In true Orlosky Fashion we were late getting started. We planned to leave the day before, but weather delayed us. We spent the afternoon prior in a parking garage packing the bikes for 4 hours and had crap spread everywhere trying to decide what to take and not to take. When it was all said and done, it was wet and cold and we decided to get a good nights sleep in a hotel and leave in the morning. Also, great bikepacking and general travel hack – you can leave your car at a hotel for several weeks and no one seems to care. I’m a fan of asking forgiveness not permission and it hasn’t failed us yet.
So we left the hotel and rode through Fort Collins to the trailhead where we were to begin… and it was closed due to wet condions. We took it in stride though and quickly made a detour which turned out to be pretty fun as it led us to a river walk path along a creek. During route planning, I tried to stick to dirt/gravel roads which inevitably leads to locked gates and no trespassing signs. We decided on a policy of if it’s not locked, we will go through a gate and try not to jump any fences unless absolutely necessary. We hit a few roadblocks and had to backtrack, but that is half the fun.
We could do an entire blog post (and probably will) on all the incredibly generous and friendly people we met. Our favorite thing about bicycle travel is probably the way strangers treat you along the way. Something about bicycles is non-threatening and interesting to people because everyone used to ride a bike when they were a kid. Also, having big tires and 30ish pounds of gear strapped to your ride is a great conversation starter.
We planned to do about 30-40 miles a day but had the openness in our schedule to allow for random stops. On the very first day, after the third detour due to closed gates, we passed a guy and his son riding up a hill on a dirt road. The boy was picking wild plums on the side of the road and they were going about the same speed as us even though the kid was about 7 years old. After an impromptu drag race with his brother on a quad, we passed a sign with a bear on it which caught our attention. We looked at each other and said, “Is this a winery?!?!”
We stopped in for a glass, which turned into three with the owner’s brother David. We talked to Bill (the owner) and him for hours and ended up staying there all night. They generously let us sample the good stuff and cracked open some champagne at the end of the evening. We ended up accepting Bill’s offer to crash in their barn (The nicest barn I’ve ever been in) and slept like babies. Mileage for the day was a grand total of 11, but we met amazing folks and learned alot about Colorado Wines. Check out Ten Bears Winery if you are in Norther Colorado. I promise it is worth the short drive into the hills.
The next day we navigated our way through beautiful Colorado plains heading towards the Red Mountain Open Space. We got caught by a few thunderstorms and learned that the middle of the plains of Colorado are not the best place to be during a storm. We were going to stop, but had nothing better to do so like Forrest Gump, we just kept right on going. Eventually at nightfall we hit the Red Mountain Open Space which apparently does not allow camping despite no signs or warnings notifying you. The night was beautiful and we watched for a meteor shower that my dad told us about. We caught a couple shooting stars, filled up our water bottles from the creek and hit the sack. The next moring we got a late start and were greeted while packing up by a ranger who informed us we weren’t allowed to camp. We said we were sorry and continued packing until her asshat of a partner came along and decided to give us a $50 citation for camping too close to a stream. (The stream we were drinking out of.) I’ll keep the ranting to a minimum, but we were pissed! We were on bicycles and left not a speck of trash or evidence we were ever there. I understand there are rules, but part of being a reasonable enforcer of the rules is understanding why the rules exist. Needless to say we are not paying the ticket and will be fighting it to the bitter end. Even if we lose, at least we can waste some of this idiot’s time.