Bikefag Report: Fort Collins, CO
Yes, readerz, I’d like to report on a place that, unless you live in Northern Colorado or Southern Wyoming, might not be on your bike-dar. It might not be the capital of “fixie kultur.” The mountain bikers may not have the most extravagant pork chop sideburns. The local group rides have a severely underwhelming hipster road biker presence. And the local racing occurs exclusively in actual colors and in sensible chronology rather than in “epic” sepia hues and edited primarily for aesthetics.
It may not be the coolest place, but it’s been my home for most of the last four years, and it’s the place I know and love:
Fort Collins, CO
I moved to Fort Collins from Colorado Springs for school in 2006, figurin’ on suffering through the state college beer pong bros, and the Subaru-driving outdoors-persons for two years or so, getting my degree, and getting the fuck out of this hell-hole without remorse.
Well, it sort of went like that, just minus the “no remorse” part and minus the “get the fuck out” part. I “moved” to New York, and was back six months later. I’ve been whiling away my days for the past 1.75 years since, riding Fort Collins’ many beautiful roads and trails, making people coffee, and occasionally writing something about bicycles.
So why do I love this “hell-hole” so much anyway?
Fort Collins reared me up as a racist, and I’ll always think that racing should be done “the Fort Collins way.”
If my only criteria for judging a place to live were “housing costs” and “racing scene,” I’d probably never leave Fort Collins. The racing here is seriously fantastic! For a town of only 140,000, Fort Collins’ local race calendar is stacked up like Princess Diana’s wedding cake.
“Stay poor and stay Cat. Four!’ I say! No problem in Fort Collins. You could race every week for half the year without ever having to buy a license or pay more than ten bucks.
And if you DO want to race a “real” race, Fort Collins has about the best race of the best series of the best cycling sport in America: The New Belgium Cup USGP of Cyclocross!
And if beating people on much more expensive equipment is your fancy, Fort Collins is perfect because of its proximity to Boulder – a town chock-full of mediocre racers on extremely expensive bikes who are all too happy to pay thirty bucks to go out and roll their tubulars off their rims from a comfortable distance behind you.
(That’s an unfair picture. In addition to slow rich douchebags on expensive wheelsets, there are also a bunch of very fast rich douchebags on expensive wheelsets in Boulder..)
(I’m playing, Boulder. Some of the rich douchebags down there are super cool)
Anyway, as you can see, Fort Collins is a great place to race (even though you end up having to drive to Boulder every goddamn weekend..)! Go Fort Collins!
But who cares about racing. Racing is just an excuse to make dressing up in spandex all day seem more macho to your old high school friends on Facebook (get over it, dude. You’re your own man now). Any true cyclist knows that that pinnacle of cycling is not racing or “training,” but RIDING!
Riding is AWESOME!
And Fort Collins has some AWESOME SHIT to ride!
We’ve got a big climb: Rist Canyon.
We’ve got a couple other big climbs that people don’t think about as much: Buckhorn Canyon/Pennock Pass, a dirt road that tops out at 9,150ft; Stove Prairie from the Poudre Canyon to the backside of Rist; Rattlesnake Ridge above Loveland; the Glenhaven climb outside Estes Park.
We also have a shitload of fantastic dirt road riding! Why it was just the other week that I finally rode Cherokee Park Road, a steep, red clay affair that connects to a network of terrifyingly steep and remote roads going all the way to Wyoming. There’s a never-ending grid of dirt roads East of I-25 that no roadie dares tread on, and that I’ve only barely begun to fully understand. The dirt roads north of town are the ribbons of legend, where a man can ride red dirt straight into the wind North until he’s stopped by the Wyoming State Patrol! Basically, there’s a bunch of awesome dirt road riding..
Not into climbing or dirt? Well, that means you’re a douchebag. But even total douchebags have places to ride in Fort Collins! There are many “rolling” roads (“rolling” by Colorado standards) like the route out through Masonville and up Cult Road to get to the stuff Southwest of town; or the windy prairies out East; or the boring, straight training grounds north of town where roadies sell their souls to the brown grass in exchange for just a few more watts.
We’ve got mountain biking too, by the way – lots of it! The ol’ standard Maxwell-Shoreline-Michaud loop that we’ve all done a hundred times never gets old. Blue Sky will always be about the funnest trail for a rigid bike in Larimer County. And Bobcat Ridge will rattle your arms asleep without six inches of slop front-and-rear. Lory and Horsetooth have trails enough to make you feel like you’re riding through a house of mirrors all day and getting no closer to home. And if the local trails lose their luster, you can drive an hour North to get to IMBA paradise Curt Gowdy State Park – or an hour South to get to the jewel of the Front Range: Hall Ranch.
Personally, my favorite place to ride is David Cross. “David Cross” is the name of the cyclocross group ride that i started, but I now call all of the trails near the Poudre River Between College and Sheilds “David Cross.” The place is like some sort of childhood treehouse for me. I know it all like the back of my hand. I feel like I own it all – even the pump track – and I magnanimously allow all the joggers, stoners, and bums pass.
I started riding as a kid on a mountain bike in Colorado Springs. And I’ve ridden all over the state of Colorado and many other states. But Fort Collins is more-or-less where I learned to ride for real. I rode my first Century here. I rode my first “group ride” here – the Oval Ride – and got dropped up “The Windsor Wall.” I got my first road bike here. I got my first rigid, single-speed 29er here. I learned to race here at our Tuesday night races.
I may not fit in the best here in the Fort Collins bike community, but I know that I belong. And I’m sure that I’ll be back soon enough, once I run out of food stamps and lose my mind to the clouds
There’s a lot to be said for sustainability – I’m convinced. That’s why I do things that make me feel better about myself like recycling, only flushing the toilet every other time I urinate, and driving a Subaru that gets 25mpg on the highway.
But what I REALLY like about “sustainability” is all of the laughable bullshit associated with it – because I get to make fun of it.
For instance: are Subaru Outbacks sustainable?
Fuck no! But they’re practically ubiquitous for the “entry-level sustainabilibro.” (more advanced sustainabilibros get old Toyota pickup trucks (again: why not just buy an old Honda Civic hatchback?), and top-teir sustainabilibros get vegetable oil-powered Toyota Landcruisers or Mercedes diesels)
Are Chaco sandals sustainable?
Probably. But not nearly as sustainable as just buying some old shitty running shoes from the thrift store, wearing them until they die, then buying some more. Old, shitty running shoes have already been produced.
Need sandals? I doubt it, since all you’re doing is going to the New Belgium Brewery tour, but let’s say that you DO need sandals. Well, they’ve got crappy old adidas sandals galore at the thrift store.
Instead, sustainabilibros buy Chacos by the dozen! There are probably enough fucking Chacos to fill up a landfill here!
People don’t buy Chacos because they are sustainable. They seldom buy Chacos because they’re going to be walking through water. And they certainly don’t buy them for their looks (they look REALLY FUCKING STUPID). People buy Chacos for one reason: to fit in with other sustainabilibros. Same goes for Subaru Outbacks (the all-wheel drive is nice, I’ll admit..)
There’s all kindsa consumerism-driven “sustainabiity” posing in Fort Collins. And I can’t imagine Portland will be much different (other than being dressed up in a way more pleasing to my sensibilities).
The best is New Belgium Brewery. These guys have created an image being the “sustainable brewery.” And fair enough, they are a leader in sustainability.
But gimme a break. New Belgium makes a totally frivolous product that takes real resources to produce. If all they cared about was planet Earth, they’d halt production immediately instead of trucking “sustainable” beer in glass bottles all across America in petroleum-burning trucks.
It’s not New Belgium’s production methods or waste disposal methods that I take issue with. Again, New Belgium does a great job.
What I dislike about New Belgium is how they seem to just bask in self-congratulation for making beer to get people drunk with.
And what I dislike even more is how the people of Fort Collins literally lap that shit up! Go to the Tour de Fat in Fort Collins and observe as a bunch of fairweather cyclists dress up as an advertisement for New Belgium Brewery, then listen to all this frenzied hype-man bullshit about the bicycle, then ride in a circle around town getting piss-drunk by noon. It’s like Saint Patrick’s Day for Liberals!
Well, fair enough, New Belgium is pretty much Guinness for Liberals…
And people are going to drink beer anyway, so they might as well drink “sustainable,” “wind-powered” beer. Also, New Belgium pretty much funds every bike-related thing in Fort Collins and supports every publication I read with full-back-page advertisements, so I hope they don’t get pissed off at me and pull the rug out from under the cycling community.
Really, I just don’t drink and I’m bitter that I’m missing all of the fun.
But for all its greenwashing, Fort Collins has really changed me. I’m from Colorado Springs, and they don’t do a whole lot of recycling down there. Nor do they do much restriction on sprawling cardboard-home developments, or much funding of social services.
Unfortunately, I’m at a:
I’m 29. I’m sober. I’m a bike racer. And I listen primarily to gay disco from the late ’70s (and I’m straight).
So it is with a heavy heart that I must say farewell, Fort Collins.
I’d like to thank:
Dan Lionberg (Dad): you’ve been like a (dysfunctional) father to me. Thanks for demanding that I race bikes while I’m under your roof. You taught me everything I know about bikes (even the totally incorrect things)! Congratulations on finally graduating college!
Sheldon Deeny: thank you for giving me some perspective on the things Dad “taught” me..
Teresa Garcia: Teresa’s probably the fastest, sexiest, and most classless person I know who’s graduated from an Ivy League institution (and, let’s be honest, the only person I know from the Ivy League). Thanks fer being my dawg and believing in me during that dark, lonely time when we both got dumped by our girl/boy friends in the dead of winter. You may have abandoned me in singlehood (and I’m very happy for you), but I know you’ll never abandon my dad’s single hood..
Dan Porter: Dan Porter should be declared “cyclist of the year” every year for the last three years in Fort Collins. He runs the bike resource website Your Group Ride and he really welcomed me into the bike racing world in a serious way, despite me being a newbie and probably a total idiot. Dan has a hand in most of the cheapo local races where idiots like me get to dip their toe in the vast, cold world of bike racing. Seriously, if Dan Porter weren’t doing what he does, I don’t know what the hell Fort Collins’ race scene would look like (probably still pretty great, but in a very different way).
There are like a million other people I love and want to give shout-outs to, but I’ll try to keep it bike-related:
Thank you to my dawgz!
And last but not least,
Tell your dad I said thanks!