yay! Finished! This was a ride that was hanging over my head all summer. I didn’t ride my bike enough. I didn’t train on any hills.
Basically, I did what I normally do = Wing it.
My strategy was to start early, ride slow and steady and eat a lot.
And it worked! We started in the dark at 5:30. I got to the end of the parking lot before I turned back to get my jacket – it was see-your-breath cold in Copper Mountain. I had already put on knee warmers and arm warmers, but was wearing a sleeveless (and very thin) cycling top. Whoops. I really wish I had worn socks. And gloves. But my friend said she had socks on and her toes were still cold.
Immediately out of the parking lot we started the uphill to Freemont Pass (11,314′). I picked a slow rider and just followed. And really, before I knew it, I was at the summit of pass #1. The downhill was fast. And absolutely cold.
We leveled out, climbed a bit and reached Leadville. Called the support crew, realized I lost my sunglasses somewhere. Arranged to meet.
Back out on the course. More climbing and again, before I knew it we were at the top of Tennessee Pass! The Continental Divide! Rest area #2! Called the support crew and figured out a place to meet. Screaming downhill (still cold!) and met up with the Best and Cutest Cheer Squad! I kissed my kid, dropped off my jacket, grabbed a pair of sunglasses. Nice long rest.
Back on the bike. Small climb up Battle Mountain. Well, small compared to the previous climbs. Down down down to Minturn – cute town by the way. At their Farmer’s Market I saw a Gyro booth. I should have stopped for a gyro.
Then we met up with I-70 and took the bike path into Vail. Rode through Vail – all the while I’m saving my legs for the final, long ascent up Vail Pass. Eee. There was a steep climb beginning Vail Pass and a rest stop midway up the steep part. I stopped in the shade of a small tree. Chatted with some other riders. Ate more Shot Blocks.
Vail Pass. 8 miles. 3,000′ elevation gain. The climb was somewhat gradual – not too tough. One part with a 15% grade where I did get off my bike and walk. Along a stretch we’re right off I-70 and I could see the long ling of cyclists. Long line. Far away. To keep my mind off how much this sucked, I counted my revolutions. 721 revs to the top. I rested just for a bit and then took the trail another 3 miles – relatively easy – to the rest stop at the summit. My friend T was waiting for me. We snapped a photo and then headed down hill into Copper Mountain.
Finished! I’m still in a state of shock that we finished. And that we finished strong! Beautiful ride. Great support. Kick-ass jersey. I would totally do this again.