That's the quote that Houston said after the day of biking over Independence Pass! Tough day for him. But while Biking Guy, his team and the other 2495 other riders were pumping over mountains, I was meandering through mountain towns, drinking java in coffee shops and acquiring cute clothes in boutiques. Yea, sucks to be me! I had 4 knitting projects, a good book and my lap top so I wasn't hurting for things to do. I stopped in Grand Lake early in the morning, grabbing a mug of coffee and walking down to the lake. What is pictured above is the drastic devastation the pine bark beetle has wrought. The mountainsides are turning brown, with many dead trees still standing, but not for long. I sometimes traveled the driving route and other times, drove the way the bikers were going. The driving route was sometimes a hundred or more miles out of the way. But after driving the two hardest biking days, over Independence Pass and over Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park, I can see why they encouraged us to use alternative routes.
An old home in Grand Lake. Not your typical house here, but one that needed just a little TLC.
I thought this was a cute way to hang bluejeans, from old rakes.
I went to Aspen and the only photo I took was one of an iron grid on the street. Aspen is a pretty city, but I liked Basalt and Carbondale so much better. I walked all over downtown Aspen and was only lured into two stores. One was a funky, artsy shop selling coffee (score!), local artists' wares and homegrown veggies. The other was a Ralph Lauren store. I loved their window displays, very prairie oriented with old metal washtubs, chippy barn wood and models sporting long prairie skirts and lacy tops. I was taken by a lace vest and went inside to check it out. I thought that it would be expensive, like around $250 even though it was a skimpy little doily vest. Imagine my surprise when I looked at the price tag and saw $925!!!! I would put those numbers in caps if there were such a thing, so bold will just have to do. Have they really ever sold one?! Whoa buddy.
One of our overnights was spent in Carbondale. They blocked off the downtown streets and had a party for us. This artist was painting and I really did like his loose style.
Many types of bikes were around. This type was not ridden over the mountains, but was crusin' around the town.
This is what every evening looked like to Houston. I don't usually drink beer, but I did have a couple on this trip cuz the microbrews are just so damn good!
There was an entire market devoted to fresh organic beef, raised right outside of town.
I lived in Colorado as a wee child and visited there every summer until I was thirteen, staying with my grandparents and seeing many aunts and uncles. I moved back to Colorado right after college, before migrating down to Florida. Being raised in South Dakota, I was used to the arid climate and absence of greenery. Colorado is very dry too, but has trees in the mountains. Not lush by any means though.
One of my all time favorite trees is the quaking aspen. I do love their white bark and bright green leaves and the music they make when the breeze blows through their leaves. If I had never moved east, I would know no different and would be satisfied with the dryness and vast open spaces. But I have come to love the soft comfort of the mountains here and lushness that our area offers. The west is a nice place to visit, but been there, done that and I like my green now.
Some of the roadside stops were fun and I was hoping this place would be offering cherries, my favorite fruit.
They had cherry pie, cherry jam, cherry syrup and cherry juice, but no cherries. I didn't hold it against them though.
OK. Enough about my fun. I was here to provide sag for Bicycle Guy. We camped at 6 different places, which meant we had to pack up the tent and gear each night and set it up the following day. I was a bit tired of blowing up Big Aggie (my 'mattress') after a few nights but I sure did sleep better because of her. This was sunset one evening. The views were amazing and sleeping with 1500 others wasn't so bad. Some chose to sleep indoors, in the gyms. But it was packed in there and with folks snoring and all the lights, I'm happy we cozied up in our tent outside. One night was really chilly, with frost on the tent but I had worn layers of clothing and burrowed deep into my sleeping bag so was pretty warm.
Highway patrol were a constant presence (thankfully) and one early morn, a herd of bicyclists asked one of them to take their photo before they headed out.
I sometimes traveled the driving route and other times, drove the way the bikers were going. The driving route was sometimes a hundred or more miles out of the way. But after driving the two hardest biking days, over Independence Pass and over Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park, I can see why they encouraged us to use alternative routes. Going up, up, up wasn't so bad (for me anyway) because I could go just a bit faster than the bikes, 5 - 6 miles an hour and was very careful not to knock any bikers over.
I straddled the yellow line or when the coast was clear, I drove in the left hand lane. But coming downhill was a whole different story. The bikers could go faster than me, sometimes over 45 mph! and they'd be right on my tail. Far be it from me to slow down a biker wanting to propel him/herself down the mountain. I love going as fast as the next guy, and it was difficult to move my bigass metal vehicle fast enough. But no one careened on the edge and no one got hit.
I was able to pull over at a viewpoint, got out of the car and walked by a biker. I looked back and thought it was my friend, Steve. And it was! Out of 2500 bikers that I had passed, what were the chances that I'd see one of my bike friends on Trail Ridge Road? It appears that I'm telling him to get back on that bike and ride to the top, scolding him to move a bit faster....
...but is actually the beginning of an encouraging hug. Go Steve!
The view was worth the stop.
When they all made it to the way top, it was a bit chaotic as there were all the bikers, plenty of tourists and lots of cars. It was a bit dicey as the road was only so wide and the road just drops off steeply to nothingness.
But the park rangers closed off one side of the road temporarily so the bicyclists could make their way around the blind curves at the summit.
Steve and Houston at the end of the day. Still smiling....a good sign. Our group had only one little misstep. At one of the bike stops (where there are hundreds and hundreds of bikers) our friend was done for the day and had to get out of his wet spandex shorts. It appeared that the cafe that he was in front of was closed and seeing no one in the big front picture window, he slid out of his biking shorts and put on his dry shorts. Good to go. Everyone in the car and let's blow this popsicle stand! The other sag for our team was Patty, a much better sag than me, with having to run 5 of the riders around, from motel to starting point, to restaurants and even chaperoning someone on a date. Anyway, she was driving and about 5 minutes down the road, she said that she thought that cop behind her wanted to pull over. Indeed he did. Sauntering up to the car, he asked them if anyone had changed shorts in front of the restaurant at the last stop. "Well yes, Officer", our friend said. ?They were wet and I wanted to be dry." Well, a woman inside complained about indecent exposure and the policeman told him if the woman pressed charges that he would have to enroll as a sex offender! Jeesh! Yes, I guess he could have been more discreet but just look the other way woman!
After 6 days of riding, the finish was at the Odell Brewing Company, one of the sponsors of the ride. They had brought their beer truck to every stop along the way, offering 16 oz of really good beer for $4. The ride ended at Ft. Collins, after a reroute because of the big fire that was raging in the hillsides nearby. We were concerned about the riders breathing smoke, but it wasn't that bad.
At the overnights, part of the whole deal was a fun afternoon/night at the local city park or fairgrounds. Local vendors would offer food or the Lion's Club or Rodeo Club would cook up some lasagna or something. Some vendors followed along to every site. Odell's would pick a club and wholesale their beer to them and they'd sell the beer for a moneymaker. What made me happier was the smoothie/coffee vendor. They'd open at about 5:30 a.m., sell coffee for a few hours, pack it up, haul it all to the next stop, set up and sell protein smoothies in the afternoon.
The finish was a grand event. A Victory Aisle was cordoned off, lined with people like me, (non-riders) cheering on the bicyclists.
When all the bikers had come through it was time for the volunteers. The cheering really began in earnest. These folks put on a helluva event. I have never seen this amount of organization before. It's hard enough to do a one or two day event, but an 8 day event in 8 different locations, took crazy mad skills.
There were 'professional' sag wagons, transporting riders and their gear to tops of mountains if they didn't want to climb that day, picking up folks who were too tired or injured to complete the day, and kept all the bikers safe on the roads. A very hard job, but very well executed.
Of course the first responders were invaluable. I'm not sure if anyone was severely injured, but I know folks were treated for dehydration, over heating and road rash. Only one person died on the trip and that was after the hardest day of climbing. He died in his sleep, a heart attack took him peacefully at only 52. He died what
The state police were alongside the riders the entire 464 miles. I think they got the biggest cheers. They directed traffic, made sure crazy drivers gave the riders their space and overall did a superb job.