The Thrill of a Bike Race

The Start of the USA Pro Challenge in Aspen

The Start of the USA Pro Challenge in Aspen

Sexy Cyclists

Sexy Cyclists

More Good-Looking Guys

More Good-Looking Guys

I’m here at my desk amid piles and piles of papers, cards, brochures and miscellaneous other remnants from an action-packed trip to the USA Pro Challenge, which took place here in Colorado last week. I also just spent a couple of hours going through a slew of images from time spent at this exciting bike race. I met cyclists and bystanders, travel suppliers and promoters, journalists and commentators, fans of all ages, shapes and sizes, avid cycling enthusiasts, amateur bike riders and tons of folks just out for a good time.

There’s nothing like a big sporting event to bring people together, especially when it’s on wheels and it travels to different locations along the way. Many people followed the seven days of racing–an extraordinary route that began in Aspen and finished in Denver as it traversed some of the world’s highest mountain passes, most scenic valleys and most beloved Colorado destinations. I hit the USA Pro Challenge in Aspen, Crested Butte and Gunnison and boy, did I soak up every minute of fun I could find within that four-day period.

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Steve Gumble Brings Us Telluride Blues & Brews and More

Steve Gumble

Steve Gumble

There was a story in The New York Times a few days ago about the proliferation of music festivals all over the world within this past decade. In North America, you can count almost 850 for this year alone. People are crazy about music festivals and the all-encompassing experiences they offer, and promoters and musicians have found them to be profitable enterprises.

Telluride Blues & Brews Festival

Telluride Blues & Brews Festival

But no one puts on a festival like Telluride, Colorado. Sure, I’m biased because I live here. But ask anyone and they’ll likely tell you the same. Plus, most of our great Telluride festivals—from music to film—have been around for decades. So I was thrilled to do a Travel Fun interview with Steve Gumble, founder of Telluride Blues & Brews, one of our beloved festivals, to hear his story, how he got this now twenty-one-year-old festival going and to listen to him reminisce about some of the most memorable moments from his shows.

Click the play button below to listen to Steve chat about this world-renowned festival as well as the Durango Blues Train and Snowmass Mammoth Fest, two other terrific musical happenings he recently took on.

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Summer Sipping 2014

Chloe Wines

Chloe Wines

Summer is the season for wine festivals throughout much of the United States, especially in Colorado. June is particularly big in our Rocky Mountain state since the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen is taking place this weekend and the Telluride Wine Festival—under new direction—is happening next weekend. They’re both long-established events, terrific for sampling and savoring food and libations among the pros. Typically one walks away from these festivals with a go-to list of wines, spirits and restaurants to experience in the upcoming months. They also offer wonderful opportunities for socializing among fellow foodies and wine lovers in beautiful mountain settings.

For me, however, summer sipping feels best outdoors while gazing at a gorgeous mountain vista or inside relishing a delicious dinner of grilled meats and vegetables after having done a big hike. I’ve also been known to pack a good bottle and snacks and share a near-sacred moment with someone special out in a remote place. These treasured times create memories that last the longest for me.

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Terrific Spa Experiences in Colorado’s Mountain Towns

Spa Anjali at The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa at Beaver Creek Mountain

Spa Anjali at The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa at Beaver Creek Mountain

Mother’s Day makes many of us think of pampering. I read somewhere that a gift certificate to a spa was one of the most popular Mother’s Day gifts offered. So keep that in mind next time you’re traveling with your favorite mom, even if that mom—or nurturing person—is you. Ladies or men—who doesn’t enjoy having their body and soul nourished by a soothing spa experience?

Here in the Rockies, spa going has become a big part of every mountain vacation year round. Whether you’re looking for just one fantastic therapeutic massage after a long day on the slopes or a big hike, or you decide to make a day of it, spa-going should be a necessary part of every mountain resort stay. Some of the spas are so fabulous that you’d be forgiven if you let the rest of your family or friends ski, ride, hike, bike or fish while you logged major relaxation time within such calming enclaves.

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Closing the Ski Season in Aspen

Relaaax...It's Aspen

Relaaax…It’s Aspen

Smooth, silky, soothing, sultry, relaxing—that’s Aspen. And that’s how my ski season ended this year, and it was lovely. Just what I needed, too.

All kinds of celebrating from pond skimming in bikinis to dancing in ski boots typically take place on closing day at most ski resorts. Skiers and boarders in fun and crazy outfits cut loose as a way of toasting the end of a long ski season marked by few or many turns and often lots of hard work (in the case of those that work in ski towns). I celebrated Telluride’s closing day a month ago and enjoyed closing week festivities on the Front Range mid-April, so I had my share of end-of-the-season partying.

With the closing of its four mountains (Aspen Mountain, Buttermilk, Highlands and Snowmass), Aspen has certainly seen a lot of colorful merrymaking these past weeks. So it wasn’t surprising that this bonus weekend of skiing on Ajax was marked by a bunch of folks—mostly locals—primarily interested in cruising the slopes of their beloved mountain for the last time. Sure there was a smattering of tutus, tiger costumes and wacky wigs along with a vibrant assortment of flowered shirts and shorts, yet the scene was pretty tame. The emphasis was on the skiing; in this case beneath azure blue skies on what were surely the warmest days of the year thus far. (It hit 70 degrees in the town of Aspen on Sunday.) more »

Skiing with Rock Stars: Schussing with Telluride’s Synchronized Ski Teams

Southern Synchro Skiers Practicing in Telluride, Colorado

Southern Synchro Skiers Practicing in Telluride, Colorado

My View of the Ghostriders Last Run Just as the Sun Was Peaking Over the Mountain

My View of the Ghostriders’s Last Run Just as the Sun Was Peeking Over the Mountain

OK, well I wasn’t exactly skiing with these elite snowsports professionals. I was actually tagging along to watch them perform. I’ve been telling many of my fellow Telluride Ski and Snowboard School friends these past couple of months that I’d come out and watch them do their stuff. But I admit that the idea of getting on the slopes before the sun rises over the mountain hasn’t thrilled me, especially since I’ve been working as a ski instructor myself almost nonstop since mid-February. But I set my alarm earlier yesterday and greeted members from theses two teams—Telluride Ghostriders and Southern Synchro Skiers—in the locker room and at the top of the gondola before I had time to have my second cup of coffee. A few  warm exchanges were shared but from the get-go, I could tell they were all business. The task at hand was to charge down the mountain three times, accomplishing a total of six expertly coordinated formations, within a half hour before Telluride Ski Resort officially opened for the day and before they had to go to work as ski instructors potentially teaching every level of student from first-time beginners to level eight all-mountain skiers. Wow, what a way to kickstart your morning.

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Fall in Colorado: A Beautiful Time for Sightseeing and Winter Travel Planning

Fall in Telluride

Fall in Telluride

Fall in Aspen

Fall in Aspen

As you can see from the photos featured in this post, we are in full fall splendor here in Colorado. The foliage is peaking now, yet there’s still a lot of green on the trees. So it should remain beautiful in the mountains for another few weeks. Now we’ve entered the autumnal phase of white beginning to replace the gold, russet, burnt umber and bronze that currently punctuate our alpine panoramas. Yes, as the snow fills in, this harvest of fall colors fades into the landscape and we’re left increasingly hopeful about the opening of our ski resorts and the promise of the winter season in the Rockies.

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Bike Race Spectating, Colorado Touring, Book Promoting, Travel Adventures Galore Oh My

Taking a Break from Book Promoting Along the Barriers at the Vail Time Trial of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge

Taking a Break from Book Promoting Along the Barriers at the Vail Time Trial of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge

“Have you decided what you’d like to order?” the server of Spencer’s, the signature restaurant of Beaver Run Resort in Breckenridge, asked me.

“I’ll have the snake,” I said.

When he looked at me in a bewildered manner, I realized my words weren’t matching my thoughts and then I corrected my order. “Oh, I meant to say steak.  Yes, steak. I’m sorry, I’m just so weary.”

“No problem,” he replied and seemingly just minutes later I was served one of the most succulent steaks ever. I gobbled it down along with a heap of Yukon Gold mashed potatoes, fresh green beans and a big gulp of red wine. I felt exhausted and much in need of sustenance and this unassuming restaurant delivered.

My Travel Memoir/Love Story that Features France and Highlights Colorado

My Travel Memoir/Love Story that Features France and Highlights Colorado

I had been on the road a few days by the time I reached Breckenridge and realized that following a major sporting event, especially one that changes locales daily required a lot of hustling about, but then adding a book promo tour to it was like doubling town. I had been busy much of the summer promoting my new book, A Tour of the Heart:  A Seductive Cycling Trip Through France, although I saved the biggest push for the end when I’d scheduled a number of events and publicity opportunities in conjunction with the USA Pro Challenge, a major bike race which was marking its third year in Colorado. It seemed like a good fit, so why not give it a go? My core audience seems to be made up of outdoor enthusiasts and discriminating travelers, just the kind of people you find showing up for this big cycling event, especially in Aspen, Beaver Creek and Vail.

I set out in Misty, my old 1993 Subaru with over 250,000 miles to her credit, late Sunday, August 18, for Redstone, Colorado, a delightful little mountain town just under an hour from Aspen. From Telluride, the drive ranks as one of the finest in Colorado, punctuated by bucolic farmland scenery in and around Paonia and dramatic mountain vistas up and over McClure Pass. I arrived at the warm and cozy Redstone Inn to find its bar and restaurant bustling with Sunday evening diners.

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