Ride the Rockies, 2016, Carbondale to Aspen

Ride the Rockies, 2016, Carbondale to Aspen

Ride the Rockies, 2016

402 miles, 30,000 Ft. Vertical, 6 days

Day 1, Carbondale to Aspen, 50 miles, 4,300 Ft. Vertical

Wes Chapman

June 12th, 2016


Mt. Sopris, near Carbondale Co

I did my first Ride the Rockies (RTR) in 1988, two years after the inaugural event in 1986. RTR is a 6-day bike ride across Colorado, with 2,000 participants, sponsored by the Denver Post. This will be my 8th or 9th RTR (memory fails me), with my last being in 2010. In the early years it was easy to fill up a large contingent of fellow travelers – typically 6-8 riders. Over the years, my friends have apparently gotten wise to my outdoor plans, as well as older, so this year on the ride with me is the young, and still vigorous, Steve Sabin – a biking pal from Nashville. Steve has been whipping my sorry old butt into shape over the last couple of months, and with luck I’ll have the stamina to get this one done.


Steve with Mt. Sopris in the background

As noted above, this year is a 402-mile tour from Carbondale to Ft. Collins, and features three back-to-back 85 mile days, and three passes over 12,000 ft. Stops along the way include, Aspen, Copper Mountain (2 days), Grand Lake, Estes Park and Ft. Collins.

RTR is a bit of a rolling circus, with thousands of people, well-staffed and supplied rest stops every 15-20 miles, and major activities in every town we visit along the way. Having 2,000 road weary and ravenous bicyclists show up in these small Colorado towns is kind of like having a plague of locusts descend – we eat everything in sight and then move on.

I always ship my bike out to a local bike shop for assembly for the ride – this year I planned to ship to Aloha Bikes in Carbondale. Due to a mistake at the bike shop in Nashville, the bike was never shipped, and I was potentially in big trouble. The guys at Aloha were terrific – particularly the owner, Darren Broome. They rented me a great new Cervelo, at the same time as fixing all the damage from shipment for what seem to be about half of the riders in the Tour. The place ran with military precision – which is to be expected given Darren’s background as an officer in the US Army.


Darren Broome, when he’s not fixing bikes


Storm blowing in as we come into Aspen


Author coming into Basalt rest stop

Today was a warm up day, but with a couple of really steep, but blessedly short climbs. I always find it difficult to acclimatize for the first couple of days, so I took it easy, but the steep climbs were still a chore. We have been getting a bunch of thunderstorms in the afternoon, and today was no exception. These storms are pretty scary, with lightning and strong winds – along with frequent hail. We had some hail today, and hope that tomorrow is better – we climb Loveland and Fremont Passes tomorrow in an 80-mile day.


Carbondale to Aspen Route


Profile Carbondale to Aspen


Adios, from Carbondale and Aspen

Wes Chapman
Written by Wes Chapman

5 Comment responses

  1. Avatar
    June 12, 2016

    I envy you the scenery, not the riding.
    Congratulations on the pictures.


  2. Avatar
    June 13, 2016

    Wes, I know those roads well. Rode them a couple years back. They were easier riding for me. My BMW GS outperforms your Cervelo on the hills..
    Have a great ride!


  3. Avatar
    June 14, 2016

    Hi Wes:
    Nice commentary on your first day. I am curious to learn how much you love that Cervelo!


  4. Avatar
    June 16, 2016

    I love the blog. Wish I were there.


  5. Avatar
    June 20, 2016

    Wes, keep up the very admirable work.. . in biking & Healthcare both. I’ve helped implement NY State Medicaid & NY State Obama care & am very disappointed with the insurance industry focus of both programs. A patient is treated as a billing opportunity first, and a human last, if ever. Great, inspirational photos!