Thursday, July 2, 2015

Starlight Spectacular

The Starlight Spectacular is an annual event in Colorado Springs. It’s a 14-mile (short) to 22-mile (long) night time bike ride through the Garden of the Gods, downtown Colorado Springs, and Old Colorado City.

I’ve done something similar to this a few years ago through Denver and it was awesome. That one was only 10-miles- what’s 4 more? (Because obviously I did the short one. I say obviously because the long one went THROUGH the Garden of the Gods, as opposed to just through the visitor center.) Going THROUGH Garden of the Gods is nightmare inducing. If you remember last August, I almost died riding through it.

Every year, the Spectacular has a theme for the ride. This year, was PIRATES! My dad, it turns out really loves theme parties and committed to this. He had a legit pirate hat (no flimsy dollar store hats for him), a coat, a sash and a motha fuckin mustache. The moment I saw his ensemble is the moment it was confirmed that my dad is cooler than yours.

My mom, sister, Dan, and I played along with those flimsy dollar store hats zip tied to our helmets.

While pirate was the theme, I would say the majority of people didn’t play along. The volunteers did, however and we’re obsessed with my dad’s getup, crying out “Argghhh!” each corner we turned.

Ok, back to the beginning. So, the ride started at the Garden of the Gods visitor center at 10:30pm. The route is pictured below. You ride out of Garden of the Gods and immediately climb up a hill. Which MAYBE wouldn’t have been that bad if Dan and I weren’t riding 50-lb single speed bikes. 

So this hill lasts about 1.5 miles. We’re sweaty, exhausted and still have over 12 miles to go.
We swing a right onto Garden of the Gods road and it’s GLORIOUS. Three miles of wind rushing through my damp helmet head downhill. 

We then take a right down Chestnut, which is another 3 miles of downtown. We hang out on Fontenaro Street for the first REI sponsored rest stop. They have karaoke in a tent, which seems misplaced, so we just grab water and sample size cliff bars.

To fuel up, I gobble mine down. Dan shoves his in his pack. I ask what’s wrong. He tells me margaritas and Mexican food wasn’t the greatest dinner choice before this ride. And he can’t decide if he’s going to vomit or …. You get the point. 

I forgot to mention that- YES we decided to eat chips, salsa, beans, tortillas, and beef that may or may not been sitting the kitchen all day for dinner. We topped that off with margaritas so strong they limit you to two.

So all of THAT was rumbling around on this ride.

After the quick pit stop, we hop back on the bikes and continue through downtown on Cascade which is a nice steady ride past bars and restaurants late night on a Saturday, which is always interesting. 

Leaving downtown, we hang a right on Colorado Ave. We pass by one of our favorite restaurants 503 W. and see some pirate flag bikes parked out front. They have the right idea.

The Colorado Ave. leg is about 3.4 miles of a gradual uphill. Which again, not a big deal except when you’re on heavy ass bike with no gears. I got enough momentum and just didn’t.stop.pedaling, half my body hunched over the handle bars high fiving fellow single speeders.

Halfway through was a second rest stop and oddly casino themed, which cardboard cutouts of slot machines which seemed very odd. They were serving more legit snacks like fruit and buffalo meatballs (where I am?)

We opted out of the food, chugged some water and hopped back on the bikes taking a little longer this time to gain momentum. 

We finally reached the home stretch when we took a right on 31st street back to the Garden of the Gods visitor center.

This is the moment I wished I had relished those downhills just a little more.

The next 1.83 miles were probably the toughest and most thigh straining. At this point, the group was at different points in the ride. Every man for themselves.

I honestly questioned if I was going to be walking my ass up the hill. But I didn’t and it’s something I’m really proud of. Despite it being a frivolous, “fun” pirate ride, I proved to myself that I really can do anything I put my mind to. Que cheesy victory music. It was tough, but I did it. Booya.

(You don't have to comment, I already know you're super impressed with my nighttime photography #flashbroken)

 pre-dinner mistake

 Cruiser bike shoved in back of car

My parents' 100 bikes on back of car

Pirate-helmet hat selfie!

Told ya... cooler than your dad. 

LP Shoutout! 

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