Colorado Road Trip
Last spring, my friend Paul texted me trying to recruit Juan Pablo to join his team for a long, crazy bike tour called “Ride the Rockies.” Paul had not met Juan Pablo at that point, but the grape vine had informed him about their shared love of bicycles. He and our other friend Juan had already signed up and they needed more men on their team. Paul’s winning words ended up being “Laura, tell him we already have a Juan and a Pablo, and now we need a Juan Pablo.” Who could argue with logic like that?
The event took place in June, and since I was transitioning from my fellowship to a new job over the summer, I took the opportunity to take a road trip with Juan Pablo out to Colorado to be the guys’ support vehicle (meaning I toted all their bags from place to place so they didn’t have to deal with the equipment truck). So while Juan, Juan Pablo, Paul, and Paul’s dad cycled 400 miles through the Rocky Mountains, I drove those 400 miles, stopping for my own adventures along the way. They rode the Rockies and I drove, hiked, and kayaked the Rockies.
A few of my favorite moments:
Hiking the Maroon Bells. This gorgeous area near Aspen, CO offers a scenic view of the Maroon Bells reflecting in the glassy Maroon Lake and has several hiking trails to choose from. The easiest option is a 1-mile hike around the lake. I chose the Crater Lake out-and-back option, which takes you through an Aspen forest, over some rock scrambles, onward and upward to a second lake: Crater Lake. During summer months, a shuttle runs from the Aspen Highlands Ski Area up to the starting point, making it very easy and convenient to park at the ski area (or take the bus from town).
Kayaking on Grand Lake. After driving a few hours, I arrived in the town of Grand Lake, CO. After setting up camp in a small field, I set off to the lake where I rented a kayak and paddled slowly around the empty waters. By the time I returned to the boat rental, a few more people had hit the water, but the experience was one primarily of solitude. After stepping ashore, I spotted an ice cream shop, bought a mint chocolate chip cone and found a scenic park bench to sit and delight in my lovely day.
Drinks at the Stanley Hotel. Despite a terror inducing drive through Rocky Mountain National Park (due to mistimed vehicle entry permission the cyclists were all sharing the road with cars on steep twisting roads with no passing lanes), I ended up loving my time in Estes Park, CO where we walked through town to the Stanley Hotel, where the film The Shining was shot, and had drinks at the famous bar.
Hiking in Breckenridge. Paul’s mom, who lives in CO and knew all kinds of great secrets, taught me a fantastic trick while we were in Breckenridge. We took a bus from town up to the ski resort, took the ski lift up the mountain, and hiked downhill the 10 miles back to town. We had a beautiful hike with blue skies, babbling brooks, and sweeping vistas, all downhill, right back to where we were staying.
Drinking beer. In every town. At restaurants. At breweries. In our rented apartment. Whenever and wherever the guys ended their ride, we drank good beer, and shared in good company. What could be better?