30 June – 11 July 2022
50 miles or so
I was back where it all began. Back to where I felt like I belonged for the first time in my life. Back to where I found people like me. Back to where I rode every night for hours. Back to where the bike became a lifestyle.
Oh, I have always been a cyclist. It has been my favourite activity since I first learned to ride at age 5. And I’d ridden pretty much every day from Year 7 onwards. While living at a public boarding school in my last years of high school, I practiced flatland freestyle tricks every day and rode my BMX bike all over that town, neighbouring towns and far out into the country. If I wasn’t studying, I was on the bike.
So I’ve always known the joy and freedom of riding. But it was in Ft Collins, CO while attending CSU, where bikes became a lifestyle. Bikes were already a big thing for Ft Collins back in 1994. There were already heaps of bike paths and bike lanes on most roads. And the number of bike rack spaces on campus probably already out-numbered car park spaces. It was a bike town then and I fit right in. I didn’t own a car, so I did everything by bike and never once felt like I wanted a car.
I met guys who rode, who improved my skills and who challenged me to push my limits. I met some wonderful friends whom I still keep in touch with today. My uni years were probably my golden years, when every part of life was full and in the exact right proportions. No worries, no real responsibilities, no concerns about the future – just work hard, play hard, study hard and party a little bit (I’ve always been a nerd so I liked studying more than partying!). Physically, emotionally, spiritually – life was full and fun and easy.
So when I needed a place to sit out 7 days of isolation to ensure I didn’t pick up covid on the way to America and then pass that on to my parents… it made a lot of sense to do that in Ft Collins rather than Denver, Colorado Springs or elsewhere. Plus, I could see a couple of friends who still live there that week, too.
The holiday rental advertised that it had a couple of cruiser bikes you could use.
Well, the better fitting one had a front wheel that was terribly out of true. The lump on each revolution was like riding over a large rock with each roll. Once was enough. Something was rubbing somewhere, too, so that bike was very hard work.
So the smaller bike didn’t fit me well at all, but it was more rideable. They were not really cruiser bikes, but rather old Schwinn single-speed clunkers. But if it rolls, I’ll give it a ride.
And so I rode that old clunker all over town. The first foray was out to my friend’s sister’s house for a fourth of July party. It was hard work on the hills but nothing fell off the bike and it rolled okay, so I figured I could take that thing on a longer ride. And so I did. 25 miles here and 20 miles there and little rides in between. I checked out a bunch of the bike paths that didn’t exist in parts of town that didn’t exist when I lived in Ft Collins in the ‘90s.
During my ‘isolation’ week, I was fortunate to be able to catch up a few times with my old roommate and her family outdoors and another friend I knew from working up at the uni’s mountain campus. Good times and so good to check in with friends in person after several years.
My parents came from Salida to pick me up. They stayed with me at the holiday rental and we went to our old favourite restaurants and did a couple hikes along the Poudre River Trail. My old roommate and her family hosted a BBQ for us one night, too. It was a really relaxed start to a trip and 10 low-key days were just what I needed after the mad dash to pack up my unit, get everything into storage and finish up all the stuff at work before flying out 5 days after finishing up my job.
If you ever have the chance to check out Ft Collins, grab the opportunity. The cycling options there are immense and the town still has a great vibe and is super, super bike friendly. It’s one of only five cities in the US considered a ‘platinum’ level bike town by the League of American Bicyclists.
After my time in Fort Collins, I have had lots of opportunities for hiking and biking with my parents in Salida and surrounds. I’ll try to get those bits of fun documented here over the next week or so and get this journal caught up. I did not have the USB-C to A cable that I needed to access my camera photos, but now have one.
My brother and his girlfriend come to visit for two weeks on Friday – so the hiking and biking opportunities will diminish. My brother is not an outdoorsy sort.
I will then go to Denver on the 10th for a touristy weekend and more friend catch-ups before I fly out on the 13th of September and head home to head out on the bike. Yippeeeeee!