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Old 03-10-2010, 08:00 AM   #67
Geek OP
oot & aboot
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Joined: Jun 2003
Location: 8000ft.
Oddometer: 32,062

I've been standing in the sun when the wind picked up and started blowing snow off the peak above me and it was snowing on me without a cloud in the sky while I stood in the summer sunshine

"Layers and Flexability".

Many places I've lived have the motto "Don't like the weather, wait 5 minutes".
In Colorado I think it should be "Don't like the weather, ride 5 miles".

When you visit Colorado you are likely going to ride a lot of Passes. Passes are the fun stuff because they are ways up and over mountains instead of going around mountains. Due to this you end up with huge altitude changes not to mention specific micro-climates generated by the mountains themselves.

General rule: The temperature will drop 4 degrees every 1000 feet you climb. That said, when in the mountains it can change a lot more severely than that just by rounding a corner.

Keep in mind that weather elsewhere can effect you. We crossed this creek one morning and it was about a foot deep (and the mountain range above us was receiving rain). 4 hours later when we got back to this creek it was nearly 3 feet deep

Be ready for anything:
The first time I was on California Pass in 2007 it was sunny and beautiful the entire time.
In 2009 I was in freezing cold and wet the entire time I went over California.
In 2008 I was going over California Pass sweating my butt off in a cloudless sunny sky... went around a bend and ran into a vicious hail storm (above tree line no where to hide I got pounded with marble size hail) started to descend and got soaked by torrential rain and then popped into a valley where the sun was out and steam was coming off my gear. All this in 20 minutes of riding (and dropping from 12,930 feet to ~10k feet).
All three trips were in August.

You need to be dressed flexibly. You can literally go from 90+ degrees to into the 40s or 30s in a matter of hours (and back to 90 again!).

General Rules:

You'll be hot down low.
You'll be cool up high.
You'll get soaked for a couple of hours in the afternoon.

The other rule they try to drum into us around here:


Why? Because when the afternoon thunderstorms roll in, you are going to be the best lightening rod above tree line and get your arse fried.

Every summer we have reports of people hit by lightening and sometimes there isn't a cloud in the sky where they are (the storm could be behind a peak next to you and you wouldn't know it.. but the lightening can still use you as a grounding rod ).

Sure that seems to be a "do as I say not as I do" rule with me... but the times I have been above treeline when thunderstorms have rolled in they have been genuinely terrifying/dangerous. The feeling of every hair standing up on your body is not a feeling you'll soon forget (or a feeling I recommend you try for).

One time @ 14K feet Ironbrewer and I were watching the thunder and lightening form below us... that was a freaky situation to be looking down on lightening .

Not good

I can't count the number of times I've been on a mountain and watched a storm roll up the mountain at me (at a speed far faster than I could go).. I'll see if I can dig up some video I have later.

So long story short:

Wear layers
Have a water proof outer layer
Get below tree line before noon if you can.

p.s. when I do road rides I use electrics and it is a great solution. Turn up the temperature as you climb, turn it back down as you descend. I don't tend to wear my electrics off road though.. too bulky and they don't breath well enough.

p.s.s. Plan on every/any night camping getting into the 30s (of course depending on how high you camp.. but be ready). Make sure you have a sleeping bag capable of keeping you warm. The desert climate usually means the temperature drops dramatically after dark

sure it is sunny where I am.. but those clouds in the distance means I have no business going above treeline right now

Geek screwed with this post 03-10-2010 at 08:53 AM
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