Down valley

Erik and I had just finished up with a long day in the saddle and were enjoying a cold beer when his phone rang.  “Hey Troy, you’ll never guess who’s sitting across from me right now.” Galen.  Yep we just rode 105 miles.  A ride tomorrow? Sure.

Troy is Troy Reynolds, one of the nicest guys you’ll ever have the pleasure to ride with.  He and his special lady friend, Peg, have a place in Snowmass just up the road from Erik’s.  The three of us raced on a team together a few years back.  Troy and Peg now run that team and his roofing company is the title sponsor.  Super happy for those two.

Troy

Erik makes for a great guide.  He gives an excellent description of what we can expect in the few miles and we’re off.  We had just ridden around 25 miles, almost all downhill and now it was time to get in some vert.    The first climb was short and not too steep.  Troy and I rode it together as the rest of the group was just behind.

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We regrouped at the top and took a few pictures, and I somehow managed to crack a few jokes.  Hay fields and horses would be our companions for the next few miles and I was definitely not complaining.

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Another Froome impression later, and we reached the top of the climb.  These are the hidden gems that you tend not to find on your own.  I consider it a gift when a local rider shows me the goods.  “This dirt road goes all the way to Eagle”, Erik told me.  Sometime I’ll have to check that out, but for now it was time to descend back to the valley floor.

fun begins

After a ripping descent, we all stopped into Basalt bike and ski where we found our friend Iain working hard.  I kind of feel like we just stopped in to rub it in a bit.  As cyclists, we always want to be riding and it stings a bit to see your buds out there having a great day.

Erik was feeling the effects of the ride the day before so we just rode easy.  I was happy to do it too.  Lots of time to take pics and enjoy the new roads that we’re laid out before me.  As we pedaled on, quiet roads were bordered by farms and ranch land.  We all really noticed the temperature as we climbed a dirt road back towards Basalt.  I love the felling of not knowing where I am, just pedal the bike and listen for the next turn.

climbs

 

views

This is where we split.  The Reynolds Roofing crew headed back for the bike path, but Erik had something up his sleeve for the two of us.  He spoke of a view of Snowmass that few people got to see and I was more than ready to see it!  Perfect tarmac gave way to chip and seal and the chip and seal gave way to some of the most perfect dirt road I have ever pedaled on.  Beautiful ranches and green fields lined either side of the road.  Erik held a steady pace as I jumped on and off the bike snapping pics along the way.

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REal Estate

Behind Bars

A few more miles of dirt and the road changed a bit.  Erik warned me the there were a couple of ramps ahead and he wasn’t kidding.

steep dirt copy

Just around the bend from here we hit the top of the climb and it would be just a few short moments before we were back on his deck, enjoying another one of those refreshingly cold brews that we had the day before.  I hung out at Erik’s for about an hour and then went to pick up the rest of the group for lunch. We took the Sprinter van into Aspen and enjoyed a nice late lunch.  I said my good-byes and navigated my way through town to get back on Independence Pass.  Once again, I took my time driving up the pass and took advantage of the opportunity to take photos as I pleased.

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pass

As I was driving up, I passed a few cyclists heading out for some late afternoon climbing.  Since I was hanging out anyway, I decided that I snap a shot of them and give some encouragement.

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miles to go

I arrived at the summit about 30 minutes before the sun was to set.  You know what’s coming next, sunset pics.  It’s always worth it to watch it to completion.  Sometimes, when you think it’s over, there’s just a bit more to see.

Back home

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indy sunset

Free speed: Alchemy Arion

It all started with a trip to say hi to a friend.  My buddy Cody has been working for Alchemy bicycle company for a few years now, and I’ve always thought their bikes were so nice.  We’ve talked about the possibility of me being able to throw a leg over one someday, but I never knew when that might happen.  While I was there, Cody took the time to give me the full tour.  All the machining tools, the frame jigs, the carbon lay up process, the paint booth, and murder.  I was throughly impressed.  I started to see why custom bikes cost so much. There is a lot of work and love that goes into the process.  Cody told me it takes around 40 hours from start to finish to create these works of art, with about 40% of that time in paint.

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jig

frames

Alchemy show room

 

We chatted for about an hour and when it was time to leave, he showed me this bike

Alchemy with white and aqua copy

 

I’ve been riding a Specialized Venge for the past 2 years and logged over 15,000 miles on it in that time.  I’ve got a pretty good idea of what that bike is and what it can do.  Cody was telling me what an incredible ride quality this bike possessed, but he also sells these bikes for a living.  I listened to what he had to say, but ultimately, I would form my own opinion.  He told me to take it for the weekend and enjoy it.  That’s precisely what I did.

The first ride, my friend Larsen and I headed up to Red Rocks.  It’s got great climbs and fun twistys to carve down.

 

into the dark

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We were running low on daylight, so we just played around there for a few minute and then we did the 30min ride back to my house.

The next day provided a chance to take the Arion out on a local group ride.  There was to be a race on Saturday, but it got cancelled due to weather.  I knew there would be a good turn out because there’s just no stopping us Colorado cyclists.  I got lots of looks and compliments as I rolled up on the 15 or so riders that were already there.  “Beautiful bike, when did you get it”?  It’s not mine, I’m just riding it.  I said that a lot that weekend.

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The bike was amazing!  It had all the stiffness and handling of my Venge, but much more forgiving.  Much less road buzz, and it just felt right.  Anytime I needed to put the power down, the bike was willing and able.  Moving up and down the line of riders seemed effortless.  There were quite a few strong riders out there that day, I might add.  We got rained, hailed, and eventually snowed on, but I couldn’t have cared less.  I was having the time of my life!  As we headed back east, there is a road that is mostly chip and seal and always provides a numbing effect.  I thought this would be the true test of how compliant the frame really was. As we turned left, I could immediately tell a difference from my other bikes.  The bike just seemed to float over the rough surface.  I had to look down to make sure the tires were actually in contact with the road.

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I was so excited and full of energy, I decided to attack the group a few times.  So much fun!  After the ride I still needed more, so I went into to downtown Denver to take some glamour shots.  I wanted to really remember this experience.

Achemy on white wall

Alchemy bottom reflection

Alchemy and pipe

Alchemy on grey wall

It didn’t seem to matter where or how I placed this bike, it just looked good.

The day I was to give it back, I took it out for a 4 hour mountain ride that was full of long climbs and ripping descents.  I was tired from racing two crits the day before, but you only get a chance like this every once in a while.

lookout

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It was hard to give the Arion back, but I hoped it wasn’t a good-bye,  just a see you later.

www.alchemybicycles.com