My cycling story to Epic rides with my 9 year old son
Hello fellow lovers of bikes!
Like many of you my love affair with bikes started as a child with my old banana seat cruiser before getting my first 10 speed in 7th grade. Back in those days Sears was the bike shop of choice where I lived, but that old "Free Spirit" took me to places I was not supposed to be. I think my parents knew I was out exploring but never lead on because they new how much I loved being with my bike.
Many years later when I moved to Colorado in 1979 I started to understand what real cycling was all about. From that first road ride up Independence Pass and Maroon Bells to that first mountain bike adventure over Pearl pass to Crested Butte, I knew I would be riding for life. Suffice to say my years in Aspen, Vail, Ouray, Taos, and cycling journeys overseas have given me a special gift. I didn't imagine possible even as a child riding outside my parents neighborhood in Connecticut.
Almost 10 years ago I was blessed with a healthy smiling baby boy. I always hoped he would enjoy the same pleasures in iife as his papa but one never knows. I have to admit I am one lucky papa and my boy has discovered his own love affair with cycling (and other sports) just as I did when his age. The one big difference he was born in the mountains and has lived in 3 countries and has already explored on 2 wheels what has taken me a life time to accomplish. The first day he rode off on his own when we lived in Aruba was a day I will always remember as one of my proudest moments. Little did I know that that tiny 3 year old was taking the first step to our epic adventures in Colorado today.
In the summer of 2011 he took off like a rocket on his first ride up Maroon Bells and only 1 hour and 3 minutes later we were watching a moose take a bath in Maroon lake. I think he truly enjoyed the ice cold ride down in the rain. Great to be 8 and have no reference but loving your bike. We went on that summer to many rides but riding the Grand Mesa on mountains bikes and Vail's Gold Peak filled our summer with lifetime memories and stories. What a fantastic way to come back to Colorado after years living abroad.
We were both looking so forward to getting in some road miles during the summer of 2012. I put a pair of slicks on my son's mountain bike and he was now an official speed demon. As we rode in Moab and Fruita in the spring our talks turned to the road. My son has always enjoyed following the tour and then to see the US Pro Challenge up close and personal he became obsessed with road riding. We spent the next few weeks doing training rides in the Vail Valley. My son progressed quickly and soon began riding 20-30 miles easily in altitude with lots of vertical. During one of our rides in late June he says, " Papa, I want to do a tour from Vail to Aspen and back." I said you realize that's over 200 miles round trip?” He quickly responded, "SO!"
To be honest I thought to myself this would never happen but I went along with him. We put a plan together and road 4-5 times per week to get ready. The plan was the first week of August. We would stay with friends along the way and take 3-4 days depending how things went. This route also has the back up of a fantastic bus system should we need it at any point along the way.
The first week of August came calling quickly and off we went on our epic adventure. Day one; It was a beautiful day, but we only made it to Glenwood Springs to get the first 66 miles behind us. It was such a fantastic day. We felt great when we got there and wanted to make it to Carbondale, but the weather turned really nasty so we had to make some adjustments. Since the goal was also to return from Aspen we decided to jump on the bus to Aspen or we would not have had time for the return ride. We spent a cold rainy night in Aspen but the next morning was perfecting riding weather. The next leg was to our friends in Carbondale so off we went enjoying the views of the Roaring Fork Valley and the elegance of the Roaring Fork River during the 31 miles to Carbondale. We spent a fantastic evening with our friends resting for the long leg back to Vail in the morning.
We were blessed with the picture post card perfect Colorado summer morning so we jumped on our saddles and it was Vail or bust. Little did I know this would turn into my most epic day of riding in my life and I know my son will look back on this one day and feel the same. The 76 miles ahead started gently to Glenwood Springs before meandering along the Colorado river through Glenwood Canyon. Once we were on the Vail Valley side the clouds opened up again and we still had more than 45 miles to go. Without going over every minute let's say my son endured rain, cold, intense heat, and his grumpy papa on his little 24 inch wheel mountain bike (with slicks) on the 45 mile climb back to our house in Vail. I tossed out the ideas of jumping on the warm bus and getting home but he would have nothing to do with the bus. He was determined to get to our front door under his own power no matter what. I honestly was thinking to myself, "please get on the bus" when the temperature dropped and the clouds covered us in darkness. Yes, we did have the proper clothing but it was still miserably wet and cold. I learned a lesson in endurance and mental focus from my boy during those 76 miles and will be forever grateful to him for reminding me how amazing our two wheeled toys are and will be for the rest of our lives.
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