Saturday, June 16, 2007

Community spirit

It’s Ride the Rockies Eve and the excitement’s building. This is my first multi-day cycling event and I’m definitely on sensory overload. There are so many people of all ages, obvious abilities (one cyclist will be powering up the mountain with an artificial leg) and not-to-obvious fitness levels. You could make people watching an art form at one of these events. There are people who travel thousands of miles by themselves to Ride the Rockies. There are families. There are couples. There are groups of friends. And all have a story to tell. Perhaps that's the most fascinating aspect of this event for me so far. I love hearing the stories...of where people are from, how many of these kinds of events they have [or haven't] completed, their gearing ratio....the list goes on. BTW, the Bento Box is apparently a hot item here in the Rockies. We stopped for air at a local bike shop this morning and, seeing our Bento boxes, the manager exclaimed "Where did you get those!?!?" Apparently someone had come into the shop just minutes before looking for a Bento Box and the store owner had no idea what the rider was asking about.

Then there’s Sherpaville, The Tent City. OK, I haven’t actually slept in the tent yet, but there’s a weird sense of instant community that's taken hold so quickly. Keri and I were one of the first cyclists to check in with Theo the Sherpa, so he gave us the first tent in line. Our address for the next seven nights: L1. Not exactly Wysteria Lane, but it will have to do. Tonight, we’re across the lane from a gal from Mount Dora who’s here by herself. She trained by riding the West Orange Trail for the past couple of months. Next to her is a man from Golden, Colo., about an hour South of Frisco. This is his first multi-day event, too. We haven’t met our other 1,000 or so neighbors, but it’s only the first night. By the end of the festivities back here in Frisco next Saturday, I’m sure we’ll have chatted with all of them at least once.

After setting up tent (OK, the Sherpa service set up the tent, I simply organized my gear for tonight and tomorrow), we showered in the high school locker room and got ready for dinner. The winds were kicking up and thunderstorms were approaching from two sides over the mountains. I’m writing this from the Backcountry Brewery. And yes, I’m having a beer. In fact, I just ordered a second. It could be a cold and wet night.

Tomorrow, we leave at 7 a.m. for Steamboat Springs – 99 miles that starts with a 500-foot climb right out of the box. Talk to you again on the backside.