Todd’s Ride the Rockies Journal: Part 1

Hello and welcome to My Odell Brewing – Ride the Rockies journal. In what is likely to be several meandering, self-indulgent entries I hope to give you, dear reader, a little insight into why so many people are keen to ride 450 some odd miles up 12,000 ft mountain passes, why I chose to ride and why ridiculous things like this are a big part of Odell Brewing’s UnBottled philosophy.

RTR is a Colorado tradition dating back to 1986, when 1,500 riders took part in a ride from Grand Junction to Denver, Today the registration limit has been upped slightly to 2,000. Riders are chosen each year from a pool of 4,000-5,000 hopefuls; those not chosen by lottery to ride in one year have twice the chance to be chosen the following year. This sort of “make up” weighted lottery system must have seemed cold comfort to some not chosen to ride and in recent years another week long tour of Colorado has popped up, it starts each year in the day after RTR and from the RTR end point. Some committed cyclists will even ride both tours back to back. This I must say, seems like showing off to me, but this kind of devotion to play is not uncommon for many, and these are our people.

While as a Colorado native I’m tempted to assert that this kind of aggressive outdoor attitude is something that comes from living is such a beautiful state, one with the gorgeous weather and even better vistas, the truth is that people like this come from everywhere; indeed RTR attracts riders from every state. Hopefully we’ll hear from many of them over the course of these posts.

So there are a few thousand people that think 7 or so hours a day on a bike sounds like a fine idea, but what does that have to do with Odell Brewing Company? For that matter, what is UnBottled? At OBC we love beer, it’s our first passion. We love brewing our own takes on classic styles like 5 Barrel Pale Ale and our IPA. We also love innovation, brewing beers that don’t fit any specific style, like Footprint and Deconstruction. As much as we love beer in any context (I often enjoy a small beer with breakfast), it can’t be the only we do; so what do we do when we’re not brewing great beer? The short answer is: Play. That’s Unbottled; because not only is play awesome, it makes beer better. There are two things that playing does to make our beer love blossom even bigger. First, when you play hard you earn your malty reward. Whether it’s after a day on the river, a big bike ride, a challenging trail you just hiked, or maybe just a particularly competitive game of kickball, beer just tastes better when your rewarding yourself for a good ball kicked. Second, it’s the people we share our beers with, family, friends, co-workers; these are our jogging buddies, tennis partners, and volleyball teammates. Beer is better when shared than when drunk alone, and a 90 Shilling is much better when celebrating a softball win or a good day on the course.


Why do 5,000 people enter a lottery to get into RTR? Anyone could take a week and go ride a far as they’d like through Colorado or anywhere else for that matter. It’s not just the ride but also the camaraderie of a couple thousand other like-minded folks. Yes the ride will be tough and beautiful, but it will be each evening after the ride probably over a celebratory brew, that existing friendships will be strengthened and new friendships will be forged. It’s the shared experience the makes RTR the great event that it is. So OBC will be there, we’ll share our beers (the best way to carbo load if you ask me) including Pedal Push, our Pilot batch brewed especially for RTR. I’ll be there too, and though there’s no doubt I’ll be saddle sore and exhausted, I’ll be looking to enjoy a few beers every night with my new friends.

Are you riding this year? Do you have questions about the tour? E-mail me at I’d love to talk with you. Follow me on twitter: @OdellMN for updates during the ride.

– Todd

Todd Ewing is the Odell Brewing Company representative in Minnesota. He is extremely worried that living at low altitude and have no hills to climb during training has left him ill prepared for 6 days of climbing mountain passes.

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