Wednesday, April 26, 2017

colorado is the real promised land

i did it.  it was fun.  i want to do it again.

my inaugural cycling tour is in the books.  on thursday of last week i worked my part time job getting my favorite 14 teenage dudes ready for school.  when they headed off to school instead of coming home and beginning my other job for the day as i usually do, i jumped into my loaded up lucy (the soob) was en route to fruita, colorado.

the plan: thursday, drink lots of beer and eat lots of pizza at the hot tomato and camp at james robb state park.  friday, pedal our loaded touring bikes (that's bicycle, not a motor bike) from our campsite in fruita to and through the colorado national monument and into grand junction to camp the second night.  saturday, ride bikes from grand junction to palisade via a magical route through the rural countryside with only the cows, orchards, and winery's to keep us company.  needless to say, we were not lonely.

So excited for dinner at the Hot Tomato!
on thursday we converged on the james robb state park campground in the evening and immediately got down to business with pizza and beer at the hot tomato.  we told a lot of stories and laughed a lot.  after dinner we all hunkered down in our tents as rain was on the way.  "rain" ended up bing hail, snow, rain, wind, and very cold temperatures.  we all survived.  i even slept through most of it...until i had to pee really badly smack in the middle of the hail storm.  i waited until the hail stopped and peed in the rain, i survived.

friday morning we woke to the sun and a majestic bald eagle circling the river next to the campground with the sun drenched national monument in the background.  it was picturesque and an inspiring way to begin the day.  inspiration was good, i needed all of that i could get in order to muster the motivation to pedal myself and all my gear up the steep, 15 mile climb through the monument.  we set out from the campground.
So it begins...the climb.

we entered the monument in the first 3 miles of our ride and thank goodness we did.  the beauty was on every side of me was so great that i ALMOST didn't notice the steep, never-ending climb.  and if i'm being honest, the climb wasn't as bad as i had hyped it up to be, thankfully.  alas, i summited.  it was a fantastic feeling.  i had pedaled every inch of the climb and i had an incredible feeling of victory.
I summited!

 at the summit we stopped to layer up in warm clothes as the next 12 miles were a fast, steep descent.  the descent was fun, the nerve-wracking kind of fun.  once at the bottom we stopped at the lunch loops to use the potty, rest, and make a plan for dinner in grand junction.  at the suggestion of a trustworthy local we decided on the alehouse brewery.  i was willing to pedal for good food but that was the longest 6 miles of the day!  that being said, it was worth every pedal stroke.  the food was great and just what i needed.  after dinner though, i was beat and ready for bed.  we still had to pedal 6 more miles to the campground.  ugh.  we made it.  and by now i was a pro at setting up my gear so i got my tent up and gear unloaded in no time flat.  next was a nice, hot shower.  after a snack and some discussion of the next day's agenda i crawled into my sleeping bag, got really cozy, and was out in no time flat.

saturday morning i woke up freezing and cite that as the reason i was last to leave my tent that morning.  not only was i last out of my tent but cyndy was pretty much packed up and ready to roll by the time i left my tent.  she's an animal.  we all eventually got our shit together and rolled out of camp earlier than we had the day before...there was wine in our future, that helped.  we followed the colorado fruit and wine tour map from grand junction to palisade.

We rode the southern route on this map.
 it was truly something out of a movie.  we rode over 20 miles of (mostly) flat rural colorado roads through orchards, cow pastures, fields of grapes, wineries, lavender fields, and very little traffic.  if those wineries had been breweries i could have ridden out there all day.

Wine tasting and cycling to together like bacon and eggs.
we made it to our finish point, rapid creek cycles, in palisade in the early afternoon on saturday.  i felt victorious.  i pedaled the entire way and had a total blast!!!  as we stepped into rapid creek i flippantly commented on a the shirt of a man who was on his way out the front door of the shop, "nice shirt".  it was a "Floyd's of Leadville" shirt.  chris and i are big fans.  his response, "thanks, don't go anywhere.  i've got more in the car and i'll bring you one."  as he walked out the door someone in the shop looked at me and said, "you know that's floyd, right?"  i didn't have words.  i know, this never happens to me.  well, it really was floyd and he really did come back with swag, as promised.  as he handed me an armful of good branded with his name floyd asked about our tour.  then i asked him about his ventures.  things are going great and he's got something big in the works in palisade.  cool.  my natural next step was to ask for a photo.  floyd graciously agreed and asked dave zabriskie to be in the photo as well.
One of my coolest moments.
man, i sure was giddy between those two bookends.  they really were so humble and a blast to chat with. after all that excitement i needed to chill out with a beer for a minute while the rest of my group finished shopping at rapid creek.  while lisa and i shared the only brew that was left in the back of my car when we dropped it off on thursday who came spinning through the parking lot but dave z while floyd was finishing his riding prep.  they were headed out on a mountain bike ride.  after 3 days on a road bike i was jealous of their mountain adventure.  eventually they headed out on their ride and our group headed to palisade brewery for a mid-afternoon lunch.  boy was this place a little slice of my own heaven.  dogs were everywhere on the patio.  we had a couple of beers and i made my way around the patio visiting every pup i could get my hands on while we waited for our food.  the food was great.  after we ate we made a quick stop

at the grocery store for the last few provisions we'd need for our last night of camping.  after loading the groceries in my car the other three got on their bikes and headed from palisade out to the campground just east of town.  i made one quick stop at the liquor store for some good beer and met them at the campground.  once there, we each performed our daily ritual of setting up our tents and getting cleaned up.  we enjoyed the rest of the evening over food, a fire, good brews, and great stories from the trip.

this was the perfect first tour for me.  i had a great time and there was plenty of fun and laughter to go along with the plentiful food and libations.  thank you diane!!!


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