Today was the ‘easy’ day of this year’s Ride the Rockies. A relatively easy 50-mile loop in the Steamboat Springs area, or if you were so inclined, a nice day off to relax without having to relocate. A two-night stays in a single place is a great thing for riders on a long bicycle tour.

Old Sheds on the RangeThis part of the valley is incredibly scenic, with lots of beautiful countryside, ranches, and luxury homes in the hills to gawk at.

I had decided to make this ride a true recovery ride and keep my efforts to a bare minimum – the aching in my legs made this an easy decision. The first section of the route was slightly uphill, but these hills were small enough not to require too much effort. I also stopped a bunch of times when great ‘picture taking’ opportunities presented themselves. This certainly helped keep the ride effort low.

Just before the first aid station in Oak Creek, we had a long, but gradual climb to make. This was the longest climb of the day, but as we learned later, it was by no means the hardest. In fact, after leaving aid station 1 we had a long, and somewhat steep climb to make – I felt sorry for anyone who overate at the aid station pancake buffet and then had to make that climb.

[caption id=”” align=”alignright” width=”240” caption=”View after leaving Oak Creek”]View after leaving Oak Creek[/caption]

Once we crested this big climb, we were given a great view of the countryside and a nice long descent towards one of the local mines along Twenty-Mile Road. At this point, the roads became to decend, and it was easy to make good time. We did have a couple of small climbs – a small ridge line separating us from Steamboat Springs in the distance.

The climbs over this ridge were surprisingly tough. They weren’t all that long, but the grades were rather steep. There were several 10-11% sections on a couple of the hills, even though I think the average grade for the entire climb was more along 7-8%. It was impossible to stay in the recovery zone on these hills, but I took it as easy as I could and just enjoyed the view.

[caption id=”” align=”alignright” width=”191” caption=”Chad Climbing near Steamboat Springs”]Chad Climbing near Steamboat Springs[/caption]

The remainder of the ride gave us scenic roads on the outskirts of Steamboat Springs, with the same great views of the ranches along the hillsides. This really was a great route for our ‘easy’ day. The distance could have been shorter, but it was nice to get an easy 50 miles in without feeling like it was taking a lot out of you.

Hopefully all that active recovery will make the climb up the very steep Rabbit Ears Pass tomorrow go well!

This post originally appeared on the Denver Post at