Operation ALTBOAT: A tale of big salads, Canadian EDM and having fun on bikes...
It all began as a creative way to kick off a BAR-U-EAT initiative called The Car Free Challenge. We wanted to promote the concept of recreating from your house, as opposed to driving your vehicle to a trailhead. Leave it to BAR-U-EAT Athlete, Ashley Carelock, to volunteer to bike commute to Steamboat Springs from her home in Cortez, CO, and then compete in the SBTGRVL bike event.
Ashley's got a busy schedule (she's a professional ultra endurance cyclist), and by the time we coordinated the trip logistics via email and phone calls, we had missed the signup window for SBTGRVL! Rather than cancel her plans to complete a mega bike commute to Steamboat, she decided to turn lemons into lemonade, and ride her bike to Routt County anyways (at a very fast pace).
600 miles, and 43K feet of vertical elevation gain later, Ashley was eating big salads here in Steamboat Springs!
Day 1 - Cortez to Pagosa Springs
If riding 150+ miles and climbing close to 9,000 feet were not impressive enough (for reference the SBTGRVL Black Course is 142 miles with 9200 feet of elevation gain), Ashley managed to knock off a few top 10 (of all time) Strava segments - not bad for day 1!
Day 2 - Pagosa Springs to Nowheresville, CO
Day 2 involved a huge push over scenic (but steep) Indiana Pass. The majority of climbing happened at once (4K+ feet of elevation gain in +-8 miles)... STOUT.
Day 3 - Nowheresville, CO to Salida, CO
100+ miles of riding, 6K+ of climbing, and the #2 fastest women's time on Marshall Pass (a heavily trafficked bike route) and #10 of all time... no big deal. I think it was the big salad at Boathouse Cantina that had Ashley cranking out the watts on the Marshall segment.
Day 4 - Salida, CO to Silverthorne, CO
This day consisted of 118 miles, 8K of elevation gain, and a lot of mid country climbing where the air is thin. Highlights include the awe inspiring Aspen Ridge just outside of Salida, another big salad... and of course, BAR-U-EAT.
Day 5 - Silverthorne, CO to Steamboat Springs, USA
The final push was more of the same...130 miles, well over 8K of gain, mid country riding, and a few Strava medals to earn her salad and a gin and tonic.
Day 6 - Bike Party!
This is not the first time I've invited someone to ride their bike over for happy hour, but it is the first time there was a 600 mile bike commute involved. Call Ashley a lot of things, but do not call her late for a dinner! It was fun to hang out and hear about the incredible journey. We even had some questions prepared for her!
Q: If you could pick one song that describes your current mood (and after completing an EPIC bike trip like this), what would it be?
A: Clair De Lune by Claude Debussy- my all time favorite song
Q: What's on your playlist? Who's your favorite musical artist and song when you want to recharge / energize for a big push, and one for when you want to relax on a mellow stretch?
A: Gosh, that's a difficult question because I have a lot! HA!! But, two songs that I'm digging on now are Yes We Faded by Keys N Krates and Neva Knew - the Baauer Remix by Obey City, Baauer To relax - hmmmm.... probably Porcelain by Moby.
Q: It's no secret that you like big salads...what's the best salad you've had (on a bike trip) in recent memory?
A: LOVE, LOVE, LOOVVVEEE me a big salad. Best one on a trip... probably the one I ate in Salida. It was packed with fresh greens, corn, avocado and grilled shrimp! Yum.
Q: What was your favorite moment of the trip? Could be the best view, best segment of gravel, etc...
A: Favorite moment, well... two actually. The first was when I finished the 8+ mile trek up towards Indiana Pass via East Fork road. It was a long and difficult morning, but when I accomplished my goal I felt overwhelmed with joy. Plus the views were spectacular up there. Second is the section outside of Del Norte around Storm King Campground. That area just feels remote and special to me.
Q: What was the hardest moment, or least favorite part of the journey to Steamboat Springs?
A: The most difficult moment was the last day on the climb out of Radium. It was SUPER hot, no shade and up to 10% grade. I remember looking down at my Garmin and seeing that I was only going 2.5 mph, while sweating bullets. It was a little demoralizing.
Q: This last question is for all of us bike geeks out there. You ride a Rodeo Labs Trail Donkey with a Nex Gen wheelset, and made 600 miles of gnarly, high elevation, often times steep and chunky, and remote gravel riding look like a piece of cake. You are obviously a gifted and elite rider, however your bike selection also contributed to your success. What is it about this bike that allows you to successfully ride fast, and for very long distances (weight, geometry and handling, wheel options, durability, etc)?
A: The wheelset is Nex Gen V7cf - Love these wheels. The Trail Donkey is a capable machine. It handles rough gravel and single track like a pro, and better than my past gravel and cross bikes. I like my tires on the bigger side - 50c, because you can run lower pressure and are less likely to get flats. Also, I have a Redshift suspension stem that helps with all the gnarly washboards and chunky sections. I rocked a 52-10 cassette with a 44t up front on this trip. This gear ratio allowed me to cover the flat and rolling terrain as quickly as possible but also allowed me to keep my cadence loose and quick on the steep sections. Since this was a tour and not a race, I opted to carry a little more gear allowing me to get several good nights of sleep. It added a little weight, but it was 100% worth it. Each night I slept under the stars, or under a picnic table — my typical m.o., I slept soundly.
Q: What is your current bucket list mountain bike ride (that you haven't done), adventure trip (ultra style)?
A: Hmmmm…. Bucket list? That’s a tough question because there’s so many!! But, one would be the Arizona trail. And of course, my current vendetta- The Tour Divide.
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Ashley, you're a badass and we can't wait to see what adventures your bike takes you on next!