With the racing season over it was time for some R&R. Well not really…
In October I set out on a fall road trip with my dad. We planned a route through Colorado and down to Scottsdale, Arizona. I wanted to checkout Durango and my dad wanted to do some hiking so the trip seemed like a perfect opportunity for both.
As we set out on our trip the government with into shutdown mode so all the National Parks were closed on our way out. Luckily there were only a couple national run spots. The rest were state run.
The Climb to 10,000’
We spent the first day driving. Crossing Iowa and Nebraska on I-80 is pretty boring, but once we hit Denver the mountains were in sight! Denver sits at 5,000’ elevation, which would be one of the lowest points of our trip.
Our first main stop was Breckenridge (Breckenridge Brewing Co. to be exact). They had just got a dusting of snow and the bartender said the ski resorts were starting to open that week.
From there we headed south to one of my favorite places, Leadville. The town sits at 10,150 feet and coming from 1,000’ you can definitely feel it just walking up the stairs. Leadville is a super small old mining town of ~2500 people.
We had dinner in town that night at Quincy’s where M-TH they only have one thing on the menu. A steak dinner for $8.95, it was delicious.
The next day we drove out to Turquoise Lake and hiked around a bit, the lake was super calm and there was no one around, super peaceful.
As you head south from Leadville the scenery changes from pine trees and snow to sandy and dry as you enter the Gunnison high desert. Along the way you drive along Black Canyon which has some incredible hikes some 1300 vertical feet down to the bottom.
Montrose was the next stop on our tour. The town itself was pretty plain, but they had an excellent microbrewery that just opened up, Two Rascals. They had a small tap room with some locals playing acoustic guitar and violin. Everyone was really friendly and the beer was good (making it worth a stop on our return trip).
Montrose is about 2-hrs straight north of Durango and contains one of the most scenic drives I’ve ever been on in my life. Snow had covered the mountains the morning we began our drive down to Durango. We passed through the small town of Ouray nestled right in this little mountain valley. Probably the quaintest town I’ve ever seen.
A Mountain Biker’s Dream
Silverton was just south of Ouray, another small mining town with amazing views, then finally Durango. When we got into town we drove through the downtown and up to the Fort Lewis College campus which rests atop this mesa overlooking the town, amazing.
We grabbed a hotel room and then went out for a hike in the Animas mountains. Following, we cleaned up and headed downtown to grab food and checkout a few of the local breweries. The town is the perfect size, about 20,000 people with an awesome downtown, good breweries and endless amounts of trail, what more could you ask for!
As we left Durango and headed down to Scottsdale the scenery began to change real fast. Pretty much everything south and west is bland excluding Flagstaff and Sedona.
Warm and Sunny Slide Rock
One of my favorite spots in Arizona is Slide Rock state park. We stopped to do some hiking along the river. It’s incredibly beautiful.
Once we got to Scottsdale I was stoked to hit the trails with my friends Jake and Brent. The Scottsdale parks and recreation department does a fantastic job with their trail head and trail systems. Saturday a new trail head was opening north of town so we headed up there to check out the ceremony and ride the new trails.
Arizona riding is sure different than around the Midwest. Not much dirt and wide open views. Nonetheless the riding challenges you in different ways. The climbs are incredibly rocks and steep and the corners are loose. I put in a solid 5-hrs on Saturday and then another 4.5-hrs on Sunday.
Superstition Mountain Hike
My dad does pretty good for a just-turned 60-year-old. Monday, we hiked up Superstition, a mountain to the east of town that rises from 1500 to 4800 feet and consists of a lot of steep climbing. It took us about 4-hrs and was a lot of fun. I always enjoy hiking with people, everyone is super friendly and gives you a chance to talk about a lot of interesting things.
This concluded the first half of our trip. On the return trip we headed back through Durango and Ouray and then up to Glenwood Springs to once again check out another brewery. Trail Ridge Road, the pass through Rocky Mountain National Park was closed and the surrounding areas were still affected by the flooding from a few weeks prior so we decided to head to Boulder instead.
Boulder Beer, Fort Collin’s, and O’Dell
Boulder has some fantastic breweries, Boulder Beer Co., Twisted Pine, and of course Avery. We did a fair bit of sampling while we were there and also checkout out the Celestial Tea factory which was pretty neat.
I had never been to Fort Collins before so on the way out of town we detoured north and stopped at O’Dell brewery up in Fort; another fantastic Colorado brewery.
All in all the trip was a great way to kick back after 9 months of a successful racing season, spend some time with my dad and get my mind off the bike (for a little while anyways).
I love Colorado, but it was nice to get back and ride the home trails with my friends. Fall is such a great time to ride. No training plan, no stress, just ride.