Feb 10, 2014 View Comments by

RelicsLast summer before the start of an “official” RoadRUNNER tour, I spent a few personal days with my friends John and Martha DeVito exploring some of Colorado’s dirt road mountain passes. I love dirt roads as well as mountains, and the combination of the two made for some memorable riding.

Although the roads were in fairly decent shape and are regularly traveled, they were still a far cry from the alternate paved routes. Old cabins and mining related structures were spotted occasionally, and we couldn’t help but stop and check out a cluster of three or four long abandoned buildings near the road.

RelicsAs I stepped through the doorway of a roofless cabin, I wondered whose eyes had peered through those glassless window openings a century ago and what it was like back then. There was evidence of a small mine behind the cabins, and I assume that they once housed the mine owners and workers, who were possibly one and the same.

It’s easy to get caught up in the romanticism of the western frontier gold rush days, but I’m certain that the reality was far from romantic. Brutal weather conditions, isolation, physical danger from numerous sources, and a lack of the modern conveniences we take for granted would dictate a very harsh existence.

If one doesn’t think about it too hard, however, it’s nice to envision a family, snug in a warm cabin, watching the snow fall for hours in the heart of the Colorado Rockies. If given the chance, I wouldn’t mind going back and giving it a try for a while. At least until the first sign of serious danger, illness, frostbite, or hunger and as long as I could take my bike with me.

Although our stop at the old buildings was short, it added something special to the trip and I’m glad that we took the time to look around. I’ve found similar long-abandoned homes deep in Ohio’s wooded hills, and they never fail to spark my curiosity and imagination. Exploring these forgotten relics is yet another reason why I love getting off the beaten path on dual-purpose and adventure bikes. What relics have you stumbled upon during your travels?


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