02 July 2005

Eric's "Ride The Rockie's" report Sun. 6/19

Sunday 6/19 Colorado National Monument – Grand Junction, CO. - 45 Miles

First day on the bike at last! I was excited and nervous and asked myself more than once did I ride enough this year? My odomotor that I bought in February said 2,010 Miles and I had done six races. Surely I’m ready for this right? I’d sent my bike off on June 8th and thanks to a business acquaintance, I got a pass to the fancy Equinox gym in my neighborhood. They had great stationary bikes that were compatible with my look pedals. I could clip in and off I went. Just to be ready I took 8 spinning classes in nine days. They encourage wearing the heart rate monitors to check your recovery. My recovery times from the higher plateaus of my HR max and say.. 120 bpm was improving steadily everyday.

Today’s ride was a fairly steep climb to the top of Colorado National Monument on a crisp, clear but hot day. Shortly into the ride I chatted with a guy named Tom from Colorado Springs, but was soon moving back to his native, Ontario Canada and was doing his 3rd “Ride The Rockies”. I asked him how many miles he did to prepare and breathing heavily, he sputterd out “uh..only about 500 or so”.. He saw me reach for my little Canon Digital Camera and said to me.. “You don’t want to just take pictures of the sights do you? My father was a photographer and I’ll take some pics with you in them.”

Cool!. As you can see, he did a pretty good job of catching these action shots. (Above) There’s one picture of me doing a bad impersonation of The Satue of Liberty on my New York Cycle Club jersey. If you look closely at the jersey it’s Ms. Liberty wearing her nice red helmet (For safety and yet very stylish) The Jersey got a lot of rave reviews Thanks Tom from Canada for the great shots. I’m forever grateful.

Because he wasn’t quite as in shape, he’d let me pull off the front and then I’d meet up with him again at the aid station. He, like me was motel-ing it, because his wife and daughter had joined him on the trip as a sort of final farewell to Colorado which had been their home for the last 10 years.

Over this week I did an un-scientific pole and can say with pretty good accuracy that atleast 50-60% of the participants in this year’s “Ride The Rockies” were from or resided in Colorado. When riders (looking at my jersey) asked if I was from New York, I said yes. Where in New York was always the follow up.. “The City”, I replied. The reactions from my answer were always of shock. S ome in delight and many with this sour look and inevitably they’d ask, “Well, where do you climb?” I’d then explain that the best climbs locally were in New Jersey and then north out of Jersey to New York again heading upstate to places such as Nyack, Bear Mountain, Harriman State Park and then finally I’d mention.. “you know Central Park is a 6.1 mile Power course with a ¼ mile hill and a 12% + grade. I race there on weekends” Upon hearing this, a group of six guys thought that it must be cool to actually race in Central Park. I told them it was.

I rode with this pack to the top and it was at the downhill that Tom caught up with me. His bike looked like he was carrying a suitcase under his saddle. No wonder he was hyperventilating out there. The downhill was sensational. Beautiful switchbacks with the most stunning views of the canyon. There’s a bike racing film called “American Flyers” starring Kevin Coster, I think from 1982. With many movies of this era, there is something cheesy about it, except for the bike race footage which was shot from races at that time and the footage of Costner on the bike was shot on this very same road. Put it on your Netflix list and get the popcorn.

Once on the flats, the six guys tore off like a bat out of hell and in a split decision, I decided I felt good enough to go and got on their wheel. In about 10 minutes there were just 3 of us and we kept a revolving pace line going for another ten minutes until bike and car traffic back into Grand Junction got out of hand. We all gave each other high-fives to a well done finish to the first day’s ride. Now it was back to the motel and a dip in the pool (Thank you Ramada inn) and then the “Beer Garden” in the center of downtown Grand Junction where “New Belgium Brewery” were this years new proud sponsors. Most years, Coors was the sponsor. They served up a hearty brew called “The Fat Tire”. How appropriate.

A great thing about “Ride The Rockies” was how damn efficient they were. There were always charter buses (at least six of them to take riders to the local High School (where the start/finish was and where the hardy campers would set up camp for the night) or there would be a bus that woud pick up or drop off the motel people to and fro from HS to Beer Garden and back. And there was ALWAYS a beer garden to go to in each town. Beer and biking just go together I guess. I call it my reward.

I was hungry after the beer garden and nothing in the immediate vicinity excited me so I ventured off the beaten path and found a laid back burger joint with a bar and had a terrific burger and met a couple of the most outgoing gals on the ride …Kris & Patricia (see above) They told me they were on “TEAM DFL” short for “Dead Fucking Last” and proceeded to prep me for a water soluable “DFL” tattoo. I was now initiated in a new bike club. Thanks gals. We caught the last buses at 10:00pm happy and full.


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