Day 1 2017

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Day 1 of Bike For Backpacks 2017 is behind us, and everyone survived the 42 miles from Glenwood Springs to Aspen. Five riders rode into Aspen yesterday at about 2pm, and a sixth joined us a few hours later.

Being the resident camera geek for The CE Shop Foundation, I wanted to capture better footage of the ride itself, so it made sense for me to join at least a portion of the ride this year. The problem with that plan is that the other riders climb these mountains with far more ease than I do, and they’ve all been road biking for a long time. Coming from a mountain biking world, my rental road bike very quickly fulfilled the bike shop guy’s prediction of making my butt very sore.

At about 30 miles into our ride, my bike insisted on veering to the right. I tried to tell it that no, we should really stay on the path, but it’s a stubborn beast and before long my front tire slipped off the pavement and on to the dirt, tumbling over and doing some damage to my leg and shoulder. My helmet took a hit, and thankfully Michael behind me saw it happen and was able to avoid running me over.

With no broken bones, we sprayed some water on my new battle wounds and took off again, tackling the last 12 miles. Fall colors have started to dot the landscape, and the ride is definitely prettiest just before you descend into Aspen, where our RV was already parked. A man from Louisiana gave us the leftover pizza from a just-ended birthday party in the park, and then a couple walking their giant Alaskan Malamute informed us that bears frequent the area each evening.

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That night saw us grabbing beers at a local bar that happened to be host to a lot of rugby players. They came from all over the world for a tournament this weekend in Aspen, and when we first sat down, a table adjacent to us assumed we were also rugby players. As we marveled at how rugby players and cyclists don’t exactly have the same body type, and thought that maybe we should take up the sport, Michael Turra explained to the group what it is we’re riding for.

The result was $80 in cash, and ten minutes later one of the men told us how he believes that everyone born in this country deserves the same chance at success. He gave us another $100 in cash, and the group departed with our sincere thanks.

We spoke with several rugby players in the increasingly-noisy bar, and on the way home we managed to see three bears. One was just a cub with its mom, and the other was a few blocks away trying its best to get into a dumpster.

In just a few short hours, Day 2 of Bike For Backpacks will commence. The cyclists (without me, this time) will travel from Aspen to Leadville, tackling the formidable 20-mile climb over Independence Pass. My camera will be along for the journey, so stay tuned here for more info as our epic 226-mile ride continues.

Donate to the cause! Just $4 feeds a family of four for the weekend, and while we don’t expect everyone to give $180 in cash, a little bit goes a long way.

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