A bunch of sweaty brewers descended upon the Breckenridge Brewery this week as part of the fifth-annual Tour de Bouldurango.
The bike ride was conceived by Adam Avery, of Avery Brewing Co., and Dave Thibodeau, of Ska Brewing Co., as a getaway for any brewer and brewery representative who was stupid enough to take it on. This year, Avery and Thibodeau were joined by Left Hand Brewing Co. owner and founder Eric Wallace and Jeff Brown, owner of the Boulder Beer Co., among others.
Each day’s ride includes a stop at a local brewery. This year’s stops included Tommyknocker Brewery in Idaho Springs, Breckenridge Brewery and Ollie’s Pub & Grub in Breckenridge, Eddyline Brewing in Salida, Brick Oven Pizzeria and Pub in Crested Butte, Colorado Boy Pub and Brewery in Ridgway, Ouray Brewery in Ouray and the finishing Bouldurango Beer Festival and fundraiser at Ska Brewing in Durango.
Despite staying in hotels and lining up masseuses at each of the stops, balancing evenings of beer drinking with long days of riding can be tricky.
“We get to ride to detox,” Avery said. “Most of the guys are riders and good athletes, and that’s always the problem of being a brewer is it’s really hard not to drink because it’s your job. It’s the yin and the yang: You’re going to party, and you’re going to suffer, too.”
The ride can be grueling, but it has its highlights.
“I’m really good at downhill with wind at my back; that’s when I really shine as a rider,” Avery said. “I’m not a very good climber, but I really enjoy the passes; they are the best. Coming up over Loveland is a great ride. It’s always been sunny every day that we’ve done this.”
Avery said the descent down into Breckenridge is awesome because it’s so wide open, and the riders safely pass cars because they are “hauling ass.”
“Hoosier is a great ride because there are almost no cars at the time that we’re going up there. It’s very serene,” he said. “And Ouray to Durango, the last day, so hurrah we’re over with it. Red Mountain Pass is probably the most beautiful of the whole ride.”
The peloton sticks to roads for most of the trip.
“We don’t ride any bike paths except that bike path into Breckenridge,” Avery said. “We always ride roads, and there’s so many other bikers on the road. It’s straight and it’s flat, and you can ride fast without intimidating anyone. Then we get to drink with our buddies at Breckenridge Brewing Co.”
Avery and Thibodeau and Arlo Gramatica, of Ska Brewing Co., have done the ride every year since its inception.
“We’re the only three who are dumb enough to continue to do this,” Avery said.
The other riders vary. This year, the boys at Oscar Blues weren’t able to attend because they opened another brewery and had their hands full with all of their restaurants, Avery said. He’s tried to get other breweries involved to build a bigger group of riders, but logistics can be difficult.
“It’s always been a small crew, maybe eight to 14 riders,” Avery said. “I invite a lot of other breweries who have bikers, and some of them just say flat out, ‘No way. I’m not coming out and getting my ass whooped on 12,000-foot passes.’ But we’re not racing, we’re going slow!
“It comes down to a whole week out of your schedule, and if you have a family, it’s not a vacation that you can take your family with. It’s almost a complete waste of time, is what it amounts to, except for the fact that it’s fun as hell.”