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The Reconnaissance Ride

The Reconnaissance Ride

Rapha Cycling Club Summit Boulder

31 August 2017

In a few months, members of the Rapha Cycling Club (RCC) will gather in Boulder, Colorado for the RCC Summit. In this version of the Reconnaissance Ride, we set the table for RCC members and those keen on Boulder’s riding culture. We hope to see you in the Centennial State this fall.

Boulder. Say it, and seasoned cyclists perk up, no matter where they might be riding at the time. It could be France, Italy, or any one of cycling’s old-guard haunts. Boulder is one of the few points of reference off the European continent that’s become pilgrimage-worthy for riders.

Who knows when Boulder became synonymous with cycling. Maybe it was the halcyon days of North American racing, from the Red Zinger Bicycle Classic to what became the Coors Classic. That race featured the iconic Morgul-Bismark loop with fans 10 deep at the barriers. LeMond won the Classic, as did Boulder’s Davis Phinney. The Coors Classic was Bernard Hinault’s last pro race.

Certainly, Boulder’s cycling pedigree comes from racing. But those events left long ago. The cyclists stayed. During this RCC summit, we’ll show you why.

Boulder lies at the merger of the Rocky Mountains and the Great Plains. The location gives cyclists miles of rolling dirt roads, and to the west Colorado’s Front Range serves as an invitation to the larger mountains. Boulder’s cycling charm is found in those foothills, which have an uncharacteristic number of roads webbed throughout. Modern-day Boulder, as cosmopolitan as a Colorado town can be, bustles below; but up above, those mountain roads offer glimpses into the region’s mining past. An hour and a half of climbing out of Boulder the subway-tiled walls of bistros give way to the wide-plank floor of the Gold Hill General Store. The store is a locals’ favorite to grab a piece of pie and a coffee, either wrapping up the ride before a descent down Sunshine Canyon — shadows from clouds sail the great sweep of the plains far below — or a continued procession up the miles of remaining dirt rollers toward the Peak to Peak Highway. All told there are three direct climbs to get to Gold Hill (population 200). Sunshine and Four-Mile Canyon offer the most civilized routes up, but the third, Lickskillet, is the steepest county road in the lower 48. Maybe wait a few moments before ordering a slice of pie.

While Boulder is known for transformative paved and dirt climbs, it’s also revered for its culinary culture. This RCC summit will showcase both in equal measure and offer riders ample chances to spin stories from the washboard roads above. We’ll drink coffee roasted by Boxcar Coffee Roasters, our neighbor on Pearl Street, both at the Rapha Boulder location and at the Boxcar café. Boxcar’s cortados, made with the house’s espresso blend “Stella”, are best to order two at a time. Slip a canelé or two into your jersey pocket on the way out the door.

Pizzeria Locale is a cyclist’s best friend, with wood-fired pies in Napoletana tradition. Rather than go to Locale, it will come to us as a mid-ride lunch stop outside of town to fuel further exploits. A secret? The spicy olive oil.

One of our rides will end at Skratch Labs, where founder (and longtime trainer of professional riders) Allen Lim will offer nutritional tips and insights into the work of cycling and cook up a recovery snack for the group.

Not to take ourselves too seriously, we’ll sidle up at Sanitas Brewing Co.’s tasting room, a lean, elegant space in the shadow of the foothills that’s suited for swapping stories over pints. Start with a refreshing Citrus Lager (made with limes and oranges) and progress to the brewery’s heralded Black IPA, a deep black brew with citrus notes and an easy malt finish. Sanitas also keeps a bevy of limited-release beers on tap. We’re most curious about the Grand Cru, the bar’s ode to the monastery breweries of Europe. Note the direct relationship to how long the following day’s ride will be and how many empty glasses are on the table.

For some, bikes are a simple method of transportation. Others see them as pieces of art. Aaron Barcheck, the founder and head of Mosaic Cycles, sees them as both. He’s built a Continental bike, and there will be a few Mosaics along the roads during the summit, and RCC members will have a chance to see where they came from during a Mosaic factory tour. Barcheck also recently bought Spectrum Paint and Powder Works and moved it in house. His brand has become an extension of the roads Mosaics are tested upon. “If you come to Boulder and you spend some time doing some riding here, you’ll notice that we have some of the best riding there is, in any category,” he said.

Discover Boulder for yourself this September and join us at the RCC Summit.

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