Look Out Mountain: Mike HammerToe’s about to gain a foothold ‘round your radio towers.
For Denver riders, Lookout Mountain outside Golden provides some close-by climbing, with about 2300’ of elevation gain from downtown. I first climbed it over 50 years ago, when I was in my teens, with a couple of school chums and a fellow paperboy two years older, Crazy George, who proved his namesake that day as he schooled us climbing on our ten speeds before proceeding to pass cars as he rolled back down to Golden. Recalling this reminds me that my son at the age of 16 on his first Ride The Rockies didn’t hold back when organizers stopped the riders from descending into Telluride during snow flurries – the boy took off before the ride was halted, passing a Fat Tire Beer truck on the way down.
When I was a kid, Lookout Mountain was known for its radio towers, and later television towers, since Denver clearly connected via its airwaves to this mountain in the Front Range west of the city. There was also Sam’s on Lookout Mountain, where 18 year olds could drink 3.2 beer at the top, and then drive recklessly to the bottom. When the liquor laws changed, Sam’s shut down. Residents and parents were thankful. About 18 years ago, another teacher and I at PS 1, a charter school in Denver, made a climb on the dirt trails up Lookout the final for our class on bicycling. Most days we took the students out along Cherry Creek in the riverbed where an entire system of trails appeared after mountain biking took off – the urban equivalent of mountain trails. Lookout was a treat for those youngsters to behold after riding along the creek for so many months. The challenge earned their praises.
The hardest parts of the climb may be at the start through the residential neighborhood before the stone gates announcing this city park, and the upper hairpin curves through the Ponderosa Pine forest before Buffalo Bill’s grave, which is at the top of Lookout. The hairpin curves make for an ascent of about 5%. Coming from south of downtown Denver, I put on 48 miles, which is a nice test for the legs and breath before this year’s Ride. Unfortunately, it started raining at the top, so the braking descent slowed my return. The rain followed me most of the way home. Call it another training day, since I’ve seen weather like this on a century day years ago on Ride the Rockies coming down off the Colorado National Monument. C’est la vie, any day on the bike is a good day.
Michael Thornton, #RetireeBookie