01 July 2005

Eric's "Ride The Rockie's" report - Wed. 6/22

Wed. 6/22 – Montrose to Gunnison – 65 Miles

I thinks the best cycling days (for me anyway) are filled with both hardship and glory. Today was one of those days. It was recommended to the riders by the ride organizers to sleep in a bit as the kick off point at Hhy 50 is infamous for heavy early morning easterly gusts of wind. Well I was off at 9:15 as those winds were still bad. I got in a pace line about 50 cyclists long to protect myself from the wind. The route for the next 14 miles would takes us from approx. 5,800 ft. elev. to nearly 8,000 ft. elev. which made the pace of this pace line more like a conga line. At the first aid station I met 3 riders who I would spend most of today with as well as Friday – Doug Lowe, his 20 yr. Old son – Dustin and Doug’s buddy Ken. All from Salt Lake City. This was Doug’s 4th “Ride The Rockies”. Doug’s wife Debbie was a real trooper and acted as the “Directeur Sportif” of “TEAM LOWE”. Once the 3 guys would bike off, Debbbie, assisted by Dustin’s girlfriend would pack off the car and camper and set up camp at the next destination. It was very cute to watch Doug text his wife of their current location and she text him as to how good a spot she found for the night.These guys were a hoot and we took turns singing out loud. I started sing “Octopusses Garden” and the song bounced happily in my head for the next 45 minutes. Once over the Cerro summit the winds were gone and we could enjoy a nice down hill (Not!!!).

Shortly after heading downhill we ran into a major snafu. The road we were on was getting completely repaved. With the heat, the tar was wet with huge mounds of gravel mixed in and we were in a steep decline so the bike wanted to go! go! go!. You could tell who the experienced mountain bikers were because they were masterful on their road bikes avoiding breaking too hard and going at good speed. I on the other hand was white knuckling it all the way for 3 f%#@!! Miles. I felt my back wheel fish tail at least twice. I looked down and my Michelin tires, which were yellow with black stripes were now all black with tar and with a nice gravel topping. My wheels had turned into granola clusters! Shit!!!! With my forearms beginning to tire from all the breaking we finally reached aid station 2. There must have been at least 500 cyclist at this aid station which was adjacent to a gas station with dozens more coming in every couple of minutes. Everyone with the same problem….how do we get this crap off our tires? Some had it worse…flats and terrible dings from flying rocks that did damage to paint schemes on $5,000 dollar Serotta’s, Trek’s and Orbea’s. Riders took out their tire hinges to scrape the wheels to no avail. At the aid stations there are always bananas and sliced oranges to eat and someone tried the orange peels as a salve and it worked pretty well. An even better solution was gasoline! Another rider (without asking the station owner) squeezed out some gasoline and poured it on a rag and the crap just came right off. I got me some of that and before I knew it, my wheels returned to their wonderful yellow and black striped luster. The owner saw what was happeing and the old guy look like he was about to have a stroke. Fortunately one of the organizers was right there to let him know that he would be compensated for his trouble.

At last I, and my new found friends were off again heading to the summit of Blue Mesa. We got into a nice pace as the climbs began and I was feeling really good and was more than happy to pull our group at any opportunity. In fact I was pulling so hard at one point that I had lost my buddies. Oooops. Man I felt good. I was gonna keep going and hard too! I was just flying past slower riders until my pace matched those of 5 or 6 other riders and we were just pounding the peddles. About ten minutes later a very fit couple had had it and dropped from the pace. I was beginning to feel like Ivan Basso or Floyd Landis or Lance…just keeping a blistering pace and watching others snap around me like overstretched rubber bands. I forgot to mention that I was wearing my heart rate monitor and it was telling me great things. My heart rate stayed between 130 and 145 and whenever the road flattened out I was below 120. As one cyclist told me, if you are below 120 on a ride you’re heart doesn’t even know it’s having a workout! The road got steeper and twistier as we headed for the summit at the beautiful Blue Mesa resevoir. I was still in my middle ring and more gears to spare. It was now me and one other rider who was at my pace. I had to do it….the famous “LOOK” that Lance Armstrong gave to Jan Ullrich on the climb of L’Alpe d’Huez at the 2001 Tour de France… http://www.usatoday.com/sports/cycling/2003-07-11-the-look_x.htm

I pulled in front of the guy without showing any hint of bother, I got off the saddle and looked back and stared hard enough for him to notice and then dropped him like a bad habit. I was such an ass!, but I couldn’t help it. After surviving the “Tar Pits” the cycling gods had shined on me. I continued to float up and around a nasty 180 degree switchback with atleast a 9-10% gradient which led to another ½ mile of gradient of 6-7% before the aid station at the Blue Mesa Summit. (Picture above). I had a satisfying lunch and found my buddies who got there and enjoyed a terrific ride downhill leading to Gunnison. Got to my Motel in Gunnison (The Super 8) It was surprisingly nice and the bathroom was bigger than a lot of NY studio apartments. Best of all the Community dinner was right across the street from the motel. I met up with Doug, Ken & Dustin et al. and had delicious BBQ ribs and a couple Brewskies from the tour sponsor “New Belgium Beer” Their “Fat Tire” brew is quite tasty. I called it a night relatively early around 9:15. I don’t know if it was the beer, but I all of a sudden felt very tired and was getting a sore throat. uh oh…see next day’s report…


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