The Colorado Rocky Mountain Bike Tour began August 1st in Montrose. After driving for 4hours from the Copper Triangle, Bruce and I met an old friend of mine and his buddy from the bay area of California. After we got our tents up Pat and Rick let us grab a shower at their room at the Holiday Inn Express and even bought us a drink! We talked about the upcoming route and got some input from the bartender about the fast, technical descent into Ouray on day 6. Having ridden the first day's route from Montrose to Gunnison I filled the others in on what to expect. I should have kept my mouth shut. In June the BTC took us from Montrose to Gunnison, and on into Crested Butte. It was a long day, but not that hard. I was on the road by 7:00am and made it Gunnison by 1:30pm. After lunch, I finished riding to Crested Butte by 4:30pm and felt good enough to walk around town and check out the music at the park. Day one of the CRMBT would not be as easy!
The weather was comfortable as we rode out of Montrose, but the headwind we rode into most of the day turned hot and dry as we went from 5,800' over Cerro Summit at 7,950' and on to aid station at mile19. Stopped by the side of the road catching my breath I met Teri from Omaha who was on this tour by herself. As we talked I found out that she had done the Copper Triangle the day before as well. At the aid station I introduced her to Pat, and later in the day to Rick and Bruce. When we met her on the road the next day her pace often matched ours, and our new friend rode with us for the rest of the week.
After the aid station we climbed again to Blue Mesa Summit at 8,660'. Not a terribly hard climb, but fighting the wind the whole climb sucks the energy out of you. The route was on highway 50 the whole day, with too much traffic at times, maybe because it was a Sunday, and we were nearing the morrow point and blue mesa reservoirs. It's a pretty good descent off of Blue Mesa Summit down to a beautiful stretch called "the narrows". Bruce was with me at the summit, and I thought he was right behind me as I descended. I stopped for pictures and waited for him. After several minutes the tour director, Peter, passed by heading the other way. He stopped to ask if I was OK, and I told him I hadn't seen Bruce. He told me he would check on him and at the next aid station Peter told me Bruce was fine, just stopping for pictures along the way. That kind of interaction is one of the things I love about this tour. With about 250 riders this year, it's not too big. After the aid station it was mostly downhill to Gunnison, a slight reprieve from working against the wind all morning. Once in town, it was a short ride to the middle school where we would spend the night.
Pat made it into Gunnison first, and was sitting on a bench when Rick and I rolled in shortly after. We needed to eat something more than the snacks we had been grazing on at the aid stations, and we saw another rider with a Safeway bag. We got directions and jumped back on the bikes. We found some deli sandwiches, chips, and drinks, and even a picnic table on the edge of the parking lot in the shade of a tree. I called Bruce's cell phone, and when he didn't answer brought some food back to the school for him. He was starting to set his tent up as we arrived and was happy to have some nourishment. We all got our tents up and were planning on showers and maybe a nap before dinner. We were exhausted. Not the easy day I had described!
The tour had lined up a guest speaker for that afternoon, Dr. Inigo San Milan, Director of the University of Colorado Hospital Exercise and Human Performance Laboratory in Denver. He has worked with some of the best cyclists in the world, including David Millar from Garmin Slipstream, and the winner of this year's Tour de France, Alberto Contador. Bruce went to the gym to listen to him, but even though I thought it would be interesting, I thought it might be considered rude to start snoring during his presentation, so I napped on my pad in the shade.
I heard from several people that some of the things he hit on were alternating between water and sports drinks during long rides. He also thought most riders needed to train less and eat more. I love this guy!
While organizing our gear Bruce told us that at one point he'd been going slow enough to see a quarter on the road, so he stopped and picked it up. I told him that I had dropped a quarter today. He told me if I could tell him what year it was, I could have it. After a quick calculation...not too old, not too new, I said "1987". His jaw dropped and with disbelief he handed me my lucky quarter!
Eventually we were ready for dinner. There was really nothing within walking distance of the school, so we hopped back on the bikes one more time and headed to the Pizza Hut. We had a nice young lady waiting on us and she kept us in water as we devoured a couple pizzas. When we asked if there was a nearby Dairy Queen for dessert, she recommended the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory for cake batter ice cream. We were off on a quest! Alas, it was not to be as we arrived only to find that they were closed on Sunday. We had to settle for a gas station and an ice cream bar, but it still hit the spot. Since I had brought food back for Bruce he paid for my ice cream. I threw in my lucky quarter to pay the tab.