Pro cyclists visit Aspen on cross-state tour
The Aspen Times
Pro cyclists pedaled into Aspen this weekend.
But this time, the riders were not racing in the USA Pro Challenge.
Rather, the four cyclists are enjoying a bicycle tour of Colorado as they ride a challenging five-day route from Boulder to Moab — by way of Aspen.
“Gus (Morton) and I did a trip across Australia last year, and this is sort of the second trip for us,” said pro cyclist Lachlan Morton, a native of Australia and longtime Boulder-area resident. “We brought along a couple of our good mates, Taylor Phinney and Cam Wurf, and we’re having a good time. It’s basically Boulder to Moab in five days.”
Lachlan Morton and brother Gus, a former pro cyclist, linked up with pro riders Phinney and Wurf for the Colorado-Utah trip and an accompanying documentary.
“The (documentary) project is called ‘Thereabouts,’” Lachlan Morton said of the cycling production from the brothers’ trip across their native Australia.
“The first trip … was great detox from the professional racing world and a way of getting back to the roots of cycling,” he said. “It’s about remembering why you do it (cycling).”
Morton, who burst onto the Colorado road racing scene with a victory in the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic Road Race (Durango to Silverton) as an amateur, launched his professional career with Colorado-based Garmin, collecting a Tour of Utah mountain stage win for the team.
This year, Lachlan Morton opted to ride with the domestic Jelly Belly squad.
Back home, Morton and brother Gus rode from Port Macquarie to Uluru in 12 days in their trans-Australia cycling trip.
“For me, this is a nice contrast to professional racing,” Morton said Saturday morning in Aspen as the cycling “team” prepared for the day’s ride to Hotchkiss. “I’d always envisioned doing one of these trips in Colorado.”
Plus, Morton said, he always wanted to ride in the Moab area.
“It thought it would be so sweet to do this whole ride,” Morton said. “So, basically we pulled out a map.”
With support help from the documentary crew, the cyclists also have a family crew on hand for the adventure.
“Taylor’s dad and my dad came out for the first few days,” Lachlan Morton said as cycling legend Davis Phinney chatted with his son Taylor on Saturday morning.
“They’re pretty instrument in our cycling careers. To have them out here has been really nice,” Morton said.
Davis Phinney, in fact, raced in Aspen in the 1980s during the days of the Coors Classic and the Red Zinger Classic.
“I remember racing, winding through downtown Aspen … the crowds,” said Davis Phinney, who went on to an illustrious career that included an Olympic bronze medal and a stage win at the Tour de France.
Son Taylor Phinney is recovering from a broken leg and is expected to return to racing for his BMC team later this summer, perhaps at the USA Pro Challenge that will visit Aspen on Aug. 19-20.
Davis Phinney said he is enjoying watching his son and the other cyclists work their way across Colorado, including a snowy trip from Boulder to Breckenridge on the first day of the trip.
“The first day was beyond expectation. It turned into a real epic,” Morton said. “There was an hour of trudging through the snow. At the end, we had to climb through a creek and up a (steep slope) to I-70.”
But they finished the day with a smile, he said. Just like they started the day.
“For me, this is more the pure element of riding as opposed to racing,” Morton said. “We’ve been saying that we make the rules for this trip.”
That means they stop when and where they want.
“It doesn’t really matter when we get there. The whole trip is an adventure in itself,” Morton said.
Adding the documentary element expands the mission, according to Morton.
“The idea of documenting it is so that you can see the other side of these guys. A lot of people know the competitive side of Taylor,” Morton said. “They know what he can do in a bike race. But they really don’t know his personality outside of that. It’s a nice way to give people a chance to see that.”
The trip and the documentary also offer insight to Wurf, a fellow Australian pro cyclist who is perhaps better know as an Olympic medalist — in rowing.
With an Olympic-sized sense of humor, Wurf moved from the water to the road seamlessly.
He sported a yellow helmet for Saturday’s ride as the unofficial leader of the Boulder-to-Moab Grand Tour.
“Cam is another character,” Morton said. “His whole outlook is wild.”
With that, Lachlan Morton donned his less-than-aerodynamic sunglasses and stepped into his pedals and headed to Hotchkiss.
Taylor Phinney, Gus Morton, Cam Wurf and a selection of Aspen cycling enthusiasts joined the ride.
“Big, long days on the bike. But, there’s not training involved … just riding,” Morton said. “The whole time is fun.”
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