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    Do the (Kenosha) Shuttle

    Do the (Kenosha) Shuttle

    By konrad kulikowski 

     Shuttle rides are the best rides. There is something very satisfying about knowing that you are actually getting somewhere, that all that effort is getting you to a new wonderful destination and not just back to the place you started. Everything is new and exciting. Bad parts of the trail are easily forgotten since you don’t have to repeat them and that leaves your mind free to focus on and appreciate the good stuff. I wish life was like a shuttle ride ….

     

    One very special shuttle ride that is oh so close to Denver is the Kenosha to Breckenridge section of the Colorado Trail (CT). The section is 32 miles of spectacular single track. About 5K of climbing. With all that climbing and an average elevation of 10K+ it is not a “downhill” shuttle, but the downhill parts are sooo good. How good? “Monarch Crest is for tourists” good. The climbs are fantastic as well.

     

    There is no commercial shuttle service, you have to call your buddies. Meetup at Breck with an extra car, drive one hour from Breck to Kenosha trailhead and, about 4 or 5 hours later, delicious beer awaits you. Even better, enlist a relative or a friend to pick you up at Breck, they can spend a fun summer day in town while you shred. You know at least one person that would shuttle you, for sure. There is probably that friend that is “tapering” for some big race and refuses to do long rides. Ask him, he will do it. Maybe.

     

    This 32 miles of CT is plenty to get good riders dead tired.   If you are of the gifted or crazy variety, it is easy to make it much longer if you veer off the CT near Breckenridge and join the good network of trails they have there. Don’t research this ride too much, experience it by riding. It is easy to follow, lots of CT trail markers. At any unmarked intersection, follow the more traveled trail. When you are done and thirsty, head to the Broken Compass Brewery on your way down to the town center. Take a break before driving. Goes right to the head.

     

    If you go, you should know:

    • Trail has good tree cover considering the altitude. The highest point (Georgia Pass, starting about 11 miles from the trailhead) has zero cover. If you hear thunder up there … probably too late.
    • Expect to see lots of CT through hikers. Slow down and alert them when passing Bro.
    • Parking and lower trails get tight during foliage season.

     

     

    Bike to Work Day (every day)

    Bike to Work Day (every day)

    By Christi Turner   @sustainability.love

    June 2017

    It’s been nearly four years since I’ve been what I call “carless by choice,” using my feet, public transit, the occasional Lyft ride, carpooling, and of course my bicycle as my means of getting around. Within that time frame I’ve also become what you might call “avid cyclist,” transforming from person-who-likes-bikes into person-who-lives-to-ride-bikes, for fun and for transportation. Naturally this all means that I ride my bike to work as much as possible. For about a year, that meant I had only a 1.5 mile bike commute, about 99% of which was done on Denver’s two major bike paths, the South Platte River Trail and the Cherry Creek Trail – really, really sweet deal. And now, I literally have a job that happens on a bicycle – so every day is bike to work day.
    But none of this was by accident. I did this all totally by design: getting rid of my car, prioritizing living close to the bike path, striving to have a job that’s easily bikeable, eventually quitting said job to start my own bike-based business (more on that some other time), etc. I’ve tried to live in a place where I can also easily walk or bike to a grocery store, and to every other spot I might want to frequent on a regular basis, like a good coffee shop, or a post office, or a nice place to get happy hour.
    Part of building a bikeable life has meant investing in more and more weather-appropriate riding gear as well – ear warmers and toe warmers to make frigid commutes less biting, the right tires to accommodate most conditions, gloves for rain and snow, etc. It’s not cheap, but then again I’ve chosen not to have the expense of a car on top of the bike-based investments – and it’s certainly far cheaper than a car. In the process, I’ve grown more and more familiar with the city and more comfortable doing more things on my bike around the urban core. That’s not to say I still don’t break into a sweat when I’m on some particularly un-bike-friendly roads, or hold my breath every time I cross under Blake on 38th, possibly one of the worst little chunks of Mile High commuting. And I use my experiences as an urban cyclist to be an advocate for more, better, safer cycling options in our city.
    And I want to be clear: I don’t have any kids or pets, so I don’t have other people or animals depending on me to pick them up, drop them off, feed them, walk them or otherwise tailor my schedule to theirs. There are no team practices nor games nor other afterschool activities, nor doctor nor vet appointments for other beings – in short, none of those things that are so often cited as making a carless lifestyle more difficult. And it’s important to note that I’m lucky enough to be healthy and able-bodied, with nothing keeping me from providing my own pedal power.
    I have to be honest: I don’t think of biking from place to place as “hard,” but I do recognize that living in a city with sub-par public transit and only decent bikeability makes it difficult to get around without a car, even for people who share similar circumstances as me. I know that not everyone is lucky enough to be able to make every day Bike to Work Day.
    But this Wednesday June 28th, Denver’s official 2017 Bike to Work Day, the city is making it easy for you to give it a try. There’s a map of breakfast and water stations and other events happening all morning around the Mile High, right when you need them. There’s a chance to sign up with coworkers as a “team” and take all sorts of B2WD challenges together. There’s a map of active bike corridors (ABC, as the organizers call them) to help you plan your safest route possible. Heck, there are even prizes to motivate you. This is one day where it’s hard to have an excuse not to bike yourself to work. Be part of the movement to make Denver a more and more bike-friendly place to live, and to help more people choose bike-based mobility as a lifestyle.

    "Big Ride"


    By Christi Turner   @sustainability.love

    April 2017

    Somehow I’m at a point in my life as a cyclist that I often have people ask me things like, “how do you ride for so long?” or “how did you make it all the way up there?” The short answer, of course, is training and habit – and let’s not forget finding the right riding kit (chamois, ahem) and keeping a well-tuned bike. And the glue: lots and lots of support from friends and family.

    But sometimes I’ll instead answer, “a mile is not a mile.” If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that. Our typical hill training ride up and down Lookout Mountain, for example, is only about 14 miles – but we tuck in nearly 1,700 feet of climbing. Whereas our other go-to, from downtown Denver out to Littleton on the South Platte River Trail, is around 22 miles with hardly 400 feet of vertical (but oh, that steady headwind). If we tack on the jaunt to Chatfield, that makes for about 34 miles round-trip and around 700 feet of climbing. See what I mean?

    And then there are factors like wind chill, a soaking rain, icy roads, the numbing of fingers and toes and limbs. Any number of variables can turn a mile into a MILE. My riding partner helps me see the value in every mile, no matter how tortuous: “that’s another experience to put in your bucket, Turner,” he’ll say. That helps me appreciate (most of the time) whatever fresh hell we’re willingly putting ourselves through.

    And it definitely helps get through those Big Rides. One of the “biggest” I’ve ever done, in fact, actually turned out to be not-as-big-as-feared, in part thanks to all those various types of miles in the bucket. This Big Ride was Haleakala, one of the most revered climbs in the U.S., on the island of Maui. Haleakala – the name of the mountain and the sleeping volcano in its belly – is a 36-mile steady climb from sea level to 10,351 feet. That’s right: a 10k elevation gain in 36 miles. There’s virtually no place to stop pedaling. There’s a persistent threat of thunderstorms. There’s a temperature range, from bottom to top and back down again, that makes planning the right kit to fit in your back pockets quite tricky. There’s a dense fog around 6,000 feet that doesn’t clear until you literally climb above it around 9000 feet. And there’s a long, long time to keep your mind steady and just keep turning the pedals over.

    But even with all that climbing, a mile is not a mile. The average grade on Haleakala is only about 7 percent, which feels almost like a flat if you’ve recently ridden a bunch of 14-plus pitches. And as pure luck would have it, the air was warm and still and the sun was shining for the majority of our ride on the particular day we selected for it (but for the famous foggy section); one day earlier or later and we would have been swimming in storm clouds. We were by and large alone – quite literally the only two cyclists to attempt the climb that day, unless others had started after us and turned back before us (there’s only one way up). Even vehicle traffic was sparse. We had little to worry ourselves with but the stunning views and the passage of time.

    Yes, it took a good bit of stamina, I’ll admit. Certainly my mental strength was tested, and mildly on the fritz by the end. But somehow, we topped out. I let myself feel pride when a few aghast car-tourists exclaimed to us, “you came all the way up here on BIKES?” Yes, ma’am.

    A big, beautiful ride it was; but somehow totally doable – nothing like the West Maui Loop that was supposed to be a “recovery ride,” and instead almost knocked me sideways, with its steep hills, sharp turns, high winds and thick humidity. A mile is not a mile.

    And when it came time for the next Big Ride, I could look back at Haleakala as an experience to build on – another one in the bucket.

    Eating While Pedaling

    Eating While Pedaling

    By Christi

    March 2017

    Christi Turner

    If you read my last entry, you may recall that as of last month, I’ve been vegan 16 years (eek!). Throughout that time, I’ve tried to eat a balanced, nutritious, organic-as-possible diet – whole grains, vegetables, legumes, nuts, fruits, minimal sugar, zero supplements, and of course WAY too much coffee. And being such a conscious vegan, of course, impacts what I eat on the bike.

    But let’s start with the most extreme example of “what I eat on the bike”:

    It’s July. It’s HOT. There is no wind. Oh, and it’s Park City, Utah – so it’s also very high and hilly. It’s like mile 55 of 80 miles or so, around 2 pm. My brain is starting to turn on me – I’m feeling inexplicably wacky. I’ve eaten through my mainstay on-the-bike food (we’ll get to that), and I really, really need more food. I’m about to hit a wall. And at moments like this, I want one snack and one snack only:

    Diet Dr. Pepper and Swedish Fish.

    Other than these moments, I can’t remember a time I’ve wanted Diet Dr. Pepper since I was a teenager – the pre-vegan days. However, the day after I decided, definitively, to go vegan, I burst into a 7-11 in a panic and flipped over the nearest bag of Swedish Fish to check the ingredients: PHEW. No gelatin. Just sugar. THANK HEAVEN. But despite that very real, slightly embarrassing episode, I probably eat Swedish Fish once every three years – except at these moments of desperation while pedaling.

    But here’s what’s important about Diet Dr. Pepper and Swedish Fish: they give me what I need when I need it, and they don’t make me feel sick to my stomach. Here’s a very, very short list of things that reliably don’t make me feel sick while cycling:

    • Clif Bars (the blueberry and carrot cake ones especially, mmmmmmm)
    • Water with Nuun
    • Water
    • Honey Stingers (I’m a vegan who’ll sometimes eat honey)

    …And the occasional Swedish Fish and Diet Dr. Pepper. But usually, for the typical 50-ish mile ride in the spring or summer, the winning combo for me is two big bottles of water – one of them with a Nuun tablet – and two Clif bars in my pockets.

    Here’s an equally short list of things that really make me want to vomit on the bike:

    • “goos” of any kind
    • Shot blocks of any kind
    • bagels

    As a road cyclist who’s somehow gotten really into long-distance riding and a good bit of climbing, and like all people who find themselves enamored (mildly obsessed?) with cycling, I’ve had to learn how to nourish myself for riding. I don’t pretend to have it all figured out, nor do I intend to tell you what to do to nourish yourself as a cyclist. What I will emphasize is this: anything is better than hitting that wall.

    Make sure you figure out the answer to these questions: What gives you lasting energy for riding? Do you need a big meal the night before and no breakfast? Do you need a hearty breakfast and no dinner? Or both? And solve this riddle: what’s small enough to fit in your back pockets, nutritious enough to satiate you and palatable enough to not make you sick under the particular circumstances of pedaling up and down and along roads and tracks of all sorts? I’ve come to believe that the answer to that riddle will be different for everyone. Can you even stand to eat anything while you ride? (My riding partner barely eats while he rides – he’s a goddamn camel.)

    Figuring out what food works for you to keep you pedaling is just as important as figuring out the right bike fit and riding kit. And hey, if that means the occasional bag of Swedish Fish, so be it.

    "Happy Birthday, Bicycle"

    By Christi

    February 2017

    Christi Turner

    Today I turned 35, my life as a vegan turned 16, and my bicycle turned two. And today was, undoubtedly, a fantastic birthday: it started with a spin and by 1 pm I was having mimosas at my favorite vegan restaurant. There was a coffee-and-stroll through the Botanic Gardens, even my first visit to the city zoo, complete with a giant “It’s My Birthday!” button and a free ride on the carousel. I was with my favorite people, enjoying Denver and the unseasonably warm February day.

     

    But my 33rd birthday was a milestone: it was the day my bicycle and I began our life together. By then, I already knew I wanted her. I’d been to the bike shop visit her a silly number of times, just to make sure she was still there. If you’ve ever seen Wayne’s World, it wasn’t unlike Wayne’s obsession with the white Fender Stratocaster, which he eventually purchases after multiple pop-ins at the guitar store (the whole “oh yes, she will be mine” scene). I’d been saving up to put down a deposit, and was planning to do so on my birthday. In fact, my man-friend at the time had planned a whole day of surprises, and the only part of our day that I’d dictated was that we stop by the shop so I could finally hand over that money and secure myself my first roadbike.

     

    I knew there was an outside chance the bike wouldn’t be there anymore - but after visiting it over the course of many months, including just a few days prior, what were the odds that she’d be gone now? Still, I had tried to prepare myself for the possibility that the wheels I’d fixated on for so long may have rolled home with some other lucky lady. And alas, as I walked up to the store’s women’s section, I could already see from afar that the bike wasn’t in her usual spot. My throat went dry and tight. I approached nearer, and confirmed she was gone. And none of these other models at this store would do… But I only let the heartache last a beat. It was my birthday goddammit, and I wasn’t going to allow this to ruin it. Oh well, I said to the man-friend; we should probably just go, and keep the birthday spirits high. As we turned to leave and he comforted me for such a bum deal on my birthday, an attendant appeared from the back room. He was wheeling a bike with him. It was her.

     

    SURPRISE!, said the man-friend, who’d not only paid the deposit but in fact purchased the bike for me already. She was mine. For neither the first time nor the last, I was blown away by the generosity and thoughtfulness of this man. And my life with my roadbike - my Amira - began.

     

    From that day forward, my bike has been my companion. She has transformed my life into one where riding a bicycle isn’t just something I like to do - it’s become a part of who I am. She’s brought me boundless joy, and she’s taught me what I'm capable of over thousands of miles of pedaling. That Amira has helped me push myself to climb higher, descend faster, turn sharper, trust more. She’s taken me across the great state of Colorado in ways neither feet nor car nor any other mode of movement could, and she’s helped me discover this fair city of Denver in that way only a bicycle can - at just the right speed, with a healthy dose of adrenaline and a little bit of an edge - like this is our city. She’s the reason that now, with confidence and with love, I call myself a cyclist. (And the man-friend - now just a friend-friend and still my favorite riding partner - helped with all of that, too.)

     

    She still has so, so very much to teach me, and we have thousands more miles to cover together. Tomorrow, we ride. Happy birthday, bicycle.