Day 27- Idaho Springs, CO

Posted: August 24, 2010 in Colorado

Leaving Denver was hard after a week of relaxation, fun, and riding around a real city. But the road was calling and our budget was getting stretched from all of the indulging, so it was time to carry on.
The rain that had been following us since entering New Mexico had abated during our stay in Denver, but started up again the day we left. Typical. It was gray and drizzly, and made for a very annoying climb out of town. The winds were the real culprit in slowing down the ride- if there’s one thing I absolutely can not stand, it’s a strong crosswind when there is no real shoulder to ride on.
There were some wonderful downhills once we started getting further from the city though, including a marked 6% grade.

The sign over the highway showed the grade and length, we were on the frontage road.

As soon as we finished up the most awesome of the downhills we encountered that day, we got to jump onto a bike path that would take us all the way into the next town. The path was awesome- it was the beautiful, unruly cousin of the Platte River Trail that we took on the way into Denver. Slightly less maintained, more overgrown, but completely empty the entire way.

We made it into the outskirts of Idaho Springs right as the first few raindrops started to hit us. We ducked into a gas station and Jon asked where we could find some good, cheap, local food. This would be the question that would lead us to meeting one of the coolest people I have ever met, Brian. He told us to hit up Mangia!, the Italian restaurant where he works as a cook. We headed down that way, but detoured to a bike shop before eating. The shop was closed, so we hung out for a minute before going back to the restaurant.

While hanging out, Brian popped up again and we talked more in depth with him about the trip and what we were up to. He offered us a place to crash for the night, which ended up carrying another hidden benefit- it would give Jon the chance to climb Mt. Evans (which is the highest paved road in America, leading to the top of a 14,000 ft. peak). Brian’s house was just up the road from Echo Lake, the entrance to Mt. Evans Rd. We thought that he had missed the chance once we left Denver, and here it was, literally falling in his lap. We accepted, and Brian told us to hurry up and get down to Mangia! for happy hour, and that he would see us in a bit.

Full, happy tummy.

Our meal was delicious, and right as we finished up, there was Brian again, ready to escort us to his mountainside house- he lives somewhere over 10,000 ft. in elevation, so high up that you can see Denver at night when the city is lit up. Riding up the mountain to get to his place was a blast. The mountains rise up rapidly on all sides, and there’s even evidence of old mining shafts in certain places. We also got to see this:

Up at the house we got to meet his wife, Jackie, and the three dogs: Andrew, Berkman, and Chloe. We hung out for awhile, and then the neighbor came over so we headed over to his place, which was even further up on the mountain. Once we got up there we got to meet Beaker, a very vocal (and old) parrot. Unfortunately none of my pictures came out, but let me tell ya, he is a hoot. I hung out with him for a long time, having a blast listening to him talk. Somewhere in the midst of hanging out pictures were taken, but they have disappeared for some reason.
The hospitality and drastic rise in elevation really did a number on me, and Jon needed rest if he was going to conquer the hill the following day. We wrapped it up and went back down to Brian and Jackie’s, and crashed out on the couch. It had been an unexpectedly awesome day.

  1. oliver says:

    Idaho Falls is such a neat little town. We briefly stopped there this winter. I am truly envious that you guys are biking across Colorado. Its so beautiful there I almost didn’t come home

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