Spoke Talk: Routt County offers great road, gravel rides
As a spring road ride special, we’re highlighting five road/gravel rides to get you started.
Stagecoach as an out-and-back or loop is a nice ride with some fantastic rollers. From downtown, take River Road (Routt County Road 14) south, but be careful crossing Colorado Highway 131. Once you get on the road out to Stagecoach, use caution on narrow shoulder segments. Turn around or stay on 14 and head to 131. Turn right (north) and ride through Oak Creek. Remember to stay as far to the right as you can and obey the traffic laws.
The Rabbit Ears climb is basically an out-and-back. This is the area’s classic hill climb and, for this year, is the start of Stage 2 of the USA Pro Challenge. Take U.S. Highway 40 south of town and climb. Take it easy and spin up to the summit; go hardcore get Strava-geeky. Take a lap at Dumont Lake, or get ambitious and ride all the way to Kremmling. Regardless of the route, be courteous and share the road.
The Oak Creek loop is a counter clockwise route that heads west on Twentymile Road, which eventually becomes Routt County Road 33. Ride some hills. See the cows? Keep riding. See the Saddleback Ranch sheep? Uh, keep riding. See the coal mine? OK, go left (south) on Routt County Road 27, and keep riding. This road drops you into the town of Oak Creek, and from there, it’s a left (north) on Colo. Highway 131 back into Steamboat. Remember, if you’re maneuvering in traffic, signal your turns 100 feet before you turn. The easiest way is simply point where you’re going.
Tour de Steamboat is a summer special and, for many, a signature big ride. Be prepared, as this really is a big format ride. Be sure to take two, or 10, water bottles. Ride U.S. 40 nearly to nearly Kremmling, then take Routt County Road 134 up and over Gore Pass to just outside Toponas, then Colo. Highway 131 to Oak Creek and back to Steamboat. Remember, motorists can cross the centerline to give bicycles the required three feet for passing. Check out the ride route at tourdesteamboat.com.
Cow Creek Loop is a local gravel grinder special. Once again, River Road (C.R. 14) south gets you in the area. When it splits at the railroad tracks, stay right and on Routt County Road 35. This turns to gravel, so stay on the pavement heading toward Whitewood. At the schoolhouse, turn right on Routt County Road 41, and begin the gravel climb. Once you’re down the backside, ride right (north) on Routt County Road 45 (Cow Creek Road). Currently, C.R. 45 is under construction, as culverts are being replaced, and conditions may vary daily until the work is completed. Remember, ride only two abreast when it won’t impede traffic. Fall back to single-file as traffic approaches from the rear.
Ride options abound. If you need more suggestions, Routt County Riders can help. Contact us at email@example.com or pick up an Adventure Maps trail and route map at area bike shops. Several road rides are described, and a portion of every map purchase benefits Routt County Riders. Be safe, be courteous and have fun.
Routt County Riders is the local source for grassroots advocacy and information for all types of cycling, be it road, gravel, trail, dirt jump or BMX. If you need help or advice, contact us. Find us at facebook.com/rcriders, routtcountyriders.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alan Perkins is a Routt County Riders board member and volunteer.
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