Thursday, December 25, 2008

Cathy Fromme Prairie Natural Area

Merry Christmas! Another beautiful Colorado winter day. The forecast today was calling for sunny and 42 degrees. After a week of cooler temps I needed to get out there for a few hours and enjoy the warmth. Maybe some hiking? Or a spin on a motorcycle perhaps? Or maybe a ride on the mountain bike?

Since I just dusted off the mountain bike a little over week ago, and decided to start riding it regularly, at least during the winter when I wasn’t riding the motorcycles, I felt that today would be a good day to get a longer ride in.

I decided to ride out to Coyote Ridge Natural Area, knowing perfectly well that since I haven’t been riding the bicycle regularly I might not make it that far. It is about 5 miles from my house to Coyote Ridge Natural Area and 5 miles back home and that’s not counting riding any of the trail at Coyote Ridge.

The sun felt warm on my face as I headed south using a bicycle lane on one of the major roads in town. There was a bit of cars on the road, I would have though everyone would be at home playing with their new Christmas gifts.

After almost two miles I made a right turn and continued on a smaller road toward the foothills. The bicycle lane only lasted about half a mile on this road so I continued to ride on the wide shoulder. I was glad I only had on two layers, I was feeling warm.

These roads seemed rather flat when I’ve driven them in the car or on the motorcycle. Now I realized that these roads weren’t flat at all and the first hill had me huffing and puffing. I arrived at the next intersection and decided that I bit off more than I could chew. This ride was taking longer than I thought and I still had three more miles to go to get to Coyote Ridge. I was thinking at this rate by the time I got through the gate I’d be way too tired to actually ride the trail and would have to turn around and ride home.

The Cathy Fromme Prairie Natural Area was closer to home and I was only a mile away from it, plus I haven‘t been there yet. The trail at the Coyote Ridge is dirt and it’s more suitable for mountain bikes, I‘ve hiked it before and I was looking forward to riding it. Next time.

Entering the Cathy Fromme Prairie Natural Area

The trail at the Cathy Fromme Prairie is paved and is 1.5 miles long. I was shocked at how many people were here, walking, jogging and riding bikes. By the time I got to the end of the trail I realized I was getting really, really tired. I’ve only gone 5 and I had 4 more miles to get home.

An observation deck to watch birds and animals from at the Cathy Fromme Prairie Natural Area

A prairie dog peeking out of his hole

The trail at Cathy Fromme Prairie looking to the east

The trail at Cathy Fromme Prairie looking to the west

As I contemplated my route back home I decided that if I’m already getting tired now, if I ride all the way home my legs might be very sore tomorrow. Maybe I should call Mike and have him pick me up? I wouldn’t want to ware myself out on my first long bike ride. I didn’t know why I was getting so warn out so soon. I can easily hike 6 miles up and down a mountain but I can't ride a bicycle that far? Was I so out of shape?

Cool thing about the bicycle trails around town, many of them run under the roads so you don’t have to stop for car traffic

As if someone turned on a switch, the winds started to gust and dirt started to fly

The wind was also picking up and starting to gust. Feeling like a total quitter I made the call. Mike said he would pick me up in 20 minutes. I still had to ride about a mile to the place I told him to pick me up at. The bike was hard to peddle all the sudden, going up the hill I almost wanted to get off and walk.

I didn’t know it until Mike loaded the bike in the truck but my rear tire must have been loosing air the whole ride and that‘s why the bike was so hard to peddle. The tire was mostly flat now. I got in the truck and we drove home.

The red line is the trail at Cathy Fromme Prairie Natural Area which is located in the southwest corner of Fort Collins

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