Havin' ourselves a time in Colorado's North Park
A bike overnight to test camping gear, escape the Front Range heat, and sample a section of Adventure Cycling's TransAmerica Trail from Rand, CO to Walden, CO.
Bicycle Adventurers: Kurt Wieck and Jodi, wife and traveling companion.
When: Late August, 2015.
Accommodations: A hill on BLM land overlooking Walden Reservoir, a lake full of waterfowl just outside Walden, CO.
Distance: Eighty-two miles in two days.
Adventure Bonus: Meeting colorful locals and other cycle tourists, including two world-class travelers from Germany. And the Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge and Colorado State Forest.
To beat the weekend warrior RV camper traffic and to cut the mileage to a reasonable distance, our trip started sixty-seven miles west of Fort Collins, CO at the top of Cameron Pass on Colorado State Highway 14. We began with a fast and exhilarating eight mile descent down the west side of Cameron pass to the Moose Visitor Center and the indoor plumbing it provided.
From there to Walden is only 22 miles along Highway 14, so we opted to turn left onto a gravel road, 27, to make the trip longer and more scenic. The road passes through beautiful ranchlands, Owl Mountain State Wildlife Area, and stunning overlooks of North Park. The gravel was in good enough condition for our 700x28 tires at full inflation although lower inflation and fatter tires would have been more comfortable.
After eighteen miles of gravel we were relieved to pop onto Highway 125 and the tiny town of Rand, placing us on Adventure Cycling's TransAmerica Trail bicycle route! The Rand store has a few refreshments and a lot of local art for sale. They have water jugs set out for travelers to fill their bottles and an outhouse with an ambiance to rival any three-star hotel.
It was now twenty-two miles to Walden, along the TransAmerica Trail, on paved Highway 125, which passes through the Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge. Traffic was light and very respectful. Just before town we turned onto gravel and found a remote place to camp on BLM land overlooking Walden Reservoir which was chuck full of waterfowl, including pelicans, and a cacophony of bird sounds!
We set up the tent and lightened our load before riding two miles into town for showers, beers, shade, and colorful locals. We've driven through Walden many times and stopped for gas or a meal, but we never truly appreciated the place before riding into town. We found out they let cyclists camp in their beautiful city park and that's where we met Ina and Mirko from Germany. They are on a world cycling tour that you can follow on Mina.rtwblog.de.
After a beautiful full moon night on the open high plains of North Park, we had breakfast, broke camp, headed to town, and said goodbye to Ina and Mirko before riding the thirty miles east on Highway 14 back to the truck. Traffic was light most of the way, but the mad rush of campers heading home gradually increased as we neared our truck. We loaded the truck and joined in with the procession of vehicles and wondered if any of them knew what a bicycle tourist knows, that when riding, you're not so focused on getting somewhere because you're really already there.
Author Biography: Kurt is a "World class commuter, old guy racer, and wanna-be, trans-continental rider."
Your favorite local bike shop? Peloton Cycles, 3027 E Harmony Rd, Fort Collins, Co 80528 Peloton-cycles.com
Tips and Tricks for this Bike Overnight: To beat the weekend warrior RV camper traffic and cut the mileage to a reasonable distance, we drove west to Cameron Pass from Fort Collins, CO and camped on Friday night. That allowed us to finish on Sunday before the mass exodus back to the Front Range.
HOW ABOUT YOU? Inspire others by submitting your bike overnight adventure!