30 June 2005

Eric's "Ride The Rockies" report. Thur. 6/23




Thur. 6/23 Gunnison to Salida – 66 Miles

Weeks before my trip I had been warned that the first couple of days in Colorado I might have some acclimation issues. I certainly took their word for it and was drinking lots of water the week before I left. Always having a bottle with me. On the plane I had 2 bottles of water and kept asking for more from the flight attendants. I was determined to beat this thing. Friday, I was fine. Saturday up and down the national monument, no prob. Monday 92 miles a cinch. Etc. Yesterday (Montrose to Gunnison) I had felt my strongest and could barely keep from skipping as I headed to the community dinner right across the street from my motel. Then I guess I did something bad… I had a couple of beers and had the audacity to do it at 7,800 feet altitude. Mother Nature clearly took offense at my hubris and smite me down last night and today I was gonna pay! I woke this morning and my stomach felt like there was a boulder stuck in it and had to force myself to eat as I woke at a relatively late 8:00am. One piece of good news, the ride out to Salida ran past my motel. As it happened I saw my buddies go by and I could barely wave to them as they yelled to me to get on the bike. I told them I had to eat breakfast and off they went. I forced down a bagel, some cereal and a lot of OJ. I did not feel like riding this day at all. I felt a fever and my throat was dry and sore.

I mounted the bike and made my self one rule….one aid station at a time. This was the second biggest day. 66 Miles and 4000 feet of elevation up and over Monarch Pass (Elev. 11,312) and over the continental divide from the Pacific to the Atlantic side. Of course it started raining the first couple of miles, but by the time the first aid station at mile 18 came round, things were looking up both weather-wise and for me. I hit the john and felt better immediately. Filled up on bananas oranges and Gatorade and set off again. The sun was shining and I was making myself take triple swigs each time I reached for my water bottles. The Beatles “Getting Better” started buzzing in my head as my body was starting to come around. Reached the aid station in Sargents at the foot of Monarch Pass and actually felt hungry enough to eat a PB&J and a peanut butter Cliff Bar. Again I promised myself to ease it, but I couldn’t help pass it seemed hundreds of older folks (50+) already in their granny chain and I hardly felt anything. Looking back at the picture (inset) that I took from behind my back, it was steeper than I remembered at the time. Reminded me of Stateline hill along 9W heading back to NYC from Nyack only it was 10 miles of this. I stayed in the middle ring for about 3 quarters of the way and then had to stop for a nature break and eat a gel and another cliff Bar. As with every last peak, you knew you were getting close because the mobile DJ was crankin’ the tunes and it served as inspiration to all of us. I was getting cold and was looking forward to throwing on my jacket and leg warmers and eating some hot food. At last I reached the top and it was freezing!!!! Just a minute after reaching the summit I caught sight of Ken and Dustin. They offered to take pictures, but I was looking for the port a potty and was sort of incoherent. They looked ready to head downhill and I was gonna definitely chill for a while. Do I smell cheeseburgers? Yes!!!. The line was long, but my craving could not be squelched. On the cheeseburger line I ran into a rider from Colorado I rode with some of the first day – Craig and we caught up on the days in between and sat at a table out in the sun trying to warm up. I finally got up from the table an hour late.I was actually not looking too forward to hunching down in the drops for another ½ hour of straight downhill. Normally on any day I would, but there was a nasty sideways wind and it was blowing the riders out toward the outer edge of the cliff. As I was heading down it felt lke I had a flat. I slowed when it was clear to and checked the tires. Nope, there fine. Found out later that many cyclists had the same experience. Must have had something to do with the heavy winds. While stopped, I took a picture (above) of the view heading down. Just like at Grand Mesa, after about 20 minutes of wide endless switchbacks at 35 + miles an hour heat hit me like a furnace as we were again below the snow line. 17 miles of downhill later I reached the final aid station, filled up on water and dragged myself to Salida. The motel was just 5 blocks away from the High school where the campers set and the start/finish. The Motel looked like a total hole from the outside, but wasn’t too bad on the inside. I asked the owner what places I could order from, because I was in self-preservation mode and was gonna hibernate in bed and hope I was better tomorrow. I ordered a pepperoni pizza, Gatorade and potato chips and then lied comatose staring at the TV until I finally conked out around 9:00pm.

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