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.

kom

america

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.

flats

 

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.

snowmass

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.

carve

bolt

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.

cyclist

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

Chain

indy sunset

How’s your Aspen?

It’s only a 3 hour drive from Denver to Aspen, but I don’t seem to make it more than once or twice a year.  Over the past few years and through the magic of Instagram, I’ve met a handful of good people that live there.  Having lived in the mountains myself for 4 years, I know how many friends say they will come up to visit, but somehow or way it doesn’t happen.  I’d been talking with my friends Erik and Iain about getting up there and doing some riding, so I pulled the trigger.

My Sprinter van had been in the shop and took a bit longer to get back than I had thought it would.  This pushed me back a couple of hours but it was no big deal.  I was in no rush and figured I’d take advantage of the delay and catch the sunset on my way up.

Leaving Denver, I got caught in a bit of rain as I approached I-70 west.  Five minutes later, sunshine.  I love you Colorado!  An hour later, the sun was beginning to set and I was nearly to the top of Fremont Pass.  The light was just right and I had to pull the van over to capture the moment.

alpine glow

climax

I must have stayed in this spot for 45 minutes and then this happened…

purple haze

Cycling and photography have both taught me patience.  You can’t take short cuts in training and sometimes you have to stick around for a few extra minutes to get the shot.  I try to roll with the punches the best I can.

The sun and light were gone so I pressed on towards Independence Pass.  It was going on 11pm as I approached the top of the pass.  There is a big parking lot up there and I thought it would be a great place to be greeted by the sun in the morning.  5:30am, like clockwork, I woke up and rolled out of van.  Once again, the light was perfect.  It wasn’t hard to get moving.  The temperature was in the low 40’s and I had been dealing with the upper 80’s for days in a row.  It felt great!  I got some coffee going and starting looking for something to shoot.  Surrounded by 360 degrees of awesomeness, it was a bit tough to focus.  No pun intended.

on the bubble

7am and I’m supposed to be at Erik’s and ready to ride by 8 I’d better get moving!The Sprinter van does a lot of things well, but cornering is not one of them.  I took the safe approach and showed up a few minutes late.  Thank God for mountain time!  Most people that know me, know to give me a few minutes.  I generally make up for it during the ride.

Erik and I rolled out of Snowmass and began the grueling 20 mile descent to Basalt.  Along the way, we picked up Neil, a friend to Erik and Iain.  Neil had just picked cycling and had already competed in a couple of road races.  New riders are always fun to ride with.  I like their enthusiasm and if they’re willing to learn, I’ll teach them everything I know.

We rolled into Basalt and that’s where I met Iain from Aspen cycling tours for the first time.  Super nice guy, but I already knew that.  At the bottom of the canyon, we encountered a brief road closure and 4 became 5 as another rider that was already waiting, joined us.  We got on to riding along the Frying Pan river, climbing steadily up to the Ruedi Reservoir.  I played around a bit with Neil and our new friend, entertaining them with my best Froome impression.  I few super high cadence moments and my legs began to feel it.  Those two pressed on while I sat up and waited for Iain and Erik.

dam

The three of us kept climbing until we reached the top where we found Neil waiting for us.  Our fifth had been pushing on and Neil felt obliged to keep pace.  Anytime you’re doing a 6+ hour ride in the mountains, pacing is everything.  It can be really tempting to attack climbs early in the ride, but you’ll almost always pay for that later.  We all had chatted about that on the way to catch back on to him.  So on we went, paralleling the frying pan as it snaked it’s way towards Hagerman Pass.  This was the greenest I’d ever seen Colorado!  We’ve had a ton of moisture this spring and the hills were really showing off.

dark aspen copy

 

fern

This is roughly were we topped out. 9,454′ and 52.4 miles from where we left early that morning.  All we had to do now was turn around ride back to Erik’s house.  The temps had been rising but I hadn’t really noticed that too much.  Trying to keep up with Iain took up most of my thoughts.

Iain copy

two aspen copy

Even though the profile showed that we would be heading downhill, the boys assured me we’d almost certainly be facing a headwind.  I was up to the task.  We all started off together, but almost immediately Neil got separated and had fallen off the pace.  Whew!  That’s going to be tough by yourself.  I guess you’ve got to learn sometime that you’ve got to hold a wheel, even on a downhill.  Luckily for him, I was about out of water and when I saw the fire station had a hose bib, I pulled over to re up on H20.  A few minutes later, Neil rolled up.  “Never lose the group on a descent”, he said.  Lesson learned.

No more pics at this point as we all rolled in a paceline back towards Basalt.  4 became 3 as we dropped of Iain and began the 20 mile, hot climb back to Snowmass.  It was so hot, but Erik had the promise of cold beer and snacks once we arrived back at his place.  This was the only motivation I needed.  I’m a snack guy.

6:20:43, 105miles, and 8,303′ climbed.  What a great ride!  Always fun to ride with friends you don’t see very often and make new friends along the way.  I couldn’t wait to see what day two had in store for us, well, maybe after a shower, a couple beers, and some serious snacking.  Big thanks to Amy, Erik’s wife, for taking care of us with what may have been the coldest beers and tastiest veggie tray ever!