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Colorado Allroad Ride Old-Flowers-Pennock Pass loop

(Click on thumbnails for larger view, where available.)

Rist Canyon provides a scenic, paved warmup. Still summer here.

Rider: Will deRosset

Bicycle: Boulder Bicycle 650B Allroad Special Lightweight

Tires: 42-584 (650B) Grand Bois Hetre

Route:  130 km (80 miles), 7 hours. Click here for map.  

Just west of gates on Old Flowers Road. The trees are just turning colors on this September day. Roads like these can be ridden on 28 mm tires, but wider Allroad tires are recommended.

Fall is approaching here on the Front Range.  The Randonneuring season is winding down, and the evenings are getting cooler. It is time to find other adventures on the bike before winter really closes in.

In short, It is Allroad season--time to get out on the bike, get away from the pavement, and into the woods as the trees turn, cold weather nips at your heels, and the extensive network of county and Forest Service roads west of Fort Collins beckons.

Open Prairie at top of first major unpaved climb. The yellow Aspens on the ridge show that it is already fall up here.

Leaving Fort Collins, head west to Bellevue via Bingham Hill. Warm up for the upcoming exertions climbing Rist Canyon Road, a paved ten-mile climb popular with cyclists. Descend to Stove Prairie. At the base of the 60-mph descent, the paved road T-s into Stove Prairie Road. Continue west on Old Flowers Road. The pavement ends. Traffic ceases, and the route climbs through cleared horse ranches and sub-irrigated hayfields to the first gate. The gate was closed when I rode through in June, and open in late September.

Back into the forest. Old Flowers Road crosses three small creeks.

West of the gate, the road becomes a jeep track, and climbs through aspen groves and pine woods toward a second (open) gate and open high prairie.

This summer I saw a turkey and her poults along this steep and sometimes rocky ascent. No such luck this fall, but the cool air was invigorating, and, using a 42 mm 650B tire at 25-30psi, I was not compelled to walk my bike up some of the steeper sections of the climb for lack of traction. This summer, I rode my randonneuring machine with 28 mm 700C tires, and I was obliged to walk three hillslopes.

A challenging and rocky descent to Pingree Park Road.

This fall, the gate was open, and I played leapfrog with three 4wd trucks on the route. I passed them on the rocky climbs, through the water crossings, and on the descents, and they caught me up on the open forest segments. Everyone was quite friendly and happy to be out, though I prefer the quiet when the gates are closed in late spring and early summer.

In September, one can change seasons by changing altitude. I left Fort Collins in late summer. At the first ridgetop west of Stove Prairie, the trees were turning, and I'd found early fall and its chill. I added a layer.

Beaver Pond along Pingree Park Road.

The route continues, dropping and climbing through three minor drainages, climbing through subalpine forest to a moderately steep, sustained, and rocky descent to the South Fork of the Poudre River. Climbing gently to the south, one turns, crosses Pennock Creek, and climbs Pennock Pass, over Monument Ridge, to Box Prairie.


Climbing back through the seasons on the approach to Pennock Pass.

The climb is gradual, the road is well-maintained, and punctuated by sweeping switchbacks to the summit. A long, gradual descent along Buckhorn Creek brings one back to pavement on Stove Prairie Road. Turning south, the descent continues to Masonville, where the route climbs three small hogbacks, summits over Horsetooth Reservoir South Dam, and finds its way back to the starting point.

Looking toward Pennock Pass.


This is a highly recommended Allroad ride for the adventurous spirit. 32mm (or wider) tires are strongly recommended. Old Flowers Road should be considered mild technical terrain. There is no resupply, so bring what you need for a marvelous day ride. I brought four water bottles, leggings, a jacket, and lunch.