Sunday, October 23, 2011

Why I Like Broncos Sundays...



Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves
-Henry David Thoreau


Don't get me wrong...I like the Denver Broncos as much as everyone else. Nothing seems like a more enjoyable use of Sunday than getting together with family and friends to tailgate and watch the Broncos play.....except for one thing.....exploring the world on two wheels! Autumn is my favorite time of year to get out and ride. It’s a time of year to get out and ride for the joy of riding…no power intervals, no speed work, no (okay...maybe a little) intensity. It's a time to escape the hustle and bustle of life, clear my mind, reflect on the past week, and contemplate the future days ahead... Broncos Sundays, in particular, are my favorite autumn days to ride, as Broncos games usually mean lighter than unusual traffic, making for a more enjoyable weekend riding experience...




I venture out on for my late Sunday morning ride, deciding to tackle the Lookout Mountain-Bergen Park-Squaw Pass/Echo Lake loop one last time for the season. It's just a matter of weeks before it will be too chilly to venture over 11,000 feet for this season. There's still a bit of chill in the air from the previous night. The late morning autumn breezes are a bit brisk, but refreshing. After riding a few miles from home, I realize that I forgot my cell phone. "It must have been a subconscious decision," I think to myself. "I hope that noone really needs to get a hold of me today!" I pause momentarily, smiling selfishly, and then continue riding...

I spin my way up Lookout Mountain to the west of Golden, my legs still trying to find a descent cadence. Lookout Mountain Road is nearly deserted except for a few vehicles returning from church or late morning brunch. “The road is all mine!” I think to myself.




I ride through Bergen Park and turn west onto Squaw Pass Road. The scenery along Squaw Pass is stunning! All along the pass, hillsides are draped in golden aspen trees, preparing to drop their leaves as the winter season approaches. I search for elk along the base of Bergen Peak, but the park is deserted. There is still nary a car along the road. "Everyone's at home getting ready for the game. How can everyone sit at home, watch TV, and waste a beautiful day like today?" I think to myself. "Their loss is my gain!" I continue to grind my way up the pass. As I ride, I image the excitement of crowd at Mile High Stadium—Broncos fans in a frenzy—praying that Tebow will lead the Broncos to a Super Bowl victory, following in the steps of John Elway.



I pause frequently to snap some digital photos and enjoy the autumn scenery. As I ride past the Squaw Pass turnoff, I observe an elderly couple shooting some photos of the groves of aspen along the road. "Nice day for a ride!" they holler at me. I smile back and reply, "It's a great day to ride! I always enjoy riding when the Broncos are playing...traffic is almost always light. I have to roads to myself!"



As I continue to venture up the pass, a brisk gust of wind blows golden leaves off of a patch of aspen trees along the road, tossing the leaves into the air like confetti. I glance down at the road, which is littered in golden aspen leaves. It reminds me a bit of the confetti that the Broncos fans are likely throwing at the game..."This is nature's way of celebrating another winning season!" I think to myself. If only Mother Nature could send some luck the Broncos' way...



I reach the top of Juniper Pass and make the brisk plunge to Echo Lake. I stop briefly at the Echo Lake Lodge, which is all boarded up for the season...I stop to take some more photos, hoping that someone can snap a photo of me and my bike...I look around…there are a few people fishing at Echo Lake, but there is hardly a person in sight! I lean my bike against a small cluster of golden aspen trees and snap a photo of my bike...a little way to remember this Broncos Sunday ride.



I look up toward the Mt. Evans Road. The gate is pulled across the road with a sign that reads, "Closed for the Season." I devilishly think to myself, "Not it I can help it!" I promptly walk my bike around the gate and begin one final ascent of Mt. Evans to Summit Lake. As I climb up the Mt. Evans Road, I realize that I'm all by myself now...not a car or person on the road. This is what I've waited for all season! I have the Mt. Evans Road all to myself...As I ascend the peak, I see a few marmots poke their heads through large cracks in the asphalt along the road. The stunning views of the mountain vistas along the Mt. Evans road never cease to amaze me! As the road rises above Echo Lake, entire hillsides are ablaze with golden aspen.


I reach Summit Lake. The winds are blowing briskly, but temperatures remain quite mild for this time of year. A new fence has been constructed along the east border of the lake..."Very picturesque," I think to myself, but I wonder if it will withstand the fury of Old Man Winter when he finally makes his return...I glance up toward the summit of Mt. Evans—another 1300 feet of climbing and five miles to go—but decide to not make the final ascent to the top of the peak. I take one final glance around at the Mt. Evans wilderness tundra for the season, and then turn around to make the final descent home. I descend the Mt. Evans road, make the short climb to the top of Juniper Pass, and begin the long descent down Squaw Pass Road. While descending Squaw Pass, I am passed by two cars in 18 miles.....the roads remain deserted except for me and my bike!


I ride through Bergen Park and Genesee, eventually reaching the top of Lookout Mountain. From there, I begin my final descent home. As I make exhilarating descent down Lookout Mountain Road, I stop for a few moments at the Buffalo Bill turnoff.  I gaze down at the city of Golden below. The mid-afternoon October sun has started to make its plunge beyond the mountains to the west, casting long shadows over of the western Denver suburbs. I blaze down Lookout Mountain Road, a big ear-to-ear grin on my face as I barely have to tap my brakes. No traffic whatsoever. The road is still all mine!

I ride into downtown Golden. Denver Broncos fans are starting to spill out into the streets from the Buffalo Rose and Woody's Pizzaria. The word is out: the Broncos finally won (and the game was actually in Miami J!) In spite of their victory and excitement for the Broncos’ success, I’m still grateful that I didn’t spend my afternoon watching the game...



This is why I like riding on Broncos Sundays:

With the roads free of traffic, it's a chance to escape the realities in our lives and “get lost” in the world around us, at least for a few hours…

It's a chance to explore some new terrain and re-explore some of our old “stomping grounds.”

It's a chance to rekindle some friendships with some old riding comrades…

It's a chance to reflect on our lives, including our good fortunes as well as our misfortunes…

It's a chance to remember the ones we have lost and the ones who have lost so much...

It's a chance to celebrate the end of a season and recover both mentally and physically...

It’s a chance to re-invent ourselves and prepare for the future as Mother Nature prepares to wipe the slate clean and start all over again...


MVL

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