How I spent my summer vacation

Biking the perfect way to spend the warmest three months of the year

One of the highlights of a summer on the bike for Julie Norman was riding the Perimeter Trail around Lake Dillon over the Fourth of July. The trail is special because of its beauty.

One of the highlights of the summer on the bike for Julie Norman was riding Mary’s Loop with friend Adelle Roberts.

One of the highlights of a summer on the bike for Julie Norman was cruising all the trails in Crested Butte, including Gunnison Hartman Rocks.

It seems an odd time to be writing this, since it’s only August, but everyone’s kids are back in school and so I suppose a “how I spent my vacation” brief is rather appropriate.

Our summer has so far been filled with Colorado biking adventures. In June, we camped several weekends in Ridgway. The state park there is decked out with swimming areas, playgrounds, shaded sites and great scenic trails. Of course the biking there is fast, flowing and oh so sweet!

In July we spent several weekends getting up at the crack of dawn to bike before the heat of the day hit. There are bright spots to biking here in July though. First, the trails are mostly deserted. We can ride Horsethief Bench and feel like we’re the only riders in the world. We can ride Mary’s Loop and cruise along, marveling at the views, without holding up anyone behind us or stopping to let others pass. Sure that might sound selfish, but come on. Everyone loves feeling like they’ve got the trails to themselves. The second reason to love biking in the summer is that it almost always means we go out for lunch afterward and since dining out isn’t something we do very often, it makes these summer rides that much more special. Finishing a ride with pizza and beer or brunch in downtown Fruita or GJ is a treat!

We visited friends in Frisco over the 4th of July. Though the weather was rainy, we did get three great bike rides in, one of which was on the Perimeter Trail around Lake Dillon. This is one of my favorite rides, not because it’s very technical or super fast, but because it’s so pretty. I love biking right next to the lake and hearing the water lap against the shore. Some parts of the ride include hillsides filled with lupine, and there’s almost always a mountain view.

We also took a trip to Crested Butte in July and we truly lucked out with the weather. It seems every year that we travel to Crested Butte, it rains every afternoon. This means we have to get up early, get biking early, and plan to spend the rest of the day lying around waiting for the rain to end.

The rain was so bad three years ago that two years ago we didn’t even go, and last year we rented a condo instead of camping. However, we took a chance this year and booked sites at our favorite campground as soon as we could (January, we booked sites for July in January!). The weather was perfect! We had beautiful sunny skies every day we were there. We spent lazy mornings drinking multiple cups of coffee and tea, took our time getting ready, and biked at midday instead of 9 a.m. We spent afternoons snacking and enjoying cocktails and never once worried about when the rain would start. We rode several of our favorite rides, including Doctor Park, Strand Hill, Lupine and the Gunsight Connector, and on the last day rode at Gunnison’s Hartman Rocks. If you haven’t ridden there yet, put it on your list. Every ride in Crested Butte was filled with wildflowers and mountain views.

It’s August now, and so far we’ve only biked locally, at 18 Road and Loma. Still, we got to chat with some tourists from Memphis and since we love our local trails, biking at home is never a punishment! We do have a few trips planned though, so stay tuned for more trip reports!

My favorite summer moments so far though haven’t been the rides themselves. The rides are always fun. There’s never a time when the adrenaline rush of Mack Ridge or Doctor Park or the fast flow of 18 Road and Hartman Rocks aren’t awesome.  Still, my favorite moments of this summer have been small ones: sitting by the Taylor River in Crested Butte with one of my best friends, hearing my friend’s toddler proclaim, “Oh we made it Julie!” upon reaching the overlook on a short trail in Ridgway, and being able to share every adventure with my better half.

It’s hard not to see every day as a favorite moment sometimes, living where we do, and although spring and fall are indeed fantastic times to bike here, there’s something about summer that will always keep it my favorite season of all.

Maybe it’s the peaches on the pizza at the Hot Tomato, maybe it’s looking down from Mary’s Loop at rafters on the river. Whatever it is, you can bet my summers will continue to be filled with early morning bike rides, camping, friends and much laughter.


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