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Fools & Gold in Colorado

Updated: Feb 26, 2020

You can imagine our excitement as we cruise down historic Route 66 headed west via Texas and New Mexico then North to arrive in Colorado, home to many a Wild West tale & littered with ghost towns from a pioneering gold rush past. We travel 800 miles in 2 days with great anticipation of what awaits. Rocky Mountains yes but oh so much more. The promised land made ever sweeter with the expectation we will purchase mountain bikes to complete our road-trip package.

Fools! 800 miles in 2 days in 90 degree F. heat. Cue blow out 9 miles away from base camp (Pueblo State Park, South East Colorado). Changing a tyre on the very skinny shoulder of the interstate with traffic zooming by at >70 miles/hr is not cool. We get the hell outta there in double quick time and move to set up camp where Glenn manages to slam his finger in the car door immediately upon arrival. Fool! Exhausted from our Route 66 escapades, we take the next day off and do no more than acquire a tonne of reading material from the visitors centre and start to plan how we will spend our first 2 weeks in Colorado.

Amped and ready to go, we make an early start the following day to head to Colorado Springs to look at mountain bikes. We get into the car (now christened Louise and her partner in crime, Thelma the pop up) and she won’t start. WTF is going on? I had been meaning to call our roadside assistance anyway to see if we still had a current membership, turns out we do, thats good, but they can’t actually get anyone to come out to us? Fools! Thank goodness we have phone service at this state park. We call a ranger to see if we can get a jump start and when that fails, a local mechanic recommended by a trusty google search. He sends a tow truck to pick us up and take a look. They are a lovely locally run family business, they even run us into town to look at bikes while they look at the car. Turns out to be a simple fix, a corroded battery terminal, and we’re back on the road. It has put us back a day and a hundred bucks but at least the roadside assistance will cover the cost of the tow truck (not that I rate the service mind).

Shaken but not deterred, we finally make it to Colorado Springs the following day to look at bikes. We had pretty much expected to walk into a few bike shops, take some test rides and purchase a bike the same day. Wrong you fools! It is end of season and very little 2018 stock is available on the floor, they all have to be special ordered and 2019 models are not yet released. We put some bikes on order and begin the anxious 1 week wait. Oh well, there is plenty more to do in the meantime, we visit The Royal Gorge and The Great Sand Dunes National Park over the next couple of days, and take a rest day to swim at the local Pueblo Reservoir. It’s a little frustrating as we are surrounded my awesome mountain biking trails everywhere we go. Fools!

Next on the agenda, Pikes Peak, Garden of the Gods and Manitou Springs where the aquifers provide the town with naturally carbonated mineral water, each well tasting different to the next, how unique! Hop in the car and damn Louise won’t start again. WTF is going on now! We call the mechanics again and they’re equally baffled having fully tested the battery on the previous occasion, they agree to send the tow truck out again at their cost. We wait all day and nothing. When I call them back to find out what the delay is we find out there has been a huge pile up on the interstate and all the tow trucks are there. We can’t get the car fixed till the following day, it eventuates that one cell of the battery was dead (giving a false positive on the test) and the whole thing needs to be replaced. 3 days & 300 bucks now wasted on a bloody battery! Not happy but what can you do? Just suck it up and move on. Not to mention the same day Louise dies for the second time, we find out our bikes have been delivered to the shop and are ready to test ride. The car can’t be fixed soon enough, at 4pm the following day we are finally on our way to test ride some bikes and walk out of REI at 9pm the proud new owners of 2 little beauties and some roof racks to boot. Quite a dent in the budget but there’s gold in them hills you fools!

Pikes Peak, Garden of the Gods and Manitou Springs wait another day (lucky they’re not going anywhere) and we’re lucky to make it before they close Pikes Peak for the Winter season in a couple weeks time (yes it is already Winter at 14000 feet). We spend another day test riding the bikes on the very technically challenging Pueblo reservoir trails and I witnessed Glenn crash (his shiny new bike) for the first time in 10 years, fool! We’re sorry to be leaving so soon without being able to ride the infamous Red Rock Canyon trails, alas these fools are outta time. Chatfield State Park and Rocky Mountain National Park awaits and doesn’t disappoint.

The drive West from Denver through the Rocky Mountains to Grand Junction is equally awesome, if we’d known about it, we would have stopped in White River National Forrest for sure, it is absolutely gorgeous. Instead we make camp at Vega State Park at 8000 feet, high altitude with low attitude, & the cooler air is a welcome relief. We’re in the Mesa County rich in biodiversity, we visit the Palisade Peach festival, Grand Mesa Scenic Byway, Land of the Lakes and the Colorado National Monument. Once again there is so much gold to discover and these fools regret not having enough time to explore the many mountain biking trails available (Kokopelli Loops, Lunch Loop Trails, 18 Road Trails, Palisade Rim Trail to name a few) but get out and ride the local Mesa trails for one exhausting day at least. Riding at altitude is even harder than hiking at altitude, a real heart stopper and the trails pretty thrilling too with an exhausting climb (more hike than bike) followed by a ripper down, with drop offs and switch backs that have us grinning for days, and sleeping all afternoon. Heavy rains and storms prevent us from visiting the Black Canyon of the Gunnison Gorge, and so we leave Colorado wanting more, more gold you fools.

Next stop, Moab in Utah, mountain biking Mecca, gateway to 5 Utah National Parks, home of Robbers Roost and The Book Cliffs and the location for the filming of Thelma and Louise and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid to name a few! We have no plans to move too quickly, these fools need all the gold that sightseeing AND mountain biking have to offer, but it’s a race against time before Winter and the ski season descends on the mountains in Canyon Lands.

So stay tuned as we #keepitreal #keepexploring #beyond40. For all our up to the minute adventures follow us on instagram or twitter @gntonefortheroad and feel free to like, share, comment or contact me of more info.

GnTonefortheroad Travel Tips:

  1. Internationals can purchase an annual National Park Pass and don’t let any fool tell you otherwise.

  2. Hike one of the many (less popular) trails in Rocky Mountain National Park at dawn or dusk and get an up close and personal wildlife experience you’ll never forget. We did the Colorado River Trail to Lulu City in the late afternoon.

  3. Hike the Zapata Falls just before the entrance to the Great Sand Dunes National Park, it is absolutely stunning and an easy hike

  4. Don't pay to walk the Royal Gorge Bridge, you can hike or bike one of the many free trails along the rim and get the same experience without the crowds!

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