My arch enemy Zach and I did an out-and back today, and it was excellent. Now I can comment on both directions:
Last weekend’s route: From home in the Boulder foothills over Olde Stage Road to Left Hand Canyon Road, then down to Geer Ranch Road to the Heil Ranch trailhead. Up the front of the park to Wild Turkey, down Picture Rock to Lyons and finally to Oscar Blues for feast with The Wife. Time with traffic and an OTB crash: 2 hours.
Today’s route: Heil Ranch parking lot to Wild Turkey, down Picture Rock to Lyons, to a new park for water, then back. Time with stops: 2.5 hours.
Riding partner: Zach White, my arch Super D enemy (and the current national Super D champion for men 30-39). He’s fit and skilled, and he’s almost as old as me. It’s a treat to ride this fast.
Down Picture Rock: My first impression stands. The top of the trail has a raw, awkward flow. I am not complaining! I’m just saying many of the corners and rock sections fit together roughly. Zach was trying to pin it, and he was getting balled up left and right. “Every time I want to take a pedal, there’s a rock in the way” and “Dude — there’s a rock everywhere I want to put my front wheel.” He ended the ride with two bloody knees and a bent derailleur hanger. Note: Zach is a very solid rider. I think most people will struggle.
The bottom section of the trail opens up and flows nicely. I missed some of that love when I rode solo the other day, but today, on a fast wheel, it was a Singletrack Lovefest. Zach was railing turns and pumping every undulation. Great stuff — but you must stay on your toes. You can’t take a nap anywhere on this trail.
Up Picture Rock: Nice. The grade is gentle, and the trail just technical enough to make the time pass quickly. We middle-ringed it without trouble.
To summarize: Picture Rock trail is technically challenging but super fun. To ride across Heil Ranch to Lyons and back is totally viable. Let’s see … if mountain biking burns about 600 calories per hour … you can ride to Oscar Blues, have a burger and fries, ride back to the trailhead and call it even.