Sunday, July 26, 2015


In 2007 I joined my brother-in-law for the 2nd annual Tour de Kota, which is no more. But on the first day that year, standing on Main Street in some small town in southeastern SD, my brother-in-law, Bruce walks up to a guy wearing a Ride The Rockies jersey to ask him about that ride. He gets the idea that we should go to Colorado and ride a tour in the mountains! At the time it sounded really hard. By week's end when I dragged myself into Mitchell after 400+ miles of SD rollers, the idea of a week long tour in CO was preposterous.
The next year we showed up in Gunnison on a Saturday in early August to ride the Colorado Rocky Mountain Bike Tour. On the 3rd day I set a personal record for how slow I could ride without falling over, 3.7 mph on the last stretch of the climb up the western side of Independence Pass. (This record would be shattered in 2014 on Pikes Peak). By week's end I had been hot/cold, wet/dry, fast/slow and overall exhilarated that I had made it up and over all the climbs on CRMBT 2008.

We had so much fun we were back with a few friends in 2009 to ride a different loop. Again I was forced to push myself past what I thought I was capable of. I took time to rest and take lots of pictures, realizing that a bicycle was the perfect vehicle for exploring remote corners of this beautiful state. I couldn't help but notice that in addition to seeing the tour organizers again, many of the volunteers at the aid stations were back. And many of the riders too.
In 2009 none of my previous riding partners were able to make it to Colorado that summer. The route that year went over some familiar passes, plus offered a chance to do Loveland Pass, Mt Evans, Peak-to-Peak Highway, and Trail Ridge Road through Rocky Mountain National Park. It sounded too good to miss. So I went by myself. And the year after that, and the year after that.
I've become friends with other riders, volunteers, and organizers from all over. Going back to CRMBT each August became a given. How could I miss it? Thanks to this tour I had slept in cool mountain air in Gunnison, Frisco, Crede, Leadville, Glenwood Springs, and many more. I've ridden my bike over Independence and Cottonwood Passes, Slumgullion and Monarch, over Trail Ridge Road, and up and back Mt Evans and Pikes Peak. Good times!
I knew I wouldn't be able to do the tour in 2015. We were putting in long hours all Spring getting the beautiful new Scheels Overland Park ready to open. When I was slated to be the manager of the bike shop I didn't want to be gone so soon after opening the end of June. And as a member of the leadership team it still seemed too soon to be gone for a week. Not to mention that I've been on my bike, like six times in the last few months. If I tried to go to Colorado to ride now most of my views would be from the inside of a SAG van.
So I'm going to miss my first CRMBT since 2008. I'll miss Colorado. I'll miss the people. I'll miss the challenges and the satisfaction of completing them. The only thing that makes it a little easier to take is that this year's tour won't be climbing any passes that I haven't already done. Thanks to them I've climbed all but a few of the highest paved passes in Colorado, including everything over 11,000 feet.
But I still wish I could be there. I'm hoping that they will share lots of pictures and stories of the ride. And I'll plan on joining them for CRMBT 2016. Peter, make it a good one!