I’ve spent 11 years in Steamboat, ridden thousands of miles around Routt county, and yet still there are dirt roads untouched and interesting routes schemed up but yet to be ridden. Our home here in Routt County sits in the corner of Northwest Colorado about 3.5 hours outside of Denver, but further past Steamboat Springs is a lot of open space to the Wyoming border and countless little dirt roads meandering far from any town or store with a spread of ranches dotting the landscape. Of course in our local riding circles someone is always chatting up a new route to challenge our strength, push our limits, and explore some new terrain. And it always seems like a great idea.
Enter the 1st annual KBR (Ken’s Big Ride) – A 111 mile loop heading Northwest of our small town and onto primarily dirt roads travelling through unique landscapes you won’t see anywhere else and set against some of the highest peaks in the country. When is the last time you went hours without seeing a car on a ride? Or were outside of cell service for hours with the nearest store sitting over 50 miles away? That’s KBR and it was a great idea thanks to local rider Ken Benesh who lives far outside of the city and hosted the start/finish of the ride from his home in an area called Deep Creek.
Who shows up for what most would deem a high risk ride? Absolutely the owner of Moots, Brent Whittington, wouldn’t miss it along with a number of all-star Moots employees: Nate, Jeremiah, and myself. Also present was Mark Satkiewicz, general manager of Tom’s, visiting Steamboat for some riding and aboard his brand new Routt RSL. Longtime Moots family member and super star racer Kelly Boniface was first in line to sign up. And a few other great local riders rounded out the group of 13, led by Ken Benesh on his Psychlo-X. Equipment was a mix of Routt, Routt RSL, Routt 45, and one brave rider rocked the whole thing on his Vamoots Disc RSL nicely equipped with 28mm Gatorskin tires (nice job Garett!)
Off we went for what would be 8 hours of good conversation, good head down silence, roads ranging from smooth to rough, and views of countryside that held your gaze indefinitely. The first half of the ride went north all the way into Wyoming, after which we headed west for a bit and then made a left turn to head south back into Colorado and over some very rough dirt roads you also find as part of the Tour Divide course. It was completely isolated, rural, remote, and in every way an absolute blast to be among friends on a new riding adventure with no worries about anything beyond the miles that lay ahead.
Then at about mile 74 and after hours of not seeing much of anyone, we rolled into Brush Mountain Lodge, where the host filled us up with pizza, drinks, and enough good vibes to build a fever stoke up for the remaining 35 miles. It was a little oasis and any big ride needs to have some proper big meals. Then you have to throw your leg back over your bike, and you know exactly what I mean about throwing your leg over after a ton of miles and a big meal… Those final miles of any big ride are where you start to learn a lot and with a ride this big things started to take a very small focus onto the few feet in front of your front wheel. Despite approaching the smoke from a fresh wild fire, suffering over roads that turned into loose singletrack, and the group splitting apart due to quickly fading power output and a stream of “bonks”, everyone suffered back to Ken’s house for a BBQ and fun recounting of the stories from the day. Donuts consumed – at least 2 dozen. Flat tires – just a handful. Food stops – 2 (3 for me). Fire vehicles passed – 15+. Weather – Sunny with temps approaching 85. Neutral Support – Leeann Benesh and her a trusty sidekick at mile 101 (thanks Leeann!)
Well, that’s all the news from Routt county, where the bikes are strong, the tires are wide, and all the riders are above average.