Horsetooth – Stove Prairie 200k

Saturday I rode Rocky Mountain Cycling Club’s Stove Prairie 200k Brevet. I guess I’m going to have to stop using superlatives like “one of the best routes I’ve ridden” because there are just so many beautiful rides to do. Stove Prairie is one! And with the exception of a few minutes riding next to Horsetooth Reservoir, the weather was excellent.

I have to admit that with “prairie” in the ride name I wasn’t expecting much scenery and I wasn’t expecting much climbing. I was wrong on both. Almost as soon as we left Berthoud the route went past beautiful farms, gentle hills, and rivers that were only a teaser for what was to come.

We worked our way up and down and around Horsetooth Reservoir with a few nice, short, steeper climbs. Towards the end of the reservoir loop we encountered wind gusts from random directions. Fortunately the wind wasn’t too strong; the strongest gusts probably low 20’s mph, so it was just a matter of relaxing, slowing down to a comfortable speed, and staying far enough from the edge of the road to avoid being blown off by a gust from the left. The random wind ended after we rolled down from the reservoir and soon we were at CP2, Vern’s Store in LaPorte.

From there the route takes a long, gradual climb up Poudre Canyon. The river and the canyon are beautiful; definitely worth a bike ride or car trip! The pine forest here still seems healthy compared to the forest near my house and other parts of Colorado.

You could consider the climb up Poudre Canyon a warm-up for the real climbing, from Mishiwaka to Stove Prairie. It’s about 5 miles from the intersection of Highway 14 and Road 27 to Stove Prairie. Because I was a little tired from hanging onto John Ellis’ wheel coming up Poudre Canyon and because I wasn’t sure how long or hard the climb would be, I held back a little and enjoyed the scenery. There’s a stream running beside the road and the forest is pretty close on both sides most of the way up. The climb reminded me of the south side of Cuchara Pass from North Lake; several steep pitches interspersed with flatter sections and even a down hill section before the last mile to the top.

From the top of Stove Prairie the miles went by pretty quickly … especially the first 23 miles to CP4. There were several steep descents on the downhill side of Stove Prairie and more beautiful scenery. After CP4 the route was flatter, though still downhill overall. We rode past lots of horses enjoying green pastures on the way back to Berthoud and soon after we were finished.

Wish I’d gotten some photos to post, but you’ll just have to go see it for yourself!

If you’ve want to give randonneuring a try Rocky Mountain Cycling Club is a great place to start. They schedule many brevets (200-1200k) and populaires (around 100k). Their rides are usually very well attended with lots of experienced, friendly riders willing to answer newbie questions.

One thought on “Horsetooth – Stove Prairie 200k”

  1. this was fun to read- my old neighborhood! I took the car version of the tour many times, but I can believe the bike version is much more enjoyable with time to look at the scenery and enjoy a snack on the Poudre. Thanks for synopsis, C!

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