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Cognoscenti Postscript

Cognoscenti Day 6 View 2

Photograph courtesy of Cognoscenti

I had one more night in Boulder before my mid day Thursday flight from Denver to Tokyo.  Scott and Steve were also staying an extra night.  Both had Thursday morning bike fits with the renowned Dr. Andy Pruitt at the Colorado University Sports Medicine and Performance Center.

The brothers had a relative in Estes Park whom they visited many years ago.   They kindly invited me to go with them on a drive to Estes Park on Wednesday afternoon.

Estes Park sits on Lake Estes, and is a gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park.  As you drive into Estes Park, you can’t help but notice the Stanley Hotel, sitting as it does above Lake Estes.

Stephen King was a guest in Room 217 when he conceived the idea for “The Shining,” and he used the Stanley as his inspiration for the Overlook Hotel in his horror novel.  The 1997 TV miniseries of the same name was filmed at the Stanley.  Fans of the film version of “The Shining” may already know that Oregon’s Timberline Lodge, not the Stanley, was used for the movie’s exterior shots.

Cognoscenti Day 6 Stanley Hotel Estes Park Wikipedia

Photograph courtesy of Wikipedia

We wandered along the Riverwalk for a while.

Cognoscenti Day 6 Estes Park Riverwalk warmheartcold on flickr

Photograph courtesy of warmheartcold on flickr

It had been a while since those breakfast burritos.  We needed nibbles. So we sat on the waterside back patio of Ed’s Cantina & Grill, eating chips and salsa, and nachos.  And chatting about the previous six days.

Cognoscenti Day 6 Ed's Cantina and Grill Glass Chiles

Photograph courtesy of Ed’s Cantina & Grill

On the way out of Ed’s I spotted this t-shirt.  We rode hard at times during our time in Boulder, but with all the wonderful food we had, we were never at risk of being reduced to this.

Cognoscenti Day 6 Skeleton T-shirt

The visit to Estes Park with Scott and Steve was a very pleasant way to end Day 6.  We drove back through some of the spectacular countryside that attracts so many to Boulder.

Cognoscenti Day 6 View 1

Photograph courtesy of Cognoscenti

Cognoscenti Day 6 View 4

Photograph courtesy of Cognoscenti

On Thursday morning Patrick delivered my bike to the hotel.  Boxed up and ready for the flights with me to Kuala Lumpur.  I was leaving Boulder with more stuff than I had arrived with.  Two of these bottles for a start.

Cognoscenti Day 6 Bottles

Photograph courtesy of Cognoscenti

The Cognoscenti, Alchemy and Rol bottles I was given, and the Camelbak Podium Ice bottles I brought with me, went into the box with my bike.  All stuffed with socks, base layers, arm sleeves, bandanas etc.  My cycling shoes went in the bike box too.

There was time for a coffee with Patrick and Karl in Jill’s Restaurant, and one last look at the Flatirons from the back patio of the hotel.

Photograph courtesy of Cognoscenti

Photograph courtesy of Cognoscenti

Karl drove me to Denver airport, and my Cognoscenti adventure was over, bar the many wonderful memories.

Cognoscenti Day 1

Cognoscenti Boulder Downtown

Day 1 of my Cognoscenti adventure started with Karl Maier, one of the founders of Cognoscenti, picking me up from the Airbnb house where I was staying in Denver, and transporting my bike and I to the St. Julien Hotel in Boulder.  My home for the next six days.

Andrew Knowles, the other founder of Cognoscenti, met us in the lobby of the hotel, where I was given my rain bag, stuffed with goodies.  Bottles, Townie Syndicate tire levers and tools, Skratch Labs hydration and nutrition products, chamois cream, sun block, moisturizer, waterproof pouch, cap, and some bedtime reading.  Note the name tag.  A nice touch.

Cognoscenti Day 1 Goodies

Cognoscenti provided everything I needed to ride, apart from a bicycle, shoes and helmet.  We all received a pair of Panache Cyclewear bibshorts and a jersey.  Cognoscenti styled.

Photograph courtesy of Kevin Batchelor

Photograph courtesy of Kevin Batchelor

I had a few minutes to check in to my room and change into riding gear before heading out to the back patio of the hotel to meet the other participants and the Cognoscenti support crew.

Photograph courtesy of

Photograph courtesy of

We took over the grassy area along the back wall nearest the road.  That is where I was reunited with my bike, now sporting a name label on the top tube.

Cognoscenti Day 1 Bike Rack

Unsurprisingly, I had come from the furthest away.   Richard and his wife had flown in from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Matt and his wife had driven from Eu Claire, Wisconsin.  Brothers Scott and Steve had driven together from Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska.  And Mindy and Pam had come from just up the road in Aspen, Colorado.

Our professional guest cyclist for the day was Sarah Lukas, who rides for the Amy D. Foundation team.  Having one or more current or ex-professional riders with us on every ride was both a highlight and a challenge.  A highlight because to a person they were always willing to chat, and to provide a pull.  A challenge because they made real the gulf in cycling ability between we mortals and the professional peloton.

We were also joined each day by at least one editor from VeloNews.  Names familiar to me from the VeloNews website appeared before me in the flesh:  Chris Case (Managing Editor), Spencer Powlison ( Editor), Brad Kaminski ( Photography Editor), Dan Cavallari (Technology Editor), and Neal Rodgers (Editor at Large).

While the cast of professional riders and VeloNews editors changed daily, the Cognoscenti guides were a constant.  The full support we received all week was thanks to Jon Robichaud, Russ Folger, Tristan Brown and Patrick Walker.  These guys meant it when they said they would provide full support.  Our bikes were washed and tuned after each ride.  When we took our bikes off the rack to start a ride, bottles full of Skratch Labs hydration were already in the cages.  A support van and at least one other vehicle were always nearby.  Fresh chilled bottles were always available.  As was an endless supply of those now famous Skratch Labs rice cakes and cookie bars.

Fully prepped, we headed out on what was described as an “acclimatization spin.”  A 57.5km / 36mi ride along the flats of Boulder County to St. Vrain Road and back.  There was about 475m / 1,560ft of climbing.  Which was a lot for me, but as I was to discover, was just a hint of what was to come.

Cognoscenti Day 1 Route

The ride was relatively fast for me.  Which signalled trouble, because I could already see that my new friends were all stronger riders than I was.  I was struggling with the lower air pressure and oxygen levels.  Boulder is 1,655m / 5,430ft above sea level.  Which translates to 17% less oxygen by volume than is available at sea level.

It was also hot at 32.8°C / 91.0°F.  With a 24kph / 15mph westerly wind.  Not the time to have only an apple and three coffees in the fuel tank.

Despite my panting in the hot and dry air, I did enjoy the ride.  Especially the gravel sections.  Riding unpaved roads like those was new to me.  It took a while to get comfortable riding on the loose surface.  Oddly enough I felt more comfortable on the rutted sections, which felt like the cobbles of South Holland and Belgium.

Cognoscenti Day 1 Dirt Road 1

The last 6km / 3.5mi were along the Boulder Creek bike path.  Where I was at last able to catch my breath.

Photograph courtesy of Dan Hugo

Photograph courtesy of Dan Hugo

We were greeted back at the St. Julien by slices of iced and salted watermelon, and iced towels to drape over the backs of our necks.  Our bikes were taken from us to be washed.  We were given mesh bags for our used kit, which would be laundered overnight.  See what I mean about first-class support?

We had an hour or so to shower and freshen up before meeting in the St. Julien lobby for a drink with our pro rider and VeloNews guests.  Then we walked the short distance to PMG for dinner.

Cognoscenti believes that Boulder is one of the best intersections of cycling and food and wine in the world.  We had just had some fabulous cycling, and PMG did not disappoint on the food front.  Shared plates of fried eggplant, crostini with English peas and ricotta, Tuscan kale salad, Burrata with heirloom tomatoes and bagna cauda, tortellini with butter and sage, swordfish, and roast chicken came one after the other out of the kitchen.  Luckily I still had room for the chocolate pot de crème and fresh peaches for dessert.

Cognoscenti Day 1 PMG Food

Bring on Day 2.