On the Road: Salvation with the lunch ride | AspenTimes.com

On the Road: Salvation with the lunch ride

I hate the thought of being a weekend warrior, so I resist.That means lots of early mornings in the gym. But let’s face it, that’s really not the same as the great outdoors.I cycle when I can on weekday nights, but work (meetings, meeting and more night meetings) or weather (late afternoon showers, once the monsoon kicks in) sometimes make it difficult.I have a secret weapon. It’s called The Lunch Ride.My particular ride starts and ends at my house and takes a little less than an hour on a road bike. I leave Sopris Village, the subdivision behind the El Jebel City Market, and warm up with four miles on the flats, then shoot across Highway 82 on Catherine Road and embark on a perfect climb into Missouri Heights.The scenery improves with each turn of the crank – the vacated Carbondale landfill notwithstanding. At the crest, the big horse pastures and irrigated hay fields unfold. A nice angle of Basalt Mountain dominates the middle ground; snow-covered Red Table Mountain looms in the distance.When you catch your breath from the climb it’s time to turn onto Garfield County Road 102 which whisks you past the cows munching at the Strang Ranch and to the corner where the historic one-room schoolhouse sits. Making that turn centers majestic Mount Sopris straight in your sights.Another corner runs you past the Hunt Ranch, where cattle outfits have operated since the early 1900s. The latest buyers are poised to convert the property into a high-end subdivision, so you get the feeling you’re seeing the last of something special as you glide by.After the Hunt Ranch you work your way into the higher-density parts of Missouri Heights along Fender Lane. The views are awesome. It’s easy to see why humans are crowding deer and elk out of critical winter range up there.Most of the Missouri Heights leg of the route involves climbing: steep at first, then steady with a few rollers that make for great interval training. Once you hit Upper Cattle Creek Road it’s all downhill to El Jebel – and a screaming downhill at that. It’s a glorious payback for 45 or so minutes of flats and climbing.The entire loop takes me 50-some minutes to get back to my house, depending on delays at the Catherine and El Jebel stoplights and how long I gawk at Sopris (it’s unavoidable). But I can slip back behind my computer before the lunch hour fades. And the best thing is I don’t even stink much – for a reporter.

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