I am just back from a long weekend trip to Denver, to participate in Sunday’s Deer Creek Challenge bike ride. We did the metric century — 62 miles, with 7,022′ of elevation gain along the way. Pretty daunting for a flatlander! But this event was my “A race” (although not a race, but triathletes tend to prioritize events as a way to structure training across multiple events), so I have been doing some rides with climbs and lots of mileage … and, of course, in the midwest we have the perennial “headwinds are hill training” opportunity. So although I was a bit slow, I got it done, and it was a gorgeous ride.
We drove from Chicago to Denver (in large part due to my flying boycott thanks to the TSA, our feckless Congress that does not rein them in, and the airlines that go along with it to reduce their security liabililty), stopping in Omaha for one night on the way there. As an enthusiast for early American colonial and frontier history, I was excited to drive through the parts of Iowa, Nebraska, and Colorado that I’d not seen before, and I thought the high plains in western Nebraska and eastern Colorado were particularly beautiful; I love the combination of rolling hills and semi-arid landscape.
In Omaha we visited the Art Deco Union Station, which now houses the Durham Museum, so it’s a great stop if you like history and architecture. But the highlight of our Omaha visit was dinner at the Boiler Room, a fantastic restaurant in, you guessed it, an old renovated boiler room for The Bemis Company in the Old Market area of town. The food was fresh, seasonal, and creative, and we happened in to a special winemaker dinner. Outstanding from beginning to end.
We didn’t intend for this trip to be a foodie trip, but then in Denver we ate at Potager, which was also outstanding. Again fresh and seasonal, with a great wine list; melon soup with shrimp, zucchini carpaccio, lots of dishes based on just-harvested peaches, wonderful bread.
Our drive home was a bit of a quick blast, but we did stop in Des Moines yesterday for lunch at Smokey D’s BBQ, which was very good. We shared beef brisket and pork ribs; both were really good, but the brisket was especially good. Their sauces ranged from mild to extra-fiery, which definitely lived up to its name.
All in all, a fun late-summer road trip.