Spoke Talk is a weekly column by the Routt County RIders.

Spoke Talk is a weekly column by the Routt County RIders.

Spoke Talk: A roadie favorite — the P’burg loop

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Want to see some different scenery from the saddle of your road bike? The “P’burg loop” is a short, fun loop that begins and ends in the South Routt community of Phippsburg.

The 15-mile route is all paved, and it offers a great variety of terrain that can be enjoyed by cyclists of all abilities.

One of the great things about this ride is that it can be done as a “stand-alone” ride if you are looking for a 60- to 90-minute outing, or it can be added on to the traditional 40-mile Oak Creek/Stagecoach loop if you want to spice up that old favorite.

Spoke Talk

Spoke Talk columns publish weekly in the Steamboat Today newspaper.

If you drive to Phippsburg, there are several safe parking spots on either side of Colorado Highway 131.

Begin by riding south through town on Colo. 131 and turning west onto Routt County Road 15. Initially the road climbs gently to the southwest before the terrain becomes more rolling.

After you climb up out of the Yampa floodplain, you are treated to spectacular views of the Flat Tops as well as interesting volcanic features not seen on other local rides.

Arguably the best feature of this ride is the light traffic. On a typical ride you might see one or maybe two vehicles on C.R. 15. (Even though traffic is scarce, remember to keep to the right and be considerate of the locals.)

After about 3 miles, at the intersection with C.R. 132, there is a short but steep descent with a sweeping left turn. Be aware of scattered loose gravel as you sail down this fun little pitch and see how far your momentum will carry you before you have to resume pedaling.

As you continue toward Yampa, the paved road becomes C.R. 17 and the rolling terrain gives way to very pleasant flat pedaling with nice views to the east and south.

When you arrive in Yampa, turn south on Main Street for a cold drink and potty stop at the convenience store or the mercantile before you head back to Phippsburg.

The 6 mile stretch of Colo. 131 between Yampa and Phippsburg is the antithesis of the first half of the ride; it’s downhill (slightly), it’s straight and there is more traffic. But if you are riding with a friend or two, it is really a fun place to live out your Tour de France fantasy and practice pace-line riding.

Without too much work, your group can maintain a 22- to 25-mph pace and cover the 6 miles in about 15 minutes. If you have a friendly tailwind, you can even hold 30 mph and make it in 12 minutes.

Just remember to be very aware and considerate of the highway traffic as you rotate through your pace-line. Don’t even think of riding two abreast on this stretch. Of course, if hammering down Colo. 131 is not your cup of tea, you always have the option of retracing the quiet and pleasant route back to Phippsburg on C.R. 17 and 15.

Enjoy the ride!

Paul Matheny is a Routt County Riders member and volunteer president of the board.

Comments

Scott Wedel 3 months, 3 weeks ago

The six mile stretch on Hwy 131 has no shoulders and a 65 mph speed limit.and you should be comfortable riding on the white line as a semi drives past. It isn't a heavily traveled section of highway so often it will be an easy boring return ride, but sometimes it is a scary ride.

Also, if you are unlucky then a semi hauling cattle or sheep will pass and you'll feel their feces and urine hitting your skin. it is really unpleasant.

Regardless, if you are out for a fun ride then I'd return using county roads. It is hilly and curvy enough that the scenery isn't the same going the other direction.

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Pat West 3 months, 3 weeks ago

So Scott, you ride this loop? Do you ride at all? You never took me up on my invitation to show you the trail work on Emerald.

I have found that despite the 65mph speed limit, CO-131 is so lonely that most drivers give respect to cyclists on the road, and give us the 3 ft passing margin that specified by law. In contrast, on the back of the loop, you may never see a car at all, so the huge, up close, views of the Flat Tops can be enjoyed without much interruption.

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Scott Wedel 3 months, 3 weeks ago

I have ridden this loop. I have ridden the Gore Pass loop dozens of times and know this section of hwy 131. I've taken this county road section instead of the parallel section of 131.

I said that hwy 131 isn't a heavily traveled road and that often riding it is boring. But I've also had some scary moments on that road and I am comfortable riding 3 inches from the edge of pavement.

Being passed by a semi even with a 3 foot buffer at 65 mph is not fun. They make their own wind and initially the wind can push a rider off the road and then suck you towards the trailer.

Also, few drivers going 65 mph can accurately calculate where they will pass a bicyclist. So they will give room only to face oncoming traffic and so they end swerving back into their lane before having passed the cyclist. So yes, on hwy 131 I have been given less than a foot by cars going 65 mph and it was driver error.

I also note the Pburg loop is a short ride so it is likely to attract casual riders. Typically, not the sort of rider that feels comfortable riding on a 65 mph highway with no shoulder.

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Scott Wedel 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Mark R.

Show your ignorance.

I used to be a very serious road cyclist. Aryah Copa would remember that from Sore Saddle days.

I did the Buff Pass long hill climb wearing the SB Brewery and Tavern bear suit and finished mid pack. (Though, I only put the bear head on for the finish). I also have ridden to Denver in a day over Cameron Pass (240 mile day) and Rocky Mountain National Park with the section of road over 12,000 ft).

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Scott Wedel 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Doubt me? Talk to Areyah. He'll remember me from Mike Sanders and Ed Crislip days of Sore Saddle.

And here's the thing - what it is like to ride hwy 131 is a fact that isn't dependent upon my experience. Would you recommend that someone looking for a ride of less than 15 miles use that section of hwy 131 with a 65 mph speed limit and mostly with no shoulders? Would you recommend it to a 60 year old couple or a family with a 12 year old kid?

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john bailey 3 months, 3 weeks ago

yes Pat , Scott is correct 131 is not the best part of this loop almost no shoulders to speak of I would stay on the county roads and do an out and back. going at speed down the h-way and not seeing the riders soon enough due to poor color choices that blend in is pretty nerve racking. don't the bikers like to be seen ? after all its not about fashion but safety , correct ? still a very cool ride with the Flat Tops in all its beauty ......

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Chet Persons 3 months, 3 weeks ago

These back an forth discussions?? are sounding a lot like my junior high days!! (And that was LONG time ago.)

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Scott Wedel 3 months, 3 weeks ago

As for a Areyah Copa story - 20+ years ago, it was Spring skiing and Areyah had a recently separated shoulder. So he is wearing a tshirt with the injured arm secured against his body as it normal for a separated shoulder.. And he is skiing under Priest Creek lift line flying down the mogul run making every turn poling left and right with one arm. It was impressive.

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Pat West 3 months, 3 weeks ago

I agree ScottW is the champion troll of this forum.

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mark hartless 3 months, 3 weeks ago

WOW! I never considered the cow truck feces variable.

Turning one's back to 65mph semi's AND cow feces!!!

What's NOT to love about that sport??

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