Fort Collins

FORT COLLINS, COLORADO

On its sixth and final day, RTR will return to Northern Colorado with their eyes set on Devils Gulch and Horsetooth Reservoir; a stage originally planned for 2012 but rerouted by the High Park Fires. Cyclists will enjoy a 55-mile trek through Larimer County, touring the vibrant communities that not long ago were hammered by relentless rain and devastating floods. Now, standing tall as ever; a testament of community, will and grace; these towns are primed and ready for a parade of cyclists. The week will draw to a close as 2,000 friends – new and old –reflect and rejoice at Odell Brewing Company in a little town we fondly call Fort Fun!

One week goes by too fast. Hard to believe this is the last day of Ride the Rockies.

I left the Comfort Inn and went back to RTR headquarters. I noticed a number of riders were just jumping on course and going without going back to RTR headquarters, and who could blame them? But I rode uphill and went to the official start line, not to be pure in my ride but simply to meet my riding partners.

David and Christine were at the start. I sort of ignored the actual profile believing, as I told them, that we had a 20 mile downhill followed by a mostly flat run-in to Fort Collins. I was partly right. We had a 20 mile downhill.

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Looking at Estes Park with the Rocky Mountain National Park in the background.

We rolled down through Big Thompson Canyon. It was here in 1976 that a flash flood killed 143 people. The canyon is gorgeous and made for a nice descent to Loveland.

It was a perfect ride except when we were in the lowest part of the canyon. At first it appeared the highway department was doing some road work but it became more apparent that a truck hauling asphalt came by and was dropping asphalt. There was a stream of asphalt in the west bound lane. Although we were going east, the cars were trying to avoid it and black tar covered pebbles were flying towards us in our lane. Yuck.

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Big Thompson River

We turned on Buckhorn Road for a back road ride to Fort Collins. I expected a flat or maybe “lumpy” finish. This was anything but that. We stopped at Aid Station 2 where Christine caught up with her brother, Don, who joined us for a bit.

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We came to the Horsetooth Reservoir. There were three sections that appeared to be spillways but I think they were just dam retaining walls. All were close to the water and then featured a neat little climb up away from the water. These were some of the steepest grades we had all week. Many people were walking. (Not us, of course.)

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But what comes up .. must come down. On the last one I saw a real nice descent. I let it go. I was quickly up to 51 mph, my top speed of the week, when I saw a 35 MPH speed limit sign and two policemen. Oh well. If they were busting cyclists on this descent they had me. I just got down lower in my tuck and rolled by. And waved.

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Random finishers

The roll in through Fort Collins was nice. This is a very pretty city. We continued to O’Dell’s Brewery where the finish line festivities were being held.

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My car was in a lot next to the finish. Had I had my keys with me I could have put the bike away. Instead, I had to retrieve my luggage from Alpine Cycling and take all of it to the car. Then I went back for Terry Moran’s bike. He had gone home on Tuesday but Alpine moved his bike to Fort Collins so I could take it home.

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After the ride I searched out the Smoothie folks for one last Smoothies. I found a Polish Sausage to celebrate then waited for the closing ceremonies. I didn’t win the bike but heard some facts about the ride: Youngest rider was nine; Oldest was 82. Every state except West Virginia was represented. Ten countries were represented as well.

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Throughout the week we passed some amazing cyclists. I saw a blind cyclist – hopefully he was stoker on a tandem. There are always some hand cyclists, often with Ride to Recovery. There is a guy I met two years ago who has no hands – just prosthetic hooks. Since he can’t brake using hands, he has a “butt brake” where he slides back on the saddle and it applies pressure on a bar connected to a braking system. Then there is “Tim.” He rode a recumbent trike. No legs, and one functioning arm plus as prosthetic arm. Absolutely amazing.

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It was a good week and a good ride to end the week. Let’s do this next year!