Raise your hand if you want to ride your bike from Steamboat Springs to Denver! Yup, I was that person who eagerly jumped at the chance to get a spot on this year’s Ride to OR Show. Since 2006 Smartwool has been doing the Ride to OR Show. Smartwool employees, retailers, and industry friends ride their bikes from Steamboat Springs, CO to the Outdoor Retailer trade show. In the past, this meant riding from Park City, UT when the show was in Salt Lake City. This year show was in Denver, and the ride went through Rocky Mountain National Park. When I found out that I got one of two spots on the trip opened to retail employees I literally jumped for joy around the marketing department. After a few months of training, I was off to Steamboat Springs.
Ride to OR Day 1: Steamboat Springs to Granby 110 miles
Day 1 started with everyone meeting up at Howelsen Hill in downtown Steamboat Springs. There was a nervous anticipation in the air as this was a new route to the OR Show. Before our safety briefing, I took the opportunity to put more air in my tires and grab a GU. Once we were briefed on the day it was time to roll out. Knowing that I am not the fastest rider I headed out with the first group to get a jump on the day. I was holding my own until we got to the first climb where my body reminded me I was no longer at sea level. All was good though, and I had a little group to ride with to the first rest stop.
At the first rest stop, you got to decide if you wanted to continue on the road route or venture onto gravel. My bike was not built for gravel so I stuck to the road. Turns out there were only 8 of us that did the road route in two small groups. My group consisted of me and 4 southerners including Ed and Tayna from River Sports, an independent outdoor store in Knoxville, TN. The area we rode through was so different than anything back here in New England. So many wide open spaces with towering mountains not far in the distance. One of the coolest features passed was Finger Rock (below). The brief bit of shade that the rock gave us was also a welcomed sight as the mercury was heading into the 90s.
Our big climb of the day came at Gore Pass where we got up to 9,520ft. I am not a good climber so I just had to put my head down and push through knowing that I would be rewarded with a nice descent down to lunch in Kremmling. I was expecting there to be great views when I got to the top of the pass, but we were still below tree line. My group of 5 riders had split up by this point since everyone rides up the big hills at a different pace and now I was on my own. Luckily I figured out how to get my Wahoo Cyclometer to show me directions so it was just me and my bike for about 15 miles until the lunch stop. Tanya and I regrouped at lunch and decided to head back out together, but not before getting a selfie with the Statue of Liberty.
By this point, it was 95 degrees out, no shade, a speed limit of 65mph for cars, and a vicious crosswind. As we neared Hot Sulphur Springs the road dipped into a canyon giving us a break from the wind and a little change of scenery.
At the last rest stop in Hot Sulphur Springs, we joined up with a larger group that had done the early gravel section but was staying on the road now. It was a nice break to have a group of other cyclists to draft with. The route from Hot Sulphur Springs to Granby was pretty nice, but once we left downtown Granby and had to make our way to Snow Mountain Ranch it was just downright brutal. If it wasn’t so hot and I hadn’t ridden 105 miles already it might not have been that bad, but the final climb sucked the last bit of life out of me. But I made it! All 110.7 miles: my longest ride ever. Man, did that post-ride GU Chocolate Recovery Milkshake taste oh so good.
Ride to OR Day 2 click here.