Sunday, June 20, 2010

Colorado Road Trip




My first extended work-related road trip saw me making a swing through colorful Colorado. I made a bee line for Fruita to get in some riding on their famed singletrack. Next time I'll ride Mary's and Horse Thief, the stuff above the river, as 18 Road didn't blow me away like I was hoping it would.








A bit of liquid companionship was called for to endure an evening at the Super 8 in Grand Junction...........





After calling on shops in Grand Junction I ventured into Durango, and as I got closer the views gave me a tantalizing hint of what was in store for the remainder of my week; my first taste was as I approached Ouray from the north.....


Upon entering town I was greeted by sights that, despite my haste to get to Durango for Monday night burgers and beer at Old Tymers, stopped me in my tracks and put me instantly into uber-tourist mode (lacking only a trucker's cap and fanny pack). The juxtaposition of structure to wild shapes, settlement to restless nature was simply too poignant to ignore. I was impressed with both the number and condition of the old buildings in town, and their proximity to such sheer peaks:



































The drive south of Ouray was certainly one of the more treacherous I've ever made, as chunks of ice were falling off the overhanging cliffs onto the roadway....which had no guardrails. I later learned that the absence of what is usually deemed as necessary safety apparatus was due to the fact that come winter, the snow plows simply plow the snow off the road and into the ravine a 1,000 below. They receive so much of the white fluff stuff that not being able to do so they'd soon run out of room to pile it.

Continuing undaunted, I made it to the top of Red Pass and was treated to some very resplendent images; the contrast of white snow and cobalt sky, wisps of snow streaming off the peaks, and the aroma of the mountains in spring time were overwhelming and represented a hight point of the week.



Durango was great, good vibe, down-to-earth folks, great local trails, flowing rivers, it was all there. I managed to ride Raider's Ridge on Horse Gulch early Tuesday morning before work. Raider's is a great run down the spine of the ridge consisting of singletrack interspersed with lovely rock gardens that demand just enough focus to for a good mental workout, but not enough to completely drain you.

The bike shops in Durango are as amazing as the town itself. I spied this great shop bike, an old C-Dale, parked in front of Pedal the Peaks - definitely one of the cleanest bikes I've seen.



And the crew over at Durango Cyclery is first rate. They had the most interesting bathroom, a mini museum to the great Greg Herbold, complete with skin suit, Miyata frame, numerous print ads, and of course the Onza pedals:




After making a quick stop at Tomichi Cycles in Gunnison (another great shop), I spent the night at Crested Butte. CB during mud season must be experienced. I ate at the Eldo Brew Pub and rubbed elbows with the local crew. The scene actually reminded me a lot of Eichardt's up in Sandpoint.

Cinco de Mayo found me in Aspen where I called on several shops and caught up with my buddy Brad from Coeur d'Alene. After beers in the sun at the Ajax, we watched his chocolate lab James Brown piss on his truck tire then met some of his friends for dinner at a great restaurant called Elevations. Highly recommend this fine dining establishment - great menu and food, friendly service, and surprisingly affordable!



Begrudgingly I left Brad et al to head for Eagle, Minturn, Leadville, and Buena Vista the following day. Snowed like crazy driving through Leadville, home of the Leadville 100 where road phenom Lance has been owning the event the past few years. We'll see if Dave can put it to him this year.

I spent the night in Salida where I met a swell gal named Patricia, a Denver-ite in town rep'ing wine. We enjoyed a beer together, exchanged contact info, and have become good acquaintances. One of the great things of being on the road is all the people you meet.

Salida is a great little town that sits on the banks of the Arkansas River, is surrounded by big peaks and great trails, has a great bakery downtown, and several good watering holes, Benson's being probably the most organic feeling of them all; just look for the lineup of bicycles outside!

The trip ended in Colorado Springs where I met my friend Tom from Coeur d'Alene - he was in town planning his upcoming wedding. The Falcon Trail at the Air Force Academy rode really well on the single speed by the way, highly recommend.

The trip validated my suspicion that Boulder is by far from the coolest place in the state, and actually, the towns I came across helped to relegate the People's Republic to the position of one of my least favorite places here.

But, being on the road, seeing new sights, meeting new folks, and riding new trails is definitely a good way to earn a living!

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