Colorado is a really fun place

The past week has been pretty crazy. I haven’t really had a chance to blog, call the family and friends, upload photos and shit like that. I guess I’ll just have to start from the beginning…

I finally made it to Colorado, and it’s a pretty wonderful place. I stayed at this woman’s farm last week in Ordwa. She’s a Kiwi and she was a little grumpy, but she had a really nice setup for the cyclists. It was basically a free cyclist hostel. She had old campers stationed in her yard and built verandas for each one. So they were essentially private sleeping quarters for people on bikes. The next day I rode to Pueblo and stopped at a bike shop to have some work done on my brakes. The people there were really nice and helpful. And I finally got to weight my bike! The bike alone weighs 39 pounds, when I am fully loaded with gear + a gallon of extra water it weighs 95 pounds! I think it usually weighs around 80, but on that particular day I had a ton of extra water coming off the high plains. After hanging out for a little while, one of the employees, his name is Joel, offered to let me stay at his house for the evening. I took him up on his offer because the warmshowers host that I contacted seemed a little weird. He took me to eat at this really cool Mongolian stir fry place where. It had a buffet of raw toppings and noodles and you pile all the stuff that you want into a bowl. Then you add the sauces and the chili to your liking. After that you take it to the end of the line where there’s a giant wak (not wok, they are different) where they push the food around until it cooks. It was delicious! Then we went out to a lake and hung out with other folks from the bike shop. It was definitely nice to socialize after riding through western Kansas.

After Pueblo I rode to Colorado springs. It took all day to get there because I rode on either dirt frontage roads or dirt greenway paths. There was even a section of single track that I had to ride to connect to a bike path system! It would have been great, had I not been on a 90 pound touring bike. I went to the Bristol Brewing Company and they were really, really awesome. They let me bring my bike in and after that I was a little celebrity! Their PR girl took a photo of me and put me on their Facebook page. Even before that, I had a bunch of people interested in the bike and my trip. An hour or so later there were people coming in and approaching me like, “Hey! Your the girl on the bike from the Facebook page!” The brewery gave me a free growler and a cycling jersey and gave me a behind the scenes tour of the facility. I ended up tasting most of their beers, in pints, because every other person that I chatted with wanted to buy me one! It was wonderful. I only had to buy one, of many, beers that evening.

Around 8 o’clock my friend Jenny and her husband came down from Denver to pick me up. Yes, I cheated! But the way I figured it, the ride would be suburban hell and it was only 40 or so miles north. As long as I don’t hitch rides in the western direction, it’s not that much cheating right? Ha! I stayed in Denver for 4 nights. Doug arrived on the second day and we took a day drip into two to hit some of the breweries. We weren’t very good at pacing ourselves. We only visited two! The first one was the Wynkoop brewery. This is where we made our mistake, we ordered samples of all 15 beers! I was drunk after that. We ended up walking down the road and getting tacos to sober up for the next brewery. After lunch we headed to the Great Divide and we were only capable of having one beer each. And then road back to Jenny’s house to turn in for the evening.

Denver is a neat town with hundreds of miles of bike green ways and paths. Used greenways exclusively to get from Lakewood to the “LoDo” district. On our way out of town on Tuesday we took 25 miles worth of greenway all the way from Lakewood, through downtown, and a good ways north of town. And from there it wasn’t too hard to navigate into Erie. Erie is a town, or suburb, which ever you want to call it, of Boulder. We stayed with a close family friend of mine, Elizabeth and her man friend Zady. Doug and I ended up staying there for three nights. The second day we rode into boulder, which was about a 12 mile commute downhill, and we were quite successful in visiting a lot of breweries. We dropped my bike off at Excel, the bike shop where Zady works, and walked across the street to brewery number 1, Twisted Pine. They had a really cool taproom and really good beer. We paced our selves well and afterwards went back to the bike shop to get my bike. Zady made her look and ride like new! It was exactly what I needed at this point in the tour.

After the bike shop we headed toward the shopping district where a few breweries are concentrated. We came across one called Walnut Brewing Company on our way to Mountain Sun. It kind of reminded me of the brew pub in downtown Knoxville. Needless to say, Doug really enjoyed it and I just liked it okay. Mountain Sun, on the other hand, was bad ass! While we waited for a table they basically showered us in free samples. I think between the two of us we had tried nearly everything on tap within a matter of 20 minutes. Thats efficient! They also gave us free quesadillas! When we finally sat down it was great because I knew exactly what I wanted to drink, the Resinous Rye IPA. It was damn good!

We left Mountain Sun to meet Elizabeth and Zady at Boulder Beer Co. on the way home. I think I had the MoJo, which tasted the same at the brewery as it does in Knoxville. I think the Mojo was more of a novelty to drink on site rather than tasting it. It was nice meeting up and getting to hanging out. It also worked out well that Doug and I didn’t have to ride 12 miles back to Erie! We got home and Doug and Zady went to check out the skate park and I went to bed. The next day we were supposed to head up to Ft. Collins, but we liked boulder so much that we decided to stay. (I felt bad because I knew that Elizabeth needed to work on making jewelry for her show this weekend, but we were having to much fun!) That morning we did more exploring of the galleries and shopping district – by that I mean we went shopping, Doug, too! We went to the GoLite store because they were having a massive sale. I bought a new, hot pink down jacket for $30. (!!!!) It’s pretty exciting, my old one is definitely on its last season.

Since we had a few more breweries to hit, we started heading north of town to meet up with an old friend of mine from high school, Meaghan. We hung out for a few hours, played two rounds of darts because we’re kind of bad at that game, and then Meaghan had to hit the road. But as soon as Meaghan left, Zady arrived! He shuttled us to Oskar Blues in Longmont (another 12 miles away) and we had dinner and more beer. I ordered fried chicken and waffles, wow, what a combo! It was delicious. Two of Zady’s friends from the shop met us there, too. It’s been a long time since I’ve laughed that hard. Even though Doug and I said that we would take it easy that day, we shut down the Oskar Blues tap room.

Now we’ve found our selves in Ft. Collins! There is a small music festival happening this weekend, imagine that. Actually, I bet this town has a music festival twice a month. Anyway, there are some big names passing through and it’s totally free. It’s pretty cool, but at the same time the town is really crowded. Because of the congestion and timing, all we could really fit in, in terms of breweries, was New Belgium. We met some cool folks and walked around the downtown festivities. We bumped into another touring cyclist, Jakob. He’s from Germany and he is also traveling east to west. He’s in the process of connecting with the trans America route, so we might try to meet up a little ways down the road after Doug heads back (south)east – for some reason people out here don’t consider the southeast, east. Jakob is also interested in beer, being from Germany and all, so we went to go find another brewery recommended by the locals, Equinox Brewing. It was a much smaller production and, in my opinion, produced better beer than a majority of the New Belgium stuff.

We eventually parted ways and Doug and I met back up. At this point the party downtown was in full swing and we were both tired from the day’s ride and participating in more beer tasting. We didn’t have a place to stay, so we dirtbagged it and ninja camped. We ended up riding a few miles north near some lakes, picked a dark side-road next to some McMansion houses, and camped in a prickly pear patch! I didn’t sleep so well…

Well, that about sums up the past week! Doug and I are trying to make a game plan, I think we will start heading for the mountains so that we can find more legitimate camping. Sleeping in a ditch with prickly pears in an ultra rich neighborhood was not very restful.

I really didn’t do a good job of blogging this week. There is definitely a strong correlation between the amount of fun that I’m having and the amount of time that I’m willing to sit in front of a computer blogging.

more fun = less blogging.

Cheers,
Lauren

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