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.

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