29 June 2005

Eric's "Ride The Rockies" report. Sat. 6/25

Sat. 6/25 – Leadville to Breckenridge – 45 miles

Last day and this was going to be a long one! Quite a bit of logistics involved. I awoke in lovely Copper Mountain resort at 4:30am. The weather channel says 40 degrees and so I dress accordingly, Knee warmers and my heavy jacket. I pack my suitcase and knapsack for p/up by the Alpine Cycle people who will deliver it back to me in Breckenridge. I catch the 5:30am charter back to the start at Leadville (Elevation 10,000+) Today was the day I was going to do a test ride on the $6,500 Serotta Titanium/Carbon Legend TI. This puppy was light!. The Mission was to be riding by 6:30 and get to Breckenridge between 9:30-10:00 – get my pedals and saddle swapped back on to my bike, take the bike to the company that was packing my bike and sending it back home. Find my luggage then shower at the portable shower bus and make the 12:00 Noon charter to Denver airport that I had a reservation for. From there it was a 4:55 flight to La Guardia.

After gulping a coffee, filled my water bottles and chewed on a cliff bar, I was off. It took me about 10 minutes to get really comfortable with the Shimano Ultegra gearing as my Giant has the entry level Tiagra gears. I skipped the first aid station just 9 miles out of Leadville at the foot of Fremont Pass which if anyone has climbed Bear Mountain, is very similar. Bear is 5 miles, Fremont pass is 4 and slightly less steep than Bear, but you are starting at 10,000 feet and climbing to 11,350 and boy I felt it. Anytime I went faster than 12 mph, I’d start hyperventilating, so I decided to keep it at 7-8mph. That worked Better! I managed to settle into a rhythm and started passing those early rising old farts (60 yo and over) It didn’t seem that long but 25 minutes later I was at the top, grabbed a banana to eat and one for later in my back jersey, hit the Port a potty then filled another bottle with Gatorade and down Fremont I went riding on “my” $6,500 dollar speed machine. The two lane road was very wide and very steep. Perfect for checking out how fast you could humanly go. The wind was light as I started downhill and shifted into the heaviest gear I could get my hands on and away I went. Whoopeee!!!!. I have never gone faster than 42mph on my giant, but on the Serotta, I was at 44mph and I wasn’t at the steepest part yet! I hunched down into my lowest position and glanced every now and then to see my eventual top speed – 48mph!!. I think the Serotta just felt so much more stable than my bike does at speed so I was comfortable pushing it. Carefully, I whooshed past some more tentative riders and eventually got down do what seemed flat land about 15 minutes later. The signs lead to an intimately narrow two lane bike path surrounded by deep vegetation and felt to be on a continuously slight downhill. It was the best damn little bike path I was ever on!! The name of this path is the “Ten Mile Creek Bike path” I highly recommend it. What made it especially fun was that the direction of the path was never fully revealed until you were about 30 yards from the turn, due to the trees and the sharpness of the curves. I averaged about 25mph for the next half-hour of pure heaven! It was still early, about 8:15 and so there were few cyclists going the other way to contend with and it seemed that I was definitely one of the earliest risers for the last day, so I had the path almost to myself. I had skipped a little aid station after Fremont Pass to make time and got to the aid station at the end of the dreamy bike path in Frisco, CO. and pulled out a snickers I had bought yesterday and ate another banana. Re-filled the water/Gatorade and had 10 more miles that (as the profile shows) went slightly uphill as I left Frisco on route 9 to Breckenridge. I latched on to a group of 3 riders and basically drafted off of them. I pulled to the front twice just to be polite, but I was definitlely letting them do the work and they seemed happy to. They rarely even drafted eachother so, I kept getting on the wheel of whichever bike happened to be closer to me. It was a long ten miles and I was getting a little tired when I finally sqaw the sign welcoming us to Breckenridge. As usual there was a slight uphill as got near the finish. All of a sudden there are crowds on both sides of the road. Clapping, cheering, banging cow bells. Wow! I feel like I’m at a race with fans and everything! Cool! I make a final sweep left and then right onto the main drag and the finish. There’s 300 people clapping and cheering us and it’s 9:45am!. I could only imagine what the finish line crowd would be like at 12:00 or 1:00pm. I made great time too!. As I made it over to the Serotta dealers, locals were patting me on the back and little children looked up at me in awe as if I was a pro or something. It hit me there that the “Ride the Rockies” wasn’t easy and not everyone could do it or imagine doing it and here I was at Breckenridge. I had ridden all 405 miles of the trip and rode well. Even on my bad day up Monarch Pass I still was a lot stronger than most. The icing on the cake was that I didn’t have one single flat the whole trip. Those who know me, know I fear changing a flat. I’m all thumbs to this day about it but am determined to improve on it, but I was relieved I didn’t have to on this trip anyway. Got my bike back, dropped it off to the People Powered Sports outfit that was shipping my bike and quickly found my luggage amongst other in the parking lot. Hit the shower and felt brand new and ready to hit the bus by 11:15. I walked over to the main st. in Breckenridge and grabbed a turkey & Swiss sandwich, a Gatorade and water for the 90 min. bus trip to DIA. As the bus headed to Denver I marveled at the beauty of the fast flowing river along side the highway as it continued nearly it seemed to downtown Denver. I realized what a great week it was and how blessed I was to not have any accidents or injuries this long week. I sat on that bus completely satisfied and at Peace. My only lingering thought was when am I gonna see this beautiful place again?

Maybe next year….



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