As an avid urban cyclist, I've spent many hours riding various city streets on a fixed gear bike. When The Little Nell Adventure Concierge challenged me to a full road bike experience traversing the beautiful terrain of Aspen, I wasn't sure how I would measure up. Home to some of the most challenging roads for competitive cycling in the U.S. with its treacherous climbs and speed-demon downhill stretches, the topography is tough for even world champions to tackle.
After a few pointers, some subsequent adjustments and a little mockery about "riding like a bike messenger" I was cycling more smoothly and efficiently. Having one of Aspen's top athletes riding alongside me proved an invaluable resource in learning how to properly operate an elite competition road bike.
Carbon from head to toe and laced with Dura-ace components, the robustly lightweight Orbea road killer really took off when pointed up hill. And after four straight hours of leg burning ascents, the Orca felt right at home and under control bolting downhill at well over 40mph. To understand the full capacity of the cycling machine, Orbea's intensely accurate description helps set the scene, stating "It is not a product, it is a feeling. It's competition. It's adrenaline."
By the end of the second day my Garmin Edge 800 informed me I had ascended over 6,000 vertical feet, ridden nearly 70 miles, conquered the breathtaking Maroon Bells and climbed from flower laden valleys to the snow covered peaks of Independence Pass—the most difficult stage of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. What began as a formidable task turned into an exciting adventure thanks to Kasin's stern teachings and integral instructions, which kept me on course even when a certain "Livestrong" cyclist sped by in a flash of yellow and black.
For more information on the Aspen cycling experience, visit The Little Nell Adventure Concierge.
Images by Graham Hiemstra and Cameron L. Martindell