Today was the day I made my second January century attempt. The way things were shaking out with my schedule, it was looking like this was my last chance, too. Had to make it a good one.
I ended up hitting the road at 8:16 am, about 30 minutes before my last attempt. In addition to leaving at a better time, the temperature was more favorable this time around. At my time of departure, the temperature was about 29 degrees, and it was actually sunny. It was shaping up to be a good ride.
I had no idea where the hell I wanted to spend the next 100 miles, so I started to head toward my favorite surface: gravel. That is, to the north and east. I did about 15 miles of gravel before I decided that I didn't want to spend any more time slogging through gravel. Typically the gravel of western Weld county is pretty firm and allows for good speed, but not today. I was having a hard time cruising at 14 mph. Once I got back on pavement, I saw an immediate improvement in my speed. This convinced me that gravel was out for the day.
At this time I decided upon a destination: I would take the Poudre Trail all the way to Greeley. As I had never been on it outside of Fort Collins, I thought today would be a good opportunity, since I am not in the shape for a lot of elevation. After getting to Windsor, I spend some time trying to find a trail-head, but no such luck. I ended up stopping at the library to get some directions - found out I was only a few blocks away from a good place to get on.
For the first 45 miles of the ride I was feeling great. It was before noon, I was making good time, and my legs were feeling fairly fresh. Most importantly, it hadn't gotten too hot yet, so I was also comfortable.
The trail surface was in very good condition for its entire length from Windsor to Greeley. Every bump or hole in the cement had spray paint indicating it would be fixed in the future. I was not expecting such a well cared for trail. Most of the trail follows right along-side the Poudre River. This provided for a very scenic ride. In addition to the river providing scenery, looking to the west provided a great view of the mountains.
When I got to Greeley I had hoped to explore the city a little bit, but the path disappeared into the city. I figured it wasn't worth my time to find what I was looking for, so I doubled back to head home. It was pretty interesting to ride over cattle guards on a bike path. This was a first for me. Gotta keep these guys in somehow, though.
The last 30 miles ended up being quite the drag. As good as I felt for the first 45 miles, I felt that bad for the last 30. But I was eventually able to slog home. I hope to be in better shape for the rest of the centuries for the year.
Riding Time: 6:36:51
Elapsed Time: 7:45:00