Mustang Ride 2014

Posted on April 22, 2014


Dirt, dust and a hundred some odd miles. Mostly headed west. That was all Don Panache (Founder of Panache Cyclewear) and I had as our guiding principle to launch the fundraising ride event now known as “The Mustang Ride”. In the process of developing this ride we also knew we creating an awareness generator and fund raising event for Michelle Sander’s The Great Escape Mustang Sanctuary with 100% of the proceeds going to the The Great Escape. But we were also gonna try to create the hardest and most un-ridden route 1 day thing in the US. Mission accomplished. We did and then some and boy oh boy are my legs still mad at me. Just to be fully honest, most of this story will be told from the back of the ride.

The ride is a point to point “gentlemens” ride from Deer Trail, Colorado to Boulder, with a smattering of “game-on”sections thrown in for bragging rights, all benefitting the Great Escape Mustang Sanctuary. The gathering started early, all riders were to meet at Panache HQ at 7am. Most showed by 7:30. Some never did, hmmm. We quickly ate and stashed some delicious breakfast burritos, generously made and donated by Rick Betance of La Revolucion in Louisville. Piled into our transport and support vans from Excel Sports and Rockymounts. It’s about an hour and half from Boulder to Deer Trail by car, a little more by van. At one point someone said “I’ve never been this far east and still been in Colorado.” What ever that was intended to mean, it meant we were in different place than most had seen, we turned off through the town of Byers and on to the less traveled roads that quickly turned to dirt and the plain gave way to the rolling hills and Ponderosa Pine studded terrain of Colorado’s Black Forest. It was from here our journey would start. The Great Escape Mustang Sanctuary is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization who runs a 900+ acre sanctuary and working ranch that gives wild horses an opportunity and a voice by providing a safe and nurturing environment to run free and thrive.

The start. Once our crew of former pros, semi-pros and people who apparently didn’t have to work that day, were dressed, and prepared for adventure, we headed out. Off the ranch, a right hand turn on to our first stretch of road. 12 miles of dirt road was to be our appetizer for a day that would see at least 105 miles of riding. Mix into that a herd of Antelope, bottles rattling out of cages, some crumbling farm dwellings and a few scenes out “The Grapes of Wrath” the stage was set. We coasted into Byers for the first technical part of our a day. A double track that was more suited to a jeep than a road bike was to be our first real taste of the day. We took off charging, Don calling out lines as we headed into a sandy draw that at some point in the year is a creek. Behind there is apparent carnage. A certain Ben Delaney mistakenly tries to push one Daemion Shanks off his line, to no avail, Ted Rice goes down hard and Kate Powlison, goes on the attack and has a bobble too. We regroup, laugh about the scene, tend to wounds and flats (this will be a theme) stock up on food and fluid and get rolling again. We are definitely on the plains now, we pass under 70 and head east for a bit, up a long stretch of, you guessed it, more dirt farm road. This was one of the roads I was able to scout before hand, so I knew of a service road that paralleled the main dirt road and took it. about a quarter of the way in, Michael ” Large Arthur” Robson, literally jumped a ditch and joined me as we crested the one of the million rolling hills we would encounter that day. Thats the funny thing about the plains, in reality they’re not that flat, undulating slightly and always, just enough, to let the rheostat of pain be in full operation.

The middle. The middle of somewhere I am sure. This part to the airport was all blurry, with green spots of spring crops just beginning to emerge all around us. It was also the one of our first “game-on” sections. On cue, a select group of riders herd Don’s call and started going, I watched that first group, tight at the start quickly whittle down to 3 or 4, (another theme) it was here we began to increase the frequency of flats. In my strange extra medium pace that I only seem capable of, I would watch a straggler come back head down and step off his bike and awaited our beloved support crew. Seriously without Ira and Corey Moxon on hand to support the riders this would have had many riders calling cabs from the start. So became the norm…pedal, pedal, pedal, damn, we lost another. Then they would be back. We all regrouped again. We finally now able to make out details in the mountains to the west, DIA was right in front of us, and damn if there wasn’t a big ass rain cloud over Boulder.

I should have known. I should have known this was going to get interesting fast when we headed through the sign that read “Dead end”. I was thinking “hmmm, 15 riders, a caravan of cars…and someones farm? Yeah, what could happen.” we make a right on to an at first beautiful stretch that reminded me of the Strada Bianca, I soon realized this wasn’t a holy mix of crumbling white italian rock, it was more like unholy baby powder from a closed factory in Commerce City and sharp ass pieces of the old Stapleton airport, functioning as part warning track and service road around DIA, not someone ones farm. Dead end my ass. We charge right on in. Like teens high on pop rocks, lick em aid and pixie sticks. That didn’t last long. I was with Chad Moore, when he double flatted and awaited service from Mavic. Soon after my English cohort, Andrew Minshaw, met a similar demise. I believe it was around here I passed an ailing, wheel down Kate Powlison, another rider, Nick Traggis, who I joked with as he was recovering form his own tire change, in my best Phil Liggett voice, ” Well it’s 7pm and we still have riders on course.” I keep on pressing ahead, awaiting my own impending doom. I look down the road thinking surely this madness must be almost over. “wait there’s Don.” I thought…”oh cool photo opp”. He flatted too, but took pictures of everyone as they rumbled by. I could see dust off and around the corner. now when I say corner I mean like corner of the airport, “Oh hi united flight 1281, have fun in Amsterdam. kids.” Seriously this is a long stretch, I then started to really believe i was going to make it, my stupid little basic, not fancy bike with its overbuilt wheels and tires, it was hangin’ in there…I could see a dust cloud a ways off and I realized it was Ben Delaney, Michael Robson and Brad Bingham. Then I see a victim, Brads out. Then the fuzz. By the time I make it up to Delaney and Robson, Robson is smooth talking his way to a win again, this time with a DIA Police officer, thanks to his off putting English, New Zealand, I don’t know… some accent… he has the cop convinced were OK. Apparently the airport is a very very big piece of land and doing thing on it incorrectly or without authority, like trespassing, mean Federal things happen to you…so he says “Get out here.” and we begin to…then I realize I have a flat. Fuck. So I get to doing what most have done a few times already, for the first time. In that span Daimo comes by, unseating me from my un-official third place, then damn, here comes Kate, I secretly hope she smashes Daimo. I get rolling again and find a sort of celebration of the stupid as Kate is delivering a tumble weed “winners bouquet” to one happy ass Ben Delaney, a soured Michael Robson and surprised Daemion Shanks. Hilarious, this had to be my favorite part of the day.  We wait for the rest of the crew to repair and settle up flats and broken bits, and get going for  few more miles of the precious DIA strada dirt.

Finally Heading west. After some cursing and  van rides we all get going a tail wind has us cruising, another “game-on” section fractures the group and I find myself, yup looking at it from behind…still putting in my effort, I keep going in no mans land, but then I see ted Rice and Kate right there too. We group up and roll along for a bit. The cool kids got this. So we roll for a while, into some rollers and high speed dirt sections that made me wonder more than a few times how much longer I’d be upright for, but we made it. It was around here that I said “Where are we?” Nick points to sign that almost comically appeared out of no where and said “Brighton”. I was like ” Damn I kind of know that town, we’ve gone far.” It was starting to feel like we had endured some real shit, laughed it off and were asking for more. Soon after I rolled to the hill above Erie, I was alone, so there must have been a “game-on” section again, fuck “game-on” for the day OK?. It was then, a resident rode to his mailbox, on what must have been his teen sons full suspension Mountain Bike from Costco and asked me “What’s going on?” there were some seriously branded vans about and a lot of people in lycra, I am assuming this is not the usual east of Erie. I said “Fundraiser ride” he said ” go team!” I said “Go broncos.” and went to the vans. Once I saw the motocross track outside of Erie, I was back on roads I had ridden at least once before. We descended into Erie, cheered as we crossed under 25, and began what I called the skatepark tour. We went right by the Erie skatepark, a short jaunt up, some minor traffic upsets and over to a dirt path system which put us out by the Bob Berger skatepark in Lafayette, where I am pretty sure Robson took a run on his bike. We were so close to Boulder by this point the absence of gluten was palpable. And so was the looming threat of rain.

The finish. An epic is defined in the dictionary as “a long poem, typically one derived from ancient oral tradition, narrating the deeds and adventures of heroic or legendary figures or the history of a nation.” hmm I thought it meant “hard” or “bad ass”. Well this write up is reaching this definition. Our idea of an epic or should I say Don’s idea was to finish this whole thing on one of Boulder’s penultimate climbs, Flagstaff. I thought “That’s dumb, yeah lets do that”. As we rolled into Boulder, I noticed one thing, no more support car. We continued up Baseline heading for flag. The light mist became full fledged rain by the time we got to Chattaqua. We had shed a few of our brethren by this point, sadly, but they proved to have reasonable judgement, on knowing what was coming. But i was not to be deterred. I was not to be fast or first either. I was soaked but not super cold yet, but I still wondered where the support car was, because all my gear was in it and if I had to ride down it was gonna hurt without gloves and a vest, at least. As I labored up the climb, Kate passed me at some point and “Look at DIA out there. We rode in from way further than that.” It was some sight. Looking back I could see DIA, in fact I could see all of the plains, where we started, flatted and all the in between, illuminated in sunlight as we pedaled up and through the wet and the gray, there was something cleansing in this part where I just decided to let it all soak in. Life moves pretty fast these days, putting this event together required a lot of work and effort, but it also took partnerships and friendships. That thought softened and quieted everything and I decided to just absorb. When I came up to the amphitheater turn, there were my fellow mustangers, stowing bikes, changing clothes, some of the hardier dressing to ride down in the rain. AND THE SUPPORT CAR! All riders smiling, all proven for the day. Events like this are special, because even though everyone who participated, had their own reason for riding, we all had one thing in common, we helped a cause, collectively we all made a difference for the Great Escape Mustang Sanctuary but  most importantly we made friends and we had an adventure. Til next year or sooner, happy trails.

Thanks to everyone who rode:
Don Powell, Ben Delaney, Steve Frank, Chad Moore, Ted Rice, Kate Powlison, Brad Bingham, Andrew Minshaw, Michael Robson, Daimo, Nick Traggis, Chris “Winner Guy” and MAry who destroyed almost everyone.

And a huge thanks to our sponsors:
Panache Cyclewear, La Revolucion, Scarpetta Wine, Mavic, The Feed, Spy, Jax Mercantile, Yellowbelly Chicken, The Little Yoga Studio, Luckys Market, Spy, Upslope, Excel Sports, Rocky Mounts, Suerte Tequila, Anthem Branding, Mountain Magazine, The Service Course, Boulder Cycle Sport and Angrybovine


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