Further tales from Aspen

So where did we end part one? With a beer in hand. This is pretty much where we start part 2 and as sure as night follows day there was a second one on offer. Well it would be rude not to eh?

Geoff planned the next two days riding with Lance whilst I scouted the kitchen with Anna, drafting up what we would cook the following evening.

A group dinner in a local Italian preceded a broken nights sleep, no doubt the affects of altitude with some jetlag baked in for good measure. After a big American style breakfast, finishing with pancakes and maple syrup ‘Rain Man’ style, no tooth picks on the table, we were ready for the day.


It was a fresh start with blue skies, a stunning morning in Aspen. We had all been tracking the weather nervously over the previous weeks and were prepared for wet chilly riding so this was a complete step change. After the formalities, handshakes and numerous photos by top sports photographer Liz Kreutz, we were off. The first few miles were slightly down hill, easy pedalling and even easier banter. Past Woody Creek and through Basalt, home town of BMC pro Teejay Vangarderen.

Lance promised some dirt action and 30km in it didn’t disappoint, the scenary was fantastic, however full concentration was required as there was a good 10km plus section of bomb holed trail laid out in front.



I attacked the sections with much gusto, the fringe benefits of being on a hired bike. Verity, who normally races MTB, certainly enjoyed this stretch. Through Snowmass village and onto the big challenge of the day, a particularly tricky steep dirt climb. Since a young child I have had very poor eye sight, a -11 prescription. Whether my sense of hearing had gone up a notch to help compensate I am not sure, but behind I heard Armstrong joke that he was gonna “teach this punk a lesson” myself being that punk! The pace went up a notch on the approach, it was difficult to keep a rhythm and even harder to maintain traction and a couple of kms in only Mel and I could hold the tempo; unbeknown to us Liz was being strategically placed at one of the hairpins near the top. Lance knew this and pressed harder. Now there was only me left, my pulse was struggling to go over 165bpm as I was trying to suck in as much rarefied air as possible. A loss of traction and I had to readjust my line. I had lost Lance’s wheel and he took a scant 15 seconds out of me from which caused much banter from him over the evening and following days ride.


Riders came up one by one cursing how hard it was, tales of crashes and feet down. “Sorry you all” joked Lance, but we could all see he was enjoying himself. The ride back was over smoother but no less scenic roads.

A quick shower and I was back at the house.  Anna and I descended on Wholefoods in the next town, it was a double trolley shop for sure! We were feeding 20 which turned into more like 30 as some of their friends joined as well. It was good to spend time with Anna, she was fun, chatty and easy going. As we unloaded and went to work preparing, she had a professional sense of urgency, “you wanna job in London?” I joked. in truth she certainly wouldn’t be out of her depth, not worried about being a member of the red hand gang.  


The red wine and beer flowed that night plus our salads and a bbq were consumed with Liz capturing the images for prosterity and myself spending the rest of the evening with beetroot stained hands..


Sunday was a four and a half hour ride out and back past White River National Forest and above Reudi Reservoir. Having spent 75% of yesterday’s ride at the front and being (falsely) accused of pushing the pace on, I was banished to the mid pack for 2 hours minimum! The feature climb up to the top was far less challenging and we generally rode at tempo, expecting it to kick up at the top or go on for longer. I didn’t even manage a crowd pleaser to try and gain back the 15 seconds,we just arrived at the top. The descent back was taken full gas as a few of us decided to have some fun.






Fun on the Descent.


One day ahead Team Photo- L-R. Doug, Trevor, Lance, Geoff, Helen, James, Me

Verity, Simon, Mel & Ciaran

Monday, and being due to fly out of Denver that evening, a shorter ride was planned as we had to leave by 11.30am for the car journey back. Shorter yes, but trust me when I say no less dramatic. I asked for some company but the team kindly declined, so at 7.30am I set off and was going to tackle the 12,075ft Independence Pass. This road is unpassable for over 6 months of the year so Aspen Is almost a cul-de-sac for half a year with only one main road coming in from Glenwood Springs. Although not super steep it is a long climb of 20 miles with some amazing views and thick snow as you get above 10,000ft.

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Aspen and surrounding Colorado is beautiful, awe inspiring even. The riding was tough with the 5 days on my Garmin showing the lowest elevation as 7500ft!

This challenge is Geoff’s vision to celebrate 10 years since his remission with the aim of raising 1 million for CureLeukaemia. Lance, who has raised through his charity 580 times that figure, was Geoffs inspiration to recover and fight back to health. At the top of the dirt trail and steep climb to Snowmass he joked he wished he had read a different book!

I wanted to avoid preconceptions and meet the man myself. He was generous with his time, posing for photos with the team, signing memorabilia, even trusting me to go play chef with Anna when they opened their family home to us for dinner. For so many he will forever remain a divisive figure, a fallen sporting icon, loved or loathed. For me it was far less black and white. This is a charity ride not a race, I had fun riding and hanging out with him, there was some first class banter, a real guy’s guy. It won’t sit well with a few of you but I look forward to riding with him again in France and you better believe that I am gonna try and get those 15 seconds back….!

images with kind permission by Liz Kreutz – www.elizabethkreutz.com

If you would like to support the cause please click on my link. 100% of the donation goes direct to the CureLeukaemia charity https://www.justgiving.com/Hayden-Groves3

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~ by theboxterboy on June 14, 2015.

One Response to “Further tales from Aspen”

  1. […] banter between the two of us from Aspen in May continued and the small matter of the ‘15 seconds in Snowmass‘ was still to be addressed on the roads. Boys will be Boys and lance ever the racer set me […]

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