Truthfully — at this point in the summer — I’d rather be in Florida on a hot, sunny beach or somewhere else quite consanguineous. Anywhere I can be crowned the Queen of Not Serving People or Moving — except for an occasional dunk in the sea or a long reach for another delectable adult beverage from the cute bartender.
At any rate, August draws to a close and here it rains every afternoon and autumn tucks its head inside the stormy curtain. Aspen trees nod more towards a golden tinge and a sprinkling of white on the mountains wouldn’t surprise anyone who’s been around for the latter part of this abnormally soggy summer.
In lieu of a sweltering beach and all the time in the world to lay on it, the USA Pro Cycling Tour swept through Colorado last week, bringing some excitement, some white chalk and too much time to use it. And, of course:
Of course, the only way to kick off a day of biking is with a bike ride. I set out 1st Street in Loveland in mid morning. Apparently the looming threat of a spandex-clad peloton a couple of hours later was sufficient to clear 1st Street out like a stomach on laxatives. Except for flying headlong into the annual Old Fashioned Corn Roast Festival parade (complete with a marching band, corn-flavored floats and baton twirlers and more people than I thought lived in Colorado), I flew along largely deserted roads.
After riding a bike, there was nothing left to do but ride bikes downtown to watch a bunch of dudes ride bikes. Downtown Loveland was one seamless string of fans, lining the route like perfectly aligned, cowbell-ringing corn cobs. Even the sight of a motorcycle or Pro Cycling-related vehicle was enough to crank the excitement up a notch or two. Unlike Europe, seventeen police and three neon safety vest clad rent-a-cops lined every intersection and street corner, warning everyone and their mom to stay off the road. I prefer Europe’s more hands-off “natural selection” policy myself…
Anyway, the race soon flew through under a blazing sun around noon:
After round one, we pedaled quickly off a curb and down a side street with dozens of other fans while the peloton made a (rapid) loop uptown — already today the two-wheeled bunch had been averaging about 30 miles an hour:
In case you were wondering: Yes, I am wearing a half shirt. It does qualify in this current age as an entire shirt. And yes, I am quasi-obsessed with 41-year-old German rider Jens Voight — mostly because he is German, ridiculously upbeat and is a man in spandex (and he’s plastered a sticker on his German flag-clad white Trek bike that reads, “Shut up legs”). Click here to ogle Jen’s bike and seriously geek out…
Moving on. After the race raced through, we thought it best to cruise back home, drink Moscow Mules and watch everybody hightail it up to Estes Park on Highway 34 — one of the classic haunts for overly infatuated bicycle types like myself. I will also note, following the race up the canyon to Estes basically ensured I had to ride the same route tomorrow (and I did). Bikes? I hate ’em. Don’t know what you’re talking about.
Right before everybody reached the pinnacle of Estes Park, the route took them up a real leg buster called Devil’s Canyon (affectionately called the Devil’s Crotch by those of us who ride it too much). Once we watched them torture themselves up those two or three switchbacks, we put our feet to gas-powered Audi pedals and zipped up to Fort Collins. What for? To watch the race come in, of course! Fort Fun where the people were even more numerous, more cowbell-toting and ridiculously pumped:
Of course, we had piled two bikes in the car so we could cruise leisurely style to downtown Fort Collins for a beverage. Once tucked into a climate controlled environment (since I’m the only one who eats up hot weather like free Häagen-Dazs for a year), we ran into like 93 of our old friends from Peloton Cycles — a local bike shop Tyler works at and I have worked at. Eventually, we slipped away from the chaos of a Pro Cycling Tour-infested downtown Fort Fun and holed up at Pete and Aubrey’s house for gin and tonics. Sadly, my quest for a large Peter Sagan head to crown our bike-themed guest bathroom was unsuccessful. Sagan is a blossoming Slovakian sprinter who is awesome because of his creeper ‘stache and this:
After a bit, our stomachs called us onto our steeds once more for a quick jaunt to Pizza Cazbah. Another rolling adventure through the nightly inclement weather experience to the Crown for a nightcap and then bed, where I lay with visions of sugar plums on beach towels tanning in the sun… or at least sugar plums dancing on bicycles up Highway 34.