Steamboat to Fort Collins… or Bust!

Steamboat to Fort Collins… or Bust!

Whitney Allison is a racer on Eliel’s ButcherBox Pro Cycling team as well as the co-owner of Bike Sports, a cycling company offering a gravel-focused racing team, a bike fit studio, biking expeditions, and adventure travel experiences covering all skill levels to Northern Colorado and beyond. She runs this company with her husband Zack, but when they’re not creating inclusive gravel experiences for cyclists, they’re taking on their own riding adventures. In this story, she and Zack decided to head out this past summer for a quick little 150-mile ride from Fort Collins to Steamboat Springs….and back.

By: Whitney Allison

Athletes have responded to the pandemic in all sorts of ways. Some with lack of motivation, some with mixing it up more than usual this time of year and other with taking on challenges of all sorts. I, Whitney Allison, am guilty of all three. One thing that has kept me engaged is trying new, seemingly crazy routes or adventures. Luckily, my husband Zack Allison is not only my favorite riding partner but also a map fanatic. We had the idea of riding to Steamboat Springs to hang out with my parents for a couple of days, and then riding home. A mere 150 miles and between 8,000-10,000 feet of climbing, depending on whether you’re heading there or coming home. With little else to do those days, it seemed more than achievable.

Part 1: A Bail Out.
After a failed first attempt to ride from Fort Collins to Steamboat Springs, complete with mild food poisoning and a massive headwind starting at mile 40, the plug was pulled 5 hours, 85 miles, and 6178 feet of climbing into a 150-mile route. A failure? I mean, maybe. My parents, who had just passed Zack and me on their way to Steamboat, magically received our desperate texts despite spotty service and turned around for the rescue. An epic round of bikes-in-car Tetris later, we were exhausted and en route to Steamboat, not the least bit sad to avoid being beaten by the high winds heading into Walden. We had no choice but to rest up because riding was literally the only way to get home on Monday after a day of rest.

Part 2: It’s All Downhill from Here.
On Monday, to be indulgent, we rode up a stupidly-beautiful Buffalo Pass to start the journey home. Covered in lush greenery, aspen groves, creeks, and waterfalls, this dirt pass is the best way to go on bike.

Since it had been so hot, snow was not accounted for at the top of the pass. Ah…so that’s why the gate was closed to cars! Fortunately Soledad bibs are also super comfy for an unexpected extra hour of hike-a-biking...

A very loose gravel descent later and the first of two passes over 10,000 feet was complete. Luckily the wind into Walden was super mild on this day, not that we had any bailout option available this time.

The final climb up and over Cameron Pass put us at only 82 miles into the ride, but already with 7000 feet of elevation gain. Nearly all downhill from here...for only 66 straight miles!! We wrapped up the ride with enough time to relax in the evening and get back to work on Tuesday. ;-)

Final Ride Time: 8:40
Distance: 148 miles
Elevation gain: 8,084 feet
Work: 4661 KJs
Regrets: None

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