Biking Down Historic Gold Camp Road

The Gold Camp Road runs through the Rocky Mountains south of Pikes Peak in Colorado. For over a hundred years, it has been traveled by tourists, first on passenger trains and later in automobiles. The Colorado Springs & Cripple Creek District Railway was built around the turn of the twentieth century to bring gold ore down from the mines around Cripple Creek and Victor. By the 1920s, the railroad was out of business and the route was soon converted into an automobile toll road for tourists.

Our bikes. Source: TCM
Near St. Peter’s Dome, with our destination, Colorado Springs, in the distance. Source: TCM

It remains a popular destination. We rented a couple of KHS mountain bikes from Challenge Unlimited and they drove us in their van up the unpaved and potholed Old Stage Road to St. Peters Dome, roughly halfway between Cripple Creek and Colorado Springs. Our driver dropped us off with a couple water bottles, a photocopy of a hand-drawn map, and a little backpack with a pump and repair kit, in case we got a flat tire. From there, it was all downhill.

The first eight miles or so are closed to automobiles, and we were riding on a Monday after the summer tourist season ended, so we had the gravel road to ourselves. We rode through two tunnels, stopping several times to take in the views. After about an hour and a half, we reached Tunnel #3. In 1988, this tunnel collapsed (which is why cars are no longer allowed), so we had to walk the bikes along a trail that goes over the tunnel. Below Tunnel #3 there was a parking lot, cars, and more hikers and bikers, but it was definitely not crowded. We continued downhill through more tunnels and rock cuts.

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Buy a Jetta, Get a Bike: The 1990s VW x Trek Collab

VW Trek BikeBack in 1996, Volkswagen partnered with Trek bicycles, offering a special VW Jetta Trek edition that came with a Trek mountain bike and a roof rack to put it on. The following year, they also offered a VW Trek Golf. One of those bikes turned up at a charity bike store, and, although I’ve never owned a VW, I picked it up because, as it says on the frame, it’s a Limited Edition.

VW Trek Stem

The 1996 Jetta Trek Limited Edition Sedan started under $16,000 and came with either a five speed manual or four speed automatic. The VW Trek bike came with 21 speeds and custom seat, handgrips, and special graphics: a dude on a multi-colored rocket, orbiting the VW logo, and holding…something?

VW Trek Head Tube

Details on the bikes are a bit harder to find. The 1996 ones had a steel frame, but this one has an aluminum frame, which may be the 1997 version. The OCLV on the rocket stands for Trek’s patented carbon fiber, but it’s unlikely that there’s any of it on this bike. A few parts had been replaced in the past twenty years, including the saddle (which also would have had that rocket boy logo), but it still has the original VW hand grips.

VW Trek Hand Grip

It’s definitely in better shape than some of the Trek Edition automobiles out there: Junkyard Gem.

Still on the lookout for a Jetta Shepherd edition, though: