Alpine Loop + Cascade Springs

On Friday I got an e-mail from Kenny announcing a ride up the Alpine Loop. This is one of my favorite road rides right in my "backyard". Reports indicated that the road is clear with maybe one patch of snow across the road. The weather forecast kept getting worse, but Kenny was still going so I decided to give it a go.

I woke up earlier than I anticipated but got up and got ready anyway. I left at 8 am and riding to the meeting place, this is what Timpanogos looked like:

Our ride takes us behind that mountain. Ominous looking weather, to say the least.

I made it to the parking lot by 8:25. We were to meet there at 9 am. I texted Kenny to let him know I was starting early. I know Kenny and his friends are strong riders and didn't know if I'd be able to keep up so I thought it wise to get a head start and let them catch me. It also meant I could go my own pace.

The ride up the Provo Canyon parkway was pleasant. I took it easy, rolling around 15 mph. It passes Bridal Veil Falls:

After the parkway trail there's a short stretch along the highway then I turned off for the climb up to Sundance.

The segment from Provo Canyon up to Sundance includes some steeps sections (around 10% grade). I made it up OK and kept going. The lower switchbacks are also steep, I had to drop down to 2nd gear. The rest of the way up to Aspen Grove was a nice climb. I passed through the locked gate (the road is closed during winter) and passed two guys in camouflage carrying a bow and a shotgun. I'm not sure what they were doing, and didn't want to ask.

There was some debris on the road, but it wasn't bad. The road climbed steeply along a side hill, then mellowed out. I love this section -winding up through the Aspens.

Interestingly, at mile post 20 the Aspens were leafing out nicely, but a mile later up the road not even a bud could be seen. My guess would be the temperature difference is keeping the higher trees dormant still.

I made it to the top in 1 hour 5 minutes and spent more time in 3rd gear than other rides up this road. My altimeter measured 3000' of climbing so far.

I was the only person at the summit. I went to the bathroom, ate some food, put on my jacket and warmer gloves, made a little snowman I put on the road then laid down to rest. The sun would shine between the clouds now and then. It was very quiet and peaceful with only birds to be heard.

After 10-15 minutes I heard a sound - I looked up to see Elden roll in. He was the only one coming up from the American Fork side so we headed down the Provo side to meet the others who were coming up. We stopped at the Cascade Springs turnoff and had only waited a minute or so when Kenny rode up, followed shortly by Kevin, Larry and Adam.

Kevin was short on time so headed back. The rest of us decided to add a down and back to Cascade Springs. I wondered if I should just head back too, but I've wanted to try the Cascade Springs road so I went for it.

I could tell by how fast we picked up speed going down that it was steep. The decent was also cold and I was glad I had brought so much clothing. Even with my insulated gloves a few fingers went numb. I lent Adam my thin full-finger gloves as he only had cutoff-finger gloves.

After turning around at Cascade Springs it was immediately obvious this was going to be a stout climb. I did OK at first, but about half way up I could feel my legs starting to slow down. There were two stretches that hung between 9 and 11% grade for a good distance. I even serpentined a few times to have a little break from grinding up this thing. Kenny was on a fixed gear bike and I was doing 3-5 cranks to every one of his - I don't know how guys like him can push these big gears. Impressive. Needless to say, I was glad to see the end of this road. Here's Larry and Adam topping out:

Kenny, Larry and Adam went back down the Provo side with a planned stop at Sundance for some refreshments. I wanted to complete the loop so I went down the American Fork side with Elden.

The road was clear with some debris - a few sections covered in pine needles were a bit loose. A few miles down we met Rick who decided to go down with us. We flew pretty fast down - I hit 41 mph. Below the Tibble Fork turnoff we road together, and when the road got flatter we did the slingshot paceline to keep the speed high. I turned south at the mouth of the canyon and said goodbye to Elden and Rick.

I cranked up the hill there and felt my legs hurting and even some cramps coming on. I slowed down and rolled easy to the top then picked up the speed on the downhill side. I took the backstreet home and did OK, but I was pretty tired and in no mood for any kind of hard efforts.

6000' climbing, 54 miles, 4 hours of riding time. An incredibly enjoyable ride.

P.S. Our FatCyclist jerseys arrived today (after I'd left for my ride, of course). I'm in orange, my wife in Pink. She wore hers today for a short mountain bike ride.


Epic Adam said...

Those gloves were a lifesaver. Thanks! I want to get back up there on a warmer day, before they open it up to cars and do it again. I love that ride.

KanyonKris said...

I'm glad the gloves helped. I'd like to get up there again too - let's keep in touch.

kc said...

Sounds like a great ride. I am jealous, I am still waiting for my jersey to arrive.

ricky said...

Great to meet up with you, Kris. Certainly was a great way to start the day.Ricky