The last day of the Bicycle Tour of Colorado was another 100 mile+ day with the route taking us from Buena Vista, along the Collegiate Range via Highway 24, to the turnoff for Twin Lakes and Independence Pass. Then down the other side to Aspen, and on to the finish at Glenwood Springs. In the interest of full disclosure, I crossed the finish line at about 30 mph, but, I was in the back of a van.
The morning started well. I was on the road by 6:30, the weather was great, and as had been the one constant all week, the scenery was magnificent. Well, another constant throughout the week was the route laid out for us each day was HARD! I couldn't help but think that I should have trained more, prepared for altitude better, been younger. I hadn't regretted catching a SAG after the Colorado National Monument, or in the freezing rain at Cottonwood Pass. Well. I had some regrets, but I still preferred the SAG over the alternatives. But, by the end of the week, the accumulative effects of the tour were catching up to me. I was sore, my head hurt, I was tired, and I had reached the conclusion that I didn't want to do any more week-long tours by myself. It's so much more fun to have someone to commiserate with each evening.
I rode about half the route, almost 50 miles, climbing slowly towards the high point of the day. My speed was better than I expected, but it still took me more than 4 hours. The prospect of another few hours of climbing once the real climb started were not appealing at that point. Then a descent down winding, narrow roads, barely wide enough for two cars, followed by a fairly flat 40 mile ride to Glenwood Springs. I had had enough. Feeling defeated, I caught a SAG to the end, retrieved my car and my bags, took a quick shower and grabbed some lunch, and got out of town.
I had a reservation in Frisco, and it felt good to take a hot bath, sleep in a real bed, and not have to pack up a tent for an early start for home. I didn't even have the energy to look around Frisco that evening. I went to a Safeway across the street for dinner I could take back to the room, watched a little TV, and fell asleep before 9:00pm. I was on the road by 5:00am on Sunday to get back home to my wife and my dogs. I did stop in Georgetown and snapped this picture. The sun was up, but hidden behind the mountains. Still, it lit the sky enough to reflect off the lake.
I had a wonderful time, saw scenery that I will never forget, and learned to be careful what you wish for. If you choose an epic adventure, be ready for it. This was a great route, a great tour, but it kicked my ass! I got home tired, happy, a little humbled, and ready to try it again in August. The next one will present plenty of challenges, but on a little more manageable scale. Assuming I can make it through that, I'll look forward to the next tour, maybe through a flatter state.