Ride the Rockies

That was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life,” says my husband as he got off his bike. This, coming from a man who regularly hikes and bikes up mountains, often with heavy gear and skis on his back. This, from a man who has more physical endurance than any one I have ever met. This, from a man who, just 5 days prior hiked with a 50 pound pack on his back for 20+ miles in less than 24 hours in our disastrous backpacking trip and he didn’t even blink. For David to admit a physical activity is hard, it has to be really hard.

For those who don’t want to read this entire post (trust me, it’s gonna be a long one!), here’s a brief bullet point recap for ya:

  • David was in a bike tour with 2,000 other cyclists across Colorado called Ride the Rockies. It spanned 6 day, almost 500 miles, 5 mountain passes and about 25,000 feet in elevation gain. Intense would be an understatement. 
  • I got to photograph the ride for our local newspaper. 
  • My other duty was to be David’s personal sherpa 😉
  • I got stung on the butt by a giant furry bubble bee on Day 2 😦
  • Each day, we would travel to a new town and there would be a Ride the Rockies “village” set up at the local high school with food, bands, mobile showers, bike repair stations, vendors selling stuff, a little “tent city” where everyone camped, medical tents, water trucks etc. The towns each put on community meals each day for all the riders, supporters and staff. It was a pretty remarkable sight!
  • I drove almost 900 miles as I followed the tour and stopped to snap pictures and help David refill water bottles.
  • Our earliest wake-up time was 4am and our latest was 5:30. 
  • Due to the bullet point above, I had my first cup of coffee in over 6 months just so I could function.
  • I strongly dislike porta-potties.
  • This was one of the coolest experiences either of us have ever had. It was fun, challenging, beautiful and exhausting! We both walked away grateful to have been a part of such a unique experience. Definitely another notch in our belt of cool stuff we’ve done!

Now for the long version. This is mostly for me so that I can remember everything years from now. Feel free to just look at the pictures 😉

Day 1
Sadly, I missed the start of Day 1 because I had to stay home and photograph a wedding. I got home late and woke up at 6am to hit the road and drive to Hotchkiss, where Day 1 ended. It was a long, but beautiful drive to Hotchkiss. I found the Ride the Rockies “village” and waited for David to come in from an 80 mile ride from Gunnison. He made it in around 3pm and was pretty tired! I set up camp and we got settled before heading into town for the community dinner.

 Finished Day 1! 78.8 miles from Gunnison to Hotchkiss

Our first community dinner was spaghetti, which was put on by all the cute little church ladies in town who brought in their crock pots full of spaghetti. Sadly, all the church ladies in this little town couldn’t feed 2,000+ people and they started to run out! We ate in a pretty park and then headed to bed since we were both exhausted!

It was so stinking cold that night. I probably got 2 hours of sleep because I kept waking up shivering. I have a nice sleeping bag too, but dang it was cold!

Day 2
I was wide awake at 3:30am due to hypothermia setting in (not really, but geeeez it was cold) and we were up and getting ready by 5:30am. Breakfast was expensive and not that great…$10 instant eggs and  rubber pancakes anyone? Then David set out for a 68 miles ride to Carbondale over McClure Pass. I saw him about 20 miles in and grabbed a few pictures of him. I made a terrible mistake and left some of his warm weather gear sitting on the side of the road. Gear that he was desperately going to need on Day 4 since he was going to be starting above 10,000 ft. and 30 degrees. Epic sherpa fail.

 One of the many “aid stations” along the ride. Riders could stop to get water, Gatorade, food, medical attention and bike repair.

 Our camp area in Carbondale, it was really nice here!

 We spent a portion of the evening in downtown Carbondale enjoying yummy food and music. As we were getting ready for the next day, we discovered the missing gear and I drove all the way back to look for it. Of course it was gone and I was forced to drive back empty handed 😦

 Day 3
Another expensive breakfast before heading out for the most difficult day of the race. The route went from Carbondal, through Aspen to Leadville, via Independence Pass. The ride was over 80 miles long with 7,000 ft.+ in elevation gain. Before he went over the Pass, I rushed into Aspen to buy more warm weather gear to replace all the stuff I lost. Watching all the riders go up the pass…oiy! I felt pain for them. There was a lot of huffing and puffing going on! At least it was beautiful. This was definitely one of the most beautiful areas we saw on the ride, it was gorgeous!


 This was the final section of Independence Pass. The picture doesn’t really do justice to how steep it really was!

He made it! YAY!
The tent city in Leadville was so pretty!
Day 4
Brrrr! It was 31 degrees when we got out of the tent at 5am. We got David set to go for his 96 mile ride into Granby, which included 2 mountain passes, definitely one of the most difficult days of the week. This portion of the ride went through Silverthorne and Frisco, two big mountain towns, so I made sure to stop and take advantage of Starbuck’s wifi so we could email photos and video to the newspaper. I met David at the top of the 2nd pass for lunch before he began the 2nd leg of the day. 

 Part of the ride was done on dirt, which is not easy on a road bike!
After 9 hours, he made it to Granby! It was close to 90 degrees and after 96 miles, David was definitely tired! But his happiness about setting a personal record for mileage far outweighed his fatigue.
This was the one night that we were able to get a hotel room for the night. We got a room in Grand Lake, which was a 20 minute drive from Granby. We were able to go out to dinner, get some ice cream, do some laundry in the bathroom sink, charge all our electronics and head to bed by 9pm so that we could get up at 4am. Exhaustion was absolutely starting to set in!
Day 5
Up early! The ride for Day 5 went through Rocky Mountain National Park, which we knew David could do since he did one of his training rides in the Park on our camping trip a few days ago. The only challenging part was they had cut-off times at different points along the ride. If you didn’t make the cut-off time, they would force you to load your bike on a van and drive the remaining route. David definitely didn’t want to do that! So he wanted a 4:45am start to make sure he could beat the first cut-off. 
 That’s David on the red bike!
Thankfully, since he started so early, he finished early and rolled into Estes Park at 12:30. For the first time, we found ourselves with a little bit of time on our hands. So we headed to the fair grounds where they had live music and food.

Bahaha his lips were really sunburned and apparently beer foam was a good remedy

Day 6
The final day! The route had to be changed because of a massive wildfire burning near Fort Collins, where the tour ended. So 24 hours beforehand, they changed the last half of the route to avoid the fire. It shaved off about 11 miles and a few hundred feet in elevation. I think most everyone was secretly grateful for the change. So onto Fort Collins we went! It was almost entirely downhill, so I raced down towards the finished line to make sure I could be there when David came through. My eyes filled with tears as I watched David roll through the finish line with a big smile across his face.  I ran up to him and all I could say was “I’m so proud of you.” 

 Yay! Finished!!
I am so happy we were able to be a part of this event. It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime adventure and we were lucky enough to be a part of it. I got to see one of my favorite sides of David…his adventurous side. He is truly at his happiest when he’s blazing down a mountain going 50mph on skis or a bike. I love this crazy, wild man that I married and I absolutely couldn’t be more honored to have been by his side through this adventure!

9 thoughts on “Ride the Rockies

  1. Wow that is amazing!! Love the gorgeous photos too!! I'm stilltryingto figure out whose wedding photos you took a few weeks ago, my guess was drew Barrymore haha 🙂


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