Ride the Rockies good for soul and the waistline | AspenTimes.com

Ride the Rockies good for soul and the waistline

Editor’s Note: Reporter Scott Condon survived his first Ride the Rockies with enough energy left over to file this last report.

The conclusion of a 437-mile, seven-day cycling adventure through Colorado’s mountains Saturday left two overriding thoughts on my mind, neither of which had to do with an aching back or buttocks.

First, extended tours are truly the way for any cyclist to go. I get my share of miles in during summers, but there’s no better way to get into a groove and into true cycling shape than a multiday tour.

Some veterans of Ride the Rockies, the Denver Post’s annual bicycle ride through Colorado’s mountains, sniffed that this year’s route wasn’t as tough as years past. It seemed somewhat irrelevant to me – sort of like debating which of the two world-champion Denver Broncos teams were better.

I figure any tour that involves rides over two major mountain passes and five other legs over long distances of rolling terrain in wilting heat isn’t anything to sneeze at.

The 2,000 sanctioned riders and hundreds of bandits on Ride the Rockies could tailor each day’s route to suit their fancies.

You could attack Monarch Pass so vigorously with Aspenite Mick Ireland that your knees threatened to buckle when you reached the summit.

Or you could get into an easy rhythm and soak up the scenery.

I tried it both ways, and loved every minute of it. The Ride the Rockies literature said this wasn’t the week to try to shed that extra 10 pounds. It warned participants to eat a lot of healthy foods to provide fuel for the trip.

I lost 11 pounds without trying, dropping from a pre-ride weight of 176 to 165. But it wasn’t from lack of intake. My riding partner, Gil Rudawsky of Boulder, and I weren’t shy about hitting the bars in the towns along the route – Durango, Cortez, Telluride, Montrose, Gunnison, Salida and Caon City.

And while shedding some pounds, I could literally feel myself getting stronger with each ride.

I don’t know that I’d want to do more than one organized tour per summer that involves thousand of riders, but if I ever become wealthy, you can bet I’d be doing more multiday cycling tours.

That leads to the second overriding thought this tour left me with as I pedaled into Colorado Springs to finish the final leg. I decided to participate on my first Ride the Rockies this year because of the route across the southern section of Colorado.

I wasn’t disappointed.

It was truly remarkable and wonderful to find that the developers and subdividers haven’t ruined every square inch of this state. At least not yet.

Highway 50 from Montrose to Caon City went through some genuine rural, rustic territory. Give me a ramshackle town with a general store/bar and a handful of houses over a golf course community any day. Even some of the schlock that shows up around Caon City is easier to swallow than the empty edifices called trophy homes found in these parts.

If I never take another tour like this again, at least I’ll have the memories of what a great thing we had in Colorado, and hopefully will have for years to come.

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