Instead of going to Wasteland Weekend this year, we mountain biked from Rollins Pass to Steamboat Springs in four days, well over 100 miles apart, on both trails and state highways. The highest (in elevation) point was the start at Rollins Pass (11,676 feet) and the lowest point was Steamboat Springs (6,695 feet). We traveled at least 20 miles or more a day (I stopped counting after we hit 20 each day; there is a solid 10 mile discrepancy between Google Maps and the signs on the side of the roads in mileage measurement, in some locations). Whoop-de-freaking-do, Colorado.
Riddle me this: Colorado is in the West. I’m from the East Coast, specifically the NYC exurbs. I know from rude people. Above 7,000 feet (or above 6,695 feet), most Coloradans were cold and rude to the point of danger when dealing with cyclists. When the shoulder disappeared on US 40, it was mostly pickup trucks (no, not red ones–that’s a Southern United States thing) that zipped past. Rental cars, sedans of all stripes, Subaru Outbacks, and about 50% of SUVs gave us a “safe distance” when passing, which is legally defined as 3 feet in Colorado.
Here’s how much people suck: I got ran off the road going down the canyon in Hot Sulphur Springs, a canyon which has a glass-and-metal debris-filled gravel shoulder and very obvious high-viz “share the road” signs. That was the only flat tire either of us got during the entire trip; in my unforeseen detour, I rode over a wire from a car or truck tire and popped a tube. But it gets better (or worse): the same utility truck that ran me off the road gave my husband a proper wide berth. Yeah, run the female cyclist off the road. I kept the one-fingered salutes to a minimum during the trip because you can’t go terribly fast when you’re a cyclist.
There were no injuries to report. My left knee ached on the third day, and I don’t usually have–or ever have–knee problems, so it may have had to do with the positioning of my foot on the pedal (I didn’t have toe clips). Doing Beachbody Insanity (for the third summer running!) helped me get in excellent cardio shape and I kept up with my former pro cyclist husband.
I’m not done bitching about Coloradans. Boulder has as much classism as the DC area, but man, no one likes cyclists outside of Boulder, either. Clearly the action of a few elitist assholes ruined it for the rest of us occasional cyclists. Most of the towns we rode through host events and races at some point, and the townsfolk got sick of cyclists pouring in from around the country, hogging the roads, and driving around in their Audis with three multi-thousand-dollar bikes on the roof. (For the record, I was riding a beat-up Giant Anthem, a women’s mountain bike that retailed for about $3,000 new). Even though we were not those people, and our gear was–to the discerning eye–bottom-end, people treated us like we were homeless.
The first campground we stayed at in Fraser, the couple next to us were whispering that we were “suspicious” for not having arrived on a motorized vehicle and they were going to report us to the ranger. Thankfully, they left first thing to get breakfast in town (Buying breakfast is for the weak! Bust out that camp stove!), and we packed up our tent and gear unmolested. (Well, some raccoons tried to steal our food right out of the campground-provided bear-safe cabinet, but that’s another story.) We had enough money to dine out exactly once a day, and we had to sit outside to watch our stuff. Cafe Azteca in Granby wouldn’t trust us to sit outside, being afraid we might dine and dash. We’re keeping an eye on our thousands of dollars in camping and cycling gear and only means of transportation, hence eating outside. We have no reason to steal food. Brought back all the feelings of being college-educated, upper middle class, (and white) and working at Whole Foods in Arlington–the classism, the being treated as “less-than,” etc.
I have seen first-hand now how my husband is not paranoid, and it is not a pretty sight. You always kind of think that paranoid people are just being crazy, but secretly, you don’t want them to be right. When they’re right, you’re way up the proverbial creek. As a corollary, my husband is the ultimate simpering liberal white woman shut-down (always white cis-gendered women, just saying). The ultimate. I dare you to find someone who is as autistic, totally misses social cues, and outspoken about his life experiences when someone points out even a minor hardship. (People who know TC know exactly what I’m talking about.)
People always thought we knew what’s up, if and when they did talk to us: where to rent bikes (does my dinged-up mountain bike with rigged handlebar bag look rented to you?), where to find good trails (just as lost as you, buddy), and where the nearest mountain pass/park/campground/coffee shop is (I live on the Front Range, if you even thought I lived in CO?).
Most people we encountered thought we were crazy for riding as far as we did (100 miles is nothing to professional cyclists), and some motorists yelled such when they zoomed past. Colorado, for all the “eco-friendly” and “green” image it projects, still is a very fossil fuel-guzzling, vehicle-centric state, and there aren’t many Priuses and Teslas outside of Boulder County. Cycling proletariat, assemble! We have much work to do to turn this into a cycling friendly state. Because after the apocalypse, when other people are killing each other for guzzoline, we can still ride bicycles to get from Gastown to Bartertown.
Stuff We Ate:
GF oatmeal (pre-measured into bags)
Protein powder (We learned the hard way that Amazing Grass Green Superfood in Chocolate is nasty in morning gruel)
Barney Butter Almond Butter Packets–they were on sale at Sprouts; whole flax is such a gyp. Who really chews whole flaxseeds? They’re tiny, and you only get nutritional benefit from ground flax! Need a knife handle ready to scrape all the almond butter up the tube, too.
Medjool dates. ‘Nuff said.
Organic jerky (for TC)
Good places we ate and stayed:
Azteca Family Mexican Restaruant in Fraser, not Granby. Solid Mexican food, though there was a little bit of beef that made it into my fajita veggies. Shared grill hazards.
The Moose Cafe in Kremmling–probably just because we were hungry–I nommed some FRIES and a side of black beans.
Wolford Mountain Reservoir–Yeah, there’s no shoulder on US 40 between Kremmling and Wolford, but the camping area at the reservoir features covered pavilions and well-maintained facilities. Lake was a little scummy (and fishy) for swimming. Despite being primarily an RV campground, there were no showers.
The Shack Cafe in Steamboat Springs–This is the second time we’ve been there; had the veggie hobo with no eggs or cheese.
Red Bowl World Curry Haus in Steamboat Springs–This was the curry we were looking for, after we powered through the 15 or so miles from Stagecoach to Steamboat.
Legacy Resorts (not the condos) in Steamboat Springs–In the off-season, it was an affordable and surprisingly nice place to stay, with pool and hot tub access and a two-floor (yes, that’s right) loft suite. I was surprised because the last non-chain hotel we stayed at in a ski town (Winter Park Mountain Lodge) was half as much space and service for more money.
The Shit List
…Whence I talk shit about places I visited and discourage you from spending money there or patronizing them in any way:
Welcome Center in Winter Park, closing a minute before 5 PM on a Sunday AFTER seeing us roll up. I get it, I get it, watching football is more important than doing your job and welcoming people.
Azteca Family Mexican Restaurant in Granby–We are NOT homeless! Don’t think we’re going to dine and dash; we don’t want someone to steal OUR several grand in cycling and camping equipment!
Hotels.com–No same-day reservations. Bullshit. Last minute is the only reason I would ever use an app to order or reserve something, even when shopping on Amazon. I’m using my insurance company’s rewards program next time.
Big Shooter Coffee in Kremmling–Nice bathrooms, lame smoothie made from concentrate. I use a professional-grade blender at home and have made smoothies for the better part of a full-time shift for weeks on end in a past life. Maybe fruit is expensive up there in Kremmling.
Campground just off the canyon in Hot Sulphur Springs–no hot springs, no cover, and lots of trash. Leave No Trace can be extreme, but packing out your trash isn’t difficult–especially when there’s a dumpster nearby!
US 40 is the Fury Road: No shoulder for some 20-mile stretches. Super-treacherous outside of Kremmling and through Hot Sulphur Springs.
Recreational Vehicles: When cycling, I hate RVs. Damn near silent on the road and usually driven by people who don’t drive commercial-sized vehicles for a living.
In sum, saw nice parts of Colorado, beautiful state (as if this wasn’t already common knowledge), but hot damn, can people behave nastily. Also, I like being alive, and the things I plan to do (and am doing) with my life require me to be alive with fully functioning brain and body. I don’t like cycling on roads with no shoulders just as much as motorists don’t like to deal with me.