After a very fast turn around from our San Juan Adventure Adam and myself hopped into the van to pick up our next set of wonderful guests. Our group this time consisted of a couple friends from past adventures and new friends on their first Beer & Bike Adventure.
Arriving late at night in Aspen we all checked into bed and fell fast asleep. The best part of arriving into Aspen at night is that you wake up into an amazing postcard perfect mountain town. Aspen is everything your here. Fancy cars, restaurants and more but what it also has, even at the super posh places, is a low key mountain town feel. People walk a little slower and take in the beauty of the surroundings. Nobody in Aspen is taking for granted what a great place it is to relax. You can see it in the shear number of cyclist, hikers, runners and other folks outside that this place is fun.
We set about our day for a simple shakedown ride along the Rio Grande trail and acclimating to altitude. The Rio Grande trail is fun because of the calm grade, about 1-2% max, and car free glory of cycling along an old rail line. Following the shake down ride we walked over to Hop Culture and had some food and began to get to know each other. As with all trips there are many laughs and stories. As a guide you always wonder how a group will connect, fortunately they always do. This group was no different and after everyone stealing Byrd's beer we were all close friends. Along with Fall color September brings with it Oktoberfest parties. Fortunately I love schnitzel and it was a special at the pub!
After dinner some of us wandered about the bar scene in Aspen and learned about mixing a proper sour drink, at the Hotel Jerome, and how good crab stuffed beignets can be. Thanks Cache Cache!
After Breakfast we set out to one of the most photographed spots in Colorado, Maroon Bells. An 11mile moderate climb from town rewards you with a glorious view of the mountains, lake and fall color. The ride up is beautiful as well. As I said a couple folks were new to Beer & Bike and chuckled as Adam pulled a bunch of beer out of his backpack at the Bells to Celebrate our first climb.
Next we cruised back down to Aspen for lunch and beer at the Aspen Brewing Company. With a bonus ride on the Rio Grande trail our crew rolled to Carbondale for beers and dinner at Carbondale beer works and the Goat.
In the morning we set off to ride Mcclure pass. This beautiful pass rewarded us with cool little towns, Coke kilns for coal, and a winery/farm at the finish. This time everyone was ready for the beer at the summit. After our ride we transferred to Telluride for the evening and relaxed at the Smugglers Pub and connected with some guests from the previous weeks day tour in Boulder. Great times!
Adam woke early got "Baked in Telluride" and snuck out for a morning scout ride on the Last Dollar road for next year while the rest of us slept in a bit and started out on our Descent to Placerville and then up the Dallas Divide. On the ride up we connected and the group with Adam in tow crossed the divide and rolled down to Ridgway for lunch before finishing in Ouray at our hotel by the river.
Two Breweries and a Distillery later we went to sleep to rest for Red Mountain pass in full Fall color glory.
Red Mountain pass is known as the Million Dollar Highway because of the sheer drop-offs and the cost to build it years ago. The first 5 miles are twisty and in places steep while the "bike Lane" is a few inches wide. Fortunately in Colorado cyclists are encouraged and legally allowed to take the lane and ride where they feel comfortable. Drivers are respectful on this pass and almost always wait and let you ride safely. This time of year everyone is stopping and going slow because it is so beautiful. We felt like super stars as a group fall leaf peepers and their cameras snapped photos of us on every bend. At the top we were all smiles as everyone rode well and strong to the top.
Spending the evening in Silverton we relaxed at our hotel and wandered a bit. As you enter into Autumn in the high country some businesses start to shut for the season and the town has a nice sleepy feel.
We awoke to rain and unfortunately it cut our ride short on the final day but we had a blast anyway exploring Durango and sampling more yummy craft beer. Thanks again to everyone who came along and the places we stopped for beers along the way.
Cheers - Bob Williams