mr rogers and i spent a week vacationing in colorado. the plan was to watch a little racing, and do a little riding. we succeeded. below the jump, join us after the jump to get a pretty good idea why colorado is a cycling paradise.
the original plan was to come out to snowmass and watch the aspen women's pro race and a couple stages of the american professional bike riding trophy, or whatever it's called these days. sponsor issues caused the women's race to be shortened to a single crit on the day the men rode into aspen. too bad, more time to ride i guess.
we flew out of atlanta early saturday morning. got to the denver airport just as early, grabbed our rental car, and headed down interstate 70 toward aspen/snowmass.
things are nice in colorado. and folks seem to have more money than they know what to reasonably do with.
but the ride was beautiful. we drove through frisco, vail, then into glenwood canyon.
the scenery was striking. some of the towns we passed less so.
once we exited the canyon and found ourselves in glenwood springs, we headed south east on us 82 (more on that road later) for a little while until we finally reached our destination.
this was the view from our condo's balcony.
and this is what was below us.
hot tubs ftw! first thing we did was unpack and reassemble the bikes. once that done, we headed out on a little test ride. you can't really tell in the pics above, but just to the right of the pool was one of the snowmass ski slopes. we decided to climb up it and then see what we could find. coming from atlanta's 1000 feet of elevation to 8500, that climb was a little harder than it looked. i was stupid enough to not bring my camera on this ride. here's the gps. day one and we were already amazed by the beauty surrounding us. we found a sweet dirt road heading down the valley next to the ski resort. the view were breathtaking. we decided on two rules for the week: 1 no falling off the mountains, and 2 no more leaving the camera at home. we saw a nice little stream, some houses that made us want to start playing the lottery, and a brutal dirt climb to make it back to the main road. then we discovered the problem was staying at a ski resort. a 1000 foot climb back to our place. even paradise has its drawbacks.
day 2. we got up at the crack of dawn on sunday. turns out we got up at the crack of dawn every single day. why, i don't know. anyway, we decided it would be a good day to ride down toward aspen and climb up to maroon bells, a place i'd heard about from anyone i told i was going to aspen. we'd ride up, back down, and then ride up the next canyon to ashcroft, an old abandoned settlement up in the mountains. we found a new way out of snowmass village that cut back down to aspen with less riding on us 82.
it took us by a nice little horse farm.
we made the turn to maroon bells, crossed maroon creek.
feeling pretty good at that point.
hard not to riding through a place like this.
came across the first of the odd wildlife signs we would see.
they weren't kidding.
the bells came into view.
saw them for a while before actually making it up there.
eventually got to our destination. saw this bird (not sure what it was. maybe a wild chicken?)
and there were the bells rising up from a nice little mountain lake.
we rode back down. saw a couple other belles on the way (Alison Tetrick and Tayler Wiles of team exergy). then we started making our way up to ashcroft. i should have stopped by the hospital for a couple extra pints of blood.
the climb wasn't all that bad though. nice scenery (a bit of a theme here in colorado), nice road.
eventually made it to the ghost settlement.
sweet, they've got a bar, i can pull a Willj.
nevermind, ghost saloon.
i relaxed at the top for a bit. got some food in me and made my way back home. here's a pic of my bike i snapped while sitting around.
i put it together about a year ago to race hilly billy roubaix. it's nothing special, but it's a ton of fun. i use it on the road as much as my road bike these days. and it's introduced me to the joy of riding dirt mountain roads, something i recommend to anyone who likes riding.
day 3. we drove to the nearby town of basalt. rogers' rear wheel was coming apart and we needed to hit a bike shop to rent one for the rest of the week. we got there when they opened, talked to the guys, and they said they'd have something there for him when we got back. so off to ride we went. plan was to go up frying pan road to lake ruedi and back. here's the gps. up out of town we went.
more unusual wildlife signage.
the road followed a beautiful creek, stocked full of fly fishermen.
things got steeper as we neared the lake.
and there we were.
the lake wasn't quite full.
i thought i was at the top, but to get to the far end of the lake, you had to climb up some more before coming back down. on the way back down, i got to see the aspen yacht club. news to me.
once we got to the other side, we took a little break on a bridge over the creek.
we then climbed back up and down to the other side of the lake, before mr. rogers put in a monster pull on the negative 2% decline back to town.
day 4. it's time to get dirty. a couple of our friends from atlanta were also in colorado. they were driving/camping around and hitting up mtb trails. we figured we should meet up and ride some trails. so we rented some mtbs and headed over independence pass and south to salida. we spent the night with a friend who had moved there from atlanta a while back, woke up early and got shuttled up to monarch pass.
from there it was a 30 mile ride back down towards salida, or poncho springs to be exact. i forgot to start my gps at the beginning, so i missed the first few miles of climbing. the elevation is off too. the highest point is supposed to be 12,200ft or so. the trails were awesome, and the views, well...
i'd seen worse.
here's a shot where you can see some trail.
again, the views, can't say it enough.
there was a lot of downhill. it was very enjoyable. back below the tree line.
things still look good.
day 5. i took it easy. the women's race was going on early afternoon in downtown aspen, and the men were coming over inedpendence into town shortly thereafter. we rode down into town, found an outdoor bar on the edge of the course, and watched the ladies fly by while drinking some beers.
they go fast.
after a couple beers we moved to the exit of the last corner.
for the last few laps, the speed was impressive as teams started to get organized for the finish.
once the race finished, we grabbed some mexican food while waiting for the men to make their way into town. we could follow the race on tv in the restaurant, which was cool. when tommy d was making his way down the pass, we made our way outside to see the finish. turns out tv was delayed and we barely got there in time. i only got one usable pic of the end.
no idea who that is or how far back they are. anyway, it was exciting, we watched the podium ceremonies, and then made our way back home.
day 6. on thursday, the men's race was leaving from aspen and heading up over independence. i rode to the top to watch Jens! crest solo in the lead, in the lovely company of WaterGirl, making two pdc kits up there, not bad.. now that was a life experience. left snowmass, made my way through aspen, randomly rode through the team bus area.
and then i was heading up.
it's a pretty gradual climb, especially as you first exit aspen.
once again, the view don't suck.
i had some company.
not sure what kind of trees these are, but they're all over the place around aspen.
up and up i went.
looking back toward aspen.
close to the top there's a abandoned mining settlement, called independence.
and this is what 12,095 feet looks like.
the day was chilly, but luckily, the rain stayed away while we were up there.
i found a spot just a little bit down from the kom that had a nice view at the road coming up.
drank a little rye to keep warm, hung out with WaterGirl and other fans around. then it was heli time.
it's not every day that one gets to look down at a helicopter. someone with internet access let us know that Jens! was in the lead. JENS! my camera wasn't behaving at this point. maybe it was the batteries, maybe the cold, either way, i missed my chance to get a picture of the legend on his way to a stage win. i did catch the two chasers though.
day 7. i sat on my ass. no bike. i deserved it.
day 8. mt. evans. fourteen thousand something or other feet. paved to the top. 26 miles of climbing. let's see how it goes. dopestrong kit on in honor of the events of the previous day.
and up we go again.
again, the views.
almost halfway up, there's echo (?) lake.
then a right turn for the final 14 miles.
top of the world. or getting there at least.
a litlle closer to heaven.
this is as far as i made it, 13,665 feet up (4165 meters), about a mile from the top, which i could see but no longer cared about. i was cold, tired, and had no oxygen to fuel my legs.
so back down i went. on the way i met a nice family of goats.
above is daddy, below are the kids.
the downhill sucked. the road had all sorts of cracks that hurt my frozen hands. about halfway down things got better.
anyway, that was my week in colorado. around 300 miles of riding. 24 hours or so. it hurt and was beautiful at the same time. i can't wait to return. thanks for riding along.