Active Junky puts some of the best road cycling gear to the test on one of the most iconic rides in the country: the 31st annual Ride the Rockies.
I learned a lot about myself as I coursed along high passes and open roads comprising the 31st Annual Ride the Rockies Bicycle Tour, this year leading 2,100 die-hard cyclists up and over 399 miles and 29,311 vertical feet over six days.
Riders from every walk of life were there to gruel it out over some of Colorado’s most challenging terrain. RTR 2016 tour participants ranged from 9 to 82 years old, from ten countries and nearly every U.S. state.
Images by Aaron Bible
Spinning through scenic communities, route highlights included Independence Pass, Ute Pass and high alpine Trail Ridge Road through Rocky Mountain National Park. While flying toward the finish—and my riding roots—in Fort Collins, my 26-year cycling career flashed before my eyes at speeds up to 40 miles per hour.
Proceeds from the tour and its ancillary events go to The Denver Post Community Foundation, which awards grants to nonprofits aiming to improve and enrich local lives. Grant recipients include Raising A Reader, Aspen Youth Center, SOS Outreach, The Independent Sports Club, Estes Valley Investment in Childhood Success and Book Trust.
What started out as a strictly personal mission became something much greater, as my eyes were opened to the lifetime of possibility that cycling holds and breadth of lives it can impact. I left with hope that I myself could see at least another 26 years of this amazing sport.
Pearl Izumi PRO Escape Jersey and Bib Shorts
Outfit decision went to classic U.S.-based cycling brand Pearl Izumi. The fit, durability and comfort of the highly engineered PRO Escape jersey with its advanced cooling fabrics and moisture-transfer performance kept me comfortable even on all-day epics. Paired with P.R.O. In-R-Cool Bib Shorts, I was looking and feeling good. The shorts are built for performance-minded riders with a sculpted, breathable bib upper (with electronics storage pocket) and premium seamless chamois below in classic cut and style with standard 9” inseam length and anatomic multi-panel design. Throw in a pair of classic PRO Gel Vent gloves with patented ventilated gel padding and mesh fabric for good measure.
Topeak Alien Multi Tools
For long days in the saddle, you need to be prepared if things go wrong with your ride while miles from anywhere. At less than 300 grams, the Topeak Alien III multi-tool won’t weigh down a jersey pocket or saddle bag. A pressed stainless steel frame with engineering-grade plastic and 25 chromoly steel tool bits provide the necessary durability and compact design. Allen wrenches from 2 to 10mm, T25 Torx, an assortment of box-end and spoke wrenches, #2 Phillips and flat-head screwdrivers, chain tool and hook round out the Alien III's features.
I’ve ridden many great pairs of sock over the years, but Swiftwick has always been a staple. Made in my home state of Tennessee, the Aspire is Swiftwick’s most popular and high-end line for training and racing, with fatigue-reducing compression, comfortable wicking materials, and a cuff that doesn’t slip. The Aspire Seven is now available in Hi-Vis Yellow and Fusion Blue for a little color pop in your kit.
Sugoi RSE Alpha Bike Jacket
The RSE Alpha is one of the most packable, functional, best-fitting foul weather cycling pieces I’ve ever owned. Sugoi is known for its sophisticated fabrics, and the Alpha wouldn’t be possible without them. It’s a breathable/wicking, wind and water resistant, lightweight woven shell, which I found versatile for all Colorado temps and conditions through spring and summer. Its offset front zip keeps the pull tab out of your way, and handy chest and rear pockets hold other gear you might be carrying on your ride. Scrunching it down into a jersey pocket and deploying it quickly is not a problem.
I’ve always used Bollés for cycling, but my prescription Bollé shades have become one of my most important pieces of equipment as my eyes have gone downhill. The Bollé 6th Sense is the company’s most advanced performance model to date, with B-Thin Active Design thinner lenses and advanced calculations allowing for prescriptions from +6.00 to -8.00. Rx inserts are made with Trivex, an ultra-light, shatter-resistant material with visual clarity similar to mineral glass. Each Rx pair is optimized for fit and correction, available on nearly all models. Finishing touches are hydrophilic Thermogrip temple tips and adjustable nose pads to keep the frames in place while riding in all conditions.