Summer Sunday: Rides To Build Endurance

Summer Sunday: Rides To Build Endurance

IMG_0309It’s June in the San Juan Mountains. The trails are dry, the mornings are warm and it’s time to ride. But for many Telluride cyclists, June is also the month of pain.  It’s the beginning of the season. We simply don’t have time in the saddle (or as cyclists call it T.I.T.S).  Steep climbs like Eider Creek, Boomerang Road, and even Mill Creek hurt. As we climb, and our lungs and legs burn, we keep thinking that it wasn’t this hard last fall when we were in shape.

The fact is climbing in Telluride is hard no matter how good of shape you’re in. But, there are ways to ease the early season pain and build endurance and strength before attacking those first harrowing climbs. The best thing to do is what, in the cycling world, is called building your base, or “base training”.  A popular training formula for competitive cyclists is to spend about 1/3 of their season building their base, or going on long, slow rides. They log high mileage keeping their heart rates at about 60% of their maximum.

This may seem pretty technical for the average, recreational mountain biker, but what every cyclist can take from the pros is that putting in some long, slow rides at the beginning of the season will make them stronger in the long run. The best way to do this is on a road bike. Road bikes allow cyclists to get early season miles in April and May when there is still snow on the trails.

But, if you don’t have a road bike there are still a lot of great mellow, mountain biking options in Telluride that may not be immediately obvious. The trick to making long loops is linking single track and the dirt roads that wind up the surrounding mesas. If you think a little out of the box (or box canyon), the options really open up. Think: Galloping Goose, Sunshine Mesa, Bilk Creek, Last Dollar Road, Penelope’s to Valley Floor.

For those of you who don’t yet speak “local”, here is a translation for two good, long, mellow-ish (mellow for Telluride) rides.

Check all directions against a map, a guidebook, or at a local bike shop. Ride times vary; the times listed are an average for an avid rider. Mileage is calculated from Willow Street and Main Street.

Galloping Goose to Ames: This is a great, early-season, intermediate, ride that is not very technical and doesn’t have any steep, crushing climbs. Note the use of the word “crushing”. This is Telluride so you will climb — if you go down, you must come back up.

Directions:  Take the Valley Floor to the highway. Cross the highway, or take the bike path through the underground tunnel to Lawson Hill. Follow the pavement up and around until the Telluride Mountain School parking lot. Look for the Galloping Goose Trail descending right. You will descend on the  the Galloping Goose Trail  for about three miles to Illium Valley. About seven miles from town, the single track will spill out to a dirt road. Cross the dirt road and follow the trail across a bridge and along the river heading north. The trail merges onto Sunshine Mesa Road and will take you south. Climb the road until the first switchback . At the switchback there is a second single track to the left. Follow the single track to Ames. Turn around and return on the single track, or climb out of Ames on the dirt road and return on the dirt road via Illium Valley then back up the Galloping Goose. Ride time from town around 2 ½ to 3 hours.

Galloping Goose to Last Dollar Road to Penelope’s: This is another good ride to get in early miles. Without adding the Deep Creek Single Track (or as it is called, Penelope’s) it’s a 20-mile ride. There is a good climb during the first four miles on the Deep Creek Road, but it’s a maintained dirt road versus a technical, single- track, making this ride accessible to advanced beginner and intermediate

Directions: Take the Galloping Goose Trail to Illium Valley as described above. When the single track spills onto the dirt road in Illium Valley, head north, or downhill. Stay on the dirt road for about two miles, or to mile nine from the start of the ride. Across from Illium Industrial Park Road, take the left towards the river. At the end of this dirt road, you will see a single track.  Keep following the single track, it will bring you to the highway at mile marker 75. Look for National Forest Access Deep Creek Road CR62L on your right. You will climb Deep Creek Road for two miles. At the T, go right onto Last Dollar Road CRT60 toward Telluride. Fourteen miles into the ride, (or about two miles from the T) look for Deep Creek Trailhead on your left  and climb the single track (you can opt out of this addition and stay on the Last Dollar Road until it hits the Airport Road).  On the single track, traverse east (toward town), at the top along the  ridge, then descend onto the Airport Road. Sail down the Airport Road to the Valley Floor and take the Valley Floor home. Ride time around 2 1/2 hours with Deep Creek single track addition.



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