Since I’ve lived out here in Colorado—almost two years exactly—I can credit all my most memorable rides to the community I built and friends I made while working at Rapha. That place and those people truly saved my life and turned it around for the better.
They welcomed me, encouraged me, and taught me so much about bikes and cycling, especially the wide and wonderful world of gravel. Before Colorado, I was a roadie through and through. I rode skinny tires all day every day, and everywhere; I’d never heard of gravel bikes. Maybe because Florida doesn’t have gravel. It has pavement.
About eight months after I started at Rapha, I was coaxed into buying my first gravel bike that I now use to race cyclocross, and I’m telling you, fatter tires changed my life. I sought out gravel roads instead of avoiding them, and before I knew it, I hadn’t ridden my road bike in months. It sat sadly in my basement on a trainer in case of cold or wet days.
In the beginning of this year, before I took a new job in Lakewood, one of my friends who worked at Rapha took a new job at Rodeo Adventure Labs, a bike company in Denver. Each Tuesday evening, they host a rowdy gravel ride in Golden called Tabletop Tuesday. They meet at Slohi Coffee at 6 p.m. and head out to South Table Mountain to ride the multi-use trails until sunset.
He told me about their first ride of the season in March, but I made excuses every week for why I couldn’t or shouldn’t go. I didn’t know many people, I’m not great at riding gravel or singletrack trails, I didn’t want to slow everyone down, I was busy at work…blah blah.
When I ran into this friend in Steamboat Springs for SBT GRVL back in August, he urged me to check out TTT when we got home.
I was officially out of excuses, so the Tuesday after SBT GRVL, I showed up at 6 p.m. and ended up recognizing more faces than I anticipated. The biking community out here is like the world: big but small.
Group riding isn’t always my favorite if they’re HUGE, but group rides are a great place to meet new people in a very non-intimidating way. It’s why I hate going to happy hours. For me, it’s easier to get to know people while doing other activities at the same time. Read: riding bikes.I can lean on the crutch of watching where my wheels are going instead of looking at their faces. Plus, we’re doing this fun thing that we both love and already have in common. No digging for topics or panicking and talking about the weather.
So, what are Tabletop Tuesday rides? They’re a lot of things. Let me break it down.
What these rides are: super chill, sometimes dangerous, blazing fast but also chill, a little exhausting, absolutely breathtaking, very welcoming, and insanely fun. They’re also not really posted anywhere, so you have to know someone who knows someone, ya know?
We all roll out at 6 p.m. and shred the multi-use dirt trails on South Table Mountain in Golden. If someone had told me about the trails before I showed up, I might not have gone because drop bar bikes are borderline inappropriate for these rocky, rooty trails. At least one person has flatted or fell on each of the rides I’ve been on. But that’s the fun in it, right?
What these rides aren’t: serious, safe (heh), organized, total smash fests, suitable for the bikes most of us are riding. There’s an unwritten no-drop policy; everyone waits for everyone, especially since we ride until dark and some people (me) don’t know their way off the mountain and back to the shop quite yet.
^^^ His mom FaceTimed him in the middle of the ride. It was the greatest.
The first one was an absolute blast, and I was hooked. On the way to South Table, we cruised through paved neighborhoods and weaved in and out of the side streets until we reached the base of the mountain. That’s when the fun began. We climbed a steep dirt trail that hugged the side of the mountain and eventually flattened out where we were treated to sweeping views of the mountains and surrounding neighborhoods.
When the sky turned orange and then a deep purple and finally black…I was kicking myself for not joining sooner. I couldn’t believe I had missed months of this. I couldn’t believe I had waited so long! Better late than never.
I’ve ridden four Tuesdays so far and each one has been better than the next. We’ve had as many as 15-ish people on one and as few as 3 on another, but they’re always a blast because the route, distance, and speed fluctuates based on who is there and how they’re feeling.
At the most recent TTT this week, we had six riders, and instead of riding South Table, we headed to Green Mountain, which I’ve never explored. We did a big loop, which started with a pretty long climb to the top, and ended with a smooth, flowy descent in the pitch black; our front lights were the only thing leading us down the mountain. I had to walk a bit of the loose gravel section on the uphill, and I fell once on the descent, but that’s kinda the fun of it, right?
I think the guys will end these rides for the season sometime in early October since we’re only getting about an hour of daylight before the sun sets behind the mountains. I should’ve joined earlier, but I’m pumped for next year and all the fun I know awaits!
(We just have to make it through winter first.)
I made a highlight on my Instagram profile with lots of fun photos and videos from each ride. Check it out!