mi road which connects two points which lie a mere 7mi apart by air. There's some ~2k feet of ascent involved, too. Think steep grades and hairpin turns. Lots of hairpin turns. There are also several tunnels hewn right through the rock. It's pretty to drive, amazing to ride. The scenery really is out of this world. For those who have seen "American Flyers", the relevant scenes were shot on location. It really does look like that, though the cinematography couldn't do justice to the actual views. I am not often moved to stop in the middle of a screaming descent in order to take pics or just enjoy a given view. On this ride I've done it more than once, including here:
Bicycle Tire Wheel Bicycles--Equipment and supplies Sky


That would be the Colorado National Monument's historic Rim Rock Drive. Because the ride goes through the Park, the number of participants is capped by the Park Service at ~2200 riders. The event usually sells out quickly. Lights are required due to the tunnels. The ride offers 41 and 64mi options.

Make no mistake, this is a bucket list quality ride. I say that as a 3 time, self-paid participant. I have no connection to the organizers and have not received or been promised any kind of remuneration or discounts for gushing about it like this.

In any event, I recently signed up and thought there might be someone from here who would like to ride it, too.

The event takes place in Grand Junction, CO which is located about 5.5hrs by car from the greater Denver area. Grand Junction has a regional air port, but I understand a lot of participants fly into Denver and make their way to GJ from there.

There are lots of options: car rental, of course. There's also a commuter bus service which allows bicycles and offers onboard wi-fi. Train buffs will be happy to know that Amtrak offers daily service from Denver to GJ via the California Zephyr line. I understand that bike service is offered on this line, but have not used it myself.

The town of Grand Junction offers the usual array of hotels and Air BnB places, but be advised that it's not that large a town, and the event usually fills the local hotels and campgrounds to capacity. It pays to make reservations early. The town itself is pretty small and easily bikeable. On my 2nd year riding the event, I parked my car on arriving at my hotel and didn't bother driving again until it was time to leave town. There are lots of bike lanes, a few MUPs, and plenty of low traffic side streets. Sweet little college town.

If anyone is interested, please feel free to hit me up either here or via PM. I am happy to share information and discuss travel options for those who aren't local. I may be able to spot someone a ride or arrange for a van in the event enough are interested.

There's a lot to see in the area and while this ride is all about pavement, both GJ and the nearby town of Fruita offer huge networks of MTB trails. From Fruita, one can catch the Kokopelli Trail, a bikepacking route which runs 158mi to Moab, UT.

Moab is a bit over 1.5hrs from GJ and offers access to Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. Also near countless acres of public land and some truly outstanding State Parks. Whether you like singletrack or pavement, there are many epic places to ride.

As for the Tour itself, I learned to ride my bike in curves in order to ride the first year. The descent is steep, fast, and tight. The hairpins go all the way down to some marked '10mph'. There are not always guard rails. Some riders from more flat states choose to catch a SAG to the bottom. I was fortunate in that I had some great local roads to train on. Not everyone does, and the descent demands some skill. My non-cyclist brother learned to ride curves for the event and has now done the descent 2x without problems. Just coasting, it's necessary to use one's brakes to stay within the 25mph speed limit.

Plant Sky Bedrock Natural landscape Mountain
Note the carved up rock immediately to the right of the road on the upper left. The road was literally carved into and occasionally through the cliffs. No other way to build it. Riding it is...delicious.

Plant Sky Plant community Ecoregion Road surface
Note the barely visible guard rail on the upper right. Same road. Gnarly awesome switchbacks. Nice smooth pavement, too. For the most part.

So, how about it? Anyone game to Tour the Moon this year?
 

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Deranged Touring Cyclist
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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Perhaps I should mention that for 2022 the Tour of the Moon will be held on 10 September.
 
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Old, fat, and slow
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I wouldn't die on the descent, because I would die on the climb.

Otherwise i would surely die on the descent.

For a number of reasons (including crashes) I have a real problem with downhill curves. I know how and when to brake properly, I know how to pick a line and all that .... but my survival center tells me "Slower" and I can never seem to override it.

The only way I could do such a ride would be in last place, or the riders behind me would run me over---and the way I climb, I would have no trouble being last anyway.

I did Arches and MTB in Moab back in 1999 when I was really fit. The whole area is awesome .... I have to imagine Grand Junction is similar except it has trees.

Mr. Newleaf, you are very kind to share this information. In a commensurate act of kindness, I will decline your offer .... to let you enjoy the ride one more time (at least.)

I hope to be fit enough to actually put bike routes back on my "bucket list." Meanwhile, I leech off of you amazing folks.
 

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Deranged Touring Cyclist
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I wouldn't die on the descent, because I would die on the climb.

Otherwise i would surely die on the descent.

For a number of reasons (including crashes) I have a real problem with downhill curves. I know how and when to brake properly, I know how to pick a line and all that .... but my survival center tells me "Slower" and I can never seem to override it.

The only way I could do such a ride would be in last place, or the riders behind me would run me over---and the way I climb, I would have no trouble being last anyway.

I did Arches and MTB in Moab back in 1999 when I was really fit. The whole area is awesome .... I have to imagine Grand Junction is similar except it has trees.

Mr. Newleaf, you are very kind to share this information. In a commensurate act of kindness, I will decline your offer .... to let you enjoy the ride one more time (at least.)

I hope to be fit enough to actually put bike routes back on my "bucket list." Meanwhile, I leech off of you amazing folks.
If you are able to make it out here at some point, we can pick a hill and have a slow race up it :D. I like to think of myself as a steady but slow climber. Sometimes slower than others. I couldn't say how many times I've stopped on the ascent into the Monument to puff and blow like a locomotive while playing with my DSLR. The views are totally worth the stop, almost anywhere your cardiovascular system calls for a break. Wherever that happens to be, you'll be in good company. While there are a fair proportion of monster climbers, there are a lot more who are not. Some walk their bikes to the top. They still make the climb, as do those who bring e-bikes to the party.

The terrain in the CO National Monument through which the ride runs is very much like the Moab area, but the dramatic rock formations and enormous cliffs are contained in a smaller area instead of going on and on, etc. Grand Junction is situated in a kind of bowl, with a lot of flattish land mostly surrounded by mountains. There are trees near the river and around town. The surrounding high desert mostly offers scrub trees which most people would think of more as bushes than trees.

It is also notable for the street names used throughout the area. Some are normal while others are made up of odd combinations of letters, numbers, and even fractions. For example, there's 28rd, 30rd, and 28 1/2rd. Then there's D rd and E rd, with D 1/2 in between them. I'm not kidding.
Plant Sky Tree Road surface Natural landscape


I am frankly jealous that you've gotten to ride Arches. I've been there with my bike, but also a schedule which permitted no more than a quick drive through. It's one heck of a park, and the entrance road with that crazy climb and all the switchbacks is almost like a shorter version of the Monument's Rim Rock Drive. I've enjoyed some short hikes at Arches, but itch to see the park from the saddle.

Speaking of curves and grades, I get the concern. I grew up driving cars and light trucks through mountain curves at...inappropriate speeds, let's say. I thought that experience would help when I tried playing in curves on my bike. Not even close. My first descent through tight curves on my bike was frankly laughable. I used my disc brakes so heavily that I experienced brake fade, and for once kept my speed well below the warning signs' recommendations throughout. I rode like a blind grandparent, only slower. Probably ground away 1/2 my brake pads' material. Like you I knew the techniques, but putting them into practice on the mountain was just not happening. Much harder to overcome such instincts when you have to travel pretty far just to find a road on which to practice. I think the Tour's main ascent exceeds FL's highest elevation by a factor of nearly 6. It's a great state and offers a lot, just not mountains :).

I think I benefited from splitting the skills up: I was able to practice riding at high speed on local descents which offered straightish roads and excellent visibility. On the other end, I practiced tight stuff at much lower speeds and in limited context. Holding a steady line at 45mph on a straight road actually does help one handle 25+mph through hairpins. At least, it helped me. I was also fortunate enough to have a range of hills and mountains and curves on which to play. I could easily start small and work up to fully comparable terrain.

A lot of people also roll the descent slowly. I've even seen one who was braking Flintstones' style :eek::eek::eek: after grinding already worn brake pads away to nothing. I've seen a lot more people simply playing it conservative. It helps that the number of riders is limited and the main ascent causes everyone to spread out some, as does the aid station immediately prior to the 'money descent'. It also helps to have the whole lane available. Slower riders stick to the right while faster ones ride toward the middle and even swoop close to the center line to pass.

I would definitely recommend practice in curves in advance of the event. If it happens that you or another member are in the Denver area and interested, I can point out some good practice routes, starting relatively small and working up.

Depending on timing, I might be able to play tour guide or even chauffeur. Local MUPs offer a variety of terrain and magnificent views for those looking to acclimate to the altitude (5k ft) here before heading for GJ, which is a bit lower. The Monument ranges in altitude from 4700ft to 7000ft while GJ is at ~4500ft.

I'm sorry this isn't the year for you and hope that may change for the better in the future. This is a special event and it would be fun to ride it with some other Two Spokers.
 

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Deranged Touring Cyclist
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Great description and a ride i would love to do. I’ll have to ponder this a few days (knowing there are deadlines)
Thank you! It'd be fun to see you for the ride if you can make it. In the past, the sell out point has come in late spring or early summer. Last year thanks to the pandemic it never sold out at all, but that's the exception to the rule. If you have trouble finding hotels in GJ when/if the time comes, the city of Fruita is ~12mi to the West, Palisade 13mi to the East. Fruita is a great little town, and has a bicycle chain ring in their city logo. Wonderful sculptures in the downtown area. Mrs. Newleaf and I ended up in an Air BnB out there last year and it worked out well. That said, I much prefer to stay in GJ and simply ride my bike everywhere.

I know there are places in GJ which rent bikes for the event, but I've never investigated further. I could work with you to find a local shop to which your bike could be shipped for assembly. I have a couple of local places I like, but I have zero CF experience and imagine there might be additional requirements in terms of tools or skills. If needed, I can certainly find locking indoor bike storage space for a few days.

Judging by some your ride stories and things I've read about West VA, I'm guessing the grades out here won't count as 'steep' to you. I think the main ascent's grade averages 5 or 6%. It and goes on for what feels like eternity, but for someone used to Eastern grades, it probably won't feel too bad. Unless, of course, the altitude gets to you. In the event things work out, I can provide some basic ways to deal with higher altitude if you haven't already amassed your own store of experience. It's generally not a big deal at all, but there are a few warning signs which are best heeded.

I hope it works out! It's quite a wonderful ride, and pretty even outside the Monument. Within of course, it's breathtaking. If you have any specific questions or unusual needs, please don't hesitate to ask here or in a PM, whichever is better. That goes for others, too. I'd love to be a part of the Two Spoke contingent at an event like this.
 

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Deranged Touring Cyclist
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
One last thing: sign up for the ride is $130 atm. Alternatively, you can sign up for 'Outside+' for $90 and get a voucher to ride any Outside series ride (including the ToTM) for free. There's also 20% off another Outside series ride. For anyone in the CO area, Outside has taken over the rides formerly operated by Roll Massif. That's the Elephant Rock, Copper Triangle, Tour de Vineyards, Tour of the Moon, and several more which I believe are limited to NM and CO. Mostly the latter.

I generally steer clear of subscriptions, but in this case I went with it. Afterward, I had no trouble following the site's instructions to get a code good for free sign up to the Tour of the Moon. I also plan to ride the Elephant Rock for this, its final year and will be trying the 20% discount when I do. One nice thing is that the site offers a 'turn off subscription' button which doesn't require extensive searching to find. I found the instructions for taking advantage of the subscription's various aspects to be clear and more or less straightforward.

In addition to the rides, the Outside+ subscriptions include premium access to the Gaia GPS and Trailforks apps. I loaded them and have been pleasantly surprised at some of the features and so forth. The subscription also includes a video streaming app of some sort, but I haven't looked into that yet. There are also options for actual magazine subscriptions. The website seems to have some interesting content, though I haven't investigated it much. It is not limited to cycling, but offers several other categories of outdoor activities.

There's a bunch of other stuff, but it's easy enough to read about it for yourself. I'm not trying to sell it, merely mention its existence and illustrate the parts which appealed to me. I signed up for the savings on upcoming rides and because I've been curious about Gaia's premium features for a bit. I have my eye on a third ride for this year, but more on that later.

For anyone who is interested, click the ToTM link in the OP or practice your Google-fu. When you click to sign up for the ride, you should get a pop-up with the option for the Outside+ deal. I am not advocating for or against the deal, but felt the discount was worth a mention in the interests of full disclosure. I chose to take advantage of it and have had good luck implementing the parts of the offer which interested me. That may change. It may not turn out to be the case for you. Caveat emptor and all that :).
 

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Deranged Touring Cyclist
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I’m quite interested in this ride, but sadly…..this year hasn’t been my year in the bike.
I just don’t have the fitness to make that ride.
Hopefully next year it the one after.

Thanks for the reminder though.
I'm sorry to hear it, but I understand how these things work. A solid fitness level is definitely important. In any event, I am looking forward to this year's ride and hope to find myself there again for the '23 event. There's just nothing like the scenery out there. I hope you can make it. If I can assist, please don't hesitate to reach out.
 
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