Drivers with Colorado license plates whiz by me without a second thought, but those from Florida, Texas, Quebec, and Louisiana pump their brakes and turn their necks as they slowly pass. I can hear the hum of the engines as they climb the steep grade of Trail Ridge Road, yet I refuse to make eye contact. My engine’s working hard, too, and I feel as if one lapse in concentration could result in a breakdown.
Trail Ridge Road is North America’s “highest-elevated continuously paved road”, stretching 48 miles from Estes Park to Grand Lake through Rocky Mountain National Park. Eleven miles of it runs above tree line, topping out at 12,183 feet. It was built in 1932 to replace the original single-file Fall River Road, which was deemed impassible after being built only 12 years prior in 1920.
So, naturally, Coloradans bike it, past the elk and moose that inhabit the hills, and the snow that still sits on the sides of the road here in August. I’m about three quarters up the 4,000-foot climb from Estes Park to the summit, and the out-of-towners are really starting to rubberneck. I’m part of the show, part of the scenery. Look kids, there’s a moose…and a moron biking above treeline!