Day 14 (and 15) – Lads, Dads & Granddads

After 3 days of fly fishing over the July 4th weekend, we decided to do two rides in one day. The first leg was (again) a spectacular ride through the mountains as rode 42 miles from Creede along the Rio Grande river to Del Norte. We then followed the Rio Grande river and rode from Del Norte to Alamosa. That ride was 31 miles—giving us a total of 73 miles for the day.

What made the ride really special was that Bryan had his grandfather, Deane Warnecke, join him and his father Steve for a few days. Three generations of Warnecke men out for adventure! It doesn't get any better that that!

The story begins at Antlers Ranch, where Team Warnecke (as Team Pink Lightning was breifly renamed) made it's headquarters. A "Texas Girl" showed them great hospitality for the night— and soon after daybreak they were out and on the road. The Rio Grande National forest was beautiful on another sunny Colorado day. Grandpa Deane was the Sag Wagon ("Sagging" behind the riders) driver, ride photographer and chief enthusiast for the day, while Bryan and Steve rode hard and soon accomplished the days goal.

Now for some sightseeing—and of course, more fly fishing! The first stop was the 17-mile Bachelor Historic Loop—which climbs high into the hills above town, through Creede’s historic silver mining district and ghost towns. The tour’s interpretive stop is just north of Creede in Willow Creek Canyon at the juncture of East and West Willow creeks.

The Sag Wagon did a magnificent job traverseing the old, graded road to the Equity Mine. It’s a 2WD drive road, and open year round, but in winter it’s often snowed in. The start is the most technical part, with a steep climb. After checking out the sixteen official sites on the auto tour, our intrepid crew returned to Creede via Bachelor Road and the old town site of Bachelor.

Soon after, the waders, leaders, flies, rods & reels broke out as Steve and Bryan tried their luck in the headwaters of the Rio Grande. On the bank, Grandpa Deane cheered them on with his encyclopedic knowledge of fishing—but alas, no fish. Fun was had by all, though. It was a great time for the "Warnecke Men", and a much needed break before the final week of rides and the penultimate event—the Courage Classic on July 19-21.



Day 12 (and 13) – Two for the price of one!

It is Ride 12, and we were originally going to just ride the 64.66 miles from Telluride to Delores. But like many of the other legs of our magical Tour, we decided to take on the next days ride (Lucky 13) as well. 

We started at the highest elevation on our tour at 10,246 feet—and steadily descended a total of 2,263 feet down State Highway 146. Once we hit our destination—Delores, CO—we just kept going down the San Juan Valley and added an additional 45.53 miles from Delores to Durango.

We went by Electra Lake, and rode along the river through the historic town of Mancos. We also went by a family of buffalo, an old VW microbus (that wasn't loaded with rakes & shovels and other implements of destruction) and the constant sound of the churning, turning and tumbling Animas River. Which (to cyclists who like to fly fish) ultimately proved to be too much to take. We're not saying it was the "lure" of fly fishing, but something certainly got our attention.... 

Within minutes it was bikes loaded, fishing gear and waders unloaded. Sometimes men just gotta fish....

We hope your 4th of July holiday has been great and you are enjoying summer as much as we are. We are back in the saddle on July 8. See the route here.

Day 11 – Ups, Downs, Ups, Ups, and more Ups!

Ride 11 was a 72.41 mile ride with 7,056 feet of climb from Silverton to Tellureide. We stayed in Silverton at the Wyman Hotel (Built in 1902) and this is where Steve started out. Steve only? What about Bryan?

One of the issues surrounding kids and teens with cystic fibrosis is medication. Everyday, Bryan takes 50 pills of meds and enzymes (to help in the digestion and absorption of food). These medications, of course, are carefully monitored and adjusted as needed. So on the Silverton / Telluride leg Bryan did not ride—as Steve and Wendy were trying a new medication. Unfortunately, the side effects included stomach pains and headache—which overwhelmed Bryan. In addition, he was also coming down with a cold and was having some breathing issues.  (Note: his parents stopped the new med and he feels better already). But that was the only "down" on a day full of "ups"...

Steve rode from Silverton, over Red Mountain Pass until the road got too narrow and pretty dangerous. There are many areas where there are no side railings and the white stripe marking the shoulder was eroded away—no shoulders. He rode again at the top of the pass down through Ouray, through Ridgeway, over another pass (Dallas Summit), to Sawpit, CO for a total of 57 miles and TWO category 2 climbs. Steve has a day of "Ups"...

Silverton and Ouray have tons of abandoned mines and ghost towns. We toured past the abandoned white houses of the old Idarado Mine with it's many mines shafts. While Steve was out on the road, Wendy took Bryan to lunch at the Silver Nugget Restaurant. The staff were great—and were very generous to them. Another "Up" for us!

Meanwhile, Steve rode on—and Wendy and Bryan caught up with him in the old mining town of town of Sawpit, CO.

Todd Mehlin runs the Mercantile in Sawpit and handed Bryan $25 to go towards the Pink Lightning Team's fundraising goal of $500,000. That was an "Up". Thank you Todd—what a great guy!

At that point, we loaded up Steve and headed towards our new HQ at the Hotel Madeline. They too, got into the cause and gave us a significant discount form their normal rates! Again a another "Up"! Thank You Hotel Madeline.

After a brief rest, the Warneckes rode the gondola from the mountain village to Telluride, and wonderful young woman, Joanna Wenand, gave us $40 towards the cause. The final "Up" in a day that was indeed full of them. Thank You Joanna—you are such a great person!  We topped of the night with amazing food at Floradora Saloon—we gave the owner a Pink Lightning card. We think another "Up" may be coming our way, based on his generosity....

Steve was suffering from altitude sickness so he stayed the night down to the main Telluride which is 8,000 ft, since we are at 14,000 feet at the hotel. Bryan is feeling so much better—and our hearts are lifted by all the love and support we are getting along our adventure.

Day 10—Independence Day

Yesterday's ride was truly an act of "independence" as we created a new ride that was not on our original Courage Tour of Colorado. And to commemorate this ride, we rode Independence Pass all the way down to Cañon City—a total of 110 miles!

After starting near the top, we rode the switchbacks down and around Mt. Elbert. Mt. Elbert is the highest peak in the Rocky Mountains of North America. At 14,440 feet, it is the second-highest mountain in the contiguous United States after Mt. Whitney in California. We descended rapidly to the first stop, Twin Lakes.

Twin Lakes feeds into the Arkansas River, our constant companion as we rode down US-24 to Buena Vista and then into Salida. Down from the mountains and into some of Colorado's finest agricultural country was an enjoyable experience—seeing farms, flowers and assorted livestock along the way.

From Salida we headed east towards Cañon City. We were still along the Arkansas, and rode along US-50 up and around the Royal Gorge before we hit Cañon City. Cañon City's downtown area is listed on the National Historical Register for its abundance of turn-of-the-century architecture. This historical town was the prefect place to end another perfect ride.

Day 9—Rocky Mountain High, Colorado

The ride on June 23rd was a wonderful excursion down the Roaring Fork River valley from Glenwood Springs to Aspen. It  began at Two Rivers Park in Glenwood Springs on a slightly overcast and cool morning—a perfect day for cycling! Once we got ourselves settled, we toured 23.19 miles down the valley through Carbondale and El Jebel.

As with the previous mountain rides, the scenery was spectacular! The Roaring Fork River valley is deep into the Rocky Mountains, so the vistas and wildlife are abundant. Riding through here truly makes the Team feel exhilarated. The beauty took our minds away and before we knew it,  our morning ride ended in Basalt at the high school. Go Longhorns!

After lunch, we were going to ride past Snowmass and Buttermilk resorts and on into "The Hollywood of the High Country"—Aspen. But Steve and Bryan decided a bigger challenge would be more fun. Maybe an unscheduled ride over Independence Pass?

So the Team went on a scouting mission...but what we are up to, you'll just have to wait and see. Tune in tomorrow!

Day 8—Along the Eagle River

Ride 8 was another "two-fer" that originally planned to have two rides that go from Vail to Eagle. The first leg was 11.93 miles from Vail to Edwards. The second leg was 16.65 miles from Edwards through Wolcott along the Bellyache Ridge, ending up at Eagle. But as in the old Robert Burns poem, "In proving foresight may be vain: The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men" our best-laid plans went awash. Literally.

The trail from Dotsero to Eagle was washed out due to heavy spring run off, so our original ride was cut short. But we decided to change our plans—in fact, we rode out and BACK for a total of 58 miles. This made the team very happy, happy, happy.

We started at Donovan Park, with Bryan's girlfriend Madi and her mom, Yvette, lending their support. Madi filled in as concierge for brother Jake—who works and studies in nearby Vail—and did a magnificent job as the Team has come to expect.

The ride went smoothly under threatening skies, but we did not get rained on. Since we have been at this for two weeks, our endurance and speed have increased—and we had the Vail to Dotsero run finished in record time. Which left time for...

FISHING! Steve traded in his jersey for waders and tried out his prodigious fly-fishing skills on the bloated Eagle River. "The Moms", Yvette and Wendy, tagged along and Yvette was even given a few pointers along the way. Alas, the river is still too muddy and swollen to provide perfect conditions, so there were no fish to be caught.

"There stood my friend, patient skill, attending of his trembling quill" – Sir Henry Wotton

Our next ride is Monday from Glenwood Springs to Aspen. Come on out and ride with us! See the route here.

Day 7–Up and Over Vail Pass

Day 7 was another spectacular day where the weather was only out done by the magnificent scenery of Vail Pass. Vail Pass is the only Colorado mountain pass with a bike path the entire distance on both sides, making for a wonderful ride experience. It can be reached from anywhere in Summit County. We decided to start in Silverthorne.

We met at Silverthorne Town Pavilion, and were presently surprised when four more Pink Lightning Team riders showed up to ride with us. We dubbed the day "Chris Callow Day" in honor of Chris, who has rode more miles with Bryan than anyone except his father, Steve.

Once all the prep was handled (expertly by Team concierge Jake Warnecke) we saddled up and began the ride. Silverthorne to Copper Mountain was a breeze—and we gritted our teeth and shifted our gears—and began the ascent up the pass.

The path is paved and very well kept so the 6 of us paced very well and were up and over in a very short time. Bryan and Chris set the pace and before we knew it the 37 miles were done. We ended in Donovan Park, West Vail, and said our goodbyes. 

A perfect day, a perfect ride, and a perfect Team. On to Eagle for Day 8. See the route here.

Thanks to these riders:

  • Chris Callow
  • Linda Holmstad
  • Jim DeLapp
  • Tony Troxell
  • Steve Warnecke

And another Thanks to those who showed up in support:

Jake Warnecke, Wendy Warnecke

Day 6–A summer Saturday in Steamboat

Day 6 was another fantastic day in paradise—in this case, Steamboat Springs, Colorado. A sunny day, with perfect temperatures in the high 70s, made for a fun, scenic and historic ride.

This was our second "two-fer" of the Tour with morning and afternoon rides. The morning leg was a 26.42 mile ride from Steamboat Springs to Hayden. This ride followed along the scenic vistas of the Yampa River—which was very full and raging with the spring snow melt. Bryan and Steve were again the "Team", and started strong from the western edge of Steamboat Springs.

Bryan led the pace and rode to Hayden. But exhaustion, cramps and leg rashes from the weekend slowed him and eventually he decided to rest and recuperate. The Team vehicle promptly sped him home to HQ and he restored himself in the beauty of the ski resort.

His father on the other hand, was feeling like Superman—and continued in the afternoon with 17.23 mile ride from Hayden to Craig. He then texted the Team that he wanted to ride BACK as well. Ok....

So, while Steve was "dancing on the pedals" the Team took in the 26th Annual Rocky Mountain Mustang Roundup with hundreds of Ford Mustangs lining up and down the old downtown area. But how many of these beauties can you look at after a while? With some concern, the Team then went back out in search of Steve, still out on the course after nearly three and half hours. We found him 10 miles outside of Steamboat, heading back in, looking fresh and riding strong...unbelievable! Steve did a personal best of 81 miles and was a very happy camper indeed. In fact, he wanted to ride some more! But all was good as the Team rode twice the amount that they what they wanted to, and feel great going into the next ride.

We are back in our Castle Rock HQ until Friday, when Day 7 beckons....see the route here.

Day 5–Rashes, Rabbit Ears and Reunions

Day 5 broke sunny and warm at our Steamboat Spring headquarters. Unfortunately, Bryan woke up with a severe skin rash and aching joints. After some parental encouragement, medication and lotion, Bryan decided he wanted to ride. After completing more of the ride than planned yesterday, the start was moved to the intersection of CO-14 and US-40—the east side of Rabbit Ears Pass. In front of the team was a 29 mile climb of 3,394 feet and net descent of 1,329 feet over the pass and finishing at Steamboat Springs.

Steve and Bryan took off and were over the east side within minutes. As they approached the west summit, a little blue Volkswagen Bug appeared on the horizon, coming up fast. This was no ordinary Bug, though. It contained Madi, Bryan's girlfriend, who had been away in California for over a week. The summit reunion was intense—as the two teens excitedly jumped into each other, and the "Moms", Wendy and Yvette, looked on.

But the REAL fun was about happen. Steve and Bryan mounted up and took off for the steep downhill plunge on the west side of the pass. We in the Pink Lightning mobile clocked Bryan at 48 mph as we were grooving to classic Neil Young songs on the massive stereo. The Team descended into the Yampa Valley and finished strong in Steamboat Springs. We marveled at the tremendous amount of brightly colored Ford Mustangs that are in Steamboat for the 26th Annual Rocky Mountain Mustang Roundup. Bryan, being the car buff, was particularly enthralled. Another great day in Colorado...and we wouldn't have any other way.

A special thanks goes to Yvette and Madison Torrise for Team Pink Lightning support!

Day 4–A perfect day...

Day 4 started rainy and grim—while we drove to Fort Collins from our home base in Castle Rock. As we drove along the raging white waters of the Cache La Poudre River, and up the Poudre Valley, we were worried it would be gray and rainy for our first mountain route as well. But our spirits soared as we climbed in altitude and rose into brilliant sunshine at the summit of Cameron Pass.

Starting just west of the shores of Joe Wright Reservoir, we went down the west side of Cameron Pass into the very fertile ranch land of North Park. While the head wind was fairly stiff, Bryan and his father Steve, enjoyed the amazing views of Rocky Mountain National Park and Rabbit Ears Pass in the distance. The high prairie was in full bloom—and the the bovine residents of the area lazily watched as the pink and black clad riders whiz by them.

After a brief break in Walden, Bryan's mom Wendy got on her bike and rode several miles with Steve as Bryan cheered her on. The day ended with a grand total of 52 miles ridden, 1021 cattle passed and the most gorgeous mountain scenery we could've hoped for. We are truly blessed to be living in Colorado. Day 5 is next...Rabbit Ears Pass...