It was at the age of 32 and right after moving to Colorado when Pamela Keller discovered a love for cycling. The Midwesterner had just moved from her home state of Oklahoma, deciding on Denver after doing research between the Mile High City and Austin or Orlando. At the time she thought she’d end up near a beach, but the mountains had a stronger calling. That was in 1989, and she never looked back. Like many who move to the state, with it she discovered a new outdoor passion.
“Some people say ‘Oh, I really think when I’m in the shower,’” Keller said. “I really think when I’m on my bike. It feels good to be out there.”
In 2011, Keller traveled to the French Open tennis tournament, and decided to go on a bike trip while she was there. As she was cycling through Champagne, France, deep in thought while pedaling, she realized she could take this concept home. She had spent years working in the Colorado tourism industry and this was a way she could turn one of her passions into a new career.
With that idea, in 2012 she created At Your Pace Freestyle Cycling Adventures, offering multiday, self-guided bike tours throughout Colorado. The trips took care of all the planning: lodging, routes, bike rentals, meals, local reps, emergency support and luggage transport. By 2015, she quit her day job and was able to focus solely on the company.
“I just kind of had an idea and went for it,” she said. “Calculated risk-taker is what I would say I am. But I love it, and I don’t want to do anything else. This is it for me.”
Today, Keller is still continuously working to expand her business. She added a new element to At Your Pace this summer by combining bikes with the craft brew industry. The Bike & Brews tour offers guests a three-and-a-half to four-hour guided tour through a city, with stops at different breweries along the way.
In Summit County — where Keller lived from 2000 to 2006 — there are two options for the Bike & Brews tour — one that combines Breckenridge and Frisco, and another for Dillon and Silverthorne. The company also has tours set up in Denver, Boulder, Glenwood Springs and Carbondale.
“I realized that I needed to think outside of the box, and what else could I do that wasn’t being done in some areas,” Keller said. “That’s how the idea was born and it’s been really successful.”
The tours are customized depending on the group’s needs. The groups go out with anywhere from two to 10, and routes are adjusted depending on the overall fitness level, cycling ability and desire of participants.
“We understand that people have different needs and abilities, and that’s the whole concept of our company,” she said. “At Your Pace — we really mean it.”
In Breckenridge, the tour stops at Broken Compass Brewing, Breckenridge Distillery and through the historical district to Breckenridge Brewery. If participants want to include Frisco, the tour rolls into Backcountry Brewery first and back to two of the Breckenridge stops, for a total of three stops. The Silverthorne/Dillon route, which Keller says is the more difficult biking route, stops at Dillon Dam Brewery and Pug Ryan’s Brewery in Dillon and Bakers’ Brewery in Silverthorne.
Breckenridge local Louie Traub, a ski instructor in the winter, joined the tours as a guide to also incorporate work with play.
“Like with anything new, there was a learning curve, but after dialing in a routine over the course of the summer, tours have become more refined to offer our guests the best experience possible,” he said. “The goals are to keep everyone safe, have fun and create new experiences by trying new brews and enjoying riding bikes around Breck.”
With many participants from out of town, Traub reminds guests to drink plenty of water, wear sunscreen, be prepared for the occasional rain shower and to recognize that biking at 9,600 feet is different than at sea level.
Guide John Thompson is a brewery enthusiast, and because he lives in the foothills in Genesee, he takes out tours in both Boulder and Summit County. Along the way, Thompson said he gives tour participants a history of the area, talking about the weather, the peaks and ski areas, or whatever the guests are interested in.
“I’ll take them along the Blue River and we’ll stop at the little mining exhibit,” he said. “Try to soak some of that stuff in.”
Thompson said he’s had guests anywhere from ages 21 to over 60, and the guides are able to accommodate any pace.
“It’s relaxing and having fun,” he said. “It’s a relaxed atmosphere, getting a little exercise, sampling some beers — what could be better?”
Keller said she hopes to continue the tours throughout October, or as long as the weather allows.
The Summit County tours have so far been drawing the most business, Keller said, and she will be looking to expand into new areas in the future.
“You can see so much more about regions’ typography, geography and culture and everything by riding a bike,” she said. “It’s helping you to get that great exercise that we all need, and then we get to have fun by drinking a little beer along the way. I love it.
Guest Authored by: Heather Jarvis