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Bike heaven, bike hell

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I found myself in bike heaven last week.

On family vacation in Breckenridge, Colo., I wandered the streets amazed.

Sharrows and/or protected bike lanes adorned nearly every road.

There were bikes on cars and buses, bikes parked in front of or beside nearly every store. There were probably a dozen businesses that rented bikes — not all beater hybrids, either; there were plenty of pricey road and mountain bikes for rent.

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Tourists and locals alike crowded the 56-mile recpath, a yellow-center-lined path that meandered through Summit County.

There were bike racks everywhere, including three awesome fish racks at nearby Lake Dillon.

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Everywhere I looked there were old men on cruisers and young women on mountain bikes and sleek whippets on road racers and hipsters on fixies.

Damnedest thing, though. Surrounded by all this two-wheeled goodness, I never once threw a leg over a bike, unless you count the half-hour slog I took on the spin bike in the fitness room of the place we stayed. I don’t (count it, that is).

When we decided on Colorado as our summer-vacation destination, I fantasized about waking up early every morning, hopping on a rental and cranking out a good 50 or so miles in the thin air before the wife and kids stirred.

Didn’t happen.

There were lakes to canoe in and alpine slides to slide on and trails to be hiked and bowling balls to be rolled and a 14er to be bagged. (OK, you can’t really bag a 14er by riding a train up it, but let me tell you, that train ride was harrowing, absolutely harrowing, I say!)

With all the high-country hijinks in store, I couldn’t — wouldn’t — tear myself away to bask in the bike glory solo.

Coincidentally, Wednesday was Bike to Work Day in Summit County.

While most of the rest of the country marks BTWD in late May, Coloradoans postpone it to make sure there’s less chance of it being besmirched by a blanket of snow.

In a few of the Summit County towns, coffee shops handed out BTWD stickers to bike commuters.

We didn’t ride, but we managed to talk our way into a couple of the stickers from Abbey’s Coffee Shop in downtown Frisco, where, we were told, hardly anybody else asked for a sticker.

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Bikes whizzed past the joint, so I can only assume bike commuting is such a part of the culture, folks didn’t need a sticker to commemorate the occasion. Either that or Abbey’s makes its money from dumb tourists like me, while the locals go elsewhere.

Regardless, I woke up Sunday in Lawrence having gone a full week without riding, the longest I’ve not pedaled in I-don’t-know-how-long.

Even last year, when we vacationed in Saugatuck, Mich., I paid way too much to rent a crappy bike — wide, springy seat, cruiser handlebars, ill-fitting — and hammered it up and down the Lake Michigan shoreline for a couple of hours. That was among my best rides of last year.

Sunday, after coming to grips with having returned to reality, my wife shooed the family outside, and immediately I felt like I was home again.

Together, we went for a bike ride.

Comments

gphawk89 5 years, 7 months ago

One of my favorite bike rides in Summit County was riding from the top of Vail pass back to Breckenridge. There used to be a shuttle that would take you and your bike up and drop you off. Not much exercise since it's mostly downhill or flat, but you could make an entire day of it, enjoying a ton of scenery, picnicking or stopping at restaurants along the way, riding the tram in Copper Mountain, etc.

Strange, just this morning I was thinking back on the only time I ever hit 60mph on a bicycle - coming down the mountain pass on the east side of Dillon Lake. Looking back, probably a pretty bad idea, but fun at the time. You usually never consider having your bicycle wheels balanced, but at those speeds it's very noticeable.

pizzapete 5 years, 7 months ago

That fish rack is way cool. Wish Larry was more bike friendly.

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