My name is Jason and this blog is about bikes and biking, plain and simple. I don't claim to be a gear head, a former pro, a hipster or an afficionado. I just like to ride my bicycle.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

"Oh, you're going to get it..."

Do you remember that feeling you used to get when you were a child and you knew you were going to be in trouble? Not just 'trouble' but life ending, seriously deep, capital T-trouble.  At the time you were committing whichever atrocity it might have been you knew that if you got caught then that would be the end of you. The fundamentally ominous foreboding experienced at the words, “Wait until your father gets home,” or “Go to your room until I talk to your mother.” Only prisoners on death row dining on their last meals can relate to the sense of knowing terror awaiting the child caught with their hand in the cookie jar; awaiting the inevitable spanking, chewing out or interminable grounding to come.

Riding in today amidst the warmth of the rising sun, a cool 30 morning on this eve of Thanksgiving, I gave thanks. I gave the thanks of a cyclist, the thanks of a child, who knows he is about to be punished. I’m so thankful for all that I’ve been given…and while I’m at it…I’m really sorry too for a whole bunch of stuff and whatever…amen. On the north western horizon of the metro area stands a wall of seriously heavy dark clouds. The blizzard, arriving as promised to the northern and central front range. By nightfall our temperature may be 6 degrees. The winds might be blowing at 30mph. It also might be snowing…or raining frogs…or both, who knows? All I know is that I’ll be on a bike headed westbound at about 4:30pm…preparing to be spanked.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Swinging Back

"I'm going to be swinging my arms like this, and if any part of you should happen to get in the way, that's YOUR problem!" - Bart Simpson

On July 3, 2010 Martin Joel Erzinger, a fund manager for Smith and Barney, ran into visiting New York cyclist Dr. Steven Milo with his Mercedes in Vail, CO. Rather than stopping like a responsible citizen, Erzinger drove home and called--wait for it--the Mercedes Benz body shop to come out and take a look at his wounded car. Meanwhile, Dr. Milo lay on the side of the road with a broken knee, shoulder, spine and brain damage. At least he was in a scenic place to bleed to death. In true salt in the gaping head wound fashion, the Vail District Attorney just announced that they're going to drop felony charges against Erzinger in favor of 2 misdemeanor traffic charges. If, like me, you're a math person then please allow me break it down for you math style otherwise your logic minded brain may struggle to digest this:

Nearly killing someone + Cowardice<=Broken Tail Light + Speeding

Brain damage and cowardice traded for a slap on the wrist because of the clout and power of Erzinger's employer and deep pocket local connections to the well heeled in Vail.  Very well done indeed. Apparently big time money managers don't have to play by any of the rules: they can help muddle up Wall Street wrecking our economy and taking our bail out dollars and they can run you off the road and drive off without a second thought...that is unless their precious beemer is somehow tarnished. I for one am planning a career change. I wanna be one of these guys seems so glamorous and thoughtless; like watching Jersey Shore in your underwear all day while eating caviar.

If you doubt me and think that I'm making up such a fanciful fairy tale of blatant stupidity, ignorance and favoritism, please feel free to check out the Vail Daily article. If you check out the link and are as 'mildly annoyed' as I was with the DA's disregard for our injustice system in favor of padding pockets and coddling his fellow rich neighbors, then sign the petition on this site asking that the felony charges not be dropped. Some are even calling for a boycott of the Vail TT stage of the upcoming Quiznos Pro Challenge race as a means of sending a message to the Vail fatcats and bike hating attorneys that this type of under-the-rug-sweeping is not to be tolerated. While I've been to Vail many times and have ridden there on several of those visits I have to say I'm on the fence with this strategy. Vail is a great place to ride both around town on their many paths as well as through the surrounding mountain side trails and mountain pass peak climbs. People in Vail (the real people in Vail not the fake cardboard ones cut out and placed in the windows of $2.5 million dollar vacation homes to make them look occupied in the 'off season') really love their bikes, skis and outdoor environs. They're not the type who'd support a bike bashing, car fixing, head wound causing, felony charge dropping attorney and his havoc causing money manager sidekick. I know from reading some of the forums and comment boards related to this story that the locals are pissed. I too share in their pissed-off-ed-ness.

But this tragedy brings up stark reminders of the other countless examples of the law siding with the driver and not the victim in these car vs. bike encounters, like the story of Kevin Flock who was killed by Aaron Stapleton a Virginia Army Recruiter.  Stapleton got off completely with similar wrist slapping (only to be caught driving recklessly 30 days later after running through a fence)...oh yeah Flock, he's still dead at least according to Google.  Under no other circumstances can a person do catastrophic and negligent physical harm to another person and face the prospect of easily getting off quite like running over a cyclist with your car...unless of course you're Dick Cheney and you shoot your hunting buddy in the face. As I've said before, our justice system somehow seems to sympathize with, or at least relate to, the trials and complications facing motorists; it 'understands' how such accidents can happen. Silly cyclists shouldn't be on the roads anyway, they're dangerous places what with all the reckless cars driving about on them. When a woman in a large SUV ran over an 11 year old girl riding her bike in her north metro neighborhood she got off because the girl was going the wrong way. It doesn't matter that the driver was on the phone and not paying attention: the stupid wrong way riding child apparently got what she deserved not 3 blocks from her home. What happened to the postal worker who killed Shahram Moghadamnia on 32nd 2.5 miles from my home? Not much from what I could find, and the family's case is bogged down in civil court (its been 2 years); that sounds like good old American justice doesn't it? We all understand, accidents can happen, and yet where's the responsibility for owning one's mistakes should the accident cause severe injury to the victim or be the result of negligence?
In Erzinger's case he didn't even stop. With all his money, clout, professional skills, he couldn't even stop to man up to his actions. Our money craven society worships Erzinger's business accumen, financial achievement, economic impact and monetary value, and holds him up as an exemplar of the great American capitalistic ideal and yet this guy's a coward and a loser...and in my opinion not worth the spit or piss it would take to put him out if he were on fire...ok so now I'm just ranting in quite a childish manner and to no real end. So to my starting point, a-la Bart Simpson, and in homage to the spirit of the great American, bullying, motorist public, I'm going to continue the childishness by swinging my arms wildly when walking around in public. If I happen to hit someone then it won't be my fault...cause everyone has now been duly warned. I'm swinging. I'm swinging with purpose but not intent and so come what may...Maybe when swinging I'll be distracted. Maybe I'll have an important meeting to go to, or I'll be late for coffee with Buffy and Bobo.  Sure I might cause a black eye or two or some with it. You shouldn't be walking where I'm swinging anyway. That's essentially how it works right? Cyclist you've been warned: cycling is a dangerous and foolish activity to do around motorists. Cars are big and comfy and drivers are distracted and in a hurry and self important, so if you happen to get hit then its YOUR problem. Well, we'll see who hits who first.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Farewell Sunshine

This afternoon I greeted the final rays of daylight savings light with the same knowing of one who knows their last days are nigh. To add insult to injury, the fleeting sunshine carried with it a warmth and comfort more akin to a May evening than an early November one. I concurred with Kate’s sentiment entirely, I could kept on riding as well. Instead, as I climbed the driveway after a long, meandering, detour filled, ride home tonight I turned and looked towards the growing shadows all around me and heading inside turned my back on one more summer. This is a bittersweet time of year. It marks the end of what is generally a hectic season of activity (riding or otherwise) and ushers in the season of long nights inside reflecting and relaxing. On the other hand it marks the onset of a 4 month stint of cold, dark rides home, the roadway illuminated solely by the passing lights of cars and the small lumen output of my CatEye headlight. There’s something isolating and saddening about riding home on a chilly 32 degree night in the dark. The prospect is not something to anticipate with enthusiasm or relish. I enjoy being seen clearly while riding. I enjoy seeing clearly while riding. I don’t exactly enjoy feeling my way dumbly in the dark. But there’s no use hoping against the inevitable; its time to ‘fall back’. So, popping the top off my festive, snowy bike bottle cap on my New Belgium Two Below, I toast the fading light of summer; all hope, warmth and memory saved within their diminishing glow. Here’s to another summer put to rest, and a fine one at that.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Golden Finale

 Last Tuesday Kate and I trucked it out to Golden one last time for the final Golden Cruise ride of the 2010 season. The afternoon's cold winds and dropping mercury made the farewell even more bittersweet. A good sized crowd of costumed riders gathered at Woody's Pizza at 7:00 for a Halloween themed procession through the streets of Golden. There were witches, cowboys, ewoks, Star Wars speeder bikes, dead girl scouts, hippies and hipsters alike and even Chuck Norris made an appearance.

Chuck Norris
Kate...I mean Chuck at the Golden Cruise
Although it was really freaking cold, it was a great time and with everyone in a festive spirit, the atmosphere was lively despite the chill.  For my costume I went as a farmer; straw hat, plaid shirt, jeans, boots and leather gloves. Otherwise an unassuming costume, but I made sure to bring my John Deere with me as well...what farmer doesn't have one right?
John Deere Tractor Bike

John Deere Tractor Bike
The Golden tally:  6 nights of cruising, 125 pieces of pizza scarfed (approximate figures), a few beers consumed, 1 striped alpaca beer cozy crafted, some ninja kickin', cruiser rollin', John Deere green cardboard wheel totin' cruiser fun. Until next year cruisers, see you in March!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Personal Space

Let’s talk about a very touchy subject called:  personal space. Outside the scope of certain friends and intimate relations it is generally considered rude in American culture to 'get up in one's grill' in the parlance of our times, or otherwise invade one's personal space. Even without direct contact, the sheer presence of one averse to the fundamental understandings of proximal relationships can make an otherwise normal occurrence very uncomfortable. The close talker, the casual shoulder toucher, the close passer, hand grabber, awkward chest looker...these are all creepy intrusions into the private sphere of personal space. Unless you're standing on a crowded bus, elevator or playing rugby people generally respect boundaries and try not to engage in too much unsolicited bumping, grinding, touching or encroaching.

So with such a well understood concept governing our interactions with strangers walking down the street or pushing our carts at the store, why then do we struggle to apply such courtesies to the road; its a mystery to me. Let's play a little Rorschach style game and try and figure this mystery out if we can.

What do you see here?
Clearly it’s a sign that says “Bike Route”, but what could be meant by this? It might mean…that the designated roadway is--a route for bikes. This would then mean that bikes could be routed along it, which thusly could also mean that people could actually ride their bikes on this surface (and in fact are encouraged to do so.) So if you happen across such a bike propelled by such a person on such a surface designated with such signage, then you should perhaps do your best not to run them over and in missing them narrowly show your disgust at their very presence on the same plane of existance as you with your colorful hand gesturing.

So now, how about this one?
This is a trickier one, while both symbolic and declarative its not entirely specific. “Ahead” is a very vague term in the grander sense of the entire space time continuum. But unless you are Steven Hawking (or his clone), then this sign means that BIKES have a LANE...AHEAD....generally meaning right freakin' there. This would indeed be separate from the normal general use lanes of traffic commonly seen on either sides of the dashed yellow line.

As in this picture for example:
Now clearly the symbols and copious use of paint show us the exact distinction of spaces for use by bicycles (hint:  it’s the one with the picture painted on the ground) and the other general use traffic lane (hint:  the one without the picture of the bike on the ground). Now you might think that such a sophisticated species with unwritten social mores around personal space would appreciate the actual designation of separate physical spaces as outlined by these markings. And yet not everyone seems to get this. Take this example:
Clearly law is not enough if the business people of the law cannot seem to unravel and decipher its tangled intricacies. How can I expect the average Joe to know the difference? Clearly the half dozen or more Joe's on my ride home from work today really struggled with the concept about as much as the professional law enforcement types depicted above. Well I suppose that’s the crux of it. Taken as a whole, the Bike Route, Bike Lane, Bike Pictures and Solid White Painted Line SHOULD suffice it to say to the general motoring public: STAY OUT OF MY DAMNED PERSONAL SPACE and yet that seems to challenge some who see this congruence of pictures and paint and think: passing lane, turning lane, parking lane, u-turn lane, my lane. Well guess what, its actually MY LANE, so its my space when I’m occupying it. That means get your close talking, shoulder touching, close passing, hand grabbing, chest looking, bike lane driving ass out of it!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Orange Ride

Today Bike Denver, and the Denver Broncos hosted the NFL's first bike to a game promotion. Called the Orange Ride, 4 large group rides left separate Denver area bars for a massive cruiser convergence at the afternoon's Bronco's Jets game. All told over 450 riders made the trip to Mile High Stadium for the pre-party and game. A stalwart crew of volunteers manned 3 shifts to organize the parking area, handle the crowd of eager bike riders and park bikes for the duration of the game.  Kate and I made the trip down to volunteer on the first crew and had a great time. Hopefully the successful debut of this event encourages not only Denver, but other cities to support the concept. Seeing the gridlocked throng of cars attempting to file into narrow $30 a spot parking near the field, the close in comforts of an easy bike ride and secure parking at the threshold of the stadium makes biking to the game the clear winner. If there are other Orange Rides in the future, I'd definitely recommend them.
Kate's Puch cruiser prominently displayed at the Orange Ride.
Bike Parking at Invesco Field at Mile High.
Denver B Cycle
One of the first rides to arrive.
Packing them in at the bike corral.

This ref isn't holding anything back.

Bike tail-gating for the Orange Ride.

Denver Mayor and candidate for Governor, John Hickenlooper leads the last of the VIP bike rides.

An entire herd of B-Cycles in the corral.

Wonderful bikes...over 450 of them.

A willing designated driver for after the game.
Unfortunately the warm weather, clear skies, rally towels and bike powered fan base couldn't cheer the Broncos to victory this afternoon. At least it was a great day for a ride.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

I'm a Person for Bikes...Are You?

So I found my way to the People for Bikes website, an organization looking to build support for bike related needs at the national political level by collecting e-signatures for 1 million bicycle supporting individuals. Their major aim is to create demonstrative clout for lobbying local, state and federal legislators for enhanced funding and support for cycling related transportation projects. To accomplish this goal, essentially all they ask is that you sign their online pledge for support.  They don't give many more specifics than that, but at face value it definitely is a worthwhile effort. Below is some pasted info from their website as well as a link. If you're feeling inclined to be 1 in a million, then complete their online pledge.

"Every day, millions of Americans like us ride for their health, for the environment, for their communities, and for the pure joy of bicycling. But until now, only a tiny fraction of riders have stood up to help improve bicycling in America. is going to change all that. They're building a national movement with the clout and influence to get things done. That means promoting bike riding on an individual level, but also sending a unified message to our elected leaders, the media, and the public that bicycling should have their full support."

Check out their great new website to take a pledge for biking and learn how you can help:

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Case of the Dundies

"Is that a wadded up pair of boxers in your pants or are you just happy to see me?" Oh no baby its boxers, and you know why??? --cause its Double-Undies Day (Dundies...that's my new word. You heard it here first, add it to your spell check its going to be big...I've been big on firsts lately...maybe its my lack of racing turning me competitive in other, far more mundane, exploits...)

Dundies occurs when its so miserably wet and soggy outside that you get soaked all the way to the core by the time you get to work such that you either end up going ‘sans-culottes’ or you have to cart around another pair of boxers, briefs, panties (or worse) with you. I can’t recall the last time it rained on a commute IN to work. The summer occasionally boasts rainy rides home, generally preferable to the 90+ heat, but the Dundy day is a rarely experienced joy most common to spring and fall. Today it rained, heavy, cold, fat drops my entire ride in to work. Despite my rain jacket and pants, by the time I got to the office I was more or less soaked to the core; the tops of the legs really get the brunt of the rain hence the penetrating sodden condition of one’s boxers. My shoes likely won’t dry out for another day. My socks were still wet and cold when I put them back on for the ride home. My gloves…ditto.

And yet don’t get me wrong: I’m not complaining. A Dundy ride is almost a badge of honor. Ben at work also road in today, so the camaraderie in the bike room this evening was extra heightened; the commiseration in the morning’s dreariness and discussion of best lube for post-rain rejuvenation being the hot topics of conversation. Plus a truly dreary, gray, rain-fest of a morning ride only portends more ominous and inhospitable conditions to come: I love it. Not that I’m a huge fan of winter commuting (especially come April when I’m fed up with it), but right now its novel, new, a sign of the changing of seasons; time to really get down to business. Soon it won’t just be commuting by bike, on some days it almost becomes an exercise in survival or at least coping with wet drawers. So get out the good lube, the Swiss Army knife, those extra boxers and other survival gear; winter’s on its way, time to get ready!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

News Flash... and Random Aside

Below is a link to what may very well be the best story about cycling of all stories about cycling ever written. Now some of you skeptics might be saying to yourselves, "Surely not. Think of Lance's comeback from cancer tour victories. Lemond's gloriously narrow TT win over Fignon. Any of the cannibal or badger's celebrated exploits in the heyday of cycling nicknames. Or better yet, more stories of Spanish riders testing positive for eating bad food and Saran Wrap."  Well to those who would doubt I only suggest you follow the link and decide for yourselves. Perhaps I'm wrong...but I doubt it.

Greatest Bike Story Every Told

On an entirely unrelated the greatest bike story ever told that is...I would assert that while Volvo may indeed make the safest vehicles on the planet, these feats of Swedish engineering perfection attract some of the unsafest of drivers.  That's an opinion of course, I'm still doing my homework on the figures but I'd say I'm definitely on to something. If you need empirical evidence for your own then by all means get on a bike and ride around the Denver Highlands around rush the bike lane...preferably with children about (Those Volvo's are magnets for children, I saw a commercial on it once.  And I almost saw some serious magnetic power this afternoon but not quite in the manner the makers of Volvo may have intended.)  Apparently the 'safeness' feature of this guy's Volvo must have been an option he decided he didn't need; in favor of a better stereo, wood paneling, a talking map or something important like that. Maybe Volvo needs a disclaimer at the end of their ad with the taxes titles and fees gibberish. Something like, "Safety implied. Not standard for morons."

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Fake Plastic Watering Can

And a fake plastic IV bag, and fake plastic flowers for the Tour de France victor. I'll be the first to say I really will be glad that Andy Schleck has a tour victory to his name, however I would have preferred to see him win it outright. I never like to see professional cycling in the mainstream media as the main stream usually is the one carrying all the trash and filth and plastic 6 pack rings. Speaking of floating the AP was kicking up a storm of 'things in Contador's blood' stories. In the near future if Contador eats asparagus and his pee smells weird the NYT will link it to doping. He's done for, mark my words. But did Contador dope? Did Armstrong? Is everyone in the ProTour peloton cheating the sport? Hell I'd have kept doping myself if I were still racing, but instead I prefer having the occasional beer and riding slowly to nowhere in particulars: its more amenable to my delicate system and beer either comes in aluminum or plastic.

Just when it seemed that the sport of cycling was resurrecting itself through the biological passport, increased controls, virtuous sermonizing of the 'highroaders' et al, we're back in the mire with a potential second Tour de France overturn in what is really a handful of years. Some will decry the integrity of the sport and insinuate that cycling represents one of the lower steps in the caste system of professional athletes: "They're all cheats!" some will argue. And these pessimists might be right, yet we've heard Olympic medalists admit to doping, we've seen major league sluggers carted before Congress to testify as to their use of steroids and we've got a full on investigation into Lance and the glory days of American cycling's past. It seems professional athletes will do just about anything to win, even if it means cheating or damaging their bodies. But doping aside there are other headlines which call into question the integrity of 'sport'; play and call stealing accusations, college athletic scandals, NFL players cited for violence off the field (against men, women and even dogs), adulterous sexual exploits of one pro golfer, etc, etc. Some unscrupulous characters are attracted to professional athletics.

But aren’t there unscrupulous characters everywhere? Certainly there are cheats in every arena. However I would suggest that what separates the industrial or political cheat from the athletic one is that whereas industry operates within certain parameters and guidelines, conduct wherein somewhat subject to the sentiment and mood of the people, games and sport have clear rules. If you know the rules then everyone can play the same game, and on some levels aspire to the same greatness as that of the professional: fair is fair. We then take the exemplars of sport and hold them up on a pedestal in a manner different than heads of business or other successful professionals. There is something to the achievements of an athlete that any lover of sport believes they can relate to; as we’ve all tried to the play the game and can therefore appreciate the magnitude of success for these rare, gifted individuals. So it’s a bitter taste to choke down the discovery of impropriety in our sport.

And the real cynics might argue, "Well, what do we care?" And as jaded a question as that may be, its actually worth asking. What type of conduct do we expect of professional athletes? Are we really attracted to the integrity of the competition or the spectacle? While many might suggest that it is the integrity of sport and honest competition that attracts us to watch grown adults play children’s games, we cannot deny the degree to which sport has become a very lucrative spectacle. And to this extent perhaps we’ve essentially allowed the snake into Eden. Are we really naive enough to presume that the million (if not billion in some cases) dollar industries of professional athletics could be conducted 100% in the clear and above board? No longer is the bedrock of sport just the contest of one athlete or team against the other; there’s a lot of money underlying that contest. And while the NFL, PGA, MLB and UCI would like to uphold a standard of competition that promotes fair and honest sport, does the monetary aspect of professional sport make this all but impossible? Its one thing perhaps to enter an event where the winner takes the prize. It becomes quite different with team sports involving sponsorship deals, salaries, bonuses and expectations of victory far different than the simple enter and win athlete. Even in amateur athletics, as in the case of the Olympics, athletes drawn by the power of the sponsor’s dollar do some intriguing things. Once they get Lance maybe they’ll go after that sub-sandwich peddling swimmer guy; he can’t be natural either.

So Contador gets tossed out of cycling along with Floyd and Lance and the countless others who ‘cheated’ and played that game and lost it. Maybe while they’re at it they can drag down all of the other idols like George Hincapie, Jens Voigt, and Carlos Sastre. Then what? The reputations of all the heroes are marked by caveats. Schleck gets an asterisk title in a race he did not win, but now technically did. And then next year everyone will suspect him of cheating, or at least they’ll hold their breath and hope that he’s not all the while secretly ‘knowing‘ that he did should a test come back positive. Will we get to the point where we can no longer watch two racers climb a mountain and think that one is, if not both are, cheating? Will we soon be able to watch home runs fly out of baseball stadiums and records fall without that nagging thought in our head: was that real? Or will sport become like magic acts: we all know we’re being deceived yet we seem to go along with it for the sake of entertainment. That’s what we’re all paying for in the end isn’t it: the sponsor, the athlete the fan? We’re paying for entertainment and I suppose that’s indeed what we’re getting. “Are you not entertained?”

I stole that last quote from the movie Gladiator. I also stole the title of this post and theme for the first sentence from Radiohead. As a talent-less, hack writer I felt compelled to do so. I know it was wrong. I feel really bad about it. I will never do it again.  You can have my Heisman and my Yellow Jersey if I ever get one.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

"Meat loaf beat Loaf. I hate meat loaf."

And to think that I thought my entirely asynchronous interests in bicycles and organic food would never align. Sure there were some connections, but the thread between Zipp wheel-sets and fish emulsion fed veggies is a tenuous one at best; that is until I got on VeloNews this morning.

The story on MSN of all places actually caught my eye before I even got a chance to get to VeloNews to read the real coverage of it: Tour de France champion Alberto Contador tested positive for a scant trace of clenbuterol. The lithe Spanish cycling virtuoso alleges the steroid found its way into his system via contaminated beef that his friends brought him while visiting him on one of the rest days during the tour. And indeed his Yellow Jersey, daily samples confirm that the steroid was not present (even at such microscopic amounts) until this point when it theoretically could have been ingested with his tasty burger or what have you. Head hunters, vigilantes and Lance supporters are clamoring for his ban from the sport, but I could really care less. The significance of such an announcement means so much more to me personally and professionally than anything that could happen to some brilliant bike racer I’ve never met. I’ve now discovered that my mission in life is to market hormone and steroid free meat and veggies as sponsors for continental ProTour cyclists. Finally cycling can resonate with something truly American: prime rib. Mark the time, note the location: this is MY idea.

Picture this:  the new Schleck powered Luxembourg team sponsored by some high profile Euro-bank and…Cascadian Farms home of certified organic fruits, veggies and granola. No chemical sprays, poisons or CERA on those lovely leaves. Or how about the new power house: Garmin-Cervelo-USDA Certified Free Range Angus Beef…the team cars could be black and white spotted like a cow! The guy who runs alongside the TDF riders on massive hill climbs with his antler helmet could now be sponsored to wear ‘hook-em’ Texas Long Horn-horns. "Texas the land of beef"…some raised with chemicals like yucky Spanish meat that losers like AC ate (we don’t like losers)…but some is raised in the good, natural way off grass and pasture before the steer is shot with a bolt to the head like in No Country for Old Men. Cue son of Texas…that’s right, the big L.A. himself.

Rather than the gravely voice of Sam Elliot or some other such Hollywood Western namesake, Andy Schleck in his broken English could pitch “Beef…steroid, antibiotic and hormone free that is…its what’s for dinner.” Then he and O’Grady could switch over for Anheuser Busch and ‘pedal’ some of that as they clearly share a need for some good brew (not that AB is good brew per se but we’re talking market share here folks. And when the almighty dollar talks you better believe the cheap beer is flyin’.) This might be the big break that cycling needed; a crack into the meat and potato crowd of American consumers. And speaking of cracking breaks: “Need a little excitement?” Well snap into that Slim Jim says scar faced Jens Voigt and Christian Vandevelde…who lately in grand tours have looked more like snapped Slim Jims than anything. Maybe Hank Williams Junior could work on a new jingle for the Versus, “Are you ready for some time-trial? An early morning tape delayed time-trial…all my rowdy friends are coming over for fat-free low carb salads, whole grain rice, pasta and some freakin TIME TRIAL!!" (Cut to cheerleaders, cause nothing sells men in spandex like women in lingerie; cow walks across the screen led by none other than 4-time Fabian himself.) Holy shit, what NASCAR loving blue-blooded American wouldn’t tune in for that!?!

So AC passes into the mire and skepticism of his second modern-day doping scandal, but through Operacion Puerto-Meato-Oh-No and his plummet from grace he’s opened a great wide door for potential meat fed marketing to just walk right in one hoof at a time. I for one will be there to cash in on that great cow of opportunism and financial boon.  I just hope its not tainted with something that gives me indigestion.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Golden Cruise September 2010

Ill-equipped with my 'flashless' camera I wasn't properly outfitted to capture all of the sights of last night's cruise. The appallingly early onset of dusk and nightfall really shook me out of my denial that winter is indeed on the way.  So I have only a few pictures from before the ride and none of the actual flannel-pant clad PJ processional; sorry.  Regardless, it was yet again a great evening to be out in Golden riding a big fat tired bike. The route wound through the Clear Creek path area and around downtown avoiding many of the longer road stretches of previous rides either due to the practicality of navigating a couple hundred cruiser riders around Golden in the dark or due to pressure to keep the ride off the road (that's my bit of speculation and I was not alone in the rumor mongering amongst fellow cruisers last night.) In any case no one seemed to mind the change of scenery and everyone seemed to have a good time. As per usual the beer and pizza afterwards at Woody's tasted great and seemed to compliment the evening of hanging out and riding bikes perfectly. I still didn't win a free bike in the raffle but there's always next time I suppose. Speaking of next time, its going to the last ride and Halloween Costume themed, so if you've not made it out for one of these cruises October's final ride of the season might be a good place to start. Then you'll be all pumped up for April when they start back up again: all hail the summer cruise.

Choice curbside parking for Cruisers only

Note the welded tools on the top tube complete with shell casings.

When I think cruisers I often think New Belgium too.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Bike Tuesday

A double stuffed Oreo of bike fun, the last Tuesday of the month is bus Tuesday and its Golden Cruise Tuesday as well…wholesome fun for the entire family. Bus Tuesday occurs the 4th Tuesday of the month where I get to hop on the bus with my bike and ride out to Golden for a recurring committee meeting. A couple months ago I was selected to serve on a committee for work. On some levels getting the nod to serve on a committee can be compared to getting into a car accident: it is bound to happen to just about everyone at some point and when it does you only pray that you’re able to stand up and walk away from it. So while I was ‘voluntold’ to be on this committee, the meetings have been effectively organized and astoundingly on-topic to the point of being productive (shocker for a committee I know), and the real plus has been the once monthly opportunity to flee my gray walled hole during the middle of the day.

Riding to work and traveling to a committee meeting can be a challenge by bike. In the past I’ve managed to only get the call to serve on committees within a mile or two from my office: easy bike to meeting range. A couple years ago I had the pleasure of serving on a group that convened out in Aurora. Fortunately they met early in the morning so I was able to get up and bike down to the main bus depot and hop the express out to the location. Getting back to work was an easy express ride to Denver. Faced with the proposition of an afternoon meeting in Golden I found myself again busing it once a month with my bike. While the commute via bike and bus takes about 15 min longer than driving, I find the time on the bus to generally be more productive work-wise than sitting in a car. I can get caught up on email, read docs or reports and actually prep for the upcoming meeting (which otherwise wouldn’t happen if I went straight from office-to drive-to meeting…there’s just no time for luxuries like effective preparation.)

Today I was able to check some email and get caught up from some lingering items outstanding from last week’s time out of the office, and I got to enjoy the company of some of my fellow bus travelers. Most of the afternoon’s conversation centered around a fellow with macular degeneration who talked at length about how he rides his bike downtown to Golden frequently much to the dismay of his wife who gives him a fair bit of grief about it. When pressed about his route he indicated that the roads are in fact smoother and more direct than the path, which got a chuckle out of everyone around him now listening to the conversation. “I usually take the road down, and then the path back he said,” which made perfect sense to me I suppose; as he had in fact already acknowledged his inability to effectively see either. He also told us a funny story about how he got a call indicating that he was qualified to win a scooter: he just had to answer a few questions. His response to the caller was “Well hopefully the first question isn’t: can you see to drive the thing!” This again got a pretty good laugh from the other riders. He got off at the same stop as I did and cane in hand made his way down the sidewalk. It goes to show how far one can get on sheer willpower and strength of character (if not a bit of stubbornness as well), even despite seemingly limiting obstacles. People all the time say, “Oh I’d probably be able to ride my bike but this and that and such and such.” Well this man could barely see and apparently had a nagging wife: that didn’t stop him!

Home at last from all my biking and busing in a professional sense, its time to load up the bikes for the monthly Golden Cruiser Ride. Tonight marks the second to last installment of this wonderful summer institution. The theme tonight apparently is PJ Party…which is not a theme I can really get behind. I don’t really P or J and I assure you that no one wants to see the alternative. So its shorts and a shirt tonight but for next month’s Halloween Costume Cruiser Ride we’ll be pulling out all the stops. Stay tuned for more on that front!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

CO Trip: The Aftermath

Well I'm home once again safe and sound. After some initial miscommunication with my pick up rendezvous, Kate found me out in the desert standing next to that Utah Line pillar. We drove back yesterday stopping in Palisade for lunch.  When all is said and done my trip amounted to about 522 miles ridden in just under 41 hours spread over 9 days.  Of course these are high level estimates, but should be pretty close. Either way you slice it that's a fair amount of work when you think about it.

So I'm cleaned up once again and well rested. Seven nights of sleeping on the ground, even with a nice Thermarest Pad tends to wear you down after a point. I got all my gear aired out and packed away; the nice thing about a bike trip is that there's not much gear to clean up and put away, so it took all of 15 min. I think Kate will still be finding Kebler mud on her panniers for some time. I'm not going to wash mine off, kind of like a badge of honor...or stupidity. My knees feel pretty good; glad to not be pedaling this morning.  Its Sunday, the day of rest, and then back to the salt mines tomorrow. Fun times. Thanks to everyone for following along on my little journey. I'm glad to have been able to share it all with you. Keep checking in on the SpokedInTheEye blog from time to time for more exciting cycling updates or the usual griping and complaining about Denver motorists. Or check in with me at JasonEtc, also on blogspot--link to the right, for more of my rambling thoughts on all kinds of things.

Until next time...I'm thinking Montana...that should be fun...2-3 weeks...600-750 or so miles of wide open big sky country...maybe some mountain that could be cool...

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Day 9: CO Monument to Utah Line

Miles traveled: 27.6
Ride Time: 1:36
Avg Speed: 17mph

The Utah and Colorado border along highway 6 lies out in the middle of nowhere marked only by a stone pillar and a cattle guard. The pillar, in true American fashion, has been vandalized by spray paint and shotgun shells. Little is sacred for us these days. But to me this past week has been somewhat of a sacred event, an exploration of physical, mental and emotional limits. No I didn’t climb Everest, and no I didn’t ride across the country, but I did venture out in a spirit of discovery and find new places, meet new people and learn a bit more about myself and my home state.

One gains an intimate appreciation for the landscape traveling by bike. When not racing by at 75mph on an interstate one can appreciate both the largeness and smallness of our more remote places. While many of the little communities along my route are in decline if not outright extinguished, there is a life to these places and a history still vivid in the structures and faces that call them home. I think we take these small places for granted in our rush to convenience and ease, sealing ourselves up inside our small, perfect neighborhoods. A hard scrabble folk still make their living from the land in our country and others, closely tied to this existence, support them by running and maintaining stores and restaurants, shops and services. These small communities are ones of a quaint interconnectedness. People who still say good morning and wave as they drive by, who know each other by name and have a general concern, if not direct dependency, on each other’s well being. There’s a lack of anonymity in these smaller communities, which makes it harder to hide as well as harder to avoid the interpersonal contact one has with everyone else in the town. That person you snub or cut off on the road may very well be the person teaching your child or ringing up your groceries. Its harder to just brush off the casual stranger as someone you will never meet again, and in that sense an accepting welcome greets those who would take the time to head out of their way and venture into these rural locales. For those who drop the pretense and sense of expectation, one can find a more rewarding destination in a small community than in some 5 star hotel or resort. And yet for all the smallness of the back corners of this state there are great vast expanses to behold as well.

The enormity of our great mountain ranges, the vastness of our plains really only sinks in when physically confronted by them. The landscape of Colorado is formidable and at times hostile, yet it offers a rich and diverse range of scenes and climates for everyone to explore. I started on the plains, traveled through great wide, dry hills to stony mountains cut by roaring streams. I climbed high peaks and saw the ferocity of the high plateaus and windswept valleys and have now descended down to red rock desert vistas and sweeping prairie of tumbleweed and junipers. I saw all these things and soaked them in over a single week of pedaling my bike.

I don’t know all that I have gained from this experience on a personal level. There is a tremendous amount of physical accomplishment and understanding at what all I can endure and persevere. But there’s also a point at which the noise and distraction in my head finally shut off and quieted itself. I don’t know at what point this occurred, perhaps when being baked by the sun on the plains near La Junta, or battered by the winds in canyons and valleys towards Gunnison or maybe it was the cold and wet of Kebler that wrung it out; in any case it eventually stopped. And this noise, this incessant chatter which continually provides the background track for my thoughts left in its absence a calmness. Last night sitting out under the stars in the cool wind of Colorado Monument my head and my thoughts were clear and simple. No anxiety for the future, no questioning of decisions in the past. Just a cool wind and wide open sky. I know that as soon as I delve back into the ‘real’ world of obligations, expectations, anticipations and stress my thoughts will again cloud over with self-conscious chatter and obsession; my compulsiveness fed by an unsettled state of being. And yet perhaps when this starts to happen I’ll think back to that night on the red rock with all on earth at that moment exposed and opened wide to the star filled heavens. And I will contemplate the lone serenity of that cool, desert night and I will remember. With the impressions of this trip so richly felt and intimately experienced, in truth I believe it will be difficult to forget.
My cyclist flag and manifesto to motorists.

Day 8: Hotchkiss to Grand Junction, Colorado National Monument

Miles Traveled: 77.5
Ride Time: 6:24
Avg Speed: 12

Along the North Gunnison River valley the temperature plummeted last night. I woke to not only a heavy layer of condensation on everything, but to temperatures easily in the low 40’s. Needless to say I packed camp quickly and got on the road in a hurry to generate some heat. Once atop Roger’s Mesa the highway finishes its tour of small farms and orchards before dropping down almost instantaneously into the dry arid landscape of the western slope. Not even reminiscent of the eastern plains, this landscape more closely rivals the moon for its unnatural barrenness.

I came through Delta but didn’t stop, I kept moving, now northward, and again along HWY 50. A wind blew out of the north west making my progress a bit slower but I kept going over one rolling hill after another. Outside of Whitewater I came across a couple shooting documentary style footage of bike touring of all things. I’m not sure of the intended format or distribution method, however my beloved Surly makes a grand appearance in their footage as a deluxe touring rig. Scott and Dina (might be spelling that wrong) caught me a couple times along my route and actually stopped me in Grand Junction to introduce themselves and look at the bike more closely. As I left Grand Junction and made my way up through Redlands they bumped into me again and kindly gave me a bottle of water. It was sorely needed at that point in my ride, so many thanks to them for happening past. And who knows this trip might make me famous.

I stopped in Grand Junction for lunch and requisite daily updates to the blog from yesterday’s journey. It felt good to stop though I remained up in the air about where to go next. One option was to shoot for Highline State Park out by Loma, which would add nearly another 20-25 miles into the same headwind as the morning‘s ride, or try and head out towards Colorado National Monument and camp there. Again joyful headwind but a considerably shorter route, by about half, however including a hefty bit of climbing akin to Lookout at home: about 1100 feet of gain in 4 miles--ouch. As you all know my exploits on Lookout (recall the 12 days of Lookout…) I certainly wouldn’t back down from pillar to post style riding even if with 65 more pounds of gear than usual. After wandering down the Main Street area of Grand Junction, and topping off my tires at Brown’s Cycles on Main, I began heading west again. Without making much of a conscious decision about it I got onto Route 340 and pointed the Surly towards the Monument. In truth I could have bailed and kept on going to Fruita and out to Loma, but after checking with the national park guard about the availability of sites and water at the top decided to go ahead and do it. This was the right choice. I’m sure Highline is nice, but the Monument is AHA-SOME.

Balanced Rock, Colorado National Monument

The climb up wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. I went slow, stopped to take some pictures and generally took it easy. My knees at this point don’t do hammer anymore…particularly on the hills…so easy was my destined speed by default. I got to the top and found one of the few remaining exterior sites (on the outside loop of the campground area) and pitched my tent still wet from the morning Gunnison dew in a wonderfully western slope sunny spot. I wandered around, first behind my campsite, which leads right to the cliff wall, and again around the campground to the Book Shelf Cliffs and overlook. The landscape of the monument reminded me of Moab…like a slice of Moab slick rock right in the middle of the grand valley. You could almost expect Wile E Coyote to come screaming by with a rocket car or something. I went up to the Visitor Center and watched a movie about the geology of the area. It amazes me how much people have been able to figure out about the landscape and unique features around us, especially given all of the natural phenomenon which conspired to create such forms and monoliths.

Looking down on the road coming up to the top of the mesa.

Tonight I ate cheesy noodle surprise…the surprise is that it tastes freaking AWFUL… Fortunately I still pocketed some snacks and Starbursts to help eradicate the lingering taste of foul. I sat out late to watch the stars….well as late as I could stand to be out in the wind and cold with the clothing I packed with me (pretty much everything on at once). The rangers at the visitor center think it will get down to at least 40 tonight if not colder…brrrr. At least I have good eastern exposure for when the sun pops over the Grand Mesa in the morning. Tomorrow I head down through Fruita and out along HWY6 to the border. Should be about 25-ish miles I think and then that will be the end of my journey. Seems very odd to have started a week ago and now finally be here, nearing the end. I’m sure I’ll have more cogent reflections on this whole experience in the morning. At this point I’m tired and still surprised to be here.
Camp Colorado Monument

On the edge, Colorado Monument

Friday, September 10, 2010

Day 7: Paonia to Hotchkiss

Miles traveled: 12 Ride time: A while
Average speed: Slow

Today I took a break. In theory this trip constitutes ’vacation time.’ And not wanting to be one of those people who come back from a trip and exclaim, “I need a vacation from my vacation” I decided to take a day off from riding around. I still ended up riding around, when traveling by bicycle you don’t get much of an alternative unless you want to push your bike, but for my part I didn’t ride hard and I certainly didn’t ride a considerable distance.

Today in the North Fork Valley the weather was gorgeous. The wind was really howling from the west, good thing I wasn’t riding, so it made for a blustery afternoon but all in all a nice change of pace from the rain. I took a back route into Hotchkiss which is a smaller town than Paonia situated along highway 92 and 133. Saying it is a smaller town is much like comparing microscopic to infinitesimal, at a point you’re splitting hairs. There is a City Market and a Family Dollar, I presume more fixtures of the proximity to highway, and thus highway travelers, but there aren’t really many other noteworthy establishments. I did go by The Creamery, which is a really well renovated milk creamery building turned local artist co-op. The gallery spans two large floors and boasts a pretty diverse collection of art from local and regional artists as well as kids who participate in the Art After School program. Quite the standout in what is otherwise a typical, small Colorado town like many that I’ve ridden through recently. What really stood out more than the ‘city center’ was the surrounding landscape of farms, orchards and gardens. The river valley spans a wide distance at this point between mesas on both the north and south sides. The resulting plains in between must be quite fertile and productive to support so much agriculture. While Paonia sat closer to the West Elk Wilderness and Mt. Lamborn the land around Hotchkiss is more open and expansive leading west towards Delta or south towards Crawford and the Black Canyon.

Looking east towrds Paonia and Mt. Lamborn

Apples, ripe for the pickin'
So I made my way to town, wandered around the sites to see in the city. I got my first flat, which is surprising given the miles traveled and crap ridden through in the past week. Other than those events I spent the majority of the afternoon in a park reading and loafing about the place. While capable of taking time to ‘do nothing’ I don’t frequently do it. Even this trip somewhat conspired against that agenda with its day to day itinerary of key mileage points and destinations. Yet it felt good to make time to simply let it pass by and be for a moment in the moment. While I’m sure my knees haven’t recovered enough to not scream at me yet again tomorrow when I get back on the bike I do feel refreshed and relaxed. My spot here tucked back behind the Delta County Fairgrounds towards the river is secluded enough to be quite peaceful given my proximity to the surrounding hub-bub of Hotchkiss. Which is really a round about way of saying this is a pretty quiet spot in an already quiet little town.

Tomorrow I leave the small town valley behind and head towards the ‘big city’ of Grand Junction drawing towards the end of my trip. It will be a pretty long day so hopefully the winds don’t return.
At camp in Hotchkiss

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Day 6: Kebler Pass to Paonia

Miles Traveled:  47 with some tooling around town dodging raindrops
Ride time: I don't really even know. It didn't take long
Avg Speed: 16 on the descent and now I'm just chillin' out.

Many thanks to Overgaard Bicycle Repair, John Eckert proprietor and bike doctor, for getting my Surly re-lubed, tuned and ready for more on the road adventure. Now you may be saying to yourself, “Golly gee Jason, why did you have to have the fine folks (really its just one guy but I like to be dramatic) at Overgaard Bicycle Repair work on your Surly Long Haul Trucker?” That is a fine, astute question and it definitely warrants the telling of the tale.

Dear readers recall last night I left the friendly and accommodating confines of Crested Butte to dine on freeze dried Mexican Spicy Chicken and Rice atop Kebler Pass. It was delicious like the apple in Eden, yummy, yummy and then it hits your tummy and you're blasted out of paradise and on your own. Ok it wasn't that bad, it was better than the Honey Chicken a bag. But I digress, you will note my harrowing stories of dodging construction implements, eating dust and breathing the grit of passing moto-tourists. If you caught all of the details of that story (posted earlier today as my Day 5 recap) you’ll remember that I went on a wonderful hike in the woods, saw some birds, could not photograph them because of the bad lighting of impending meteorological doom and made it back to camp just before it started raining.

So guess what happens to 24 miles of dirt/gravel National Forest road after an ENTIRE night of light to moderate rainfall? Well it goes straight to hell my friends, it goes straight to hell. Was I expecting such a fate? Well I must admit to you, or I’d be a liar, that I feared exactly such circumstance. It was such fear that drove me to concoct my back up plan of heading west through Sapinero and up to Hotchkiss on 92. It was a call best made from Gunnison and not Crested Butte, and as it was sunny and clear when I made the game day decision to head to Crested Butte, and sunny and even more clear (its higher up in elevation so I think it could actually be more clear) when I got there, I can't really second guess myself too much. But as I lollygagged and loafed around town clouds did indeed form on the horizon. They did look like rain clouds. And I did see them and knowingly ride up the hill anyway not really thinking that it would rain. Well my friends, I was wrong.

It actually rained pretty much all night and even all day today at various intervals and forms: mist, drops, big fat rain, and even rain that seems to come straight up from the ground...Gump. But it definitely rained last night and left the roads in a really sorry state for my descent down to the actual blacktop 24 miles below my camp. My Surly looked like it lost a pudding fight. I had mud on everything…the bike, my bags, my gears, my legs, my face…just about everything. So needless to say I arrived in Paonia early today in somewhat a sour disposition. I had to wash my bike at a car wash…not advised but I didn’t have a choice. I had to spray my bags, hang up my tent, dry my sleeping pad, clean mud out of my ears, try and get mud stink out of my clothing. Its been real swell. Needless to say after all my cleansing and rinsing my bike was sorely lacking in lubrication and had suffered much in terms of grime and grit that it sounded like angry hamsters from hell running around in large steel wheels kind of like something out of American Gladiator or Mad Max and the Thunderdome. Fortunately John was around and gladly took care of my bike with his tools of cleansitudeness and now the Surly sounds and shifts like the day I got it. He did as much for little to no payment and couldn’t even be gratuitized with beer. So this is my way of thanking him in terms of the good karma of cyberspace. If you are ever in or near Paonia and needing a bike anything, please stop by Overgaard Cycles on Box Elder Ave and pay John a visit. He’s good people.

So the long story short is I’m in Paonia. I’m caught up on my tale of woe and adventure and I’m feeling better about things…being both dry and clean. Paonia is a pretty cool little place. Small town, lots of gardens and fruit growing just about everywhere. Kind of an odd mix of old guard farmer/rancher and eclectic, young odd folk. I hope that the weather improves a bit so I can tool around and enjoy the scene in this town and Hotchkiss down the road.
That headbadge should say "S" for Surly. Instead it says "Brown" for covered in sh*t.

A traveling side show of sorts...note the unwrapped tent, it supposedly aides in my theory goes...didn't really work in practice like so many brilliant theories.

Day 5: Gunnison to Crested Butte to Kebler Pass

Miles traveled: 28 to CB and another 7 to top of Kebler Pass
Ride time: 1:59 to CB and about :54 to Kebler
Average speed: 14.1

I got out of bed at 7:30, a comparatively late start for me. It took me a while to get my gear in order and carefully packed into the panniers. Today I found myself blessed with more leisure than I have thus far allowed. After talking with Amy and Caroline for a little while I left the hostel and rode towards Main Street in Gunnison: the road to Crested Butte. I found a helpful guy at a second hand outdoor gear store who let me use some chain lube; silencing the hamsters if but temporarily. I stopped back by The Bean for breakfast and blog updates. For the sake of diversity I probably should have gone somewhere else, but this repetition proved fortuitous for me. As I left the store and walked my bike north towards the street I passed another outdoor store and I suddenly realized that I could get another backpack meal for tonight’s camping near Crested Butte. I ate the ‘emergency’ meal I packed with me for dinner on Monarch so passing the store gave me an opportunity to replenish; Spicy Mexican Chicken and Rice is on the menu.

First I will say there was no wind. There might have been a bit of a tail wind at times, but really no wind or other atmospheric disturbance to speak of the entire ride up to Crested Butte. I enjoyed the reprieve immensely. Winding its way north along the river and through shallow canyons of rocky outcrops, the highway climbs gently towards the mountains. There are several large ranches along the route, each boasting a fresh cutting of hay now rolled into large round bales and stacked in massive piles in the fields. Caroline told me that the Gunnison area had experienced a wetter than average summer this year, the bounty of which clearly showed in the piles of hay, lushness of the grass and still green leaves on aspens and cottonwoods. The trees betray a faint hint of fall with a spattering of gold colored leaves. With the cool morning air and clear blue sky above it stands to be a rich season for aspen viewing in the Gunnison valley.

The Gunnison River valley looking towards Crested Butte
When I got to Crested Butte I quickly found the Visitor Center, changed clothes and sought the advice of the guy attending the office. He provided useful information about my intended route up Kebler Pass as well as advice on what to do in Crested Butte for 3 or 4 hours. He stopped short of suggesting mountain biking, given my obvious bike-ed-ness, but before I left did tell me where mountain bikes could be rented if I found myself interested. Apparently you don’t bike to Crested Butte, you come to Crested Butte (in the summer at least) to bike.

The main street in Crested Butte is home to many shops, eateries, bars and whatnot. There were people everywhere, and it was very difficult to discern local from tourist. Everyone seemed to know each other, and everyone was also very interested in talking. I don’t know if I’ve ever been to a friendlier place. In fact here are some general rules of thumb on Crested Butte-ers:
  • A Crested Butte-er can generally be seen riding a bicycle around town. They seem to prefer cruisers adorned with plastic flowers or other such decoration, though I imagine many of them also keep a spare MTB or three for different occasions.
  • Crested Butte-ers will generally say “hi” to you and make eye contact.
  • Crested Butte-ers apparently like bike tourists. Some have a bad sense of geography as one thought the Kansas border was “like 800 miles away or something.”
  • A Crested Butte-er likes its beer. They can be found drinking them quite early in the afternoon.
  • I have a feeling many Crested Butter-ers work two or three jobs to allow them to live in Crested Butte. Seems to go with the territory.
  • Crested Butte-ers will pass a cyclist on a dirt road very slowly and will generally wave. This goes for Subaru driving, mountain bike toting Butter-ers or ATV hauling, Republican bumper sticker toting ones.
  • Crested Butter-ers are friendly folks, two construction guys held up 4 other cars traveling Kebler Pass just to let one bike rider through. There’s a lot to be said for whatever’s in the water up here. If only there were enough to go around.
When I was on the eastern plains and would tell people I was riding across Colorado they were quite impressed with the feat and seemingly couldn’t fathom the idea. In Gunnison or Crested Butte on the other hand the first question people would ask is “Are you riding across the Country?” In a hotbed of outdoor enthusiasts and adventurers my little trek barely raises the seismograph of awesomeness. Maybe if I fight off a bear or build a school for blind children or something it might make the charts. Nonetheless in Crested Butte people were very interested and excited about my trip. I got stopped on the street a couple times. I had some guy interrupt a conversation with a friend to ask me about my trip. Everyone wished me well and was full of helpful advice. I wandered around the town for a while, ate a really great sandwich for lunch (I foolishly forget the name of the place or I’d plug them here…natural bakery in CB) and stopped at the Oven for a beer on the patio. I soaked in the relaxed ambiance of the town as much as I could as it resonated greatly with the theme of my day. When the afternoon grew a bit long, and the clouds began to build, I decided to hit the road up Kebler Pass.

Jail turned theater in Crested Butte

The whiteboard next to the tinfoil covered bike reads, "We know you love our bikes, so do we. Please don't ride them."  I was tempted.

Mt. Crested Butte, resort is on the backside
I wasn’t sure what to expect in planning this option for my route across the state but was quite glad I decided to do it. Although most of the road is dirt, the road really is well cared for and compacted enough to almost feel paved at times. I was warned by the fellow at the Visitor Center about the dust…which proved to be an accurate warning. He indicated that tourists and more importantly construction workers would be the worst: he was dead right in his foreshadowing of my ride. I was passed by a couple construction or commercial vehicles who must have thought it their mission to choke me to death with dust. I also got some rude passes by obvious out of towners. I could tell the Crested Butters, they would always slow WAY down and wave.

I got up to the top of the pass quickly. One guy told me that it would be about an hours trip he figured giving the heft of my rig: he was right. The road never really climbed steeply, aside from the first half mile, so I made great time, and as was suggested found a nice camp spot near the road just along the top of the pass. I set up camp quickly, changed clothes and went for a quick hike. At this point the clouds were thick and promising rain. I hiked around the remains of the Irwin mining cemetery up here near the top of the pass and saw a number of different birds. They seemed to be everywhere, but with the absence of light I couldn’t get any decent pictures of them. I turned around and headed back to camp just in time for the first drops to start falling. I’ve more or less been in my tent relaxing and reading ever since. Now that I’ve run out of ambient light I’ve turned on the pc and plan to end my night with this post. Good night. Its on to Paonia in the morning.
Top of Kebler Pass looking towards CB...ominous rain clouds.
Road down from Kebler Pass towards Paonia

Monument at Irwin Cemetary at the top of Kebler Pass