Friday, November 27, 2009

The Mile High City

Continuing our trek into the urban environment of Denver was easier than expected. The highway/freeway that we used to gain entry was busy but had a nice, wide shoulder. As we drew nearer to the city center we paused to refill our tanks with an abundance of samples from Costco. Mmm-hmm. We had been in contact with Andrew, a fellow who lived downtown and ran a bicycle collective. He was willing to host us and we were excited to meet his roommates and check out the surrounding metropolis. Upon arrival we were greeted warmly by Andrew and Scotty. Andrew showed us around their garage that contained a vast array of tools and a staggering amount of bicycles. We later found out just how many folks Andrew and Scotty helped out daily, working on their bicycles and so forth. They played it off like it was no big deal, though I know the community appreciates their skills immensely and they are keeping a ton of cars off the road. While we were whipping up some dinner I was distracted by one of the roommates named Allender - he was out in the garage doing something on his bicycle. I wandered down to check it out and got a whole lot more than I bargained for. Allender ended up being one of the most talented flatland bicyclists in the country. He was doing track stands (balancing on two wheels, not touching the ground) with no hands like they were nothing. Then things started getting really crazy - while still balancing, he started reaching through the frame and moving all about on the bike, at times sitting down within the triangle of the frame. This picture gives a little insight into Allender’s outrageous skills - I assure you, he is NOT touching the ground. Unbelievable.

The next day Clancy, Joe, and myself set out to explore what Denver had to offer. We walked our bikes down 16th street, the pedestrian and bus thoroughfare, steeping in the city atmosphere. It’s interesting the different vibes you get from areas when you slow down and take time to listen. For instance, Boston feels different than Chicago, New York is a world away from Philadelphia, etc. Anyway, Denver had a good feel to it. After wandering the strip and checking out some architecture we headed down to the Auraria Campus, home to three Denver colleges. The walkways were bustling with students and activity. All this roaming about eventually made us hungry (and thirsty!) so we opted to grab a bite and head down to the Great Divide Brewing Company. This award winning establishment gave tours of their small operation which was a definite plus. After the tour we sampled several of their taps and each decided on our favorite pint. I selected their “Yeti” stout, one of the most delicious dark beers I have tasted to date. Luckily the fun for the evening was just getting started. We returned to Andrew’s place and made a store run in preparation for a get-together later that night. Clancy and Andrew acquired a “dirty 30” of Pabst and Joe and I went out for groceries. As night closed in, people filled the backyard and we started a fire in the pit out back. A jolly time was had by all as we talked bicycles and partook of more Pabst than necessary.

In the morning, Andrew offered us a Denver tour which we gladly accepted. The day started with the best breakfast we had eaten all trip from a restaurant called the Watercourse. Everything was homemade - from the bread, to the preserves, to the most amazing home fries I have ever tasted. They even produced the ketchup in-house, incredible! Needless to say my eggs were cooked to perfection. With full bellies, Andrew led us downtown on some great bike routes. He asked us if we wanted to bomb 18th street. Sure, why not? From the top of the hill we picked up speed and began catching light after light for over 20 blocks. I didn’t look down at my speedometer as we weaved through traffic but I can tell you that we were moving along at a decent clip. When we got to the bottom I only had one question - can we do that again!? From here we dropped by Coors Field (pic) and Union Station before stopping in at Cycle Analyst, the bike shop where Scotty works. Scotty gave us a full tour of the establishment, even the buildings in back. I lost count of how many rooms of parts, frames, forks, and wheels we wandered though. There was enough hardware to build an army of cycles. Hats off to Scotty for sharing his workplace and knowledge. After Scotty got off work we all met up and had dinner at the Vine street Pub. More good food and beer, oh dear! I could get used to this. That night we stayed up late and socialized some more, attempting to put off the fact that our train was set to leave early the next morning. We said our sad goodbyes and hit the sack. We felt like we were leaving home.

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