“Colorful Colorado,” the welcome sign greeted us. And colorful it was, but not just in landscapes.
The mountains, though beautiful, are not at their finest this time of year. There’s no winter snow atop the peaks, and the fall leaves are yet to turn. We were a month behind the best of the wildflower blooms. And don’t you know, we seemed to roll into Colorado right in the middle of what they call “monsoon” season. Perhaps their assessment is a bit of an overstatement, but summer afternoon thunderstorms often interrupted our ride, as crazy lightning or a spattering of hail motivated us to take shelter and sit out for an hour or so. But even the rainstorms brought their own color, with clouds changing from white to gray to foreboding black, and rainbows appearing in the aftermath.
The other color scheme we became aware of in Colorado was the constant change in topography hues on our maps. We had made the common error of believing that there was a big mountain range out here, you know, the Rockies. WRONG. There are lots of big mountain ranges out here… and we got to experience many of them them along the way from the state line until we coasted into Denver. In a matter of six days, we climbed over four passes at more than 10,000 feet (3,050 meters), not to mention all the “smaller” ones in between, usually around 8,000-9,000 feet (2,400-2,700 meters).
Though fun and challenging the mountains were, our favorite part of Colorado was easily Denver, where not one but TWO of Dave’s brothers live. This gave us reason enough to take one last extended break on our trip to spend a week in town visiting family. We were able to spend four days at each brother’s house, hanging out, catching up, and seeing the best of the city.
As a bonus, the USA Procycling Challenge (Tour of Colorado) was in town at the same time as us! We went to the final stage of the race in downtown Denver with Dave’s brother Matt and his wife Alisha. We cheered as the peloton would ride past us, banking corners at high speed. The wind would literally change as the group of cyclists came by! Amazing.
While we were in town, Alisha and Renee’ (who both call Denver home since childhood) showed the rest of us a true Denver experience with an evening out at Casa Bonita. OK, to be honest, while I was there, I had to remind myself several times that I was in Denver. It’s like the Disneyland of Mexican restaurants, as described in a South Park episode. The self-proclaimed “world’s most exciting restaurant” features sub-par food with loads of entertainment on the side: cliff divers, fake gun shows, a haunted house reminiscent of a pirate’s cave, a video game arcade with no games newer than 1995, and more seating than we could ever imagine they would need (more than 600 tables!). It was, to say the least, a fun and memorable night!
Plus, we had a personal guide for when we actually rode into the city. Matt took the afternoon off from work, and his neighbor/cycling coach Prilla came with him to escort us in from Morrison. It’s always fun to have company–particularly a local!–to ride with us.
What’s next? While in Denver, we worked on planning our route HOME! We can hardly believe it’s time to do that.
We have been finalizing our plans and invite you (particularly if you live in the Auburn/Opelika area) to save the date–SEPTEMBER 28–to be a part of our ride home! We’ll be sending out emails with more details, and we’ll be putting more information here on our site in the days ahead.