Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Remembering Breckenridge Chalet Week


The Indianapolis BMW Club used to rent a chalet in Breckenridge, Colo. for a week every summer from around 1987 to around 1999.

Except for years when the BMW MOA rally was in the west, we gathered there the week before Labor Day. The MOA rallies are in July, so in the years when it was in the West – 1990 in Rapid City, 1991 in Flagstaff, 1998 in Missoula – Chalet Week was scheduled either immediately before or right after the MOA rally.

The place was spacious and slept 19. Since it was the off-season, the rental was cheap – $60 per person for the week, if memory serves. You couldn’t stay home for that kind of money.

Tim and Linda Balough, who have since retired and moved to neighboring Alma, Colo., coordinated the rental and we always had money left over for groceries.

chaletgangThe 1990 (I think) Chalet Week group.

Most of us would head west from Indianapolis on Saturday morning, taking either I-70 or U.S. 36 and stopping for the night somewhere in central Kansas. That positioned us to arrive in Breckenridge sometime Sunday afternoon. After we emptied our saddlebags and other baggage, several of us would ride down to the City Market supermarket on the north end of town and stock up on groceries for the week, usually including some low-octane grocery store beer.

There were a couple of times when guys made the ride from Indy in one shot – Rich Nathan and Bernie Heidt come to mind. It’s 1,163 miles via I-70, which is do-able, but you end up arriving in deer and elk country after dark.

In the mornings, everyone would rustle up his or her own breakfast and plan where they would ride that day – sometimes up to Steamboat Springs, sometimes over Independence Pass to Aspen and Glenwood Springs, sometimes up to Rocky Mountain National Park. I think we rode ever significant road in that part of the Rocky Mountains at one time or another during the decade-plus that we did Chalet Week.

Dinner would be orchestrated by one or two volunteer cooks. I liked to make jambalaya, although cooking rice at close to 10,000 feet is a bit tricky. One night we might all go out to dinner at a local restaurant and one night we usually ordered Domino’s pizza for dinner.

We lost the use of the chalet in the early 2000s when the owners decided to move back in after living several years down in Buena Vista.

Tim and Linda moved into their big chalet-style A-frame about this time and hosted Chalet Week on a reduced scale for a few years, but finally gave up when interest dwindled.

It was a great time and a fabulous perk for being in the Indianapolis BMW Club and I really miss it around this time of year. If I didn’t have a commitment for this Labor Day, I would have seriously considered imposing on the Baloughs’ hospitality one more time.

Maybe next year.


The 2005 Chalet Week gang at Chateau Balough in Alma.

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