Every once in a while the universe syncs up, the planets align, and karma pays it forward… It all came together this year for the 30th Elephant Rock Cycling Festival with picture perfect conditions, bluebird skies, and nary a cloud in sight. Riders were grinning from ear to ear as they blazed along the backroads of Douglas and El Paso Counties on this beautiful cycling season opener. All of those early season rides with questionable weather seemed like a distant memory today when everything was perfect!
This was the third go ’round for me with this event and I have to say I’ve had a love/hate relationship with the pachyderm. Almost 20 years ago, my first E-Rock was also my first century (100 mile) ride. The ride itself was challenging enough but I also had mechanical issues with a broken derailleur that left me stuck in the big ring the entire ride. It was a LONG, HARD day.
The second time I rode the Elephant century it was 100 degrees and the last two aid stations ran out of water. People were literally laying in the ditches until the Propel truck showed up and started throwing bottles from the back of the truck. That was also a LONG, HARD day.
For ride #3, I decided to shake things up and try the metric century (62 miles). This route, although shorter, still highlighted all of the things Elephant Rock is known for – rolling hills, ranches, views of Pikes Peak, horse country, Roller Coaster Road, and the Black Forest – and made you smile.
Apparently, the third time was a charm because this ride was flat-out fun! With over 6,000 riders and 5 courses to choose from, (8 mile family, 27 mile mountain, 40 mile road, 62 mile metric century road, or 100 mile century road), the Elephant Rock Cycling Festival also pulled out all the stops for the riders at the finish line celebration. Over 50 vendors set up shop to display the cycling world’s newest and finest gear, apparel, tours, and fundraisers. Three of these vendors in particular caught my eye…
Ok, I have to admit, the name on the tent enitced me to come over but the backstory and the product made me stay. Dude Girl, brainchild of Kim McMcElhinney, designs and manufactures cycling and athletic apparel. Inspired by her grandmother, (the original dude girl who rode horseback through Colorado in the 1920s, ended up in California, and had her life story told in the book “Dude Girl”), Kim carries on the spirit of adventure with seriously cute style.
The Hippie Spot ReCyclery
Repurposed bike parts are creatively given a second life as jewelry, art pieces, and even functional clocks and lamps by The Hippie Spot ReCyclery. I’m a big fan of artists who not only create beautiful works of art but also help the planet and the Hippie Spot does both in a fun and functional way. Look for them at bike tours and festivals this summer!
Vanilla Bean Pastry Truck
This sweet little pasty truck, (actually a vintage ’69 Ford Vanette), billed as “the sweetest ride in town,” is a rolling delight of decadent goodness and French refinement. Clementine, (the truck), and her owner/pastry chef, Ann Oravec, serve up a full slate of espresso options and also a tempting array of pastries. Crepes are made onboard and come in flavors like Chocolate Peanut Butter Madness, Health Nut, Strawberry Chocolate, Nutella Banana, Mixed Berry Cheesecake, and Lemon Berry. Honoring a love of cycling, the Bean’s signature item is The Paris-Brest – a massive cream puff, shaped like a bike wheel, filled with praline pastry cream, and topped with sliced almonds. Run, don’t walk, when you see the Vanilla Bean Pastry Truck rolling through a Denver/Boulder neighborhood near you or pulling into a Colorado cycling event!
#elephantrock #coloradocycling #dudegirlcycling #thehippiespotrecyclery #vanillabeanpastrytruck #HSHIVE #honeystinger