2012 Ride the Rockies recap and “Unbottled” rider of the tour
One of my favorite things about Ride the Rockies this year was that the brewery had the opportunity to host the finish. This was our second year sponsoring RTR and I think we’ll continue to sponsor the tour, given the great experience we had connecting with riders and Colorado communities. I certainly hope to continue to ride it each year as it was about as much fun as I’ve ever had in the space of six days. The tour, however, will not end in Fort Collins each year, so I savored the rare opportunity to cruise to a familiar finish line, seeing so many of my friends and co-workers cheering us on was a great feeling. I was quite proud of myself for a little idea I had to appropriate a Tour de France tradition; during the last stage, with the places already set, riders sip Champaign during the final stretch on the Champs Élysées. For our group, I felt beer was more appropriate, but not just any beer. We stopped about a ¼ mile from the finish line, popped a bottle of our new collaboration brew, Pond Hopper, and poured seven glasses for the seven riders that were in our group on the last day, we rolled down Lincoln Ave and sailed across the finish line enjoying the aromas of the Double Extra Pale Ale.
Leading up to the suds quaffing finish, the final day of the ride could not have been more enjoyable; we started in Estes Park and cruised down Devils Gulch Road beside Monument Creek before dropping into Big Thomson canyon, which took us all the way into Loveland. We dropped a couple thousand feet of elevation which meant the ride was a simple cruise on a morning that was not to hot and not too cool. I hate to veer into clichéd territory here, but feel as if I have no choice, the birds were singing, the sun was shining, the smell of the pine trees was intoxicating and the pleasure of riding through the canyon was the perfect cap to this year’s tour. In what had to be the least important consequence of the High Park fire the ride final portion of this year’s ride had to be diverted from the original path that would have taken us through Masonville and around Horsetooth Reservoir. Instead of the rolling hills and canyons that route would have provided we simply rode into Loveland and took a left and headed north to Fort Collins. This made the final day, which already was the easiest of the tour, even less taxing. Fewer miles, fewer hills, and a tailwind that made the last stretch a breeze (pun intended). All that was left was to celebrate, and celebrate we did, both my co-workers at Odell Brewing and the RTR staff did a wonderful job at the finish line, it was a great party, Unbottled indeed.
Speaking of Unbottled, one thing I tried to do over the course of the ride was to exude the OBC Unbottled spirit whether it was while pushing up tough climbs or gliding down the back side of a pass, the Unbottled attitude can be infectious, but as much as it pains me to say it, I was not the Unbottled rider of the tour. I thought I would be, I mean, I’m a fun kind of guy, but then I met and started riding with Josh Carnes, and he put me to shame. I met and chatted with dozens and dozens of people over the course of the week, but Josh met and chatted with hundreds. Leading sing alongs to James Brown and the Beatles up the passes and being the personal cheerleader for every rider that looked like they might be struggling a bit, the Windsor-Severance firefighter’s enthusiasm for fun was contagious all week long. If that wasn’t enough, Josh was also the designated “Green Rider” for this year’s tour, as he has been since 2010. He’s been tasked by his friends at Zero Hero to find a rider each day of the tour that goes out of his or her was to green the tour. Whether that’s picking up trash at an aid station or on the road, directing people as to which refuse is recyclable vs. which is compostable or any other action being taken by riders to lighten the RTR environmental footprint. After each day’s ride, on the evening’s entertainment stage, he presents a green jersey to that day’s deserving recipient. It also probably helps that he rides the coolest bike on the tour, a Panda Legacy. Panda bikes are handmade in Fort Collins with Bamboo frames, they co-sponsor the “green rider” initiative with Zero Hero, in fact to two sustainable Fort Collins based companies are not only close in vision, but also physically close, as they now share and office. The green Rider is a great program and the green rider himself, Josh Carnes is also my Unbottled rider of the tour.
Odds and ends:
Toughest Climb: Day 3 – Independence Pass
Easiest Climb: Day 1 – Black Mesa
Toughest portion to push through: Also day 3 – the last 7 miles up hill and into the wind toward Leadville
Best Summit: Day 5 – Trail Ridge Road – Rocky Mountain National Park
Best Downhill: Day 2 – coming down McClure Pass toward Carbondale
Most fun stretch: Day 6 – Estes Park to Loveland
Least fun Stretch: Day 4 – 13 miles of unpaved, uneven road after summiting Ute Pass
Unbottled Moment of the Tour: Day 2 – Stripping down and jumping in the Crystal River with friends Josh and Katie
Best Food deal: Flippin’ Flapjacks each morning at the first aid station, ally you can eat pancakes and sausage, $5.
Best host community: Granby. Best park, best music, what else do you need?
That’s it, thanks for reading. I hope to see you next year. Cheers!