I like riding my bike. It’s a hobby I’ve been pursuing for about 10 years now, but it should be said that the amount that I like bike riding and the amount that people I know think I like riding my bike are two very different things. I am, mostly, just a casual rider. I’m the kind of guy that receives subtle condescension when he asks mechanics at the bike shop a novice question, the kind of guy that can patch a flat but wouldn’t want to try to repair a broken chain. (Not that I’m superstitious, but all the same, let’s hope that doesn’t doom me to a broken chain on Trail Ridge Road) Many people however are under the impression that I’m a really intense rider, I think the misconception stems from a month long ride I did 8 years ago.
In 2004, after I got out of college, a couple friends and I rode our bikes from Fort Collins to Boston. It was a great trip and a wonderful way to see the country. If you ever have the opportunity to take a good chunk of time off from your real world responsibilities I cannot recommend a long bike tour highly enough. You’ll see things you’d never see by car and you’ll meet a highly varied group of characters that you wouldn’t be likely to come in contact with otherwise. The trip remains one of my fondest memories and one that helped to shape my view of the country.
Fond memories not withstanding, if you had been there to see our tour from Colorado to Massachusetts you would not ever mistake me for a biking expert, the sheer amount of bad choices I made are staggering in hindsight. Additionally, it wasn’t that hard, we only had a couple really long days; we stopped frequently including a couple days when we did not ride at all. Lastly, since that trip almost a decade ago, I have not done a bike ride that took more than a day, not one. I am sure now when folks hear that yes I did a cross country trip (once I’ll remind them) and also participated in Ride the Rockies (also only once) it will only cement mistaken belief that I am “really into cycling” By the way, I ever start referring to my self as a “cyclist” in these posts please find me and beat me about the head and shoulders with my own helmet; it’s as bad a bartenders insisting on being call mixologists. Anyway, the reason I say all this by way of introduction is because I want you to know that what I say next is not the result of my peak athletic shape, bicycle acumen or anything of the kind.
So far, this ride has been easy. I know. I’m as surprised as anyone. The credit is due to the incredible Ride the Rockies team; I realize that they’ve been at this for a while, so they should know what they’re doing, but the amount of support riders have on this tour has been absolutely fantastic. Each portion of the ride has aid stations for food and water, each located perfectly in spots that are not only ideal for a break milage wise but also that offer beautiful views. There are constant patrols by support vehicles for riders with mechanical problems or who might be too weary to travel on. There are numerous medical riders; I see several everyday, if a participant has the bad luck to go down help is never far away. RTR has made the first two ride days as easy as they could possibly be. Not to mention the logistics at each host community has got to be incredibly tough to manage two sights in every town, one base camp for riders, usually a school, a festival area usually a short distance away, shuttles for riders’ bags and more. Luckily though, the very friendly, Elizabeth Norris, the RTR Community Relations manager is handling it with aplomb.
I should also stop to say that the host communities have been great, Gunnison, Hotchkiss and now Carbondale. Working with the local community groups to bring our beers to a mix of riders and area residents eager to share a pint with their guests has been great. I’ve loved pouring Pedal Push for both those intimately acquainted with our brewery and those secluded mountain folk that have never heard of Odell Brewing.
So it’s fair to say that I’m having a great time and it hasn’t been too tough yet; of course the first two days have been short-ish and Tuesday is going to be a bear. Carbondale to Leadville, about 90 miles – ALL UPHILL. So I’ll let you know how that goes… Cheers!
Todd Ewing is the Odell Brewing Company representative in Minnesota. He is cautiously optimistic that he’ll be able to finish Ride the Rockies strong, but is not taking anything for granted. Tweet at him: @OdellMN