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The best bike rides of 2020

By Bruce Lin

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Over the course of 2020, we shared some of our favorite adventures with you, from Spencer's 200-mile ride to Kansas to Bruce's dirt jumping lesson with a world champion to Reese's FKT attempt on the White Rim. But now it's time to share some stories from the rest of the TPC team.

It goes without saying that 2020 was a tough and strange year for everyone, cyclists included. But if you were lucky, you still got outside and rode your bike. Many of our riders at The Pro’s Closet found ways to safely have fun, stay sane and healthy, and do special and memorable rides.

Hopefully, these highlights from a few of our staff will get you stoked and inspired to ride your bike in the coming season.

If you missed our list last year, be sure to check out our “Best bike rides of 2019.” 

Rollins Pass - Rollinsville to Winter Park, Colorado

Rollins Pass is an epic, historical route from Rollinsville to Winter Park, Colorado, crossing the Continental Divide. It’s a popular challenge for adventurous gravel cyclists and mountain bikers that tops out at 11,600 feet and offers plenty breathtaking views of the Rockies. Maggie warmed up for a day of downhill mountain biking at Trestle Bike Park by tackling this route the day before.

Maggie best ride mountain gravel bike rollins pass to winter parkRider: Maggie John, Customer Experience Manager

“You can do it on a gravel bike, but I did it on my trail bike. It’s doubletrack most of the time, but you'd probably be miserable on a gravel bike. The road up there is pretty bumpy and steep, and it will test your patience for sure.

“We were doing a day at Trestle Bike Park on a Sunday so I had Tyler, my partner, drop me in Rollinsville on Saturday and I rode over the pass to meet him on the Winter Park side to camp for the night.

“My picture-taking to riding ratio was probably like 1:1. I saw three moose! I'd also say 90% of it is miserable and like the worst ride ever, but then you get to the trestles and it quickly becomes the coolest ride of the year. Stephen [TPC Purchasing Associate] bailed the night before so I ended up doing it solo. I'd do it again, but not by myself!”

Georgia to Boreas Pass - Breckenridge, Colorado

Georgia to Boreas Pass is a big dirt road loop that starts right in downtown Breckenridge. It’s full of difficult and rocky 4x4 terrain that will catch out less experienced riders. Before heading out to set an FKT on the White Rim trail, Reese decided to get in some last-minute training by completing on the loop on her gravel bike. It ended up being much harder than expected.

Reese best ride Breckenridge Georgia and Boreas pass gravel bikeRider: Reese Ruland, Social Media Manager

“I still managed to get out and ride my bike a decent amount. Mostly because that’s how I cope with anxiety. My gravel ride over Georgia and Boreas Pass, outside of Breckenridge, Colorado was my favorite ride this year. I’ve ridden some difficult routes in my time, but this was ridiculous, even for me.

“My friend, George Simpson and I planned this route with very little knowledge about the conditions of Georgia Pass. In retrospect, had we known what we were going to ride, or rather hike, we might not have actually started the ride at all. To give you an idea of how steep the climb to Georgia Pass was, it took us nearly two hours and 30 minutes to travel 11 miles. The entire 50-mile route took us four hours and 37 minutes. So, a fifth of the ride took up over half of our riding time. Parts of the climb to Georgia pass were a sustained 20-35% grade. We hiked so much that I ruined my mountain bike shoes.

“But I have never laughed so much at myself on a ride. It was hilariously difficult. The descent down Georgia pass was fast but rough enough to scramble my brain. Then the climb and descent on Boreas pass was genuinely fantastic. I love high alpine climbs. The challenge and the views are worth every second spent in the thin air.

“The best reward was the last descent back to the car. You know the road is rough when your bike is faster than every vehicle. The descent was pure euphoria. I’m not sure if it felt that way because I was so happy to be done or because riding my bike in the mountains makes me feel the most alive. I have a feeling it was a bit of both.”

Mount Evans - Clear Creek County, Colorado

Mt. Evans is a prominent 14,000-foot peak on the Colorado Front Range and home to the highest paved road in North America. Bighorn sheep, mountain goats, and marmots are common sights along this huge climb. This year, the road was closed to cars, giving cyclists free rein on this high-alpine climb. Mount Evans is difficult on its own, but Gregory decided to make it even harder by starting from his house down in Lakewood, Colorado.

Gregory best ride road bike mount EvansRider: Gregory Boucher, VP of Technology

“Because of the pandemic the road to the top of Mt. Evans was closed to cars, so this seemed like the year to ride to the top of Mt. Evans and back from my house on the Front Range. It was 100 miles and 10,000 feet of climbing, with snow at the top. There was some sort of accident at Summit Lake so we got passed by emergency vehicles, which made the experience kind of surreal.

“While the views were not what we had hoped for due to smoke [Colorado was hit with several forest fires this fall], the ride was epic and we were treated to some mountain goats along the road and snow at the top. It was my biggest ride of the year, and it was something I had to actually train for.”

Heil Ranch with a toddler - Boulder, Colorado

What mountain biking parent doesn’t dream of introducing their child to the sport? Nick is a former pro racer, and like him, his son James is fast and fearless on a bike.

Nick best ride toddler strider balance bike mountain bike trailNick had been introducing James to the speed and sensations of riding using a Mac Ride child seat. When James was ready to tackle a trail on his own bike, Nick captured all the action on his GoPro.

Rider: Nick Martin, Founder | James Martin, Shredder

“It was the best cycling experience I have ever had, seeing the trail through the eyes of my two year old. This was back in June. James ripped Heil Ranch on his Early Rider (a tough, knobby-tired balance bike) for the first time and it's been all downhill from there!

“By the way, for any parent that wants to safely ride singletrack with their toddler, I can't recommend the Mac Ride enough.”

Riding the Coral Pink Sand Dune(s) - Kanab, Utah

Watch any freeride mountain biking video and you’ll be treated to images of riders effortlessly surfing their bike down loose scree fields. Clint was inspired by footage from “Where the Trail Ends” of riders carving turns down steep and sandy slopes in the Gobi Desert. He decided to try a bit of freeriding for himself on a trip to Utah and quickly learned that it’s not as easy as it looks!

Clint best ride Coral pink sand dunes mountain bike utahRider: Clint Hobbs, Intake Technician Supervisor

“This year was an interesting year for my relationship with biking. I did a lot more commuting to work and gravel riding than normal. But there were still some cool mountain bike rides, and no ride was more epic than the 500 foot sand dune that I rode down in Southern Utah. Ever since I saw the Fire Mountains getting ridden in China, I have wondered what it would be like to ride my bike down a sand dune.

“The first run went exactly as I expected — over the bars. It took me three runs and about 45 minutes of hiking to figure out how to manipulate my bike through the sand. Maybe water would have been a good thing to bring? I suffered for about 1.5 hours in the 120-degree heat (Garmin verified) for ‘the shot.’ I have never put so much effort into riding a 500-foot section of trail. It wasn’t until an hour and 2 bottles of electrolytes later that I realized how cool the experience truly was.”

Independence Pass - Leadville to Aspen, Colorado

Independence Pass connects Aspen to the Twin Lakes and passes beneath Mount Elbert, Colorado’s highest peak. It’s temporarily open to bikes only in the early summer. Cyclists climb up a narrow roads and through plowed snow passageways to reach the summit. Abby bought a new Giant TCR road bike from The Pro’s Closet and decided to conquer the pass from the Twin Lakes side with a few good friends.

Abby best ride Independence pass road bikeRider: Abby Reinholt, Controller

“They usually plow the pass around Memorial Day but don’t open it to cars immediately. That’s always the best time to go up. This year, they actually opened to the road a bit late because of the pandemic, so we had even nicer weather than usual. It's not that hard of a ride if you start from Twin Lakes [typical Abby understatement!]. It begins at about 9,200 feet, and then the pass itself reaches 12-something, so you do get in quite a bit of elevation. But it's all pretty gradual. It took us all around three hours.

“I went up with two friends and there were a ton of people from Leadville going up. You get to see a lot of different people on the way up and then, when you get to the top, there's people coming up the other side from Aspen. You get sort of a funny cross of cultures, the Leadville and Aspen sides meeting on this high mountain pass. And it's just such a cool way to start the summer. It’s early June, but when you get up really high there's still snow everywhere.”

Berryman Trail Loop in the Ozark woods - Potosi, Missouri

A global pandemic is no fun, and it’s even less fun when you’re injured and can’t ride your bike. Carl deeply bruised his leg in a crash and had a limp for nearly a month. He had to stay off the bike, but he couldn’t turn down the chance to go mountain biking with his dad. Riding injured isn’t easy, but with some extra motivation from his dad, Carl pushed through the pain and had an unforgettable ride.

Carl best ride Berryman trail loop Missouri mountain bikeRider: Carl Sechrist, Bike Technician

“I was able to safely drive to St. Louis to visit my parents for a week. While I was there, my dad and I rode the Berryman Trail loop just outside Potosi, Missouri (where the 100 Acre Wood rally takes place). It’s a 26-mile, 100% singletrack epic in the northern Ozark woods. Compared to Colorado rides where you’re either going up or down, the Ozark terrain is full of rolling terrain with constant small ups and downs. At this time of year, there’s several inches of leaves across most of the trail.

“What made this ride really special was that it was my first time on the bike after taking a big tumble two weeks prior that left me unable to move my leg through an entire pedal stroke. Two weeks of nothing but rest and some amazing topical CBD cream (it really does work!) had me recovered just in time to tackle this ride. After no riding for two weeks, I definitely bit off a little more than I could chew. I probably would not have made it through the whole ride without my dad’s company and encouragement.”

Backyard trail building - Undisclosed location, Colorado

With gyms closed, many people turned to their local trails for exercise, entertainment, and stress relief. For Charlie, this meant the trails were too crowded to safely send it. Instead, he joined a couple of our master bike technicians for some chill backyard trail-building days. They built small bits of trail to session and got their shred on.

Charlie best ride backyard trail building coloradoRider: Charlie Madden, Purchasing Manager

“We were just messing around in Emil's [TPC Master Technician] backyard. Really, there was barely any riding, but it was such a great time. We rode in some new trail, had some beers, explored the woods, and messed around on some steep and techy features. Building and testing out new trails is a completely different type of riding experience. I highly recommend it.”

Boulder left hand fire mountain biking“If that’s not exciting enough for you, check out this photo Maggie took of me at Lefthand. That smoke is from the Lefthand fire that started on the other side of the ridge as we were riding. It sums up 2020 pretty well. Not exactly one of our 'best' rides, but it’s one neither of us is going to forget!”

A Burley ride to the creek - Longmont, Colorado

I couldn’t resist adding another one of my own rides. It wasn’t big or epic like some of the other rides on this list, but it was just as special. My son, Elliot, has low muscle tone and some physical delays, so he’s not quite ready to ride a balance bike or shred the trails like Nick’s son, James. But he still loves going out with me on bike rides. To get us through the pandemic, I picked up a Burley trailer and started towing Elliot around town. At first he was completely terrified, but now he loves going fast and hitting bumps. Towing him three miles once a week to hang out at the creek this summer will forever be one my favorite cycling memories.

Towing toddler in a burley trailerRider: Bruce Lin, Tech Writer

Passenger: Elliot Lin, Baby

 

Did you manage to get in a memorable ride this year? Have you done one of the rides we did or something similar? Let us know in the comments!


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