Five tips to make travelling your lifestyle

In the last 10 years, I have lived on three continents, five countries and about 30+ places. Some of them weren’t longer than a month, one lasted for an entire six months. It was almost worth noting down the address. I truly love travelling, moving around and meeting new people and cultures. I am not afraid of moving to a new continent without knowing a soul, the language or the culture. In fact, I thrive on the excitement of experiencing new adventures.

Rather than travelling, I call it moving because I do immerse myself into my surroundings, in fact that is a must for me. I don’t like to be a tourist and prefer to stay where the locals live and do what the locals do as told here.

Although moving to an unknown places seems scary at first, there are ways to make this an amazing adventure. Here are few tips:

  1. To make moving easy, I own just enough stuff that I truly need, nothing more. Despite being an absolute bike addict, I only have one bike. Carrying extras of anything makes me feel weighed down. The adventures I am experiencing discredit any materialistic belongings. Stuff weighs me down. Experiences lift me up.
  2. Be happy with yourself alone. Don’t be afraid to be alone in a new country where you don’t speak the language or understand the culture. Yes, it seems at first overwhelming and scary but exactly those intense emotions you will never forget and appreciate even more because they make you feel alive.
  3. Smiling opens doors. There is no better way to communicate. Enough said.
  4. Be proactive. Moving into a new country but then hanging out in front of the TV is not worth the effort. Get out with or without a plan. You learn so much from looking around.
  5. There is no better strategy to learn than observing. Find out why the locals do certain things. How they behave. How they interact. What is different than what you are used to and why could that possibly be?

Travelling is an enriching and rewarding experience. Just buy a plane or train ticket and get out! With or without plan.

Because life is a journey!


I love riding in Minnesota – 100mi Fulton Gran Fondo
I forgot about the pain.

I forgot about how loooooong 100 mi could feel.

I forgot about the wind!

But four months away from Minnesota did not make me forget how awesome its cycling community is. 

Today at the Fulton Gran Fondo I was able to be part of it again. There is this energy in the air; that anticipation to have fun that gets me excited to ride my bike. 

It’s easy to fit in. Only rule is to be nice. 
It doesn’t matter what kit you wear or how fast you ride. Enjoying the ride is the motto. 

The Minnesotan cycling community rocks! Thank you for a wonderful day!

Thanks to the Fulton Brewery for a great race! And huge thanks to Foundry for putting me on a great bike!


Only 156 hours to the Royal 162! Oh man, I cant wait to race gravel again!


What happens in Hawaii…The Naked Truth

(This happened mid-Dec 2013 on my way to New Zealand)

I probably had the most entertaining and random 48 hours in Hawaii, I could have ever imagine.

It all started that a male middle-aged stranger (connected through a cycling hospitality website), Mike, greeted me with a typically Hawaiian flower lei at the airport at 9:30pm. As a woman travelling alone it’s not always a good idea to go with a male stranger.

However, I felt good in this case. He is gay and lives with his partner in an apartment. 

On the way to their apartment we planned the next day, it would be a tour around the island, Oahu, followed by a dinner that spontaneously popped up for Mike.
The next day, the sightseeing tour was amazing, the beaches are incredible. No question why Jurassic Park, Lost and other big movies were filmed here. Mike asked me if I wanted to go to the beach swimming. Hell yea! I asked him if we could stop somewhere so I can change into a bikini. He said ‘no need, we are going to a nude beach.’

Ehhh! What?

Okay, that caught me somewhat off guard and I tried to pretend it wasn’t a big deal.
After an eternity of awkward silence I asked if I could show up with my bikini anyway.
Sure, he said…whew, at least that.

So I went with a gay guy to a nude beach. Who would have thought that!
Once we were there, a few others were laying rather exposed and relaxed in the sun. Mike started spreading one huge  blanket across the sand.
Where is the other blanket?
The blanket that was meant for ME?????
Very nice of him to offer to share, but no way am I sharing a blanket with a naked guy, gay or not (at least not on this day ;).
I saw a hand towel in his bag – a very ,very small one. I grabbed it and spread the mini piece in safe distance next to the huge blanket and settled there.
The first minutes I was VERY focused on the sea. I didn’t care too much to blink left or right. After a while though I was okay with my surrounding and I actually was able to have a proper conversation with Mike lying on his blanket in…ummm…nothing.

After the beach I decided to be more careful in what I agree on.
We continued our sightseeing tour, saw how coffee is made and pineapple is grown until we went to  the dinner party.
I ended up eating in an expensive seafood restaurant with Mike and six of his friends. So me and 7 gay guys… it was absolutely awesome. When one guy realized that I was freezing in the restaurant he disappeared and came back with a T-Shirt which he just bought nearby in a store. Never had that happened to me!

The next day was interesting in a very different way. The plan was to ride bikes with another new aquaintance, Hanna and two of her friends. During introductions, her friend asked me questions I am not usually asked about.
What is my sign? What time is my birthday? Where was I born?
During our rather more relaxed ride Hanna suddenly stopped and asked me if I believe in spiritualism. Well, not really. “That’s ok”, she said “but I wanted to tell you”, she continued, “that Paul (the friend who asked me those interesting questions) started seeing people. I am absolutely fascinated with it.”

Okay….well, I guess I haven’t really thought about that yet.
At the end of the ride, I learned that I have 142 sunshine years in me. So I have that going for me…I guess??

After Hanna and I went to the swimming pool and it was time to get ready to get changed, I was about to test my newly attained comfort in nudity and was ready to change in the public area.

No one around! So who cares?!?

Well, Hanna was in disagreement when she was yelling “No,No,No”!!!

I looked at her astonished.

“Security cameras everywhere!”

Oops.

Okay, not expecting that it could any better, the security people at the airport gave me one last laugh. When they scanned my carry-on they found my chamois lotion. When the security guard asked me about its purpose I gave him a rather detailed explanation.  He let me keep it if I told his boss how awesome he is. That was a no brainer!

Aloha!

End of season report – Part I : The races

A year ago when I moved to the Midwest I have never heard of gravel racing before. Now, after one season full of gravel I raced 12 amazing gravel races totaling ~1700mi of pure fun (averaging 150mi/race). There is no better introduction to the Midwest than riding gravel!

That was my race calendar:
Apr 27/28   Trans-Iowa (Grinnel, Iowa) – 325mi
May 18       Royal 162 (Spring Valley, Minnesota) – 162mi
June 1         Dirty Kanza (Emporia, Kansas) – 200mi
Jul 20          Operacion Muerto (Verdin, Manitoba, Canada) >300mi
Aug 24        Gravel Worlds (Lincoln, Nebraska) – 150mi
Sept 7         Inspiration 100 (Garfield, Minnesota) – 100mi
Sept 3-15    Gravel Conspiracy (Grand Marais, Minnesota) – 180mi
Sept 28       Heck of the North (Two Harbors, Minnesota) – 100mi
Oct 13        Filthy 50 (Stewartville, Minnesota) – 50mi
Oct 19        Dirtbag (Clearwater, Minnesota) – 88mi

 

Thanks to Guitar Ted for an epic start of the 2013 gravel season. I was never as nervous about a race as this one. With six months of preparation, I have never gotten ready longer for any other race. Trans Iowa is not just a race, it’s an emotional roller coaster, a game with the sleep monsters and IMO the queen of all gravel races.

 

Royal 162

If you want to see what passion for gravel racing looks like meet Chris! Chris lives and breathes gravel. I wouldn’t be surprised if his house is made out of gravel. The Royal started with friends and ended with even more friends. It was great to see how many people enjoy gravel racing!

Thanks to Jim Cummins for introducing me to Kansas, to the beauty of its meadows and to the queen of pain – Rebecca Rush. Dirty Kanza attracts gravel racers from all over the nation to visit Kansas. One of the biggest lessons I learned from this race is: Kansas is by no means flat! With the finish line ending in downtown Emporia, the entire town cheers for you on the final stretch!

If Trans Iowa was not enough, take it a step further and ride with no cue sheets as the Canadians do it. And if you are game for surprises (like walking into a strip performance in a bar) then this race is a must do! Thanks to Hal Loewen for creating Operacion Muerto. Huge thanks to Ian Hall and Lindsay Gauld for helping us logistically and for their cue sheets (they probably anticipated the headline of the local newspaper: Search rescue to find German and American cyclists sleeping in the ditch.)
What other gravel race starts with a German shaking an enormous cow bell around his waist? What other gravel race honors you with a winner’s jersey that has World Championships stripes.  Thanks to Corey Godfrey for putting on the Gravel Worlds!
I wasn’t aware I could attend a free concert when I signed up for Inspiration 100. Thanks to Deek Surly and his crew mile 80(?) not only offered foods and drinks but a two-man music performance on self-created instruments. Plus, I never thought I would be so happy about receiving a rusted chain ring!
Gravel Conspiracy
You know how to make omelets without a pan and stove?  And how to create a feast for 20 hungry riders if nothing else but a gas station is your resource? Ask Josh Stamper because he knows it all. The three day event made this gravel ride a great adventure in the most beautiful area of the Midwest!
The Heck was my first ever gravel race last year and I couldn’t wait to come back. I realized also in this event how close, friendly, welcoming, helpful and awesome gravel riders are! Thanks to Jeremy Kershaw for a great event, whether sunshine or rain!
Whether you are rookie or veteran, the Filthy 50 is the perfect race for everyone! The shorter distance made it for a nice change in race and ride strategy. The race was so well-organized that you would not realize that that was Trenton Raygor’s first race promotion. Thanks to Trenton for putting on a great race that welcomes any level of rider.
Dirtbag
Last but not least, the Dirtbag, the race that finished my gravel season for this year. On the drive up to the race, it was rainy, cold and windy! Who would show up in these conditions? Oh my, did I underestimate the mentality of gravel racers when I saw 90 riders at the start line! Nothing deters them! Thanks to Ben Doom for an awesome race!
It goes without saying that without all the volunteers no race would be as organized, welcoming and yummy as they are!
I am sad to say goodbye to all the amazing people I have met through gravel racing! What a great community!

How I prepared for Trans Iowa
Trans Iowa was the most epic race for me this year. I was nervous. What did I get myself into? Would I be prepared? What equipment, tool or nutrition am I missing? Would I be able to hang with people? What should I know that I don’t know yet?
Looking back, I learned that 80% of this race is mental. Yes, it would be a good idea to get a few centuries in before but Trans Iowa was not decided how fit I was (of course, a certain fitness is required) but how I dealt with myself in my darkest moments. I was teaching myself a certain attitude that nothing can stop me – whether it is weather, sleep-deprivation, hunger, thirst or the blister on my pinky.
But to successfully apply this “No obstacle is too big” attitude, I had to train it.
To get ready for the worst, I had to train in the worst. I had to ride when it was the most humbling with no glory or Strava segments to get. Most of those rides were alone. No one else wanted to join. That was the best indicator for a bad ride.
I still remember one particular time that tested whether I stuck to my own philosophy. Every Wednesday I joined a group ride which was 15 miles away from my place. One day in January, I decided to ride to the group ride. On the way it started raining. The group ride was still happening but we shortened it because it got colder, windier and darker. Everyone was shivering. During the last few miles when we were heading towards the end point of the group ride I was debating with myself. I could easily ask one of the riders to drive me home, sitting in a nice warm, dry car, preferably with seat heating. Or I could ride the 15 miles in this wet, cold, and dark condition home.
The car option was winning!
But then my conscience reminded me of Trans Iowa. Would there be an option on the course where I could get a ride? That would be called “giving up.”
I had to ride home!
To avoid someone potentially offering me a ride I didn’t do the usual stop and chit-chat at the end point and just headed towards home. It was cold, wet, windy and dark, but I made it. I realized that more treacherous conditions had to come to make me give up!
Trans Iowa is like an obstacle course with unknown hurdles along the way. Every rider gets their own personal obstacles. It will not be perfect so it’s about how to deal with the imperfection. On a few rides, I simulated running out of water and food. I was thinking of every “worst-case” scenario possible and how I would deal with it. What if I get lost? What if my lights run out of battery? How will I feel at 2 am and how my body will try to convince me to stop and how I will convince my body not to stop. (Cinnamon rolls did the trick for me)
Trans Iowa is an epic event; it is an exciting journey with great people. It is an overwhelming feeling of accomplishment when crossing that finish line! I am very excited for everyone who will race TI 2014!

Inflated tires are overrated – The Filthy 50 race
It was a gorgeous fall day. In the 50s and sunny.
Having learned my lesson from Heck of the North, I enforced my traditional carb-loading the day before. However, instead of apple pie, I found this delicious walnut-cranberry bread from Whole Foods. Quantity will not be disclosed. (Otherwise I will see my name at the next food competition roster)
About 300 racers lined up at the start line. It will be a fast race.
For the first 30 miles I was staring as far as the wheel in front of me, my tongue collecting the dust and my legs in huge argument with its biggest enemy namely lactate. I didn’t dare to make any movement that didnt cause forward-motion.
I could get dropped any second.
When I looked up I found myself in a group that was way too strong for me. Why the hell was I here? I was a marionette and played along until someone would cut the strings.
The playground became a cemetery when my legs died at 32mi on a climb: Nature Road. Once on the ridge, it was time to chase. Head down (I was told the course was very beautiful. I missed out on the scenery but I can tell you all about the dust collection on my stem). I caught a few stragglers along the way.
With about five miles to go I could feel the gravel under me more pronounced than normal.
Do I have a flat?
Wait, do I want to know the answer?
No. Ok, then keep riding and just don’t look.
After a few miles it became too apparent. I had a leak in my front tire. How inconvenient! Even more inconvenient for the wheel because I am not going to stop!
When I hit the pavement the last three miles, I was riding the rim. No air in the tire. Nothing. Nada. Null.
I must say, it is quite strenuous to ride uphill on a flat. The constant banging of the metal against the tarmac attracted some attention on my way to finish line. But it’s all good. My HED wheels don’t even have a scratch.
Congrats to all the finishers of the race! I hope everyone had fun! Huge thanks to Trenton for a phenomenal race. With his entire family, neighbors and great sponsors as support, the race was a well-organized event and suited every kind of rider. A 50 miler is the perfect distance for newcomers to try out gravel racing and for veterans to change up the pace.

 


Heck of the North – My toughest gravel race this year
First, thanks to Jeremy and the volunteers for putting on such a great race!
This race has once again shown to me that gravel racing is a team sport and the competition is me.
Other racers make this personal endeavor easier by sharing the burden against wind, weather and terrain.
Heck of the North would become the toughest challenge I have faced this year so far.
The first 15 miles was the usual race development for me.
Got dropped. Chased back on. And got dropped again.
But this time I wasn’t able to chase back on.
I got into TT mode for the next 40 miles with Kristin in tow. All headwind. All flat.
I didn’t want to accept the fact that I wouldn’t be able to catch up to the group. It was one against ten.
My energy was slowly draining. The usual spike from an energy gel wasn’t working.
Something was off.
It started raining. Then pouring. Another ten miles to the drop-off spot. Maybe I could catch the group then? I wanted to ride with my friends.
A group of ten came up behind us. The group I was chasing for the last 40 miles.
They got lost. Lucky me!
We all stopped at the drop-off spot. I put my rain jacket on to stay warm but where was my food? I must have forgotten it. Mark and Jon gave me a burrito, gummy bears and a granola bar. I cant thank them enough for that!
That would hold me off for the last 40 miles.
But man, was I wrong!
We got back on the road. Six of us. It was still pouring. Everything was wet and muddy. Glasses fogged up and became useless. Dirt was dripping off our helmets. My cue sheets turned out not be waterproof.
Our group dissolved slowly.  It became harder to grind through the wet gravel.  Drafting became a muddy insult to the eyes.
Corey and I rode together for a while and we took turns fighting the rain. No energy to talk. Words spoken only if necessary.
The last 90 miles took its toll. Despite a gel I wasn’t able to recover at all anymore. I was crawling up rises that wouldn’t make it onto an elevation chart. Corey had to leave me behind.
Only I and two seemingly insurmountable miles to go.
I fell into a delirious state of complete exhaustion, tiredness. Thoughts started creeping up what would happen if I would stop right here and just not keep going.
I was in my drops. Staying in my hoods became cumbersome. I was hungry. Starving. And sick to my stomach.
Food was in the pockets of my rain jacket. I wanted those gummy bears Mark gave me.
Do I have the energy to take my hand from the drops to reach into the pocket while sustaining my weight with my other hand?
That sounded awfully exhausting.
I decided to wait.
But I needed food! I had to do it! Sunglasses, trash, and a granola bar, I didn’t want in the pocket would make it difficult to get the gummy bears.
In a moment of energy I reached into my pocket.
Sunglasses.
Granola bar.
Where the heck are the gummy bears?
My surge of energy vanished. I had to put my hands back in the drops. No gummy bears.
I opened my eyes as wide as possible so I would know they are open. The yellow of the leaves became really bright. The baby heads in the middle of the roads popped up too fast to avoid at 8 mph.
Would I feel the pain when I crash? Maybe that’s the easy way out.
Okay, another try to get those damn gummy bears. Okay, Monika, don’t be so picky. Whatever I get, I will take! I was reaching into the pocket.
Granola bar.
After devouring half of the bar while losing the other half, I realized I had the rest of the burrito in the other pocket. Where was my mind?
I used the bit of energy I got from the granola bar to fetch the burrito. Too tired to unwrap, I just took a huge bite from the tin-foil wrapped burrito. It was crunchy.
I was staring a few feet ahead of my front tire looking out for rocks. I didn’t want to see the seemingly endless trail ahead of me. What would happen if I’d stop and took a nap right here? I slowed down. Was I even able to slow down? I was crawling.
If I stop here, someone would surely pick me up 2 miles from the finish? Maybe it’s easier and faster just to ride there? But that requires I actually to move my legs.
An eternity later I looked up and saw people at the road. The finish! How the heck did that happen?!
Looking back, I know what caused my full energy depletion. I hadnt had my traditional apple pie the day before the race. Clearly, that was it!

Inspiration 100 gravel race – an accidental dehydration experiment
The stay in a cabin with ten fellow racers the day before the race (thanks to Charlie and his family) set the perfect atmosphere for a successful gravel race weekend – preparing race food, discussing bike gear and talking race tactics.
Every gravel race is different. With gravel worlds still in mind I was lining up at the start line with two water bottles. With refueling stops at mile 40 and mile 70, two bottles would last – so I thought at least. What I didn’t take into account was the fact that everyone else seemed to have a camel bak, which would mean the chance that someone would refuel at mile 40 would be low. 
Deek giving instructions at the start line
Roll out.

So I treated this as a physiological experiment how far two bottles would get me.

Within the first ten miles, the three leaders were already ahead of the group.
The leaders.
At around mile 40 we were still a big group

Our chase group of about 15 dabbled along for a while; no one with a strong incline to burn matches. 
I was sitting on my chosen wheel while we were passing mile 40 – a gas station and first opportunity to stop for water. 
My group chose to continue so did I. 
A lot of rollers.

Some “technical” double track

Dusty!
I was already running low on bottle number 2 but I knew mile 70 would be the next stop. Until then, so I hoped, the group would be smaller, which would make it easier to convince everyone to stop for water.
But for now, another 30 miles to go. Half a bottle had to be enough. 
It became hotter. Dust stuck to sweat running from face, arms and legs. The gravel was deep asking for a lot of effort for little forward-motion. The sudden change of gravel depth required continuous concentration. Slowly but surely, the energy level of the group started draining. 
I kept riding my own pace and at mile 50 I was by myself.
Twenty miles to go. Nothing left in the bottles. I started feeling the effects of dehydration: overheating, headache and hot feet.
Finally at mile 70 I made it to the liquor store to stop for water. Equipped with two bottles, a Gatorade and a snickers bar I was back on the road. That should be enough for the last 30 miles.
I entertained myself with old racing stories and started singing the first line of all five songs I remembered. I tried to solve my biochemistry homework, which gave me headache and caused a drastic slowdown of my riding pace.  
So I focused on the race and the potential whereabouts of all other racers. I had no clue but it gave me enough to think about until mile 93.

I realized all of a sudden that I was VERY tired. “Monika, you are riding a bike, stay focused!” It became harder to hold the grip of the handlebars. My body told me to stop and sleep. I slowed down to seemingly walking pace. The only songs that came into mind were the German and American anthems which kept me upright for the last seven miles. That was a tough race!

Yep, I was thirsty.

We were all exhausted. 

Deek handed creative awards out.

Results are here.
Thanks to Deek Surly and the volunteers for a great event and for taking pictures!


The German survival of Gravel Worlds – a 150 mi gravel race in the oven
I had the privilege to participate at Gravel Worlds– a 150 mi gravel race in no other prestigious region than in the middle of the US…Nebraska.
The race promoter crew, PCL, didn’t lack any creativity to make this a special race. It all started on a farm owned by a German who kicked off the race with a big circular hip motion accompanied with a noise you would usually hear in the Alpes. He was shaking a massive cow bell. Surprisingly, he didn’t start yodeling.
Nebraskan weather treated us with the best of the best – upper 90s and 20 mph winds. Although this might not be the best outlook for some coldblooded Minnesotans the race was set up that made everyone a winner. Every racer had to buy a lottery ticket on each of the three checkpoints and turn them in after the race. Now we are 203 racers.  Obviously, one of us would win!
Anyway, the more realistic happiness was found in the three additional checkpoints called fittingly “oasis” along the course. That meant six water stops on a 150 mile course. I would carry 2 bottles.
The race started at 6am. I missed the memo to bring a light so my borrowed 50 lumen blinkie shined as far as to the front wheel. Well, with a start right into soft gravel and my newly enforced anti-crash-policy I lost the front group with my friends in it.
Who would I talk to now for the next 149.5 miles? I was concerned.
When finally the sun crept over the horizon and I saw more than my front tire, it was time to chase. About 16 miles and 20 matches later I caught on. I would have been fully content if the race would have been done right there. I was cooked!
At mile 30 we had to buy our first lottery tickets. 15 people stormed the gas station. But I took my sweet little time to refill water bottles and buy my tickets and left the store.
No bikes!
Apparently I misinterpreted the hectic movements of my fellow racers. (I see a trend here for my rather slow stops)
Back on the bike I was reciting the German curse vocabulary while imagining 120 miles by myself. Can I catch on again?
Where are you, legs?
Shut up, legs!
Didn’t work! Jens is lying!
But only a few miles later I found my friend Ted at the side of the road getting back on the bike after fixing a flat.
How convenient! That was my chosen wheel.
Four others caught on to us and our group of six cruised along roller after roller. The sun started frying us. But it was all good. Except one thing.
Me: “Ted, you are too fast for our group.”
Ted: “I have good legs.”
Me: “I realized. Can you please ride away from us?”
Ted: “Nah, I like hanging out here.”
After some convincing, we finally got him to leave us. He ended up second that day to a pro racer.
For the next 100 miles we got baked with a consistent 20 mph wind from the South. If I was dough, I would be done by now.
The impact of the heat can be best explained by a comment from a fellow racer when we turned towards North:
 “Oh dammit, we have tail wind.”
I stared at him in disbelief.
“There is nothing anymore that gives some sort of cooling down.”
Point taken.
It was about 1 pm and around 110 miles into the race with the next 12 miles straight into the head wind.
I was alone. No one insight. No tree. No draft. Just me, loose gravel and a 100 degree breeze right in my face. My mind was already at the next checkpoint.
When my body caught up and I approached the gas station, I saw the three leaders pulling out!
Only three!? But where are the others?
I found the answer in the gas station. One super clean rider (did he take a shower in the sink?) sitting too comfortable on a bench sipping on his fourth Gatorade.
“Are you done racing?” I asked.
“Nope. Just taking a break.”
“Haha…right! How long are you taking a break?”
“Not sure. Until I cool down.”
“Are you joining me?”
“Naah. I wait.”
Shoot, he was my only hope to mix the next 30 miles up a bit. Apparently, I annoyed him by asking him another five times because he finally got up. I had company! Someone to talk to!
We got lost in a conversation. That got us lost.
Two miles off course.
When we turned around we met up with another group of four. We ended up riding together until the last few miles before the finish.
At the finish, I was greeted by Corey, the race promoter, a sweet jersey and a lunch box! (I wish I had a picture of that)
What a race! Great organization, challenging course, and a heck of fun! Thanks to the PCL crew for an outstanding race!
Thanks to Foundry and HED to set me up with the perfect gravel bike!

 


Gravel racers with a mountainbike problem – Tips from a 4-day Colorado Trip

Our goal was to get an affordable mountain bike trip on gravel- and fire roads in the mountains of Colorado. We found it in Leadville.

Accommodation
The Leadville hostel not only beats every other lodging in its price for 25$ a night and all-you-can-eat breakfast for $7 it also gave us a great opportunity to meet interesting people, especially hikers and cyclists, from all over the world. The location of the hostel allowed us just to jump on our bikes and ride up the mountains.

Routes
Leadville is located on a mountain side so we had a choice of climbing up the mountain gaining 800ft within 3 miles or heading down to the Turquoise lake and go in any direction for another climb. We rode parts of the Leadville 100 course every day climbing St Kevins,  Sugarloaf and Columbine. We gained 3,400 feet within 9 miles on the Columbine climb.


Special considerations for the mountains
We took a camelbak with plenty of water and sunblock for all the rides since the altitude causes quicker dehydration and easier sunburn. Since the weather is so unpredictable, we also carried rain jackets which we definitely put to use. Also, the altitude made easy efforts at sea level a lot harder. Especially, the Columbine climb which goes up to 12,500 feet was quite a humbling experience.

Restaurants
The High Mountain Pies restaurant in town offered a great variety of sandwiches, pizza and salads. At rush hour the place can become very busy. Another delicious place was Tennessee Pass cafe on the main street that has options even for the most picky eater including vegan and gluten-free dishes.

Weather
We had outstanding weather, always in the 60-70s. In the afternoon, the occasional rain shower passed through the mountains. Knowing that rain most likely would come in the afternoon got us out the door in the morning.

View to the mountains

 

Turquoise Lake

 

In the distance the Columbine climb

 

The Leadville course offers a great variety in terrain

 

Mostly smooth gravel roads

 

The beginning of the Columbine climb

 

The hostel

 

 

Rain in the afternoon is not unusual

Thanks to Corey Godfrey for the great pictures.