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Deranged Touring Cyclist
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Said more correctly, tomorrow I ride the Tour of the Moon in Grand Junction, CO. That's about 4 hrs from the Denver area by car and a really pretty little city in its own right.

The Tour leads through the CO National Monument, which was a stage of the Coors Classic back when there was such a thing as domestic pro cycle racing. There will be lots of steep grades and tight curves.

The premier section of the ride, Rim Rock Drive in the Monument, is 22mi long and connects two points separated by a mere 7 air miles. Last year, Mrs. Newleaf spoke to a SAG driver who reported a few cyclists from out of state chose to SAG the descent while riding the rest of the course. It's honestly tight enough and fast enough, even at the 25mph speed limit, to require solid experience in curves.

Miss a curve and there are sheer rock walls and drop offs, with few guard rails. It's something I imagine most any cyclist is up to doing, but prior experience is ideal. The year before my first run in 2018, a rider died on the descent when she attempted it in the rain and 'failed to negotiate a curve' resulting in tragedy. I understand most riders that year chose to SAG their way to the bottom due to first the rain, then events associated with the accident investigation.

For any who are in the area, I understand in-person registration is still being accepted. It's worth doing if you are up for a last minute challenge. Grand Junction is a wonderfully bikeable town. It's likely that, as in years past, I'll park the car when I get there and not touch it again until time to leave.

In any event, I'm excited to get underway and just about ready to head out. The car is loaded and the bike ready to be strapped onto the rack. Hotel check in is 5pm, so I'm in little hurry.

More to come.
 

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Deranged Touring Cyclist
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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Visited the start/finish line after picking up my packet. This'll be a harder shot to get tomorrow!
Bicycle Wheel Tire Bicycles--Equipment and supplies Sky


Plant Window Tree Building Architecture


Best in-room bike storage ever. Bathroom with jacuzzi tub behind the door on the right.
Property Wood Building Flooring Floor


Plant Building Bicycle Wood Houseplant


I dig the jerseys this year, too.
Outerwear Sleeve Wood T-shirt Triangle


Sleeve T-shirt Font Sportswear Sleeveless shirt
 

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Deranged Touring Cyclist
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
When registration opened this year, I was waiting. I guess my number reflects that.
Rectangle Font Brand Graphics T-shirt
The "O+" designation reflects the fact that I am an Outside+ member as the result of their promotion whereby you signed up for Outside+ for (I think) $95/year and got one free Outside cycling event and a discount on a 2nd. The usual registration for the ride is $150, so it seemed like a good deal.

Turns out, it was: I was able to sign up for the ToTM as my 'free' membership ride, and got a discount on the Elephant Rock event I rode this June. I also got paid access to the Gaia and Trail Forks phone apps. I would totally do this deal again if it is offered.

I was underwhelmed by Outside's video offerings, which are generally quite cool and spectacular, but over-dramatized to a degree which turns me off. The Outside Magazine website, on the other hand, is flatly awesome. Great content, and a lot of it is not paywalled.

Their MTB instruction videos were a bit simplistic, but deceptively instructional.

Tomorrow the forecast calls for showers. I'm equipped to deal with a Rule #9 day, but that could get interesting on a road with more 10- and 15mph hairpin turns than I can count. If needed, I'll take a SAG down.

Well, that's what I tell Mrs. Newleaf. It's even true if we're talking serious, torrential rain. That said, the odds are good that I'll make the descent tomorrow whether it's raining or not. I've had a lot of experience riding in the rain. Slow is best.

Here's hoping for a dry descent. That is just too much fun.
 

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Deranged Touring Cyclist
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
You might want to watch "American Flyers" before the ride.
Nailed it in one! When I started riding this even in 2018, they actually screened the movie in a downtown theater the night before the event. I'd seen it prior, but it was cool to get to see it on the big screen.

That said, it's even cooler to get to see the Monument live from the saddle of your bike. This year marks my 4th riding of the event, and I loved it as much today as I did that first incredible time. The grades are steep, the curves sharp, the scenery beyond dramatic. What's not to love?
 

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Deranged Touring Cyclist
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I completed the event's short course. I made the turn to ride the long course, but this year was the first time I didn't study both in advance and I made a very amateurish error leaving the first aid station after the turn. As a result, I rode 48mi rather than the short course's 42mi. No biggie, though I'm annoyed to have started the long course and blown it so quickly on something which should have been obvious. No matter. The ride was awesome. 3200ft of climbing.

No Rule #9 anything, unless it was the mid-90's temps toward the end. With low humidity and a bit of a breeze, that's just summer. Pleasant enough. Not even a hint of rain. I'm not sure what the weather man was talking about the night before.

I am a bit 🤯 by the fact that I saw not one but two riders on penny-farthings. The idea of of doing an 1800ft descent through hairpin curves with grades between 5-11% on a penny-farthing just....🤯😱🤯😎. Wow. A bit less crazy but not much were the couple who I overheard telling a SAG driver helping them with a flat that they were given their bikes for free. Just brought 'em to the event and headed out. I have respect, it just blows my mind.

There are plenty of pics, but for the moment I'm a bit bushed.
 

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Deranged Touring Cyclist
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Jerseys! Gilets! I was a sucker for the schwag this year.
Product Sleeve T-shirt Material property Electric blue
I rode the event wearing last year's jersey, beginning the day with a non-matching gilet from another event. At the finish line, I found some of last year's gilets were still available, so now I can match...'cause that matters :p.

Product Azure Baby & toddler clothing Sleeve T-shirt


Sports uniform Baby & toddler clothing Jersey Sleeve Collar
This is the 2022 Colorado National Monument jersey. I like to stop into the visitor's center during the event to grab a COLM jersey before enjoying the big descent.

Baby & toddler clothing Sleeve T-shirt Font Collar
I am slowly accumulating a stash of what I think are pretty sweet jerseys. This presents a problem since I ride with a Camelbak, which obscures the cool artwork front and back. I have have to change that before long.

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It's a small thing, but I love getting the COLM jersey during the event itself.
 

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Deranged Touring Cyclist
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Mountain Car Sky Plant Vehicle
Heading into the Monument.

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The signs were new. I did not require this advice :D.

Sky Mountain Plant community Plant Cloud
The air quality this year was bad. That definitely made the climbs harder, and hurt the quality of the views. It may be why I saw more participants hiking their bikes to the top rather than riding. There are always a few hike-a-bikers, but this year there were a lot. They still get to the top. I had trouble with it at first, then acclimated and felt fine until that evening, when my lungs felt as though I'd smoked a pack of cigarettes during the ride.

Sky Plant Road surface Bedrock Slope
I like the way the road winds through the scenery with minimal disruption. Note the hike-a-biker in the distance.

Bicycle Plant Sky Plant community Bicycles--Equipment and supplies

Still early in the climb, this is a point where you can begin to get a taste of the scale of this place. Note the hike-a-biker and shaved rock formation.

Smile Bicycle helmet Sky Bicycles--Equipment and supplies Plant
I was there!
 

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Deranged Touring Cyclist
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Sky Plant Cloud Mountain Road surface
An example of one of the course's many hairpin turns, this one emerging from a tunnel. Note the old road, visible behind the emergency vehicles and running into the distance on the left. It's no longer open to traffic, but worth hiking. Though mild here, the grades lower down are so steep that drivers reportedly had to drive up in reverse because the era's automobiles had lower gearing there than in 1st, and 1st wasn't enough. Frankly, it's a bit gnarly to hike in places. Trying to drive it in reverse is a bit mind boggling.

Plant Sky Cloud Bedrock Mountain
The next hairpin in the sequence. This road has to be seen to be believed. So wonderfully curvaceous.

Sky Mountain Plant Natural landscape Bedrock
The air quality really hurt the views. Here it's barely apparent that there is a valley in the distance. In fact, that's the city of Grand Junction, where the ride begins and ends.

Glasses Sky Smile Plant community Ecoregion
I am not usually one for smiling much, or taking selfies. The Monument inspires me to make exceptions.

Sky Plant community Mountain Plant Natural landscape
Note the dark coloration on parts of the cliff wall. This is known as 'desert varnish' and can take thousands of years to form.

Bicycle Sky Bicycles--Equipment and supplies Tire Wheel
This year there were no less than 4 professional photographers on the route. There was also a very sweet NPS volunteer who hung out at one of the best overlooks and offered to take pics of the participants. That was a nice bonus.

Sky Plant Mountain Natural landscape Bedrock
 

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Deranged Touring Cyclist
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Bicycle Wheel Tire Plant Sky
View from the last aid station before the big descent.

Sky Plant community Mountain Plant Cloud
Even without the bike, it's not a bad view :D.

Bicycle Sky Wheel Plant Tire
Not so much distance to be viewed today.

Sky Road surface Mountain Asphalt Plant
Mid-descent. I stopped here after catching up to a car and pair of motorcycles it would have been both unsafe and illegal to pass. They were rolling significantly beneath the speed limit. That is not how this descent was meant to be ridden. Note the tunnel entrance.

Sky Ecoregion Natural environment Plant Road surface
The tunnels are the reason the Park Service requires all cyclists to have head and taillights. They are not very long, but fun to transit. On the right, a shoulder-width bit of flat ground flanks the road. Beyond it, the drop isn't sheer, but easily 60* or steeper and it goes on for hundreds of feet.

Sky Plant Mountain Cloud Natural landscape
I think of this as 'Heartbreak Hill'. It's just outside the Monument and announces that the climbing is not over just yet. After some 2500' of climbing to get here, it is not the most welcome sight.

Bicycle Wheel Tire Bicycle helmet Bicycles--Equipment and supplies
At an aid station. I love my bike so much.

Sky Furniture Outdoor bench Ecoregion Plant
Apologies for the poor quality pic, but here is one of the two penny farthings I observed on the course. This one was fully color coordinated in red and black. Probably the best looking penny farthing I've seen. I can't even imagine what the descent would be like on that thing.

Sky Plant Road surface Asphalt Tree
The scenery outside the Monument is not as compelling, but still quite pleasant and varied. Desert views predominate, but are intermixed with riperian areas near the river and some low traffic suburbia.

Bicycle Bicycles--Equipment and supplies Plant Wheel Tire
At the finish line. Unlike prior years, I ended up hanging out at the finish line through the formal end of the event. It turns out when the last riders come in, they are tailed by all the motorcycle police and SAG crews. The support staff at the finish line all turn up with cowbells and cheer everyone in. My visit to pick up my packet the day before had already yielded a cowbell, and I had it with me. It felt good to be one of the few participants who turned up to cheer.

The last riders in were a team, judging by their matching kit and very nice roadie rides. Not sure what happened, but it looked like maybe one person had run into trouble and the team stuck with them. Perhaps they just started really late. They didn't look like the type of riders you'd expect to see finishing dead last. No judgement there, I'd just expect to see someone like me making such a finish. This group was clearly in great shape and well equipped.

No pics, as I was busy ringing my cowbell and yelling like fool. It was fun, and a great way to end the experience.
 
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