Ride the Rockies 2016 is in the bag!  What a great experience.  It’s hard to believe that I was obsessing over route maps and the listed hill grades just a few months ago and now I’ve actually ridden all 403 miles over the eight mountain passes.  In this final blog, I’ll do my best to recap some of my experience and point out some things learned along the way.

We’ll start at the end.  When looking at the race, I didn’t know what to make of the Estes Park to Fort Collins route on the last day.  I’d ridden most of it countless times preparing for Ride the Rockies and wasn’t sure if it would feel fresh like the earlier days or simply as a glorified training exercise.  Come to find out, I loved ending in Fort Collins!  I had more energy than I expected heading down from Estes Park and was able to ride with conviction, knowing where the tough climbs would be and how much I had left to do.  I was filled with pride when I saw riders who had conquered Independence Pass and Trail Ridge Road struggling with the steep grades of the Horsetooth Reservoir dams.  A sucker for punishment, I wished we were heading up Rist Canyon as well to extend the ride a bit.  After a nice flat section at the end, there couldn’t have been a better place to end than Odell Brewing Company! 

One of my biggest concerns heading into this event was whether I had trained enough to be able to enjoy the entire experience.  I knew I’d be able to tough out each ride eventually, but I didn’t know what shape I’d be in at the end of each day.  Luckily, my previous training on Rist Canyon and the Horsetooth dams worked like magic!  I couldn’t have been happier with my energy levels during the week.  Sure, I got tired and my legs were heavy at times, but I recovered quickly and had six great days on the bike.  To put it another way, I always felt good enough to enjoy a Drumroll APA or the special Trail Ridge Ale that Odell brewed specifically for the event after each riding stage.  Definitely a highlight!

I’ve been trying to name my favorite ride from Ride the Rockies but I simply can’t do it.  The week’s riding reaffirmed how wonderful our state is.  I rode through Aspen groves as ranchers went about their work in the distance, and over ridiculous mountain passes where everything was larger than life.  I got to pretend to be a pro as I descended down steep and winding roads, always wondering if now was the time to tap the brakes just a little bit.  I got to experience the Rocky Mountains right under my wheels as I scaled different elevations, and those same snowy peaks were just as stunning in the distance during my ride on the flatter terrain.  Seriously, I wanted to capture the entire 403 miles on video and stop every 100 yards for a picture.  The video above that I made from the week shows some of what I was able to capture.

In summary, go ride your bike!  Fort Collins is an incredible place to enjoy while cruising smoothly on a fat bike or while pushing yourself up a steep incline on a road bike.  Our community has incredible resources like our Bike Share PACE, Group Ride Info , Friendly Local Bike Shops , and routes that will prepare you for almost anything.  Until next time!