Triple Bypass ride – I DID IT! 120 miles, 3 mountain passes

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View behind me while climbing Vail Pass

It was hard. Really, really hard, but I DID IT. I rode 117.8 miles over 3 mountain passes, climbed 10,217 feet and I DID NOT DIE. I thought I might at one point, but I didn’t. So anyway, I made it and now you know that, so let’s start at the beginning.

The Triple Bypass ride goes from Evergreen to Avon on Saturday, 120 miles, 3 passes. It returns from Avon to Evergreen on Sunday, via the same route. Some people (like my husband and my friends Ligi, Bryan and Terry) do both directions, which is known as the Double Triple Bypass. My friend Jill did the Saturday (westbound) ride and I did Sunday (eastbound). On Saturday I drove the car and offered support. Jill did that on Sunday.

SO…..

Saturday started early and in a panic. The car was fortunately loaded with both bikes, the coolers, the food bags and everything we needed for the weekend because the alarm that was supposed to go off at 3 a.m. did not. Greg awoke at 3:38! Not a good start when we had to get to Evergreen a half-hour away for the 5 a.m. start. We made it (barely) and Jill, Ligi, Bryan and Greg were on the road in the dark by very shortly after 5.

Juniper Pass (11,140 feet) is the first obstacle, leading to Idaho Springs. The road over the pass was closed to cars, so I had to go around on I-70, but it’s 16 miles up and 16 miles down for the riders so I had plenty of time for breakfast in Idaho Springs. After eating I found a spot on the main street where they would come through. I saw Terry whisk by me at 7:20, but couldn’t call out in time for him to see me. About 20 minutes later my crew of 4 came along. I refilled their water bottles and handed out snacks and then they were off on the grind of 30 miles to the base of Loveland ski area where the lunch stop was.

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Beautiful scenery where I was waiting for my riders

There was a rest stop about halfway to Loveland, but I made our own rest stop outside Georgetown at a little lake. I had my cowbell and cheered madly for everyone going by. I was climbing the walls wishing I was riding, but I knew my turn would come the next day!

IMG_2642Greg was getting a flat tire as they pulled in, so he had a very timely tire change with the floor pump I was carrying. Snacks and drinks all around and then they were off for the Trail of Pain as Greg calls it. It’s a beautiful bike trail up to Loveland but the hill goes on forever and has a number of 14-16 percent pitches in it. It’s the worst part of the westbound Loveland Pass.

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Lunch stop in Loveland basin. Note the highway going up the mountain in the middle of the photo – that’s where they’re going!

I went on to the lunch stop at Loveland basin and found a place. It was a circus! There are a lot more riders on Saturday than there are on Sunday, and the rest stop was chaos. We have found that the lunch they serve is pretty mediocre and doesn’t sit well on sensitive stomachs, so I had bread and lunch meat and cheese, chips, fruit, M&Ms, power cookies, cokes, Gatorade, you name it and I probably had it in the back of the car.

I waited quite awhile for them to come, having seriously misjudged the time necessary to travel the Trail of Pain. They looked pretty bedraggled when they came in!

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Bryan and Greg pulling into Loveland basin

Lunch and recovery before the pass. Bryan really likes my power cookies.

The road was closed over the pass, so I went on to the next rest stop at Frisco via the highway. In addition to the 4 miles up Loveland pass (11,990 and the Continental Divide) they had to do Swan Mountain out of Keystone, so I knew it would take them awhile. I browsed the Epic Mountain Supply store (beautiful Prana clothes, but SO expensive!) and then got a coffee and sat in a cool Starbucks for awhile. I was getting sunburned by this time, having stupidly forgotten to put sunscreen on myself.

I got to the rest stop just in time. By now it was hot, and the riders were well into the ice cold watermelon I had. They had the worst behind them though, with only Vail Pass left.

Once again I had to go around on the highway to get to the top of Vail Pass. The riders go on a beautiful bike trail to the 10,560 foot summit. There’s a nice rest area and information center at the top and I found a parking place right where the bike trail comes out. I was able to open the hatchback and sit in the trunk to ring my cowbell and cheer. Once the riders hit this point it’s exciting, because they know they can make it. It’s still 30 miles to go, but it’s all downhill from here!

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Riders finishing Vail Pass

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Vail Pass – it’s all downhill from here!

After refreshments I scurried on to Avon to check into the condo and get to a place at the finish line.

NICE condo! Ro was joining Ligi and Janine was joining Bryan so there were 7 of us to stay there, so we had just the right amount of beds. It would have been a great place for a party! I rushed to check in and then dashed to the finish line in time to see them come in.

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Greg and Jill having a well-deserved beer – and Greg gets to do it all again tomorrow!

Food and beer at the finish line and then showers for all while I dashed to the store (I think I’ve been dashing all day!) and got more ice and some food for breakfast. Terry came over to the condo with Kristin, and our friends Phil and John also joined us. We found a place for dinner and had a great evening, retiring early for the big day tomorrow – MY TURN!!!!

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Dinner Saturday night in Avon

Sunday morning, 4 a.m. This time the alarm went off. Why am I awake? It’s dark? Why is this a good idea? Bed is calling! Then I remember – this is the day I am going to complete the Triple Bypass. I am going to ride up Loveland and Juniper passes with my iPod blaring ABBA in my ears and I am going to make it! Okay, I’m awake now!

Jill and Janine made us pancakes and bacon for breakfast. I double-checked my tires, made sure my handlebar bag was loaded and rest-stop sheet was loaded. Feeling well-fueled we headed out in the dark and made our way to the start line.

We were a little late starting – 5:15 we rolled out. Within about 20 minutes it was getting pretty light, which was good because I hadn’t bothered with a headlight and I can’t see worth a darn in the dark. It was about 45 degrees.

Vail to Avon is a gentle uphill that wasn’t bad. Ligi, Bryan and Greg left me (which I wanted) and I rode my own (slow) pace, using my marathon-running experience to remind myself that it would be a very long day. Once we hit Vail it starts to be a little more uphill and then we get on the bike path and really start to climb. My odometer read 28 miles when I hit the top of Vail Pass, giving me a gift of 2 miles, as I was expecting 30. It’s a beautiful trail. I stopped once for a picture because it was just so incredibly beautiful with the sun coming up. It cooled down to about 40, but by the top of the pass had warmed up to about 50 and the sun was out for a beautiful day.

On the bike path there were several places with messages spray painted on the pavement – “Shut up legs – TeJay and Jens.” Oh yeah! The Pro Cycling Challenge did a time trial here last year. Good grief. A time trial on this hill? That’s just cruel!

Jill was waiting at the top of Vail Pass, which took more out of me than I was really hoping it would. I was feeling pretty decent though. I was plenty warm, but left my sleeves and coat on for the descent into Copper. Before the next rest stop we would descend the 4-mile bike trail into Copper and then climb over Swan Mountain.

Once I got down to Copper and was cruising along the bike trail to Frisco I got HOT and had to stop to strip off all my layers down to the sleeveless jersey before the Swan Mountain climb. Swan Mountain is intimidating. On the course profile it’s just a little bump in comparison to the 3 passes, but it’s definitely a hill!

Many years ago, when my 24-year-old son was about 4, we all stayed in Breckenridge and rented bikes and a trailer. Being the stubborn girl that I am I was determined that I should be the one to pull the trailer, so I hauled Garrett over Swan Mountain in a Burley on a rented bike. Believe me when I say that today was a LOT easier!

Swan Mountain really wasn’t that bad (it never is except when I was pulling Garrett), and when we descended into Keystone Jill was waiting. We had a break before starting up Loveland Pass, which is 8 miles. It’s 5 miles to the Arapahoe Basin ski area where there’s a water stop, and then 3 miles more on to the summit. It’s steep. And it was hot. At this point I got out my iPod. Something seemed to be wrong with my Bluetooth connection, and it was kind of crackly, but it worked okay and I started rocking out up that mountain. However, it was breaking up so bad by the time I got up near the top that I had to turn it off. Is Bluetooth affected by altitude?

I made a couple (planned) pauses in the shade to drink water and just keep myself fresh. Made it to A-Basin without too much issue, but the next 3 miles were long. I stopped several times, remembering that the same thing happened last year. Loveland is really a hard pass. I suppose part of it is the altitude. Of course the official photographer was on this stretch, where I’m sure I was looking my absolute worst!

I had one minor incident. I have a bit of a Morton’s neuroma in my right foot, and my toes decided to cramp up about a mile from the summit. It was a bad cramp and I pulled over pretty quickly, since nothing helps when this happens but to take off my shoe. In my haste to get off my bike I kind of fell over. Well, I definitely fell over. I only injured my dignity, but when I got to Loveland I realized I had smashed my iPod. DANG! And it was brand new!

Anyway, made it to the top (finally) and a nice lady took my picture at the sign. She was obviously accompanying a rider with a car, and she was just standing at the sign taking picture after picture for the riders. Very nice!

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2 down, 1 to go!

It’s only 4 miles down to lunch now, but I wasn’t feeling much like eating once I got there. Forced myself to down a sandwich. I had a tiny Coke (full sugar – no diet stuff today) and that tasted good. I was hoping to recover on the next 30 miles down to Idaho Springs – it’s the Trail of Pain in reverse, and it’s really fun going this direction!

We were worried that Jill would get stuck in traffic on her way around to Idaho Springs, as Sunday afternoons things get pretty clogged up on I-70, but she was waiting for us by the official rest stop. By now I really didn’t want to eat, but knew I had to. I was 90 miles in and ready to start Juniper Pass, 16 miles to the top, and the reason the eastbound day on the Triple is harder than the westbound.

Everyone else was pretty much ready to leave when I got there, so I took a rest sitting on the cooler in the shade and drank an icy Gatorade. Jill filled my bottles with ice water. Everyone else had taken a wet towel that had been soaking in the ice chest, but I decided to wait until 5 miles later at Chicago Creek to get mine. That was a strategic error that almost ruined my attempt.

It was super hot when I started out on the part that was mentally really hard for me. This is where I bombed out last year. It’s about 5 miles to Chicago Creek and then the climb starts for 8 more miles to Echo Lake and then 3 miles more to the summit. Except that the 5 miles to Chicago Creek is also a significant climb, getting to 4 and 5 percent over the last couple miles. The traffic was also really heavy on this part of the road. I was quickly miserable and having visions of sag wagons. At one point I was riding about 100 yards and then stopping in the shade, then riding to the next patch of shade and stopping and then going to the next patch, like a little frog hopping along. I drank a lot. In fact I drank ALL my water, which I remember happening last year too, only last year I didn’t have Jill waiting for me at Chicago Creek. Two sag wagons passed me, and the only thing that stopped me from flagging them down was knowing I had Jill waiting in a couple miles.

FINALLY I reached Chicago Creek and announced to Jill that I was completely spent. Well, she didn’t pay much attention to that, sitting my down on a cooler in the shade, giving me a cold Gatorade and an icy wet towel, which helped immediately. About 8 guys pulled up shortly after I did and asked for water. The ride really needs a water station at Chicago Creek, because the next one is 5 miles beyond that! This is where I quit last year, largely because I was out of water. The guys asked if we were the water stop, or just awesome, and we told them we were just awesome.

So I had to get back on my bike, and had absolutely no idea how I was going to keep going, but I figured I’d give it a try. I kept my ice cold towel on my neck, which felt great. The first thing you see when you start up from Chicago Creek is a sign that warns of steep grades and sharp turns for the next 8 miles. Lovely. I knew that sign was there and tried hard not to look at it.

I actually felt a little better as I started to grind my way up the hill. I took it slow and did my best to spin easy. Several people were going along at about my pace, and they all looked as miserable as I felt. My Garmin thermometer was reading in the high 90s. Someone pulled up beside me and said hello and I grunted hi without looking. The person stayed right next to me and eventually I looked over and it was my friend Ro! Wow, he rode Ligi to the top and then came back down for me!

So Ro pulled my sorry ass all the way up to Echo Lake! Jill would stop and wait for us about every mile and a half, refill water, force GU down me, or watermelon, and make sure we had water. She gave a lot of other people water too. Everyone was running out in the heat.

Ro was such a huge help. I frequently find it very hard to ride with people because I have to do my own pace. Ro got in front of me and matched my speed exactly. He’s a super strong rider, and he was on his mountain bike and in a pretty high gear, and he stood up the whole time. Riders around me debated the merits of grabbing onto his jersey for a pull! Just as an aside, next weekend Ro is doing this insane 100-mile mountain bike race in Breckenridge – It climbs over 13,000 feet. I told Ro I really like him – he makes me look sane!

By this time I was starting to think I was going to make it. I really wasn’t feeling too bad, considering. I stopped in the shade about every mile in order to drink, because I was getting pretty uncoordinated and was afraid I’d fall off if I drank while riding.  I was about 45 minutes behind my projected time of day goal, but I had hoped for an average speed of 10 mph and I was achieving that for the whole day. As I got closer to Echo Lake Lodge I started to get a little excited. I got a fresh ice towel at one point, and finally the next hop for Jill to wait for me was at Echo Lake. I made it! And I knew it was only 3 miles to the top – a 3-mile ride I had done only the week before, so I totally knew what to expect.

At this point Ro turned around to go back to Idaho Springs and get his car. Jill headed on into Evergreen and I was on my own, but by this point I KNEW I could make it. The official rest stop was about a mile-and-a-half later and I didn’t stop there. I stopped once or twice to drink and then I was at the top!!!!!

The top of Juniper Pass is completely anticlimactic. There’s no sign, there’s no people. There’s only a wide spot in the road. I was kind of in a hurry by now so I didn’t stop – I just wanted to be done!

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The view from the top of Juniper Pass (I took this last week but not much changed)

It was a very long 16 miles down. It had actually cooled off to about 70 by the top of the pass. My whole body ached. My arms were super tired from holding me up and my neck and shoulders were cramping pretty badly. Of course I probably could have helped that by not pulling on the brakes so much, but it’s pretty steep and I don’t like fast descents. When I’d hit 30 or 35 I was pulling back!

I actually had to stop once and stretch my arms and back because they hurt so bad. I could not WAIT to get off that downhill. But I did, finally, and there was the finish arch!!!! I made it!

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I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to see anything in my life. I felt total disbelief that I had accomplished it. My stats ended up being 117.8 miles, 10,217 feet elevation gain, total ride time 10 hours 53 minutes and 10.8 mph. I was out there for a total of 13 hours and 47 minutes.

Greg and Jill and Ligi came running to meet me. We all had our finisher’s medals, Ligi and Greg for the Double. Bryan, silly boy that he is, had taken a detour from Echo Lake to attempt to add Mount Evans to the Triple Bypass! He ran out of time, but made it 5 miles up to Summit Lake! What an animal. He should get a different medal. Or maybe a padded room somewhere.

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Happy finishers and awesome support!

I like to take my picture with my bike over my head after a big accomplishment. Not happening this time….

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This was all I could manage today….

There was dinner and beer for all. I don’t drink but I had the best lemonade I’ve ever tasted. I tried to eat but I just couldn’t. Nibbled on some roast beef, but the beans and rice I thought would go down ok were way too spicy for my sensitive tummy. I really didn’t eat all evening. I drank a lot though!

The Triple Bypass is an experience unlike anything I’ve ever done. Even running 14 marathons doesn’t compare. This year was especially exciting because I’m only 5 months out from my ACL repair and lost so much training time. If it wasn’t for the 18 pounds I’ve lost since December (Weight Watchers) I’m pretty sure I would’t have made it.

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2 days until the Triple Bypass – just took my last ride!

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Today’s ride, a beautiful day

Two days left! I’ve been doing what I would have called tapering when I was running marathons, and have also been experimenting with music. I never listen to music when I ride, but I’ve been thinking it might help get me over Juniper Pass at the 90-mile mark of the Triple, so I tried a ride with headphones yesterday. I LOVED IT!!! And I must admit that ABBA has an excellent beat for pedaling.

The only problem (other than that it is a totally unsafe practice that I really don’t agree with) was that my earphones kept falling out. Plus I was afraid the battery in my phone wouldn’t last for the last 60 miles of a 120-mile ride. Or that I’d get rained on and ruin my iPhone. That entailed a trip to Best Buy for a little iPod and some different headphones. I planned to buy the tiny shuffle, which is cheap, but it doesn’t have bluetooth and, amazingly, headphones with wires that have the gadgets that make them stay in your ears were more expensive than the bluetooth ones. So I ended up with wireless headphones and a bluetooth little iPod.

I struggled last night with figuring out how to get some music onto it, but managed to get three albums (including ABBA) on it so I could give it a test run this morning. Success! They stayed in my ears, the iPod worked and it was great not to have a cord. The controls were easy to manipulate. Everything worked great on a short, quick little ride of 12 miles. That’s it before the Triple.

Yesterday I did my last climbing on an 18-mile ride with a 3-mile hill. I had taken Tuesday off with a total failure of motivation. I might have been a little overtrained. From Saturday to Monday I got in almost 120 miles, so I was a little tired.

Saturday Greg and I did a quick trip to Golden for coffee with a couple detours to get in some little climbs. He cancelled the Bicycle Village Saturday group ride because it was pouring rain when we got up. So of course by 9:30 when the ride should have started it had quit! Still looked threatening though, and it did rain again before we would have gotten the big ride back, so our little ride was just right at about 23 miles.

Sunday was a big day with 53 miles. I led the Bicycle Village Sunday group ride that was about 22 miles (no climbing and a stop for frozen custard) but I rode about 24 miles before the ride (with climbing) and then rode home afterward.

Monday was the 4th of July and a total blow-it training-wise. We had considered heading to the mountains to climb Vail pass, but were worried about holiday weekend traffic, so decided to go for distance. We decided to ride 100 miles. Well, that didn’t happen. I started talking to my friend in Ft. Collins and decided we should go up there for dinner and fireworks. So we decided to just do a 60-mile ride to Hygiene and have lunch at a cool little cafe. We started out (late…) and it was already HOT. We lost our enthusiasm immediately and, justifying our decision with the realization that we probably couldn’t ride 60 miles and get back in time to go to our friends’ house, we decided to just ride to Boulder for coffee. It was a perfect compromise – 42 miles, 2,200 feet of climbing, and hot, hot, hot.

We had a great time in Ft. Collins, watching the fireworks from the back yard, and then came home way past my bedtime. Our plans for Vail Pass on Tuesday went out the window when we slept in.

Oh well, rest is good, right? This is the first time I’ve done the Triple without having ridden any of the passes as training. We rode Juniper, but it was the wrong direction for my ride. Maybe it’ll be good luck. I’ve ridden them all before and, after all, I have my headphones!

Triple Bypass, coming up!

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I signed up! Two nights ago I made the decision to do this brutal ride that covers 120 miles, three mountain passes and 11,000 feet of climbing. In one day. I will be riding on Sunday, which is the eastbound day. We start in the town of Avon, go over Vail Pass (10,560 feet), Loveland Pass (11,990 feet) and Juniper Pass (11,140 feet). I tried last year and failed, not making it up Juniper Pass, which comes along 90 miles into the ride.

Two years ago I successfully completed the Triple Bypass in the westbound direction, which I have to say is easier. Of course I am determined to successfully complete the eastbound day. I will also say that doing the westbound Triple Bypass is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and I have run 14 marathons. It’s a killer!

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I hadn’t planned on doing the Triple. Well, I HAD planned on doing it, but then when I tore my ACL on New Year’s Eve I thought that plan had gone out the window. I rode so well on Bicycle Tour of Colorado that I decided I would go ahead and give it a shot.

I’ve been climbing a lot this week, since returning from BTC. Tuesday Greg and I went out and rode Juniper Pass in the westbound direction, from the town of Evergreen. The plan was originally to ride up and over, then turn around and ride up and over to get back. It is 15 miles of climbing from Evergreen to the top of Juniper. It took me 2-1/2 hours to do it and we got worried about time and weather, so we ended up riding 3 miles down the Idaho Springs side to the Echo Lake Lodge, then turning around and returning to Evergreen. It was still a good climb. The views from the top of Juniper are stunning. My ride was about 40 miles, with 3,900 feet of climbing.

 

Today we rode up Sunshine Canyon. We wanted to ride over Loveland Pass in both directions, but there were thunderstorms forecast for all day, so it seemed like a bad idea. I had not done Sunshine before, but I knew it was a challenging climb. It lived up to my expectations! After riding about 20 miles to Boulder we started up the canyon. At first it was a grade of 7 to 8 percent. Then it got up to 8.5 to 10 percent. And then we hit the steep part. I was reading 12 to 15 percent on my Garmin for more than 2 miles, with very little in the way of breaks, which were back down to about 8 percent and at that point felt flat! I did have to stop once on the 15 percent part. I hate some GU chomp blocks and got a good drink, then continued on and made it to the top, 5.5 miles up. KILLER hill.

My legs were noodles when we turned around to come down. We went to Starbucks to get snacks and coffee and recover, and my legs still felt like they were made of rubber, which I figured was good practice, since they will not be feeling too good when I hit Juniper pass in the Triple! I made them work though and rode home without really any trouble, even on the hills. Ha about 51 miles for the day, and 3,800 feet of climbing.

We will find some more big hills over the next few days, although I don’t want to do anything crazy after Tuesday or Wednesday next week. I need to start the Triple Bypass with a full tank of gas!

Bicycle Tour of Colorado Day 7 – Naturita to Montrose – hills and headwinds

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Well, we are done. I can’t believe we are finished! Yesterday was a big day – 85 miles, and the first 50 of it was up. It was really a grind coming up out of Naturita to Norwood, which was 20 miles. It took me exactly 2 hours, which I was happy about. Unfortunately the wind from the day before had changed and was once again a head wind. Sometimes you just can’t win!

We started at 6:30. Stopped again for breakfast at the Happy Belly Deli in Norwood. I had THE BEST restaurant pancakes ever! Spent 30 minutes there and then hit the road. I didn’t want to dawdle, as the motorcycle cop said we were dead last! I guess 6:30 was not early yesterday!

Literally the first 50 miles of the last day were uphill, and some of those hills were significant, especially in the first 5 miles or so coming out of Norwood. Then it was rolling hills, but definitely a steady uphill grind. The wind that had been so strong in our faces the previous day had turned and was strong in our faces again. Jill had pulled out really early so I was alone. There were two men that I was riding near and I finally jumped on their wheel and got pulled into town.

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The wind in my face continued as I rode out of Norwood and toward the first rest stop, which was 10 miles down the road. It was a funny day. As the map shows, we swung around almost 180 degrees from start to finish, and the wind was in our faces the entire day! The scenery was beautiful though.

I stopped only briefly at the rest stop to top off my water bottles and put on some chamois butter. I was getting some serious saddle sores and they were really hurting as I pushed uphill into the wind.

There was a lot of traffic. The road was pretty narrow too, so it was kind of nerve-wracking. I had learned the night before that a woman went for a ride on our day off in Telluride and got shoved off the road by a pickup pulling a 5th-wheel trailer. She rolled down a 200-foot embankment and broke her C1 vertebra. Then there was the guy that got hit by the car outside Telluride in the rain storm. I actually saw another guy get run off the road by an RV, although he was fortunate enough not to fall. I don’t know if the people driving these monstrosities don’t know about the 3-foot law in Colorado, just don’t care, or can’t drive well enough to judge how close to a cyclist they really are, but I have a newly refreshed dislike for RVs after this trip!

Once we passed the intersection where the road turns off to Telluride the shoulder got a lot wider, but the cars went by a lot faster. There were a LOT of Harley motorcycles going by, and it was very noisy. The scenery continued to be spectacular though. It was getting hot, so I stopped a couple times to rest and take pictures,  but then I was at the top! There was no one around to take my picture with the sign, unfortunately.

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A mile or so down from the summit was the rest stop. I was now 49 miles into the day’s ride, and the worst was behind me. I had a serious foot cramp that I rubbed out, and I ate some fruit and some peanut butter sandwiches. I was still riding really near the back of the whole group. At the first rest stop the policeman said there were only 5 people behind me. The second rest stop was starting to get ready to close down, and the porta-potty truck was there to take the little blue rooms away. I didn’t feel that slow!

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It was a long downhill cruise from the rest stop at the top of the divide to the town of Ridgeway about 10 miles below. I seriously considered stopping in Ridgeway for a Snickers bar, since I’ve been riding really well fueled by them. Plus it’s back to the diet as soon as I get done riding! Decided to just go on to the next rest stop, however, as it was only 5 more miles.

Between Ridgeway and the third rest stop there were a lot of rolling hills, and I was working hard in the persistent headwind. The shoulder was narrow and the traffic continued to be heavy. Finally I got to the rest stop. Took off my shoe again (stupid Morton’s neuroma!) and ate some gorp. There were 20 miles to go and the rest stop folks assured me it was all downhill.

It was indeed downhill. Unfortunately the head wind kept me from making very good time, but I still managed to ride 15 to 16 mph, even by myself. The miles clicked by pretty slowly, but finally I rolled into the outskirts of Montrose at exactly 85 miles for the day.

Greg and I had talked about him getting the luggage and the car and just meeting me at the hotel, but I decided I was going all the way to the finish line! It was good that I did, because Greg had figured that I would do that and was waiting for me.

I was so thirsty! I hadn’t had anything cold to drink for hours, as the water in my bottles would warm up almost immediately from the heat radiating up from the road. I got some sweet tea from a vendor, slammed it down and refilled the cup twice before I felt halfway human again.

We went to our hotel and cleaned up, then met everyone (except Mike, Bill, Jill and Bryan, who had already left) at a nice restaurant for a big steak. After stuffing ourselves we went back to the hotel to stretch out for a short time. Greg wanted to go back to the Horsefly Bar with Terry and John, but I wanted to stay in the room and work on my blog. I made the mistake of stretching out on the bed!

We had turned the air conditioning on high and it was kind of chilly in the room, so I crawled under the covers, fully clothed. Both of us fell asleep, awoken about a half-hour later when John called to say they were ready to go. Greg left and I stayed put. What seemed like about 10 minutes later he came back in and asked if I’d been like that since he left – it was 11:00 pm, and I definitely had NOT moved!

I got myself actually ready for bed and crawled back in, sleeping soundly until about 6:00 the next morning. We had breakfast at the hotel with a few of our folks and then headed home. It was nice to get home, and good to get Bruce back from the kennel. Opus was glad to see us, even though he had stayed with my brother and didn’t have to go to the kennel.

So we’re done with the tour for this year! Here are some thoughts:

Things I will miss:

  • Riding. It’s like withdrawal the next day after a bike trip, when you don’t get up and get on the bike in the morning!
  • Camping out.
  • Hanging out with our friends all day, every day.
  • Eating whatever I want.

Things I will NOT miss:

  • Riding. Frankly, my butt is sore and I have some wicked saddle sores.
  • Head winds. We had head winds almost the entire trip, and I’m sick of it.
  • RVs. Enough said about that.
  • The sound of tent zippers at 5:00 a.m.
  • Showering in the shower truck.
  • Drinking warm water.

The next thing I plan to do is the Triple Bypass. I decided after finishing BTC yesterday that I’m going to go for it. It was my plan all along, but then I tore my stupid ACL and completely disrupted my training. I rode strong on BTC, even though I was slow, so I’m going to do it.

The Triple Bypass is a 1-day, 120-mile ride that goes over 3 mountain passes for 10,000+ feet of climbing. I have 2 weeks to finish preparing. Stay tuned for more adventures!

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Bicycle Tour of Colorado Day 6 – Telluride to Naturita

What a fun day! After a day off in Telluride and a downhill course today we were all in pretty good shape for the 50-mile ride to Naturita. We had a super long, downhill cruise into this tiny little town that really went all out to make us feel welcome, including a beer garden and food vendors in the park. 

It was a steep downhill ride from Telluride to the first aid station. I was averaging about 22 mph at that point. We had cooked bacon and eggs and bagels in the condo before leaving, so I really didn’t need anything at the aid station except the bathroom, so it was a quick stop!

The only real hill of the day was about 2 miles before the town of Norwood. The scenery was beautiful, but very different from Telluride. I stopped for my first picture of the day at the top of the Norwood hill, where we all regrouped. 


We decided to make a stop in Norwood at about 30 miles for a snack. Found a great little cafe called the Happy Belly Deli, where I had some coffee and the most awesome fresh chocolate chip cookie. 


I think I’ll have to post this tomorrow. The Naturita elementary school internet is weak and none of my media will upload. 

After our stop the wind came up and it rained a bit. Jill and I worked together and the miles went by pretty fast. We’d each pull for a mile and then switch. Well, sometimes she pulled two miles…. We made a quick stop to put on rain gear, but then took it off 5 miles later when we stopped for a picture of the Naturita sign. There were some significant descents coming down Into town which we are going to have to climb up tomorrow! In fact, the first 49 miles tomorrow are uphill, including Dallas Divide, except for the two miles down Norwood Hill. I’m thinking it’s going to take me a long time to get back to Montrose. 


But anyway, we pulled in here with my average speed 17, despite the wind. Greg was already here and setting up the tent. We hurried to finish that before the rain came. Even though it didn’t. 

Greg and Bryan took off to do the “extra credit” loop to Nucla and Jill and I cleaned up, the. Headed down to the park and the food vendors, along with Mike. We stopped on the way down at Blondies drive in for a delicious milkshake that I needed like a hole in the head. 


After a sandwich and some watermelon at the park I was ready for a nap. The rain threat was long past, and it had gotten too hot in the tent to even breathe, so I found a cool spot on the floor in the school. 

Once Greg had cleaned up we went back down to the park so he could eat. I was feeling really lousy, and now as an look back I think it was dehydration, because I felt fine after I drank four bottles of water. There was a big crowd at the park, and they were having drawings. I bought two tickets and won a 2012 men BTC jersey for Greg. 


Then we went over to the absolute cutest thing I’ve ever seen – motocross races for little kids on Strider bikes! Some were not even 2 years old and they were seriously! Strider bikes have no pedals – you just push on the ground to make them go, and some of those little kids were going fast! One little girl with a pink and lime green “watermelon” bike was taking no prisoners. 


So now I’m back in the tent, hiding from mosquitos while I write. We plan to make an early start. In addition to the climbing, it’s an 85-mile day, so it’s going to take me quite awhile. We are spending the night in Montrose before driving back to Arvada.  

Bicycle Tour of Colorado – Day 4 – HAIL YES!


What a day! We had everything, including a thunderstorm on top of Lizardhead Pass that dumped rain and hail on us, and a death of a tour participant. It was rough from the get-go today. 

Beautiful scenery coming out of Cortez, but I was really struggling to get my legs going. We got an early start after a quick breakfast at McDonalds. We were on the road by 6:45, hoping to beat the thunderstorms that were in the forecast for Telluride. Today’s route map showed all uphill, and it started immediately. From Cortez to about Deloris I was doing about 8 mph I think. Just couldn’t get going. I realized it was going to take me about 10 hours to get to Telluride. At the first rest stop I was really feeling resigned to just having a long and miserable day, and probably getting wet. At least the scenery was nice. Really beautiful. 

I continued to struggle after the first rest stop. My average speed came up, but then I got to the freshly chip-sealed road,which slowed things down. I even had to pedal downhill, as the wheels just wouldn’t roll. I was really getting tired. I spent quite a bit of time at the second rest stop eating a weird assortment of food. Peanut butter sandwiches, cheese nip crackers, half a banana, an apricot, and 2 Nilla wafers. Hoped that would get me over Lizardhead. Any thoughts I might have entertained of sagging went away when I saw the line of riders loading the van!

Things got better. I was worrying a lot about the weather. Word was that getting over the pass by 1:00 would probably avoid the storm, and I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to make it. The temperature was nice, running about 80 when I left the second rest stop. I decided to stop every 2 miles just to take a 2-minute break and drink and kind of break things up. That worked well and I made the first 10 miles feeling a lot better. 

That brought me into Rico, where I stopped for a Snickers and an ice tea. Sat there for about 15 minutes and fueled up. Felt pretty good pulling out, but by then it was noon, and I had 10 miles to go to the summit. Clouds were looming, and I went ahead and put my phone in its waterproof bag. I hadn’t gone far and our motorcycle cop chaperone pulled up beside me and warned me that there was rain and hail ahead. I immediately stopped and put on my raincoat and helmet cover. 

The rain started, and I was climbing steadily. Then the hail started and that hurt! It was pouring and hailing at the same time. I finally stopped and hid under a tree while I put my jacket on under my raincoat for more protection. I kept riding, reasonably warm considering I was riding in a downpour. 

I continued to stop every couple miles, although it was all sort of misery. Ironically I was riding pretty well. Finally made it to the rest stop at the top. The temperature had dropped to 50 and I was chilled through by then. I had been determined not to sag up the hill, and I was now just as determined not to ride down. My brakes were wet and not working and I was too cold. Seemed like a bad idea in all respects. 

Fortunately a van came before long and the dozen riders who were miserably hiding under the rest stop tents piled in. While we got organized the motorcycle cop pulled in and cautioned us strongly to be careful if we were going to ride down, and make SURE that cars were seeing us because someone had been hit. 

The van took us down, and watching the winding curves and driving rain out the van windows I was very glad to be inside. Got dropped off at the mountain village and Greg found me right away. Everyone was practically hypothermic. The group had trickled in at various times and in various stages of wet coldness. A hot mocha and a shower and dry clothes got me warmed up. 

Terry actually saw the aftermath of the bike wreck. Apparently a car made a left turn in front of one of the tour bikers who was descending in the rain. There was a huge amount of activity going on, blood on the pavement, and police everywhere. This evening we heard that the cyclist died. Wow. I’m so glad we all made it down safe, and that I took the van down the mountain!

Interestingly, after we all got in and dry and warm the sun came out and it was a beautiful evening! A band was playing in the Mountain Village park. We had dinner and we’re all comfy and satisfied, and tomorrow is a day off!


If anyone runs a zipper in the morning I’m going to throw a shoe at them….

BTC Day 3 – Durango to Cortez


Today was a bit of a grind. My legs were completely toast after yesterday, and my bad knee isn’t feeling too good. It was so hot yesterday, and still 70 or more when we went to bed. Sometime in the night it got pretty cold though and I slept like a lot, all cuddled up in the sleeping bag. I think I could’ve slept until noon. We were hoping to get to Cortez before the worst of the heat though, so we started fairly early. 

A quick breakfast at Starbucks and on the road by 7:30. We first had a long climb out of Durango, up Hesperus Hill. We’ve done Hesperus a couple times but not from the east. I can tell you now that it’s just as bad from the east as from the west. It’s the hill that just never quits. We got a downhill, but then another kicker before the rest stop. I think that hill deserves a name. I thought of several as I dragged myself up it. 

Things got much better after that! It’s a looooooong downhill into Mancos. Unfortunately the rumble strip was taking up a good third of the shoulder, so that was a little bit scary. I’m always pretty slow coming downhill but I was especially careful. 

A policeman was directing traffic at an intersection in Mancos and he assured me that, except for one small hill, it was all down into Cortez. Sometimes people who are not on a bike don’t realize when they’re going up a hill, so I took his words with a grain of salt, but he was right. The only real uphill in the stretch was leading up to the Mesa Verde park entrance. We had planned to swing in there for a break. I was alone, as everyone had gone on, but it seemed like a good plan anyway. 

As I cruised down a hill I saw a woman on the shoulder with her bike upside down. The guy in front of me slowed and kind of pulled over like he was asking if she needed help, but then he just pulled away and took off. The way she was looking after him I was pretty sure she needed help. Her name was Angela, and she’d somehow dropped her chain in the little bottom bracket and it was stuck. Really stuck. It took all four of our hands to get the bracket and chain into the right position that it could be pulled loose. Fortunately I carry Wet Wipes. Which were sort of wet. Can you re-plump those things?


After the Mesa Verde visitors center it was an easy 9 miles into Cortez. I had caught up with part of the group, and we decided to have lunch before checking in. Found a funky little bar in Cortez, where I had the BEST burger ever. Maybe it was just the circumstances, but dang that was good! I’ve been on Weight Watchers for the last 6 months, and am constantly watching what I eat and trying to make good choices. In my current setting I can’t afford a calorie deficit, and I’m burning them fast. I just ate a scoop of ice cream too, that some kids are selling from a bike cart here at the school where we’re camped. That was also delicious, considering it’s over 100 degrees again. 

Camp is set up, I’ve showered, eaten, had ice cream, and am icing my knee while sitting in a cool high school cafeteria while icing my knee. And charging my devices. That’s a constant struggle on these trips. Phones, Garmins, iPads, watches….everything needs to be charged and there’s no central place to do it. The smart thing is to carry all your devices and all your cords all the time when you’re not on the bike, and charge wherever you see an outlet! Anything is fair game. The other night at a restaurant I plugged my phone into some Christmas lights that were in the window!

All I need now is a nap. The tent site is unprotected and super hot though. Tomorrow is a big day!