In the saddle: Smell the flowers
July 1, 2011
ASPEN – So intent was I on getting in a bike ride one evening after work early this week, I went out during my lunch hour to purchase a ridiculously priced pair of bike shorts after forgetting to bring a pair up to Aspen along with my road bike and all the other requisite gear.
With the heat of the day still sapping my energy, I headed up Castle Creek Road, south of Aspen, on a rejuvenating ride that quickly proved itself worth the price of the shorts and then some.
I used to do this ride a lot, typically in the morning, during the years when I lived in town. I don’t recall ever doing it in the evening, but it may become my new routine.
The ride was mostly shady and swollen Castle Creek was rumbling like an air conditioner in that section where the road closely parallels the water. The chill was refreshing and the rushing creek, audible even when the road climbs far above it, provided a soothing soundtrack for a weary soul.
With virtually no traffic to speak of, I had the road nearly to myself as I reveled in the surroundings. It’s unbelievably verdant – the reward for a miserably cold, wet spring, I imagine. Beneath the rustling aspens, the lupine and wild geraniums were bountiful. Towering monument plants had yet to blossom. Farther up the valley, winter’s avalanche paths were swathed in a soft emerald carpet.
But it was the fragrant, blooming chokecherry that made the experience unforgettable. The multitude of bushes lining the road are presently heavy with fat fingers of flowers. Just above the Conundrum turnoff, the hillside above Castle Creek Road was loaded with chokecherry and the sweet smell permeated the air. I didn’t need to stop to smell the flowers, but I did anyway.
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The sun was still poking above the ridge as I neared the upper end of the valley, casting long shadows in the last, golden light of day before disappearing entirely for my brisk descent.
The show wasn’t over, though. A spectacular sunset during the drive downvalley nearly eclipsed the perfection of the ride.