It felt here nor there to me, I thought, deciding whether or not to go the USA. I wasn't sure whether I would race the Tour of California but, if I did, I would spend a week in Boulder first for some altitude and solid training. I was still recovering from my crash at Amstel Gold Race. What seemed like an insignificant pavement slam had done some damage in my lower back and things were not quite perfect yet. I was ready to train but was I ready to race? Was all the travel worth it? What was the big deal about Boulder anyway?
Even though the weather forecast looked awful, some coaxing from a locally placed friend was enough to sway the vote and I was off to Colorado. Arriving in Denver, I was less than impressed with the flat terrain. Where were the mountains?
With jet lag brain, I stared out the window but then it started. The horizon grew into a jagged silhouette and with it my excitement. I saw the Flatirons, massive rocks in the shape of clothing irons, and the landscape grew evermore impressive the closer we came to Boulder. By the time we got to our accommodation, jet lag had been overruled by excitement.
The next morning felt like Christmas. With so many new roads high up, places to see, and bad weather coming later in the week, the blue-sky day was the perfect opportunity to get in a massive ride. The route was called Peak-to-Peak, a famous local loop of 120km with 3,000m of climbing.
The Rocky Mountain terrain was different from the European mountains I knew. The roads were straighter and, without the signal of a switchback, deceptively steep. Instead of going up and down mountains, it was more riding up canyons and staying along the top. Riding up at 2500-3000m for so long was a new experience. The entire day was spent in the saddle and it was one of those fulfilling memorable rides that left me tired, excited, and motivated. I’ve never fallen out of love with cycling but this felt like it was happening all over again.
The predicted bad weather arrived and sat over Boulder for the next few days. I wasn’t bothered by a snow day after such a big first day and it was good to have some easier inside rides to adjust to the altitude. By the time the clouds and snow cleared, I was ready to enjoy the sun and mountains again. I was also ready for the Tour of California. I felt so energized, motivated, and simply happy after only a few days of riding.
So, I got it: Boulder was pretty special. There was a reason why it was so famous, why so many athletes lived there, and why it attracted so many more to come and visit.
The last time I had felt such a jolt of energy was the first time I rode in Banyoles and I ended up moving there. I’m still in love with the Girona area so I definitely won’t be moving to Boulder, but it reminded me about how special that feeling was.
The pure joy of riding a bike that every cyclist has felt before. It’s the feeling we are always chasing and remembering; it’s the feeling I want to share with others when they come stay with us at Rocacorba Cycling; it was the feeling that made Boulder a pretty big deal.
I’ll never forget it and I’ll definitely be back.
Ashleigh-Moolman-Pasio is a world-class climber and the newest member of CCC-Liv (formerly Waowdeals). She has written a regular blog for Cyclingnews since 2016, touching on topics of gender equality in women’s and men’s professional cycling.
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