Featured photo for Wellington-Carter Lake 200, CO

Wellington-Carter Lake 200, CO

Today I decided to get out of bed a bit early (3:45 am) and ride my bicycle all day. Quite literally (200 miles…)

What possessed me to do such a thing, you might ask. It wasn’t just a case of being unable to count sheep to fall asleep, or having too much caffeine the night before. Actually, there were three reasons: 1) every year since 1996 I have ridden a double century and still needed to do one this year to continue that streak, 2) I was eager to check out the Colorado fall colors that had been exploding out of the trees as of late, and 3) it sounded like a much better idea than, say, working.

So I embarked on a rather unimaginative—but very beautiful—route up to just a few miles from the Wyoming state line, down to Timnath, back up towards Wyoming, down to the Horsetooth Reservoir and Carter Lake, and back home again. My bike—loaded with food and water—weighed 35.4 lbs. before leaving the house, but as most of the journey was flat with just enough short-but-steep climbs to keep me honest, the heft was not a problem.

In fact, the list of Things Gone Wrong is surprisingly short considering that the ride was entirely self-supported and I did not even have a clear idea of the route I was going to take until the night before.

The first issue had to deal with the ambient temperature. During the first few hours before the sun woke up, the thermometer on my handlebars read a hand-numbing 35 degrees. This was about as comfortable as sitting inside a freezer, so in order to distract myself between the teeth chattering, I began muttering to my bike in Spanish. Phrases I distinctly remember mumbling include hace frío (it is cold), hace MUCHO frío, (it is VERY cold), and quisiera que el sol se levante pronto (I would like the sun to rise soon). Also: ¡Necesito ir al baño! (I need to go to the bathroom!)

The second issue had to do with my lights. They worked brilliantly in the morning, but after sunset they started flickering like a candle in the wind. Fortunately, this did not result in getting hit by an unsuspecting vehicle or careening into a ditch.

Otherwise, the ride was super enjoyable and indeed better than working even if I accomplished little more than burning (according to a metabolically all-knowing friend) approximately 10,400 calories and snapping some photos of the beautiful Northern Colorado scenery.

Route Sheet


Food Consumed

  • Bowl of oatmeal with raisins and walnuts and milk right before the ride
  • 3 bananas
  • 1 apple
  • 5 whole wheat tortillas with peanut butter and honey
  • 3 stone-ground whole wheat slices of bread with peanut butter and honey
  • 3 whole wheat tortillas
  • Maybe 8 oz. of walnuts, cashews, and raisins
  • 7-9 water bottles. Refilled water bottles at Mile 100 (Overland-Poudre Creek Trailhead) and Mile 170 (Horsetooth Mountain Park)

All of the above seemed adequate to sustain me for the entire day.

Ride Data

  • 200 miles
  • 4:25 a.m. start, 8:45 p.m. finish -> 16.3 hours
  • Average speed: 13.5 mph rolling, 12.2 mph overall



  • Scenery: 4 (5 for second half)
  • Support/Organization: self-supported
  • Food: self-provided
  • Weather: 4
  • Relative Difficulty: 2
  • Overall Rating: 5
[Mile 45, 8:15 a.m.] The view of the Front Range from Timnath.
[Mile 115, 1:10 p.m.] In historic Masonville now...
[Mile 122, 2:12 p.m.] Nice fountain.
[Mile 121, 2:08 p.m.] Toothy red rock.
[Mile 121, 2:17] Yes, I love my bike.  Canny in front of an unnamed lake.
[Mile 123, 2:27 p.m.] More CO fall colors.  The female cyclist in this photo warned me that she had just seen a baby black bear nearby here!
[Mile 132, 3:26 p.m.] Sailboats in Carter Lake.
[Mile 172, 6:22 p.m.] Back at the south end of the Horsetooth Reservoir again.
[Mile 195, 8:22 p.m.] Canny in Fort Collin's Old Town.  Twenty minutes later... home!
[Mile 87, 11:02 a.m.] Cornfields, snow-capped mountains, and horses.
[Mile 95, 11:40 a.m.] Canny makes a new friend.
[Mile 105, 12:16 p.m.] Beautiful Colorado fall colors!
[Mile 103, 12:30 p.m.] First "real" test of the day: a "Level 5 Road," featuring a 18% grade I had (in months prior) gone down at 52.5 mph!
[Mile 104, 12:38 p.m.] Felix Wong overlooking the north end of the Horsetooth Reservoir.
[Mile 105, 12:53 p.m.] There are an abundance of mountain biking trails here.
[Mile 107, 1:15 p.m.]  Some bluffs in picturesque Horsetooth Reservoir.
[Mile 110, 1:20 p.m.] You can see the expanse of the Horsetooth Reservoir, the largest body of water in CO.  Amazingly, each August 100 people swim its entire 6.1-mile length!
[Mile 0, 4:15 a.m.] Canny all set to go, all loaded up and weighing in at 35.4 lbs.