The Angry Singlespeeder: Rocky Mountain High with Uncle Rico & Friends

Opinion
The ASS shares his favorite and not-so-favorite towns during a month-long trip to colorful Colorado.

The ASS getting a high five during the clunker crit at the inaugural Grand Junction Off-Road. Photo courtesy of Kitsbow.

Editor’s Note: The Angry Singlespeeder is a collection of mercurial musings from contributing editor Kurt Gensheimer. In no way do his maniacal diatribes about all things bike oriented represent the opinions of Mtbr, RoadBikeReview, or any of their employees, contractors, janitorial staff, family members, household pets, or any other creature, living or dead. You can submit questions or comments to Kurt at singlespeeder@consumerreview.com. And make sure to check out Kurt’s previous columns.

After nearly a month spent traveling around Colorado, I am back home in Reno with the fragrance of smoke filling my nostrils thanks to the Rim Fire near Yosemite, now the fourth largest fire in California history.

Raging party atop Independence Pass.

Amidst the smell of campfire permeating everything in the house, I think back on all that happened in Colorado over the last month.

 
Tim Johnson with Uncle Rico donning the disco ball helmet.

I somehow survived nearly 240 miles and 40,000 feet of climbing on a singlespeed in six days during the Breck Epic, got crammed in the cargo hold of a Honda Element with a giant hairy yeti in Leadville, slept in a teepee in Vail, drank beet juice until I wanted to vomit in Breckenridge, drank whiskey until I did vomit in Breckenridge, almost rode directly into an 1,800 pound moose in Breckenridge, got passed by an elderly woman on the bike path in Aspen wearing a t-shirt that said “Sea Level is for Sissies”, participated in a raging, oxygen-depraved roadside party atop Independence Pass at 12,000 feet with my buddy Uncle Rico, ate the best Italian meal I’ve ever had outside of Italy in Grand Junction, participated in my first enduro race in Durango and was on national television with a giant mirror ball on my head running beside guys who get paid to ride bikes and wear colorful lycra.

But most importantly, I got to reconnect with old friends, make new friends and discover new places and towns that I’ve never seen before – all while riding my bike.

Colorado has a remarkable cross-section of terrain, geology and vegetation. There are rides in Colorado where you can start in high alpine aspen groves at more than 10,000 feet and finish in high desert amidst cactus at 5,000 feet. Although there’s still so much more in Colorado I have yet to discover, here’s a short take on the towns I visited and what I thought of them.

Every Wednesday night in Durango during the summer there’s a group ride or race. This one was an enduro.

Leadville

At 10,200 feet elevation, Leadville is the highest altitude incorporated city in America. It has a rough, ready and rustic mountain mining town charm that’s hard to resist, but the weather there is anything but irresistible. Cobalt gray skies seemed to always be present in Leadville – especially in the afternoons – and a 75-degree day is considered record-breaking heat. I can’t imagine how oppressive this place is in January. In the few short months you can actually ride, the Colorado Trail to Twin Lakes is simply magical.

Yeah, it’s great if you’re acclimated to the altitude.

Perhaps the most awe striking observation I made in Leadville was the Leadville Trail Series store. That’s right, the billion-dollar company that owns the Leadville name, Lifetime Fitness, has a year-round store selling Leadville-branded everything from coffee mugs to underwear. A month after seeing it, I’m still confused. I’m afraid the Leadville Dirt Fondo is about to jump the shark, if it hasn’t already. Cool place to visit for a day or two, but not a place I could live.

Leadville is so popular the race has its own apparel and trinket store.

Breckenridge

I spent a majority of my time in Breck, about 10 days, and fell in love with the riding here. Trails everywhere. The town is fully behind cycling, with well-marked trails right from downtown and an awesome bike path that goes from Breck up to Frisco, Silverthorne and Dillon. Breck has a laid-back, unpretentious character that other ski towns like Beaver Creek and Vail lack. It’s very family-friendly town, but at 9,500 feet, the weather is a little less friendly.

Breckenridge has incredible trails and lots of family activities, but it’s just a bit too touristy.

My main gripe on Breck is that it’s uber touristy. Definitely the most touristy town I visited while in Colorado. I know, I know. I was a tourist too. But if I were looking for a place to live in Colorado, I would probably pass on Breck. The nonstop throng of people wasting good money on worthless trinkets and tacky t-shirts would claw at my last nerve.

About the author: Kurt Gensheimer

Kurt Gensheimer thinks the bicycle is man’s most perfect invention. He firmly believes ‘singlespeed’ is a compound word. He sometimes wears a disco ball helmet. He is also known as Genshammer. He is a Gemini and sleeps outside in a hammock.


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  • Mr. P says:

    I’ve lived in a lot of places around the world and can say that none of those places you hammered on deserve the judgement and condemnation that you provided.

    Live a place for a while, then you can judge. Even then, it’s personal to you only.

    And home is where you make it.

    That said, Vail does get a shout out for allowing drivers of new Mercedes distracted by “new car smell” to run over bicyclists without repercussions:
    http://www.everymantri.com/everyman_triathlon/2010/12/in-vail-colorado-money-talks-and-hit-and-run-driver-walks.html

    P

  • Scott says:

    Do you think we could turn Sandy-ass Bishop CA into a decent Mountain Bike town??? I’m tied of driving to Tahoe.

  • Angry Singlespeeder says:

    Yo Mr P,

    Judgement? Perhaps. Condemnation? I don’t think I condemned any place I wrote about. Don’t get me wrong, they were all fun places to visit, I was just giving a first impression, completely biased and largely uneducated opinion of these different towns based on what I like and dislike in a town. I’m sure the towns I gave less than glowing opinions of are nice, but I pretty much know within a couple hours of being somewhere if I’m gonna like it or not.

    - ASS

  • stalking_horse says:

    I enjoyed this article. Thanks for having an opinion. Most “review” articles are so watered down, they just say everything is good. I’d be interested in hearing your take on other towns in the Mountain West, particularly Utah, AZ and ID.

    For example, I think Boise is underrated, Sun Valley is overrated, and Park City is incredible.

  • ginsu says:

    I think its good to be honest about how a place makes you feel. Too many towns say they welcome visitors…but the really only like people that have money to spend. Well the America I grew up in is about a lot more than shopping…good food, good people and having a good time is what it’s all about…I’m really sick of the consumer tourist trap places that just want you to buy their overpriced crap you don’t need. I’ll buy something when I need it…don’t need any more T-shirts, or any of that tourist junk, jeez.

  • Bob L says:

    Enjoyed your rundown of the various towns. However, as a try to be outdoorsman I appreciate the seasons Summer AND Winter. Love mtb, but also love skiing
    Therefore, I don’t consider winter weather in Breck, frisco, etc. horrid

  • SLP999 says:

    I simply love ready your articles while I eat lunch. Figures, there’s always some shmuck that has to give their two-cents and whine like a bitch that pissed her pants too wasted on Yeager! You didn’t judge or condemn the towns you visited…just supplied your opinion and observations! Keep on wiggling that pen my brotha! We love ya in So Cal!

  • BKM says:

    I’m a CO native, but I’ve lived elsewhere for several years now (since 2006), so in some ways I think I have both the resident and the visitor perspective. I think you hit the nail on the head with pretty much all of these. I’m from around Boulder, and while it will always be home, it definitely deserves all the jabs you took at it! If I could move back anywhere in CO it would be Golden (I love Salida and Durango, but they’re not really brimming with jobs in my field there). Overall a solid article! Glad you didn’t pull punches.

  • Professore says:

    Ugh, another stereotypical review of Boulder. I guess we chose to see what we want to see. Too bad you missed seeing all the families enjoying the completely free Valmont Bike Park (thank you city of Boulder). Talk to someone at BMA next time you visit.

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