Short version: It was awesome!
The longer version: It was a consensus among our group that we all felt awesome yesterday. And it’s true, I had a great day on the bike.
The mountain air was quite cool when we rolled out, but I quickly warmed up as the climb up to Fremont Pass began. The grade starts out easy at 3 or 4 percent then kicks up to an average of 7% for about 4 miles. Maybe I was distracted by all the people watching, but I was having a great climb. I soon found myself passing those people who had maybe started out a little too fast. I caught myself tapping my handlebars to an unknown beat and whistling a little tune. But I quickly stopped figuring that might be annoying to some. Among the people highlights was a guy in a ruffled skirt and a biker on some sort of modified recumbent contraption.
Rachel found me at the top of the steep part of the climb and we rode together to the first aid station at Fremont Pass. The other girls rolled in soon afterward.
After filling up on our share of the fantastic food offerings (fig newtons rock!), we started the descent. With mostly downhill and some easy flat, including 5 miles of hard-packed dirt in a construction zone, we were soon starting the climb up to Tennessee Pass. I would go so far as to call this pass “easy.” This is horrible, but I took a certain satisfaction in sitting in my middle chain ring for the entire climb while I passed people I could tell were at their limit. The event organizers surprised us with a small uphill jaunt to the aid station. Happily, that hill kept the station from being overly crowded. Soon the whole crew filtered in.
Next we headed toward Minturn. I apparently hadn’t studied the ride profile closely enough, because I was caught a little off guard by the climb right before Minturn. But the climb was relatively short and at a mild 5 or 6 percent grade. We then cruised through Minturn (thanks cheering spectators!) and down into Vail. We fueled up and filled up, then headed to the hardest climb of the day, Vail Pass, which we hit as my odometer read about 64 miles. I was feeling the heat as the temperature had reached 90 degrees and the sun was full on. Three of us climbed together for a while chatting with people. I found a great groove, especially after a cloud hid the sun, and soon was at “the wall,” a super steep section (14% incline) after the road turns into a bike path. Here it was dodgy for a stretch as many people were walking their bikes. The last few miles passed quickly, and I found myself at the top of Vail Pass with only 6 miles of downhill into Copper Mountain left.
The girls rolled in shortly, we ate more food (of course), and most of us gathered to cruise to the finish together.
Someone asked me if I thought maybe I had trained too much for the ride. I could have done the ride with less training, it’s true, but, as it was, I did the whole ride never even flirting with my limit. I was well within myself the entire time. In fact, at the top of Vail Pass, I felt like I could have gone another twenty miles. Sure, I was happy to roll into Copper and enjoy the finish, but I felt my legs had more in them.
So what now? The Rist Canyon Road Ride and Hill Climb? A destination ride?
And for the data-minded:
- Avg. speed: 14.4 mph
- Max speed: 44.9 mph
- Total distance: 79.59 mi
- Riding time: 5:31 (not including stops)
- Elevation gain: 5912 ft
- Max incline: 14%
Update: I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how great the support for this ride was. The aid stations were packed with excellent food and drinks. The entire ride was well-staffed and organized. We even had our own mini-lane on roundabouts. Thanks to the ride organizers and the volunteers.
Also, lots of props to my crew (Team She-nanigans). I’m lucky to have so many fun, supportive, adventurous friends. You all are bad@$$es.