Team Georgia

A couple of months ago, Michael contacted me through my website and told me that he and his wife were interested in coming out to Colorado.  They were wanting to follow the USA pro challenge, get in some cycling, and see more of the state.  This was to be the first trip for my new venture.

I have been riding for more than 30 years and have ridden with many types of people all at different levels.  I’m no pro, but I can usually hang with most people.  I had a bit of home field advantage with the altitude, so I made sure to ride at a moderate and steady pace.  The last thing I wanted to do was blow them out of the water on day one.

A few days and more than 100 miles of riding into the trip, we were slated for a ride up Independence Pass.  On this particular ride, you top out at 12,059′ above sea level.  Michael and Brittany were holding up pretty well and seemed to be adjusting to the change in elevation from Atlanta.  We spent the previous night camped out at Turquoise Lake just outside of Leadville, CO.  The elevation here was just under 10,000′.

The race route that day started out of Copper mountain ski area, climbed over Freemont Pass, sped through the town of Leadville, and then did a lap around the lake before turning towards Indy pass to eventually finish in Aspen.  At the base of east side of the pass lies Twin Lakes.  It’s an incredible vista with Colorado’s highest peak, Mt. Elbert(14,433′) standing proud just north of highway 82.

twin lakes

I made sure to start a few miles out from the base of the climb to ensure time for a proper warm up.  This side of the pass is right around 22 miles long with 3,000′ of vertical.  It’s not the hardest climb, but the time spent climbing and the elevation gain can certainly wear one down. The first 10 miles are pretty gentle.  The road climbs, but then gives you a break as it flattens out.  Slow and steady was the way to conquer the mountain on this day.  With my experience on the bike and riding with many others, I feel I can judge what someone has in them on a particular day.  Michael was riding strong, but Brittany was having a harder time getting her legs underneath her.  We mostly rode at her pace and I used that to my advantage in order to snap some photos.indy

It took a little bit of encouragement, and maybe a push or two, but we made it to the top.  I was really happy for them.  I love to see people push themselves and make new gains whether physical or mental.

Brittany had had enough, but since we had some time to spare, Michael and I descended the west side for a bit before turning back to climb to the top.

west side

Shortly after hitting the summit for the second time, the party atmosphere started to pick up as the race leaders quickly approached.


Bear costumes, women in bikinis, and men wearing dresses seemed totally normal.  It was quite cold(upper 40’s?) and windy.  Those conditions made it a bit tough to hang out, but knowing what the riders were dealing made it that much easier.  The first few riders came through in 1’s and 2’s, then slightly larger groups.  None bigger than maybe 20.  This climb really blew the race apart!greg

A few minutes passed by and all the racers had come over the top.  It was nice that the Clifbar tent had a TV up top.  We were able to watch the race unfold and eventually catch the sprint finish as the peloton rolled into Aspen.

After it was all said and done, I asked Michael if he wanted to descend the pass.  He was inclined for the decline, so we headed out for the 25 miles and 4,000′ elevation drop.  This is no easy task though.  You actually have to pedal and do some work to get down to town.  The headwind the entire way down didn’t help much, but we pushed through it. The descent really gave us an appreciation for what the racers had deal with; it was great.

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.


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.



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.



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.




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.


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.




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.


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.

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indy sunset