Gettin’ the Skinny and Chasin’ it With Beer (and Inner Peace)

Colorado is filled with sinewy people who relax by biking up mountains. The Red State has the lowest obesity rate in the nation, according to a recent survey by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and this was very evident during our four-day stay there. Bike paths criss cross every town; people jog; everyone hikes…even the wheelchair-bound; and communities invest heavily in public playgrounds and other wellness activities that are made accessible to everyone. Basically, the state is saying “If you can’t get in shape here then you can’t get in shape.”

Do Coloradans ever splurge? Yes. It’s called beer. They drink it daily. Hourly. They drink some of the finest beers outside of Belgium. And when the sun rises, they power through any residual hangover with a robust bike ride through postcard-perfect scenery. See how this cycle works? One brilliant Colorado resident and entrepreneur decided to combine his two loves: beer and biking. He’s the owner of New Belgium Brewery, a quintessential Colorado experience that should be a must on everyone’s travel itinerary.

Here’s how we enjoyed last Saturday, a recipe for an ideal summer’s day in Colorado:

Late morning drive to Shambala Mountain Retreat and a brief walk up a hill to see the The Great Stupa of Dharmakaya. Walking up the hill, I felt the sky sitting on my shoulders…you’re enveloped in blinding blue brightness that doesn’t abate until well past 7 pm. At the top of the hill sits the Stupa.

Consecrated in August 2001, the Stupa is said to promote harmony and reduce fear. The path to the Stupa is lined with frayed red prayer flags fading in the relentless sun. Our host, Matt, who is a practicing Buddhist, explained to Anna that the prayer flags are left to the elements and once the wind finally takes them, the wind carries these prayers out to the world. It was my first visit to a formal Buddhist site of prayer, the first of many, hopefully.

After some walking and prayer it’s the perfect time to get lit. Our sojourn to the Stupa was followed by a tour at New Belgium Brewery where the serving samples are shamelessly generous and where employees receive an old-fashioned beach cruiser bike once they reach their one-year milestone. I drank Fat Tire, Abbey, something that shared the same color as pee but tasted great and was called Mothership, and a sour beer that tasted like nothing I’ve ever drank before.

Here’s Mike mastering the pour:

And a tray full of Abbeys:

Anna didn’t sample beer, but kids are welcome on the tour and they do get an earful about the aging of hops, barrels, and bottling. Brewing beer involves quite a bit of chemistry mojo.

New Belgium Brewery tours ends with a ride down the company slide, which, after six or seven four-ounce glasses of beer, can be a real treat when you’re pushing 40.

We felt so empowered by Colorado awesomeness and alcohol that we decided to go wrestle a bear. Actually, we really just hugged a bear statue in downtown Fort Collins.

And the best way to end the perfect summer’s day in Colorado? A backyard barbecue with the family and a dip in the pool.

Best…summer’s day…ever.

Leave a Reply