Wednesday, August 31, 2016

rest day

After getting cleaned up, finding some lunch, and relaxing after the ride through the park, a few of us rode the shuttle down to the river-walk and found a Nepalese restaurant for dinner. The next morning I walked back down there to check out Kind Coffee and see if they had anything I would want for breakfast. As I neared the coffee shop I ran into Kathy from the tour. She had purchased a book about RMNP for all of us to sign and give to Norm to wish him well in his recovery, and let him know we missed him.

Kathy also told me two things. One, there's a great breakfast place called Notch Top, not too far from where we were. When I checked on Yelp, it turns out they have some vegan options. I walked there and enjoyed a terrific breakfast burrito with tofu in place of eggs. But first I checked out the second thing Kathy told me about. There were two elk bedded down in the grass just down from the footbridge I had just walked over. I didn't even notice them there. She told me that they had been in the middle of the road munching on flower beds before the police came and shooed them away.
The rest of the day was spent relaxing, napping during a light rain shower, and getting ready for the next day's ride. We did make it to Mama Rose's for some Italian for dinner that night.

Monday, August 29, 2016

granby to estes park

We were asked to be through the gates of RMNP by 7:00am to ensure we would be off the highest points before afternoon rains moved in. Arrangements had been made for our group, but anyone can roll up to the gates at any time, pay a $10 entrance fee, and ride their bike into the park. There was some talk about sleeping in a little after our century day, but riding past Lake Granby in the early morning light was beautiful.
 It was also cold. I had underestimated how cold it would be for most of the morning. Temps in Granby were cold to start the day. And as the morning went on we were climbing to cooler zones, so I wasn't really warm all morning. I went back and forth between taking my jacket off from working on the climb, and putting it back on when the temps got to me. I was sorry I hadn't planned a little better, but the views that the ride afforded more than made up for any discomfort.
 On Trail Ridge Road the climb takes you through lots of twists and turns, switchback after switchback until you break out of the trees
 At this aid station I liked the visual of lots of bikes, and people, lined up on the wall.
 And in case you forgot that you were in the middle of a climb, this handy sign reminded you.
 Once you're above treeline you still have some climbing to do. You can look up and see where the road is cut into the side of the mountain.
 Although the road itself fascinated me, there were still spectacular views to be had in every direction.
 The last aid station was near the high point for the day. It was almost all downhill from there. I asked Scotty to take my picture, put on my jacket and headed down. Before too long I caught up to a pickup and RV and didn't see a safe place to pass. So, for about 20 miles I pumped my brakes and rolled toward Estes park at 25-30 mph.
 It was good to get into Estes Park, get to the middle school, clean up and find something to eat. The following day was a rest day, and Estes Park was a great place to spend it.

Monday, August 22, 2016

edwards to granby

I left early with lights blazing on this century day, (103 miles to be exact). Shortly after I left US 6 for CO 131 I saw these guys in the early light. They sure seemed comfortable on the rocky terrain.
In the first 35 miles I faced a couple of tough climbs, but was rewarded with some nice descents, and really nice views. Today's route would offer glimpses of the Colorado River, and lots of wide open spaces until we got to the only real pass of the day.
The climb up Gore Pass isn't too long, or too hard. A lot of it is through the forest so it doesn't offer great views, but it's very pleasant, and you're in Colorado! We had an aid station at the summit across from the elevation sign.
There was a rumor of a cafe in Kremmling, about 75 miles into the ride. When I rolled into town I saw no sign of it, but I did see several bikes outside the Subway shop, so that was lunch. Afterward I hung on to a pace line for 5-10 miles before they slowly pulled away and I was left to finish on my own. I enjoyed a tailwind for most of that time, except for when I passed through the canyon that's named "Windy Gap". I felt a few raindrops, but it never amounted to anything, and I rolled into Granby in good shape. There are a couple of short hills to get from the main drag to the high school that almost made me cry, but I managed to get there with 102.5 miles on my odometer. I don't know where I took the half-mile shortcut.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

breckenridge to edwards

The on and off rain from the night before was gone, and we left Breckenridge on wet roads, bike path to be precise, under mostly sunny skies. We jumped onto the bike path right behind the Rec Center and headed towards Frisco. We worked our way around some repair crews outside of Frisco and stayed on the bike path towards Copper Mountain. We would learn later that somewhere in that stretch the oldest and longest-tenured rider on the tour would have an accident. Glenn was on the tail end of a pace-line rolling along at a moderate speed when he realized that Norm, 78 years old and a 10-time CRMBT rider, was just ahead. He thought he would slow down and ride with Norm for a while, have a little visit. Glenn saw a dog wander onto the path and stop in front of Norm. When Norm tried to avoid the dog, he went down hard. He cracked his helmet and hit his shoulder hard.

As unfortunate as this accident was, there was a silver lining. The dog's owner was a woman who lived close to the bike path. She had an ATV to get Norm up to her house, where she and Glenn got him loaded into her pickup to go to the hospital in Frisco, just a few miles away. And, she was on her way to work, as a surgeon at that hospital! Glenn rode to the hospital until someone from the tour could meet him there, and Norm's daughter from Denver was there as well before too long. Norm's injury turned out not to be a head injury, or a shoulder injury. Getting Norm from the ground to the ATV to the truck, it became obvious that his hip was what was really hurting. We found out later that he had broken his femur, and it was decided to do a total hip replacement as that would heal faster than trying to reset the leg. Norm seems to be doing fine and I'm sure he'll be back on the bike by next spring.

Before most of us knew anything about this, we had gotten to the point of the bike path where we would exit. Near Copper Mountain there was an aid station before we began our climb up Fremont Pass.
The climb up Fremont has never struck me as an overly difficult climb. I was still glad to reach the top. We had another aid station to refill bottles and grab a snack. The descent down the south side is basically one big sweeping switchback, followed by a gradual descent for 10 or 12 miles. You can still go pretty fast if you put it in a big gear and pedal hard. You don't lose a lot of altitude between the summit at 11,318 feet and Leadville, 10,152 feet. As you turn back towards the northwest outside of Leadville you still go down a little.
Then, after a few miles, you climb a little more to get to the top of Tennessee Pass. Your reward for the short climb is a nice, long descent.
Then you face a nasty little climb up Battle Hill Summit. Two things help to ease the pain of this climb: the scenery is incredible, and you know you have another, even longer descent awaiting you on the other side.
After the descent several of us stopped in Minturn for lunch at Sticky Fingers Cafe & Bakery. I ordered the "Minturn Hippie" without cheese or mayo. My waitress said that made me a real hippie. I've been called worse. Then we worked together to make it the last 12 miles down the road to the Battle Mountain High School. It would be a pretty quiet, early night. We had a big day ahead of us.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

idaho springs to breckenridge

Sunday, 31 July, 2016
Many of us began the day by gathering for a kickoff from Peter. As the tour director he informs us of things to look out for on the road, weather challenges ahead, and implores us to be safe, and "take care of each other".
Then we were off. We took frontage roads, bike paths, and local roads that roughly paralleled I-70. The first 25 miles were  a gradual climb. Once we got onto US-6 we had another 4+ miles through some switchbacks to the top of Loveland Pass.
The morning was bright and pleasant. The traffic on US-6 was a little busy, but not too bad. From the Loveland Ski Area it's not a bad climb to the top. By the time we stopped for pictures at the elevation marker clouds and elevation had lowered the temperature, but it still was a great morning.
And with our climbing for the better part of 30 miles, we had earned ourselves a nice descent.

We still had a short climb up Swan Mountain once we were past Keystone. It's not long or steep, but towards the end of a ride it lived up to it's nickname, "the horrible hump". It did offer a nice view the Dillon Reservoir and Frisco beyond.
After a short descent, it was back on the bike path for a slightly uphill ride into Breckenridge. It's a pleasant enough ride that I was enjoying until the rain began.
The last 2 miles were in a cold rain that had me soaked to the bone. Luckily SherpaVille had my tent up and my bags dry. When the rain stopped I was able to find some lunch and some newspaper to stuff in my shoes and dry them out for the next day.

Lunch was at a pizza place with a guy from Colorado, one from the Pacific Northwest, and two each from England and Australia. It was a good day overall, and the next day looked good weather-wise, over some roads that I knew well, offering some classic Colorado scenery.