A Birthday Ride: Nederland, CO + Fall leaves

Saturday, October 3rd was my birthday! I’m not huge on celebrating my birthday because I’m single, over 30, and every day just feels like another day to dread getting older (lol), but this year I really had an amazing day and I’m feeling very grateful for all the love I received all weekend.

Bright and early on Saturday morning, I met a friend in Boulder for a long ride up to Nederland. I’ve wanted to ride to Ned all summer, but the memory of how tough it was last year during the Rapha Prestige prevented me from even trying. I kept telling myself I was too out of shape and it was too hot and blah blah blah.

But since we were supposed to have cool weather and sunny skies all day—and because I wanted to do something epic on my birthday—I told my friend that Saturday was the day to do it and he was totally on board. Big rides don’t feel as bad and go by much more quickly when you’ve got a friend.

We started up Sunshine Canyon around 8:30 a.m. when the sun was just beginning to warm us up, which felt great. From Sunshine Canyon, we took a short dirt section called Poorman to Fourmile Canyon, then Fourmile to Logan Mill, which is a long, steep, and winding dirt road that connects to Sugarloaf Rd.

And that’s when the real work started. Sugarloaf is a gorgeous road that starts out as pavement then turns into a gorgeous dirt road surrounded by Aspen trees covered in bright yellow and orange leaves. I think we only have a couple more weekends to enjoy the Aspens before the leaves fall off for the season, so we were incredibly lucky that they were still out in full force.

After several miles of rolling sections of road, we hit Peak to Peak highway—a major road out here that connects a bunch of the mountain towns west of Boulder. I say highway, but it’s just a fast two-lane road with plenty of shoulder room for cyclists. We only rode a few miles on P2P before descending into downtown Nederland. One of my favorite times to visit Ned is on crisp, cool, sunny fall days; it’s breezy and bright and the town just feels…alive. My friend let me lead the way essentially the whole day, so as we cruised down the main road, he looked over his shoulder at me and asked where I wanted to go. I smiled big and shouted, “COFFEE!” That didn’t answer his question, but I think he knew what I meant because a second later, he pulled into Salto Coffee Works, a popular coffee spot next door to a bike shop called The Tin Shed.

Slowly, I dismounted my bike and hobbled over to the window to order—I could’ve sworn my body felt older, but then again maybe it was the 5,000 feet we climbed in like 20 miles…

I got us a place by an outdoor fire pit and we both sipped on delicious hot drinks—an Americano for me and a cinnamon-y apple cider for my friend. I took off my gloves and warmed up my fingers and toes while people-watching—my favorite activity. If I had a fully remote job and a partner, I would love to live up in Nederland. It’s just very…cozy.

Lindsey…close enough.

A few minutes after we sat down, a bunch of the On Athletic Club athletes rocked up all fit and kitted out in club gear. I had such a fangirl moment when Dathan Ritzenhein showed up. I’m pretty much used to seeing professional athletes around here, but it never gets old and it’s always cool, especially if they’re athletes I follow, cheer for, or have known about for awhile.

A short while later, we got back on our bikes and headed for Magnolia Rd., a dirt road made “famous” by Chris Lear’s book, Running with the Buffaloes. Magnolia is mostly a descent, but the whole thing is rolling for several miles until it turns to pavement filled with very steep hairpin turns.

Let’s just say my breaks are not doing awesome today…

Magnolia eventually hits Boulder Canyon, which is a construction nightmare these days (and for the past year), but it was a pretty smooth descent back into Boulder where it suddenly felt super hot and crowded compared to those lovely open roads way up at 8,500 feet.

My friend was almost home since he lives in Boulder, but I still had another 12 miles mostly uphill to Louisville, which felt nearly impossible after what we had just done. For a little extra motivation, I popped in my headphones and blasted my favorite songs to get me home. (Right now I’m loving Get Up by Mother Mother!) By the time I rolled back into my driveway nearly seven hours after I started that morning, I had ridden 66 miles and climbed over 7,000 feet. My legs were toast, but I loved every second, had an amazing time, and was so happy we had the perfect weather for the ride. I definitely need to do that route again before Nederland gets snow.

A few hours after I got home, the sweetest and most thoughtful package showed up on my doorstep. My Florida friends sent me homemade granola and cookies! Ugh, I got a little teary because I recognize how much more effort it takes to make a thing and then ship it out yourself than it does to just order something online. Needless to say, I housed half the jar of granola in one sitting because it is my one true kryptonite.

Later in the day, after I was fully stuffed with homemade treats, I treated myself to a brand-new sweater from J. Crew and am wearing it to work today. It has leopard trim!

It’s the little things when you’re in your 30s…

What did you do on our first weekend in October?

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