Sunday, June 24, 2012

Loop around Baca Grande on the Spiritual Highway

Go to MapMyRide Map: Loop around Baca Grande. Ignore the Westcliff reference. Crestone is so off the grid, MapMyRide doesn't seem to know where to place it. Like Shangrila, Crestone is a self-hidden kind of place. Crestonians like it that way.

Here are some pictures of the different road conditions to expect on the loop.

The Loop starts here.

Tarmac for around 3 miles.
The Stupa. Stop here for some incredible views.

Changes to Dirt/Gravel Road as we enter the Spiritual Highway. The retreat centers are along here.

Washboarding along the Spiritual Highway. There was usually a flat way to the far left and right.

The phenomenon you refer to is known as "washboarding," a wave-like pattern on unpaved roads that might more aptly be called speedbump hell. As you've observed, the ruts occur with striking regularity, belying a chaotic event like erosion.

According to Tom Pettigrew, a Forest Service engineer, the cause is an unlikely source: your car's suspension. (Well, maybe not yours specifically, but it's not innocent in this matter, either.) A vehicle's suspension system distributes the shock and energy of road irregularities with a bouncing rhythm called harmonic oscillation. At each downstroke, the wheels exert extra force on the road, causing the particles in the road to either pack or displace at regular intervals. Once a pattern of ruts starts to establish itself, it becomes self-reinforcing due to what engineers call forced oscillation. The next car hits the same irregularities in the road and bounces at the same rate, causing the pattern to become more and more defined. Forced oscillation overcomes minor variations in oscillation rate that might otherwise arise due to differences in car weight.

Wouldn't variations in speed affect the washboard pattern? Sure, which brings us to another critical part of the feedback loop: you, the driver. Drive too fast on a washboard road and the downstroke exerted by the car wheels may meet the road at a point where a bump is ramping upwards. You know what that means: You bounce off the ceiling. Instinctively most drivers slow to a speed at which the downstrokes coincide with the troughs between bumps, reinforcing the pattern.

Washboarding is inevitable in any unpaved road that sees fairly heavy traffic. The only way to avoid it is to: (a) radically redesign how automotive suspensions are made, (b) give up suspensions altogether, or (c) keep off those dirt roads. Reference.

Spanish Creek. One of the Streams along the way.

Shumei. A spiritual tradition that places emphasis on natural beauty, spiritual healing, and organic farming. Crestone is one of the few places around the world chosen for a retreat center. If you stop by, they will give you a tour of their organic farm, and they will perform jorei, a form of spiritual healing, if you request it. Remember, shoes off at the door.


A 360 video from Shumei.

Some sandy patches past Shumei. The road is also a bit rougher.

Turning off the Spiritual Highway, as we go by the German house, the road is blocked by big rocks. Your bike can pass though. This is private property so quickly and quietly traverse the slope to the road below.

For a shorter trip you can turn back here and return to Crestone.

Down the road past the German house.


Back to tarmac on Camino del Rey as we descend into the San Luis Valley. This area is known as the Baca Grants.


360 video from the Grants.


Continue on tarmac on Wagon Wheel as we loop back across valley.

Same stream as we loop back. Spanish Creek I think.



Back to dirt/gravel on Spanish Creek Road.

Turn on Co Rd T and return to start.

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