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Peak to Peak

Friday in Boulder was raining and uninviting for bike riding or walking so we decided to take a drive off into the mountains and enjoy some of the other parts of Colorado.

BoulderCanyonWe headed West, along the Boulder Canyon, with Boulder Creek rushing down the canyon full and lively. The colours of the different trees as they show off their summer freshness against the granite is wonderful to see.

Somewhere out past Nederland, as we headed toward Estes Park on the Peak to Peak route, we pull into a small roadside village and buy a couple of bottles of water. RockyMountainOuthouseNearNederland

We look around and think it’s probably a good thing that neither of us feels like using the bathroom.

It’s a great drive through spectacular scenery and was good to do.

We simply don’t have the opportunity, usually, to see these types of landscapes right there in front of us.


Eventually, we get to Estes Park and find a nice riverwalk along the stream with a number of cafes and bars to choose from.



We were keen to add Boulder to our Colorado trip, as we’d heard about its prevalence of startups and reputation for innovation and creative approaches to things.  In addition, it came up really high in the search for cycle friendly cities and interesting food and beer choices in the USA.

Our trip South from Fort Collins to Boulder was uneventful, with just a remark on the IBM complex on the way in and the Google Boulder offices as we approached the city from the East, along Pearl Street, which goes on to be the main street downtown and forms the famous Pearl Street Mall.

We’re booked into another AirBnB right in town but arrive early and spend some time wandering up the Mall and getting a feel for this part of Boulder.  Our apartment was ready by now and we checked in and got set up before heading down to the Mall for one of the “Band on the Bricks” gigs; starting at 7pm and ending at 9pm.

Band on the BricksSo, picture this: a stage is set up halfway along one of the blocks on the mall and a dance space left in front for about twenty metres and then rows of plastic chairs sit waiting for those wanting a less ambulant music experience.

Then, a few metres behind this, is a fenced enclosure: not overwhelming,with fences only about 1.2 metres high. Inside this space, about 40 metres by 20 metres, there was a bar at the end away from the band with a couple of nice craft beers on tap and some basic wines. It was a bit like some other events, (e.g. Bluesfest) where you buy drink tickets and use these at the bar. As a guide, a pint of a very nice local IPA was US$5 – can’t go wrong with that!

The band was great: one of those combinations of musos who’ve clearly been playing a long time and had every band member helping out on the backing vocals and a very good 70s 80s rock vocal as lead. Down in front, the dance floor was pumping; with a bounce of baby boomers. Welcome to Boulder; just what makes this place so popular?

FlatironsBoulderA look around the city environs answers one question: it’s a naturally beautiful place to live. Not far from the main downtown area, wonderful scenery awaits, with the FlatIrons and vistas of granite and fir.

A drive up Flagstaff Hill provided another answer as we watch cyclist after cyclist either concentrating on a cadence while stomping in low gearing up this huge hill, or crouching to maximise aero-dynamics on their return from the top. People here have a reputation for fitness and an interest in wellness across the spectrum from mind to body.

There has been a range of influences, from the planning of the city, the establishment of the Chautauqua, the location of key establishments nearby, the influx of sixties hippies and alternate lifestyle people and the location of important elements of global companies like IBM and Google, along with the 30000 students and then associated faculty at the University of Colorado. For us at home, think Byron Bay at a time where it, and the surrounding hinterland, became a haven for creative people working at realising ideas in an environment which also offers a quality of life. Then, overlay this with a sense of connectedness and community permission giving to have events like this where there was no starkly visible security presence but a shared commitment to everybody being able to enjoy the event their own way. The dominant legacy of this group was clear at the Band on the Bricks. And, there didn’t seem much wrong with a bunch of people who would be seen as seniors enjoying life and beaming with the gladness; interspersed with their children’s generation.

Maybe the fact that Colorado is one of the first states in the USA to legalise and regulate the sale of recreational marijuana to people aged over 21 has something to do with it?

It has evidently pumped millions more than expected in taxes back into state education and the state budget. And, it has clearly created a vibe at events like these which seem to buzz along on a collective carpet of goodwill. We had a ball despite only recognising a few songs amongst two full rock sets. It’s clear that there are some well known US artists and bands that we don’t necessarily get to hear about down under. The crowd knew all the songs and words too.

It seems that the weather also has ideas about how we might get around in Boulder. We’d planned to use the B Cycle and set off to grab our bikes at a rack nearby. (Similar system to the Boris Bikes in London, Velib in Paris etc) After one bike with a slipping seat, we were caught by the rain and managed to stumble upon the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art and pay our $1 at the door to muse about in spaces with installations and perspectives; some fine cut maps of famous places and a discography of thematically matched shapes in remnants of 33 rpm vinyl records.

Our next B Cycle hire saw us off on a ride to the West End, only to be quickly docking bikes and heading for cover at a Brewery. Fancy that. From the West Flanders Brewery it was only a short walk to the Walnut Brewery.


Walnut Brewery, Boulder. CO


West Flanders Brewery, Boulder: not a bad shelter from the storm.









More to come about Boulder and the mountains to the West…..










Leaving Fort Collins

BikeAndBeerTourFortCollinsHaving had a great afternoon cycling around four different breweries in Fort Collins we had time for a rest and then broke our Uber virginity and grabbed a ride to the Mayor of Old Town, a great bar in Mason Street which has placed really highly in a number of national ‘best beer bar’ type of awards.



The Mayor of Old Town boasts 100 beers on tap and, there’s a sizeable number of those that are brewed locally and in other parts of Colorado. It’s a relaxed and pleasant place for a meal and nice beer.

As we sit and enjoy the ambience we’re assailed by the piercing sound of a diesel locomotive as a heavy goods train runs on tracks straight down the middle of Mason Street, trundling heavily along past the bar!

TrainLineThroughTownFortCollinsAnd, by contrast with the regulation and risk management approach we face closer to home, this rail line has nothing to separate it from the street and the people and things on it: no fences or flashing lights. To give plenty of warning, however, the train sounds its airhorns very long and loud at seemingly any time of both night and day.


We pack up to leave our lodgings and enjoy once again the view up the street which seems like yet another set from a movie.

Heading back into Old Town, we find a coffee shop that we’d like to try before heading toward Boulder and enjoy the buzz of Bean Cycle Roasters and then hit the road; South down College Avenue toward Boulder.


Three Score

Today was the day where I reached a major milestone. Sixty years ago I was born and then raised on a farm in North Western NSW.  Most of my primary schooling took place in a one teacher school with only 12 children.

Today, I’ve been able to ride a bike around a number of craft breweries in Fort Collins Colorado and ride in the face of what I probably would have, at twenty, imagined how my life might look at sixty.

How can we, in all consciousness, try to be too predictive around what our young people might “need” in the future in terms of skills and knowledge? The pace of change is hardly likely to slow down any time soon; but the value, as a cultural enabler, of giving permission to others to dream and envision a much extended horizon of possibility is inestimable.


Out and about in Fort Collins


Our cute cottage for our Fort Collins stay

The morning was glorious today after apparently a long period of rain. We slept a bit late to make up for the zzzz’s lost somewhere above the Pacific and then readied our cruiser bikes for some cycling: firstly in search of coffee.

Lynette ready to roll on her blue cruiser

Lynette ready to roll on her blue cruiser

The bikes are fixed hub cruisers and, unfortunately, very difficult to ride after the riding position and gearing that we’ve become very used to.


We quickly discovered that being unable to correctly adjust seat height and getting used to back pedal gears made the whole exercise a bit of a non-event.

We managed to find a coffee shop which had been recommended and were able to get passable coffee; despite the US obsession with wanting to serve everything in huge cups.  Still, nice to find the Wild Boar, a very popular Fort Collins cafe with a steady stream of customers and plenty of people making good use of the free wifi.

DSCN5144So, bikes returned to their tethering spot at home, we ventured out in the Dodge for a look around the Old Town.

Old Town is a good example of the way that cities internationally are creating aggragated precincts with bars, restaurants and all kinds of shops and boutiques. In a few spots, public pianos attracted players.




We found that, even here in Colorado there is still reference to Australian icons.





After a bit of wandering about we found The Kitchen, and a nice lunch, washed down with a good Rose and a Kolsch. (see the Untappd feed in the right sidebar for brew information.)

Sated, we set off to explore the surrounding area, with spectacular views across the nearby Horsetooth Reservoir.

From the Reservoir, we headed West up a winding road through hills which were devastated in the last few years with savage fires.  Eventually we were able to turn North East and follow the river as it rushed and tumbled back down through its gorge.DSCN5150

There was constant self talk needed after stopping to catch river views and returning to the fairly deserted road: “Drive on the right!”




DSCN5153In one spot, the road tunnelled through part of the pass walls and we began to see kayakers and whitewater rafters bouncing and tossing downstream.

Emerging from the narrow valley, we turn back on to the State Highway North of Fort Collins and head back through town before chilling at home for a few blog and picture updates before wandering back to Old Town for a bit of fun.

Here’s a quick look at the river:

Upstream from Fort Collins 8 June 2015 from Roger Pryor on Vimeo.


Let the tour begin

rocks-brewing-coBefore heading to the US it seemed like a great idea to catch up with family and friends for some food, beer and conversation.

The Rocks Brewing Company’s brewery and bar in Alexandria turned out to be a good choice; tucked in between a gym and other businesses on Bourke Road Alexandria.  And, from there, a quick trip back to our airport hotel to get ready for the first leg across the Pacific.

Our flight made it out of Sydney on time at noon and we settled in for that long haul where there’s nothing more to do then wait it out; attempting to achieve a form of suspended animation.

We arrived at San Franscisco a little ahead of time, which was good, as we only had about ninety minutes to complete the transit to a flight to Denver.

The flight from San Franscisco to Denver was uneventful, with glimpses of the peaks of the Rockies glowing with snow as we made turns ready for an approach path over the plains into Denver International Airport and its underground train connecting all sets of terminal gates with the baggage carousels and main terminal.

A shuttle bus takes us to the huge rental car facility a few minutes away and we’re then into a Dodge Avenger and heading North toward Fort Collins.

IMG_0690Fort Collins is home to Colorado State University and, amongst other things, has a few hundred miles of cycleways and an ‘Old Town’ core full of bars and restaurants which, even on a Sunday night, offer plenty of options for food and drink and, following our cab driver’s advice, after a few drinks and a meal at the Mainline we check out Lucky Joes to find an Open Mic night in full swing.

Despite a quick nap on arrival, we find that the jet lag is setting in and it’s home to crash.  We hope for nice weather on Monday to get out on the fixie cruisers which our AirBnB host has left out for us.

For this trip I’m using a widget which links directly to the Untappd database via API to display feeds of beer check-ins. You can keep up with it via the widget in the right sidebar.