Sunday, March 4, 2018

And Now It Gets Hard: Tour Divide Race

Today was BRUTAL. I have to write this while the pain is still seeping through my body and my memory is fresh. In a couple days I’ll call today’s ride a character builder. But today, it was brutal. I kinda new what I was getting into when the weather reports were filled with high wind advisories and warnings. “Good Training”, I thought. In addition to that I now have a lot of my gear so wanted to go for a long ride with packs and gear. Result; 10 ½ hours in the saddle, 20+ lbs. extra weight, 7,500 feet of climbing, and ridiculous wind = long hard day.
Early Morning Garden of the Gods

Morning is coming, the moon is still bright

The ride started just after 5:00 am and the wind was already going pretty strong. It was still beautiful, and riding through Garden of the Gods with a bright almost full moon was awe-inspiring. From there I started the climb up Rampart Range Road to ride the “Monster Loop”. A loop that climbs to 9,500 feet around Rampart Reservoir, then drops into Monument. The rest was just make it up as I go along.

Two things: Wind and extra weight. I already knew this, but to know and experience are two different things. Climbing with extra weight takes a whole different mindset. It is slow going. A climb that normally takes me 1 ½ hours took over three. Granted I was being buffeted from the wind on all sides, but I could definitely feel the weight difference. It’s a game changer. The discouraging thing is I was probably only carrying about ½ the weight I’ll be carrying on the TDR.

Slowly Getting Bike Set-up 
The wind was ridiculous and relentless. I started listening to a book to take my mind off the climb but the wind was howling so loud I couldn’t hear it. Even with earbuds stuff as far down my ear canal as I could get them. At one point I had a mechanical and had to stop and work on the bike. I couldn’t put anything down; tools, gloves, parts, without them blowing away. It was above 9,000 feet so the wind was bitter cold. Patience, I told myself, good training.

View of Pikes Peak from 9,550 feet on Rampart

Amazing - at 9,000 feet - no snow

Descending into Monument 

After descending into Monument and seven hours into the ride, got a call from my good buddy Tom Turney to see if we could hook up. It happened that we were within ½ mile from each other, hooked up and headed for Greenland Open Space. Now “Open Space” sounds cool, but in this wind, I think “Closed Space” would have been much better. Greenland Open Space is an open almost prairie like environment with no, none, zero, zip shelter from the wind. We got battered. Tom did the bulk of the work by going to the front and shielding me the best he could. Tom is a saint. Finally, as we came back into Monument, Tom headed home and I was on my own once again. 20 more miles to get home all against a ludicrous headwind. In the end, 10 hours 46 minutes and only 84 miles. Here is a 3D review of today's ride.

At home, Roswitha already had a fresh smoothie and pizza waiting for me. Yes, she is a true angel. I was wasted. I couldn’t help but think that in the TDR I would still have another five plus hours to ride and no smoothie, pizza, loving wife, and warm house waiting for me at the end. Instead I’ll have to eat whatever I have, do some bike maintenance, pull out a sleeping bag, bevy sack and sleep in whatever conditions I happen to be in. I wondered out loud if I may have bitten off more than I can chew. Roswitha just laughed and gave me the look she always gives me when I take on these new adventures. I know in a couple of days, I’ll call this a “character builder”, but right now I’m calling brutal.

The rest of the week went great. Rode with Tom and Kevin Saturday. I always love riding with these guys. We ride hard and fast, well fast for old guys, and we feel just like high school boys out doing what we love. Tuesday and Thursday, early morning longish rides before work, hill repeats on Wednesday, and core strength training on Monday. Had a little bit of a scare though. For a couple of weeks now, my left foot has been getting sorer and sorer. I kept pushing and after Thursday’s ride I thought I may have done long lasting damage. I took Friday off from riding and bought new shoes with a wider toe box. Everything is fine now. Such a relief. I was really worried that after pledging to help raise money for Children’s National, my foot injury could put everything at risk. Luckily it was just a matter of changing shoes.

Kevin and Tom

As I write this, the wind howling outside. It’s just after 7:00 PM, which means I’d still be riding in the TDR, then looking for a place out of the wind to sleep. Given how beat I was at the end of today’s ride, this thought both excites me and at the same time gives me a ting of dread. But that’s what adventures are all about – Right? Today was good training, and yes, a character builder!

Thanks for Reading and your support of Children's National


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