Letter: A great story from riding Vail Pass
I’ve wanted to ride the west side of Vail Pass for a long time. Last year, about the only time it rained was when I planned to ride the route. With the rain came a sudden cold front and I wimped out. This early October, I had a carefree day and a way to get to Vail. I packed a lunch, turned the radio to the Colorado Public Radio indie station and relaxed on the drive to enjoy the day on the Vail Pass bike path.
At the Lionshead parking structure, parking was free and uncrowned. You know the parking structure is nice when the public restroom is spotless, music is piped in, and you can see nearby aspen trees from the open rafters.
Marked bike paths on modern roads take you from the parking structure up to the start of the climb. An early incline just past Gore Creek is noticeably steep, but soon levels out to a modest grade. The fall colors are spectacular with yellow and red foliage falling on the bike path. Not many riders on this beautiful autumn Monday. The temperature was perfect for a fall ride in Colorado. A few more relatively steep inclines before ending at the Vail summit rest stop.
At the rest stop, I leaned my bike against the CDOT kiosk and before I could sit down on one the benches to eat an energy bar, someone said “hello young man” (I’m not young). I said, hello back and we started talking. He was from East Vail, in good shape with an infectious smile and blue eyes, and said that he tries to ride the summit 15-20 times per year. I replied that this was my first time and that it was a goal I’ve had for a long time. He proclaimed that he would like to make the ride on his 75th birthday. I remarked, “it’s good to have a long-term goal.” I then curiously asked him, “when do you turn 75?” And he responded with a wink “in five days.”
One the best days I’ve had riding solo in a long time.