Archive for October 2009

 
 

October 19th, 2009

Day 45 – Park City to Salt Lake City

Miles Biked – 44

10/14/2009  After so many days on the road, sleeping en masse on floors and couches, it is always a tad disorienting to wake up in a large bed, in a room you have all to yourself. These simple things become extreme luxury in the life of the nomad. Such was the morning we woke up at the Blue Church Lodge in Park City. It had stormed heavily the night before (the power even went out!), but this morning had a crisp calm to it.  Naturally, I did what I love to do—brushed my teeth, pulled my hair into a ponytail, donned some spandex, tied up my laces, and hit the hilly mountain paths for a 5 mile run, ending up at a great coffee shop on Main Street.  The girls met me there for a relaxing cup of coffee, and we then proceeded to have a very laid-back, lazy morning back at the lodge. We watched music videos on VH1’s Jump Start, toiled on the computer, and I fixed my flat tire.  We had the fortune of this relaxing morning, because we only had a 37 mile ride, mostly downhill, back to Salt Lake City for the day. Our first obligation of the day was not until 4:30pm–a tour of the Uinta Brewing Company–so we had some time to dawdle.
We got a notorious late start (close to 3pm), and spent the first miles climbing out of Park City. Then it was a 21-mile descent on the highway. Unfortunately, we were not as speedy as we hoped, as the wind buffeted us almost back uphill. We had a lot of resistance going downhill on a 6% grade. Crazy. But we made it to Uinta only 45 minutes late. Woops! Joe was a fantastic host and tour guide of the brewery. We tried their brews, including their Four + Punk’n seasonal beer. Joe was really fantastic about giving us a tour tailored to our interests and already expansive understanding of the brewing process. An awesome fact about Uinta (among many things!) is that it is totally wind powered. Very cool.
From there, we had a hustle across 6 miles of the city to meet up with Caroline’s Dad’s cousins for a dinner at Red Rock Brewing Co. It was a delicious dinner, and it was wonderful to see Janis and Amy again, along with Janis’ husband, Tom. The food was outstanding. Seriously, these Utah Brewpubs don’t skimp in the food department. They all seem to go above and beyond the normal pub fare.  Sara was the only one to try out their beer, opting for the Black Bier, whereas the rest of us slurped down RedRock brewed root beer and cream soda on tap. Mmmmm…
Our final mission for the night was to pick up Anders at the airport, which went off without a hitch.  The team was back together again.  What a day!

~Caroline

Biking down from Park City

Biking down from Park City

Uinta Brewing Co

Uinta Brewing Co

Caroline and family at Red Rock Brewing Co

Caroline and family at Red Rock Brewing Co

October 19th, 2009

Day 44 – Riding Just Because – Lehi to Park City, UT

Miles biked – 71

10/13/09 Having arrived in UT a few days early (can’t leave without Anders!) we decided we might as well get to know SLC.  After a late morning of applying for Australian visas online (the adventure never ends!) we packed up our bikes to ride up to Park City.  Up being the operative word, as it was going to be about a 60 mile ride (or so we thought) with about a 20 mile climb right at the end.

At 11am, much later we should have, we tried to leave for the day.  That wasn’t happening quite yet though because as we rolled out, Sara realized she had a flat in her front tire.  A half hour later, we really left for the day, and as it started to sprinkle, we wondered if we really were going to make it up the canyon to Park City.

The route was through Salt Lake City, so our plan was to pick up Leo, our SLC host, on the way and then ride up Emigration Canyon.  Biking the 35 miles to the city though, we came up with a new plan.  Arriving at Leo’s we loaded all our gear AND Caroline’s bike into his truck, and Caroline drove up to Park City so that Tracy, Sara and Leo could do the Canyon without weight.

While Caroline got in a beautiful 8 mile run in Park City, the ride up for the rest was epic.  Besides the second flat of the day (Leo’s) and some cold rain, it went off without a hitch, it just took about 5 hours.  As we rolled in to our home for the night, the fabulous 3 bedroom condo at the Blue Church Lodge, we were ready to eat our hands.

Instead, we got some grub and samplers of beer at The Wasatch Brew Pub.  It was tasty food, and we enjoyed our 11 7oz sampler glasses (split among the beer drinkers, Caroline got a margarita) but were disappointed when we heard we couldn’t get a tour (today or tomorrow) of the brewing operation because of some kind of insurance issue??  Bummer.

Another bummer hit us when we unloaded the truck and found that Caroline, too, had mysteriously gotten a flat while her bike rode up in the back of the truck.  Three flats in one day after only one for the whole rest of the trip was kind of ridiculous.  After dinner, we went out to the highly touted No Name Saloon, Leo went back to Salt Lake and then we went to bed, looking forward to all down hill the next day.

Biking up Emigration Canyon

Biking up Emigration Canyon

Leo and Tracy at Wasatch Brewing

Leo and Tracy at Wasatch Brewing

Blue Church Lodge

Blue Church Lodge

Sara takes a break

Sara takes a break

October 16th, 2009

Day 43 – The Bike Paths of Utah – Heber City to Lehi, UT

Miles biked – 41

Beers Drank – zero

10/12/2009 We woke up in the RV, packed up relatively quickly and got on the road headed for Lehi, UT- just south of Salt Lake City. Before making it to the Heber town line we stopped at a coffee shop for our morning fuel. Of course, there are no accidents on this trip, and we stumbled into this particular coffee shop for what would turn out to be a truly fortunate encounter. As we ordered our latte’s donned in spandex, the inevitable question was posed by two guys in the café-“Where ya coming from, and where ya headed?” After introductions were had, we learned that the two guys were staying in Park City, but were on their way back home to LA and DC. One of them, Rich, said we should definitely take the time to see Park City, and that we could stay at his condo there, since he and his friends were headed out that evening. PERFECT! So kind, so generous, so impossible to turn down! Now we had an excellent plan for our extra day.
For now, though, we need to get to Lehi, where with would stay at the home of Caroline’s Dad’s cousins, whom she had never met before! We rode through Provo Canyon, a startlingly beautiful ride, but with a viscous, nasty headwind for the first 20 miles. Then, with a simple left turn, we made our way onto the best bike path we have seen thus far. Past waterfalls, and autumn-colored trees we wound our way to Lehi. Caroline’s Dad’s cousins Amy and Janis, and the rest of the Roberts family provided a great dinner and such fun company! It was a wonderful place to stay, and very special for the Renkin on this trip. Family is a wonderful thing.

Biking down Provo Canyon bike path

Biking down Provo Canyon bike path

Beautiful Utah Bike Path

Beautiful Utah Bike Path

View from the Roberts house

View from the Roberts house

October 15th, 2009

Day 42 – The Mini Winnie! – Meeker to Heber City

Miles biked – 8

10/11/2009  We may have noted before that in certain circumstances, we are not opposed to alternative transportation, especially if it keeps us off of roads that we are warned against- roads without shoulders, and with LOTS of oil rigs flying by.  So when Lorie (one of our new friends from Meeker CO) told us she was going on a road trip of her own to Spokane, WA, and said we could (and should) catch a ride with her (and her beautiful cat, Piper) as far as Heber City, UT in her Winnebago, we thought…well, that sounds like a fun adventure! It would also ensure that we could get to Salt Lake City in time to meet back up with our fourth rider, Anders! By the way, we are still seeking out a helicopter ride before the end of this trip (maybe in Reno?)… Caroline is also special-requesting a hot air balloon.
Feeling good about the decision to follow the twig in the MinnieWinnie, we woke up, ate another great breakfast with Bonnie and Steve, and then we biked the 7 miles to Lorie and Roger’s home… and it was the whole gang–Bonnie and Steve rode with us!  With the skill only three girls who have lived in tiny NYC apartments possess, we did the swift geometry it takes to fit three bikes and all of our luggage into the mini RV. Then we were off! It was a smooth ride, and the scenery was glorious. Not enough can be said for the vibrant colors of the sunset as we traveled into Utah.  We bought supplies at a grocery store, pulled off on a side road near a small park, and made a delicious dinner of pesto tortellini with sausage, tomato, and a salad.  Soon after we fell fast asleep, bellies full and many miles ahead of schedule!

-Caroline

Bonnie and Steve ride us out

Bonnie and Steve ride us out

Eins, Zwei, Drei

Eins, Zwei, Drei

No Trespassing

No Trespassing

The Trout House

The Trout House

Bikes in the Minnie Winnie

Bikes in the Minnie Winnie

Sunset in Utah

Sunset in Utah

October 14th, 2009

impending ___,

Tomorrow — late tonight, really — I return to bike & brew.  I’ve been away for the entire western portion to date — left the gals in la crosse & bussed it up to minneapolis a day early (or rather, less-late), where I visited briefly w/ friends before flying (via, naturally, georgia) back to Kalamazoo.  Where I lounged, happily but oh-so-very-lengthfully, for near two weeks.  It’s good to be back.  Or rather, it’s good to be on a train, approaching an airport, which’ll get me back in not all that many more hours.  Though when I take the time to add, I see there’re more than twelve to go — the arrival is not as immediate as I imagine or pretend.  Still, it’s good to be on a train.  I like trains.  And it’s been nearly two months.

I’m inclined to complain, but lengthy transport isn’t such a bad thing, on balance.  Both ends of my vacation-from-vacation have been day long affairs, but they’ve been smooth & uneventful  (I say, less than an hour into the second), and they provide a sort of transition between modes of living.

I spent most of my time in kalamazoo sick.  My second evening in town, I overindulged (friends were hosting a stranger’s bachelor’s party — it was hard not to overindulge) and a day later, I was rather ill.  This faded, but my health oscillated throughout the full trip, and then, two days before leaving, I decided it was a good idea to get around four hours of sleep before driving down to indiana to pick my father up from the train station, rebooting the hibernating sick.  But I’m not worried, or not overly — it seems to be receding, and structurally, suddenly cleared health makes sense.  Lengthy transport bookends miserable sickness, which bookends my stay in kalamazoo.  Life generally conforms to some sort of geometrically satisfying pattern, yeah?

… And a few hours after writing those last paragraphs, I’m a little bit less optimistic — I don’t feel bad, exactly, but after deep introspection, I realized have absolutely no desire to sit in the airport ‘hockeytown cafe’ and drink labatt’s.  I don’t even have any desire to sit in said cafe and drink a bloody mary, and I know (from walking past several times, considering the possibility) that they serve their bloody marys in the correct, midwestern style — in a pint glass, w/ copious greenery.  If I don’t have the energy for a 5:30 drink, that means one of two things — I either got up later than noon, or my sickness has more legs than it feels like.  And I got up at 9am, after sleeping 10 hours and hitting snooze for one hour more.  But even with diminished optimism, there’s still positivity-a-plenty.  I still have two sudafed tablets, the better to deal w/ a spongy head and seesawing air pressure.  And nothing cures everyday aches like a little time in the saddle.  Michigan: g’bye.  SLC: hello.

I would hug, but well, you know,
a.

October 14th, 2009

Day 41 – Meeker Day Off

10/10/2009 The sun peeped through my window, and I woke up without an alarm, lying diagonally on the queen sized bed in a room all to myself. Ahhh…the pleasures of taking a spontaneous day off in Meeker, CO…

The three of us girls wandered downstairs to find Bonnie and Steve brewing a pot of coffee and making Swedish pancakes! So delicious and delightful. We fueled up with great anticipation of what the day would bring. Sara and Bonnie headed off to Glenwood Canyon for a gorgeous yet blustery bike ride, logging 30+ miles. Tracy, Steve and I donned bright orange (it’s Elk season!) and rode out to Trapper’s Lake.  We hiked up to the lake, a visually stunning body of water surrounded by snow-capped peaks that is quite literally breathtaking.  We hiked around the lake for a while, taking in the view and freshest air. Back at the jeep they gobbled down sandwiches, made gourmet with the addition of Tracy’s avocado. After getting back to the house, Tracy worked on organizing and filing the addresses of the many friends we have made along the way, and I headed to the pool for a workout. The Meeker Rec Center has a great pool, but even better…they have an awesome waterslide!! After a good swim, I went down not once, but twice because it was that fun!  Bonnie and Sara returned from their ride windblown and exhilarated, and soon after we learned that Bonnie and Steve had invited more friends over for another dinner party. We enjoyed enchiladas, chips and guacamole, grilled chicken, a salad, and polenta with our new friends Lorie, Roger, and Ryan Trout. Meeker was supposed to be a quick stop, but thank goodness we took the chance to explore even just a fraction of what it has to offer. We will undoubtedly be back to share more adventures with our new (and now lifelong) friends! Thanks Bonnie and Steve!

-Caroline

Caroline at Trappers

Caroline at Trappers

Trappers Lake

Trapper's Lake

Dears with deer... eeek

Dears with deer... eeek

Glenwood Canyon ride

Glenwood Canyon ride

October 14th, 2009

Day 40 – Oatmeal Theory – Glenwood Springs to Meeker, CO

miles biked – 66

10/9/2009

Dear Anders-

I know how much you appreciate a long, meandering bit of mail, but I have to say that between biking and brew hopping and updating this blog, there just hasn’t been much extra time.  So I’m going to kill two birds with one stone and write this blog entry to you!

We kicked off the day in an amazing breakfast made by my aunt Nancy, who I wish you could have met.  She was raised in Peru with my mom’s husband Christian and she had some great stories from back in the day in Lima.  She has lived in Colorado for about 40 years though, so she also knows the area really well.  There was a stretch just west of Glenwood that wasn’t safe to bike (a very busy highway with no side road), so we packed our bikes in her car and started our ride 7 miles down to the start of the frontage road.  From there, it was all downhill.  Literally.  We did 19 miles in less than an hour.  But it wasn’t downhill like fly down coasting with the occasional tap on the brakes when you round a corner, it was a very slight down hill, like riding with a nice tailwind.  Maybe that’s what it would feel like to bike east? :)

Our first stop was this town called Rifle (we’ve also seen signs for Parachute and Dinosaur, where do they come up with these??), but since it was only 9:30am, it wasn’t time for lunch.  We drank some gas station coffee, stopped at the grocery store for sandwich fixings for lunch, oatmeal for breakfast in the morning and continued on our way.  We were a little worried, because this woman we talked to in town about our route was very ominous about the road north.  ”ooooh… you’re going up 13?  that’s a dangerous road, no shoulder, lots of oil trunks, and they don’t care which side of the road they are on. also, you’re going to ride 13 miles out of town and then hit what we call 13 mile hill.  It’ll be 9 miles up hill from there.  Steep.  And you know, its 10 degrees colder in Meeker than here.”

Suffice to say, we were a little worried.  But we didn’t really have a choice, there aren’t that many roads, or towns out here so we hopped back on our rigs and started pedaling.  It was true about the shoulder, and there were a lot of large trucks, but most gave us a pretty wide berth.  What was a total lie was the hill starting 13 miles in.  The hill started pretty much immediately.  It wasn’t steep, but it was just enough to make it feel like work.  I was huffing and puffing by the third mile.  You, however, would have loved it:)  By the time we got to the 13 mile marker we were like “hell, if this isn’t the hill yet, we are in for some tough riding.”  So we had our tasty lunch of turkey sandwiches (with avo of course) and craisins.  You would have been so proud, it was the first time we’d packed lunches since… Canada?

Anywho, we got back on the road and we decided that whatever was ahead, we’d meet at the top of the hill to check in.  Per the usual order, Caroline was in front, with Tracy trailing right behind, and I was hanging on in the back, cranked down to a low gear, headphones on and preparing for the worst.  But the grade didn’t seem to be getting any worse.  In fact, we hit a few downhills.  At the 22 mile marker, I ran into Tracy, “Hey Tracy, what’s up?”  ”Well, I thought we were supposed to check in here, so I’m checking in.”  ”Cool.  That didn’t seem like that bad of a hill, do you think its coming later?” “Maybe, the satellite does look like a big hill right before we get to Meeker.”  We took some pictures and got back on the road.   A few miles of cruisey rolling hills later, we ran into Caroline at a rest stop. “Hey guys, was it just me or did we not hit a big hill?  I saw the 22 mile marker, but l was waiting for the big hill the woman in Rifle talked about so I just kept riding.”    It was kind of weird, we couldn’t decide if we were just stronger bikers that we thought or if the worst was yet to come.

At this point it was 1:45pm.  We had 14 miles to go, so even if we hit some huge hills, we were still going to make it to town well before dark.  We figured we’d have plenty of time to figure out where we were going to stay for the night, maybe do something fun like bowling?  We didn’t know.  We were only stopping at this town Meeker because everything else was too far to get to in a day (the next town up was another 50 miles).

The rest of the ride was AWESOME.  Quite possible my favorite day yet.  From Rifle to Meeker, there is pretty much no development.  It’s just a 40 mile stretch of road surrounded by cliffs of jutting rocks and big cattle ranches.  While were were chugging up hill, I hadn’t taken too much time to take it all in but all of the sudden we started going back downhill, the shoulder opened up, and I really got a chance to look around.  It was gorgeous!  It felt like exactly what I imagined when I pictured myself biking across country: big long stretches of open road, epic scenery in the background and me in the middle of it, pedaling to who-knows-where.

There was a great moment right at the beginning of the descent when we saw this woman driving slowly down the road waving a red flag out of her window.  We didn’t know how to interpret that, but we figured maybe she’d broken down or something and was signally that she couldn’t go any faster… but then, right in front of us, a herd of cattle came walking onto the road.  They were followed by real life cowboys and a cowgirl on horses.  We didn’t really know what to do, so we just stopped, right in the middle of the road.  For a brief moment, I thought, “oh shit, we are going to get stampeded by cows” but they just walked around us and on to the next field.  Apparently this is how they move the cattle- just open up the fence and walk them down the road for a bit to the next pasture. It was SO cool.  I couldn’t help but think that Michael Pollan would love all these cows with so much space to roam.

We hit Meeker at about 2:30pm, seeing tons of “Welcome Hunters” signs all throughout town.  Caroline, who was a few yards ahead, stopped to reconvene.  And that’s when this older couple walked up to her and said “hey, are you guys looking for a place to stay for the night? you should stay with us!  we have three extra bedrooms, hot showers, internet and we are having a dinner party tonight so we have lots of extra food and wine.”  We were floored.  I said to Caroline, “how did you do that so fast?” and she said “they just walked up to me!”  The gentleman, Steve, had an Amherst cap on (that’s where Tracy went to school) and it turns out his son went there, so there was an immediate connection.  His wife, Bonnie, is a triathlete, so Caroline immediately felt at home.  As for me, the second they used the phrase “dinner party” I was in.  They gave us directions to their house and said to come by whenever we were ready (we figured we had a little time to check out the town now that room and board was set).

Next, we did exactly what any three girls would do after an amazing day like this – we all called our moms.

Giddiness slightly calmed, we biked over to Steve and Bonnie’s, still a little shocked at where the twig took us for the day.  Their home is awesome!   As we walked in, I said to Tracy “this is why we should always have oatmeal on hand.”  ”If we have it, we won’t need it?”  ”Exactly.”

Their property is surrounded by beautiful golden hills, with cows and horses grazing.  I really wish you were here to see it and meet them!  Bonnie is from Michigan and went to grad school in Kalamazoo, Steve is a famous fisherman (he has an entire office just for tying flies!) and they both have some amazing stories about life and love.

At dinner, Bonnie informed us that we were absolutely not biking the next day- we had to check out the amazing area around Meeker- and they’d just drive us to our next stop.  This seemed a little strange at first, especially coming from a 65 year old woman who’d competed in the Ironman worlds in Kona TWICE but the more she talked, the better I understood.  There were things to see around these parts, and what was the point of the trip if not to see amazing sites, meet amazing people and have an adventure?

So we drank wine and played Farkle (our new favorite dice game) and went to bed in our own beautiful rooms, still completely floored that this wonderful couple had flagged us down.  I can’t really put into worlds how magical it feels to be here, but I can’t wait to tell you more about it in person very soon!

xoxo

sara

Sara and Nancy

Sara and Nancy

Stampede!

Stampede!

Bonny and Steve

Bonnie and Steve

Steve playing Farkle

Steve playing Farkle

October 14th, 2009

Day 39 – The Denver Vortex (Ryan was right) – Denver to Glenwood Springs

Miles biked – 6

10/8/09 While we’d been tooling around the Denver/Boulder/Ft. Collins area, we’d spent a little time hanging out with Tracy’s friend Ryan, who was also tooling around the area on his motorcycle.  We found it kind of hilarious that we kept crossing paths but his response was “You wait, Denver sucks you back.  I keep going other places and ending up back in Denver.”  Well, when we woke up in Denver, a little less that a week after we first got there, we realized he was right.  Our only hope was that we’d be able to get out – on the train to Glenwood Springs.

We biked back downtown in some very chilly weather (they were expecting snow) and arrived at the Amtrak station freezing and ready to get on our train.  But, right there at the front door of the station was a sign that said “Due to a derailed train in Glenwood Canyon, all trains will detour from Denver straight to Salt Lake City.”  It was almost laughable, we were starting to think we really wouldn’t be able to leave.  However, there was a bus going to Glenwood, so we decided we’d get on the bus.  The bus tickets were $30 more than the train, but we bought them anyway.  Then we walked our loaded bikes over to the baggage area.  “Ladies, you better start taking those bikes apart because they have to be boxed and just so you know, these buses are pretty full so they may not make it until tomorrow.”  That just wasn’t going to work, so we stood in the station, faces long, really not interested in biking in the cold back to Patty’s but not sure what else we could do.   And then, a miracle.  The man we’d purchased our tickets from walked up to us and asked “what’s wrong girls?”  We explained and he just said “let me talked to my boss.”  Next thing you know, we’re on the bus, our bikes safely stored underneath, not boxed and we were chatting with the friendly people on their way to Glenwood Springs, all of us stretched out in our own seats.

The bus was a beautiful ride.  Apparently, the train would have been nicer, but the bus was nice and it got us there about two hours faster.  Plus, on our arrival to scenic Glenwood Springs we were picked up Sara’s aunt (an unexpected connection) who joined us for lunch at the Glenwood Canyon Brewery.  We had some tasty eats, a few tasters of their brews (we liked their darker beers especially) and then we checked out the town.  It was a lovely town, known best of course for their hot springs.  We spent a good hour or so soaking in the hot water and decided that the twig was exactly where it needed to be.

-sara

Glenwood Springs

Glenwood Springs

October 14th, 2009

Day 38 – Reverse Gravity – Lyons to Nederland to Denver

Miles biked – 44 (but a very big 44)

10/07/2009 After confirming that our pass across the Rockies was indefinitely closed (with more bad weather heading our direction) we looked up the train schedule and found that we could take a highly recommended scenic train from Denver to Glenwood Springs.   We didn’t want to leave the area feeling completely defeated though, so we decided to take the extra time we were gaining to do some climbing (on a bike.  Sorry Tracy!).  We figured if we got ourselves good and tired, we wouldn’t feel bad riding the train the next day.  We left Lyons and got on the road to Nederland, where we had heard there was a good brewpub.

Most of the route was on a road called “peak to peak” and we’d been told it was “a lot of up and down”.  Well, a lot of up and down was actually 24 miles up and then 11 miles down, plus a few more miles up after that.   Not exactly rolling hills but definitely a work out.  When we got to the top, 4 hours in, we realized that biking down to Ned, and then another 40 miles all the way to Denver probably wasn’t going to happen. We had some nachos for lunch and the most amazing coconut cream pie ever at the one restaurant on the route.   Their tagline was “its all downhill from here.”  We were ecstatic.  The cook also happened to be a cyclist and he told us “its mostly downhill from here, but on the few turns that look like they are uphill, don’t worry.  There’s this amazing reverse gravity here, you’ll love it.”  It was a pretty amazing decent, the road wasn’t too busy and the views were magnificent.  Between the coasting and the pie, the climb ended up being worth it.

The brewery in Nederland, Wild Mountain Smokehouse and Brewery, was a great stop.  We had a beer sampler, some ribs, some cider, some hummus and a twice baked potato.  Just a little snack before the bus to Denver?  One nice thing about the city buses is that they are happy to throw your bikes in the lower compartment, probably the most friendly bus drivers you’d ever meet.

Back in Denver, it was a short 6 mile ride to Patty’s house.  By this point, we felt like locals, we didn’t even have to look up directions.  Thank heavens for Patty and her huge house in Denver and unlimited supply of carrot cake!

-sara

Lyons to Ned

Lyons to Ned

October 11th, 2009

Day 37 – The Twig Takes Root In Colorado – Ft. Collins to Lyons

Miles biked – 31

10/6/2009 Day 37 started like all good days should – with pancakes!  Our host for the morning, Jon’s wife Jean, got us started with some tasty carbs and great coffee.   Perfect riding food.  Except we didn’t get riding, at least not right away.  We had a 30 mile ride ahead of us, straight back to Longmont, and our plans when we got there were to go to some breweries, so we figured we best not get their before noon.

Instead, Jean showed us around the adorable city of Ft. Collins.  It has a cute downtown area with some great coffee shops, bike shops and bookstores.  The town also offers free bikes for visitors to ride around on.  Hard not to love that.  We probably could have spent the whole day wandering around town, but we did have some riding to do, so we said goodbye to Jean and our (possible) new home of Ft. Collins to head back to Longmont.

This time we took a much more scenic route, closer to the foothills of the Rockies, and saw some beautiful reservoirs and fields.  One of the funniest things about the the fields here is the prairie dogs.  They are just like a game of Wackem!  They jump out of little holes in the ground, scurry around for a minute and then jump in another hole.  From the road you can see sometimes 20-30 at a time.  They are hilarious.

Around 4PM, we made it to our first brewery stop of the day – Left Hand.  We’d emailed a bit with some homebrewers connected with the group called Ales4Females, but no one was around when we got there, so we just ordered the sampler and soaked in the sun.  They have a beautiful tap room and some very tasty beer.  A lot of times when we get the sampler we don’t finish the stouts and porters but here, they were delicious!  Their award winning milk stout was especially good.  It WAS a little humbling to find out that the sampler we shared among the three of us works out to 5 1/2 pints (!!!) but we took our time and drank lots of water, because we hand another big stop on our tour – Oskar Blues!

We arrived at the OB brewery and tap room just as our host for the night, the infamous Chad, was finishing work.  He gave a quick tour of their facilities, where they can (not bottle) their beer and we got to try their oak barrel aged Gordon, a hoppy red ale that was pretty delightful.

Our original plan was to then bike over to Lyons (to Chad’s house and the Oskar Blues brewpub), about 10 miles away, but we were pushing daylight and we hadn’t eat since lunch, so we were pretty starving.  As luck would have it, they were opening a new brewpub right there in Longmont in a few days and Dale himself (there owner of Oskar Blues) told us to stop by the pub to sample the test-dishes the cooks were whipping out.  We said yes so fast we almost bit our tongues!

The food was awesome!  They made us gumbo with rice and a sausage and pepper pizza (the third pizza to ever come out of the oven!) and we had more of that tasty Gordon.  It was pretty cool to see the place coming together right before our eyes.  They were installing all 40 of the tap lines for the pub, cooks and waiters were getting the 411 on their new jobs and everyone looked like they were having a great time.

We felt like we’d had quite a day already, but we had one more stop, so we piled into the OB van (that’s what Chad grabbed to drive us and our bikes around since we weren’t biking those last 10 miles in the dark) and headed up to Lyons.  Still in span, we had some rootbeer, met up with our Aussie tag-along Ryan, who was now driving to Seattle (having ditched the motorcycle for a car) and watched as the pub filled with blue grass musicians.  If we hadn’t been so wiped out, we could have stay there all night, but as it was we started to fade at 9pm, as we often do, so we were ready for bed shortly after we got there.

There was just one more thing to discuss – were we, or weren’t we, biking across the mountain passes the next day?  Our friend Allison from Boulder had offered to ride with us (Orli was going to take our gear and drive sag) but even with that support, it looked like we were out of luck – Trail Ridge, our chosen route, had some snow in the last few days and was closed for the season.  Plus, it looked like all the passes were getting snow in the next day or so, none of them would be safe to bike.  Tired, and maybe a little scared, we decided to reroute.

Fort Collins

Fort Collins

Left Hand Brewing Co

Left Hand Brewing Co

Oskar Blues and the Mysterious and Ellusive Dale (of Dales pale Ale)

Oskar Blues and the Mysterious and Ellusive Dale (of Dale's pale Ale)