I started my second ride in Aspen early in the morning because I knew it was going to be a long one–about 4 1/2 hours. Let me tell you, it’s no easy task sneaking out of a hotel room without making a peep when you’re trying to navigate a bike and your gear through a darkened room. I got into ninja mode though, and left my peeps peacefully snoozing.
It was gorgeous this time of the morning, but I forgot how cold it can be in the mountains, especially for this Cali girl! Yep, I’ve turned into a complete weenie. I rode from the hotel into town past Buttermilk Mt. and Highlands, then headed down Cemetery Lane, before powering up McClain Flats to the Rio Grande Trail.
The Rio Grande Trail is a bike and running path the follows where the historic Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad once ran up and down the Roaring Fork Valley. Forty-two miles long, it connects Aspen, Woody Creek, Basalt, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs, with side links to Snowmass Village, Lenado, and Old Snowmass. It’s a cyclist’s dream to be able to ride for hours without having to think about cars. And the path is well-maintained. No potholes here!
I rode down to Basalt, 18 miles from Aspen, then pedaled upstream along the Frying Pan River toward Ruedi Reservoir.
I was happy by the time I headed back up to Aspen it had warmed up nicely so I could peel off my jacket and arm warmers. Loving this blue sky!
Then it was back up over McClain Flats for a kick in the butt hill at the end of a 61+ mile ride. Booyah! It’s beautiful and flat on top, but getting up to it on both ends is always a good challenge.
After my ride, I ran a couple miles to keep practicing what it’s going to feel like in Arizona when I run a marathon after riding 112 miles. There’s a reason they call this a “brick” workout; that’s exactly what your legs feel like when you first get off the bike. Surprisingly though, they come back to life soon after you get started.
I finished my run at the base of Buttermilk Mt., where our hotel was located. The X Games are held at Buttermilk every year, so the snow you see in the background is left over from the half pipe.
My sweet girl was happy to see me when I finished, and even happier to go on a mom-daughter outing while Jeffrey went to a lecture at Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Snowmass Village. We hopped on the hotel shuttle and ventured into town for lunch and shopping.
There I spoiled her with her favorite treat from Paradise Bakery. This little enterprise brings in more revenue per square foot in Aspen than any other business. That’s more than Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and all the others. You’ll usually find a line out the door every hour of the day.
Jeffrey joined us later in the day at Herron Park, where we lazed along the Roaring Fork River and sipped on ice blended lattes from Cafe Ink.
Its icy waters were perfect for tired feet.
Such a fun, relaxing afternoon…these girls got goofy and giddy.
After our lazy afternoon, I did another short swim workout at the hotel (still gasping for air), then we dined down in Basalt along the river at the Riverside Grill before watching more of the Olympic Trials way past our usual bedtime, then crashing for the night.
The next day Olivia was invited to spend the day with her friend, Maia, and her family at the Aspen Recreation Center (ARC), a world-class fitness center with an ice skating rink, rock climbing wall, tennis courts, swimming pools and more.
It’s a well-designed facility situated near all the schools and it has stunning views of Tiehack. It seems Aspenites know how to prioritize their tax dollars to create wonderful things for the town. So nice.
Any parent knows it’s a luxury to have solo time on vacation, so I opted to take a rest/recovery day and spend time with my guy instead of riding for several hours. Aaaah. Thank you Alicia Dewey for your generosity!! Olivia had a blast and so did we!
Later in the day I arranged to pick Olivia up “Down Valley” near Carbondale while my husband was doing some work on our property. While I waited, I decided to sneak in a quick run. It wasn’t long by any stretch of the imagination, but it was a good chance to move my legs some more and work my lungs again. This is a typical view in this area.
Dinner was take-out picnic items from Whole Foods, vino and an evening by the pool. Olivia and I had a great time splashing around where she kicked my butt in raft races. And then there was the jacuzzi….aaaaah.
In the morning, it was time for another early morning ride. This time it was about 45 miles, starting from the hotel, going part way up Red Mountain, then up Independence Pass past North Star Nature Preserve to Difficult Campground.
Then it was back “Down Valley” again via McClain Flats, then the Rio Grande Trail. This time I jumped off in Old Snowmass to revisit an area we lived in during the early 90s. It’s such a gorgeous valley, and I couldn’t help but stop by Rancho Gringo, our old barn, which we renovated and turned into our home many moons ago. Our old tractor was still there too, which brought back great memories of Jeffrey harrowing the meadow between zipping around the world on his photo assignments. What a memorable chapter in our lives.
Continuing on past our property, I pedaled back along Capital Creek Road and then back on East Sopris Creek Road. Cars were never an issue while riding here, which was such a treat!
I stopped at the bottom of Watson Divide before heading back to the Rio Grande Trail and heading down to Basalt where I met my peeps for breakfast at Cafe Bernard, a french-style cafe owned by our friends Kathy and Bernard.
After cruising around Basalt, then going to the Saturday Farmer’s Market back up in Aspen, and bumping into lots of old friends, we grabbed take-out salads and wraps from another of our favorite places, the Big Wrap, owned by our friend Babs. I find eating out tedious on vacation so getting stuff to go and sitting in a park or along one of the pedestrian malls suits me perfectly.
The next day was Sunday (already!), and we couldn’t believe we’d already been in Aspen for a week. After breakfast at Peaches once again (great coffee and poached eggs over fresh, organic veggies), we headed up Independence Pass to hike to the Grottos.
After our Grottos hike, we went back to the hotel so Olivia and I could hoof it up Buttermilk to play in the snow. Even though Olivia was born in Aspen, snow is still a novelty to her, so I humored her by joining the fun and “skiing” down on our shoes.
Then it was time for another run! Jeffrey and Olivia dropped me off at the bottom of Cemetery Lane so I could run on the Rio Grande Trail while they went shopping for picnic items. At 2:30, it was hot at altitude, but it was a fab run along the Roaring Fork River.
I headed Down Valley for a couple miles, then looped back around and headed back Up Valley, eventually logging about 6.3 miles before ending my run at the Benedict Music Tent where my family was waiting with a delish picnic. Running at high altitude still felt hard, but being distracted by all the natural beauty around me helped take my mind off how sluggish my legs felt.
The perfect ending to a full and fabulous day…classical music (Berlioz, Dvorak, Stravinsky, and Ravel) and a fab picnic…not to mention bumping into several old friends. I’m not sure how I got so lucky! Life is good.
If you aren’t exhausted by now, stay turned for week two of our Aspen adventure….there’s more fun to come!
Until then…Happy Trails
PS: As always, if you missed any of my previous posts about Ironman training, you can click on the links below:
Kicking off My Journey to Ironman Arizona
Week One of Ironman Training: Believe
Week Two of Ironman Training: The Power of Friends
Week Three of Ironman Training: I Think I Can
Week Four of Ironman Training: Progress
Week Five of Ironman Training: Wind at my Back (and Front) and Peeps by My Side
Week Six of Ironman Training: Baking a Cake
Week Seven of Ironman Training: Courage
Week Eight of Ironman Training: It’s All About the Base
OMG, You did WHAT?! (AKA Sleep Deprivation + Training = Embarrassing Moments)
Week Nine of Ironman Training: Growing Pains
Week Ten of Ironman Training: Trust
Week Eleven of Ironman Training: Speedbumps and Breakthroughs
Week Twelve of Ironman Training: A Bundle of Sticks Can’t Be Broken
Week Thirteen of Ironman Training: Spring!
Week Fourteen of Ironman Training: Rollercoaster
Week 15 and 16 of Ironman Training: Staying Happy and Healthy
Week 17 and 18 Ironman Training: Inspiration and Purple Rain
Weeks 19 through 21 of Ironman Training: Transitions
Week 22 and 23 of Ironman Training: Holy Epicness…Julie Moss
Week 24 of Ironman Training: Consistency is the Key
Week 25 of Ironman Training: Embracing New Challenges
Week 26 of Ironman Training: Hills, They’re What’s for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner
Week 27 of Ironman Training: Taking This Show on the Road (Tri-cation!)
Week 27 of Ironman Training: High Altitude Tri-cation