Honeymoon Tour part I September 26 2014

BAM! It fired – almost gunshot quality, and I rolled to a slow stop… only 30 yards from the front door. Its always good to clear out the cobwebs of nearly broken bike parts before getting too far from home. We were lucky this time. We could have been delayed a whole day if this had happened a few hours later and farther from help.

On Tuesday night I inspected the bikes. I took the bags, deck, and rear rack off the XtraCycle to inspect and clean the brakes. While the brakes pads were intact I was distraught to discover that my beloved slicked tire had bit the dust. With hundreds of miles on tour, and years of around town commuting – the sidewall was torn in at least 6 places with the tube bulging through all of them. What I love about this tire was the 1mm thickness rubber that remained on the wear surface with a little tread remaining on the edge. Lightweight and slick it ran quiet and with excellent response on pavement.

 I switch out the tire with a spare and reassemble/pack the bike. Under the heavy weight of packed camping gear the newer tire explodes before even making a lap around the block. Third Tire's a charm and we leave without a hitch on Wednesday afternoon.

The plan is to take a road tour from Carbondale – Aspen – Buena Vista – Crested Butte – Marble – Back home to Carbondale. Ho-hum road cruising except for Independence Pass (12,180), Cottonwood Pass (12,130') and Schofield Pass (10,700'). Let’s call it 15,000feet of climbing and 260 miles of riding. The bonus is getting to stop in at all our favorite restaurants along the way and spending a few days hanging out in CB. This has been on the must-ride list for a couple years.

Rio Grande Trail, Basalt Colorado Bike tour

Waterfall on the Rio Grande Trail, Aspen

Leaving Carbondale, the Rio-Grande Trail follows the old railroad corridor from Glenwood Springs to Aspen. It provides a must do alternative to riding on highway 82, and gives you a unique perspective for the rural landscape of the Roaring Fork Valley. With the tracks removed, it has been all paved except the last 5miles into Aspen. A handful of all-star locals ride this multiple days a week on their commute to work – They’re strong and I’m jealous! On our loaded bikes it will take 3 hours to ride 30miles up-valley to Aspen for dinner.

For those who don’t know our valley – Aspen is “The Aspen”. Above the Arctic Circle in Sweden a few months ago we laughed that the local ski resort’s global time-clock collection included Aspen instead of the standard New York, London, Tokyo, etc. Home to the rich and famous, Aspen has lost its ‘local vibe’- its too expensive for most people to live or spend time there – locals are in Aspen to work, or catch a show at The Wheeler Opera House.  In off season times like these, the streets are mostly empty and quiet. But, I love being there anyway – for me there’s something majestic about the town and its history. While the streets scream of money & fashion, its soul still whispers of a past era when it truly existed as a rough town on the border of wild mountains and adventure. 

Aspen Colorado pedestrian mall

New York Pizza Aspen, Colorado

Riding out of town in the dark, we stopped and spoke to a young couple camped in their van a few miles out of town. Their thick Southern accents hinted as to their distance from home (Virginia they said). They had just driven cross country for their first time. They would soon start looking for work and housing to stay the winter. The dream lives on! At this point my own chances of spending a few years ski bumming are faint. At least I can bike tour!!

Independence Pass, Aspen CO Night riding

After pizza in town and two hours of riding into the dark we happily make camp and dispatch a beloved Old Chub (Oskar Blues Brewery) before falling asleep.

  Old Chub... cold chub!!