The last time my dad was in Colorado, he was riding his bike across the United States with my mom. That was 35 years ago, so, it’s been awhile.
My mom and dad planned to visit together, spend a long weekend in Boulder and watch me race bikes in Fort Collins. I asked them to come before the winter really kicked into high gear; they’re Buffalonians-turned-Floridians and I didn’t want to hear any bellyaching about the winter weather. 😉 But my mom came down with something nasty the day before they were supposed to fly out, so she stayed home in Florida and my dad came solo instead. My mom has already visited a couple times, so she’s seen my favorite spots already, but I was bummed she’d miss me race cyclocross. My dad was all over the course, though, and got some awesome photos and videos. You’ll see.
THURSDAY: Apps & Catching Up
I worked all day Thursday and my dad didn’t arrive until the evening, so after he dropped his things at the hotel, he met me in downtown Boulder for some appetizers and catching up. I’ve lived in Boulder for over a year and there are still so many restaurants and bars and breweries I’ve never tried. One of them is West Flanders Brewing Co., so we stopped in. I also rarely go out to eat—really…ever. I had a hummus plate with veggies and naan bread that was pretty insane.
FRIDAY: A Full Day of Exploring
On Friday I was up early for a run and some stretching that really aggravated my foot, so that was a great decision on my part. But I ran faster per mile than I have in months. Progressively, over the years, I’ve gotten slower. My dystonia has gotten more severe, but I think more biking and strength training has made me stronger in the past few months? I’m still learning about it as it evolves.
My dad and I met up for coffee and hot chocolate at Rapha where he got to meet my co-workers and friends, and then we walked Pearl Street for a bit before heading to Golden, CO, one of my favorite little towns. I volunteered to drive so my dad could gape at the mountains the way I did when I arrived in Colorado for the first time. The snow-capped peaks poked into the bright blue sky like a Kincade painting. It was magic.
We strolled around Golden for a bit and had lunch at the Trailhead Taphouse & Tavern, which was pretty delicious. They had a killer beer selection but you know, I really wish I liked beer more than I do. Colorado has such a rich beer scene with so many passionate brewers, and it’s fun to do tastings every now and then, but I don’t love it enough to order a drink with a meal. Same with my dad, so we stuck to food. Their French onion soup was to die for!
From Golden we headed to Red Rocks because you just have to see it in person when you’re in the area. I’ve been there several times but it’s always beautiful…and tiring! We walked up and down the steps, which isn’t easy even if you’re in shape. Woof! By the time we were done at Red Rocks it was late afternoon and I think we were both pretty spent. I had laundry and packing to do before the race on Saturday, so we said our goodbyes and made a plan to meet up the next morning.
SATURDAY: Cross of The North
I woke up nervous. I always wake up nervous on race day, but this felt different because the race was bigger and the fields were more stacked than the last three. Plus, I had my own personal audience: dad. My race didn’t start until 12:15 p.m., so I made some coffee, went for a short walk, listened to a podcast, packed my bags, and threw my bike in the car. It felt good to feel like an athlete again, going through all the prep I used to and letting the nerves course through my veins.
We left Boulder around 9 a.m. and got to the race a little after 10 a.m. with plenty of time because my dad and I are the same person when it comes to getting to places earlier than is necessary. The temperatures were in the high 40s—perfect race weather. I pinned on my number and did some warm-up laps on the course.
It wasn’t easy. It was scary. And technical and wind-y and sandy—really sandy—and filled with steep ascents and descents.
I like to think I’m a warrior out on the course, but I was having serious doubts about whether or not I could finish the race.
To be honest, I almost called it. I almost threw in the towel and told myself there would be more races that I could handle. But the whole fun of cyclocross is getting thrown around a little, taking spills and getting back up and back on the bike only to get knocked off again.
So I lined up when the director called my name and took off onto the straightaway with the rest of the Cat 5 field, just seconds behind the Cat 3s and 4s.
My fear melted away almost instantly. I’d practiced the course as much as I could and all that was left was to do the damn thing. When I got to the top of a big hill, I relaxed my elbows, threw my bike in front of me, stuck my butt out behind the saddle, got real low over my handlebars and sent it down the hill and up over the other side.
I think we only finished three laps, which isn’t many in 40 minutes of racing, but the challenging course slowed everyone down, even the experienced riders.
My favorite part was hearing and seeing my dad at different spots along the way. Every once in awhile I’d round a corner and there he was!
“GO, BINZ! GET HER!”
It made me smile, even when my quads were screaming and my lungs were burning. My mom gave my dad specific instructions to get as many photos and videos as possible. He did a great job.
^^^ She’s carried me through so many awesome courses and exciting wins ❤
The results were a little wonky because I think another rider was grouped into my category when she shouldn’t have been. I was called up second, but I’m almost 100% sure I beat her, no matter what category she was in. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter at all. It was a blast, and I have the bruises all over my legs and under my chin to prove it.
After the race, I cooled down a little, then we headed into the cute town of Fort Collins for some food at Blind Pig. Unfortunately, that was our last night together in Colorado; my dad had an early flight out the next morning (Sunday).
I really love showing the people I love the places I love and I can’t wait to do it again when my sister comes to visit me next year. Anyone else want a private tour of my favorite mountain town? 🙂