Sunday, June 26, 2011

2011 BTC Day 7 - Frisco to Central City

Brrr, it was a chilly night. We woke up to some frost on our tent so we were in no hurry to leave. We waited until the sun came up over Swan Mountain and started to warm us up.

I wanted to start the last day with Christine, and we both rode up and over Swam Mountain Road together. It was a nice way to start our final day. After our descent, we split up to ride our own pace for the climb up to Loveland Pass. I ended up catching a couple friends and settling into a comfortable groove while we chatted. As we neared Arapahoe Basin ski resort, I ramped up the pace a little and climbed on my own. There were still people skiing at A-Basin, by the way. June 25th, and people are still skiing.

Over Loveland Pass it was a fun descent down to Loveland ski resort. And that's where things got hairy for a while. The original plan for the tour was for us to ride a bike trail from there, but I think someone at the BTC dropped the ball on securing the right permits. There was a running race happening on that trail and we weren't allowed to use it. There was talk of us having to be bussed down the road, but at the last minute CDOT allowed us to ride on the I70 shoulder.

I'm not sure if that was a good or a bad thing. When I got to Loveland Ski resort, the state patrol was there and letting groups of 50 or so riders go at a time to try to make things safer. My experience was that it had the opposite effect because it forced larger groups of people to be on the road together instead of what could have been smaller groups or singles on the road. It essentially created several mass start events for people have no experience or business being in a mass start event. For racers - Think of the scariest, sketchiest race you've ever been in. Now make it downhill at speeds 30-40 MPH. Now add cars and semis buzzing the group. Now add in some random cones that your fellow riders don't point out because they're not comfortable enough to take their hands off the bars because they also need their hands on the brakes to jam on them any time they see the slightest bit of gravel. I think you get the point. It was frightening, and I was pretty happy to get off the highway and onto frontage roads around Dumont.

At those speeds the miles melt away and before I knew it we were in Idaho Springs getting ready to head up the final climb of the trip. From the final aid station it was about 10 miles to Central City via a 8 mile climb up the Central City Parkway. The sun was blazing, but that last climb felt great. I turned on A Tribe Called Quest and got into a good climbing groove. After a short downhill there was a demoralizing 12% climb to the parking area. It was short, but the descent prior was just enough to make your legs feel like they were filled with lead.

The finish line festivities were down the road in downtown Central City. Seemed like a bad idea to me. The last thing I wanted to do was wait for another shuttle bus, so I loaded our bags into the car and drove to Longmont where our good friends let me take a shower and play with their new puppy for a couple hours.

It's so fun to get out and ride for week. I wasn't going to do it this year, but Christine talked me into it and I'm glad.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

2011 BTC Day 6 - Glenwood Springs to Frisco

On tap for today - 1 big climb. Vail Pass. I haven't climbed it from the west since Christine was in Vail for her hip surgery a few years ago. 

After a nice rest day, I was finally feeling pretty good and ready to ride hard. But before I could do that, we had to drive the 20 miles back to our bikes in Gypsum. We decided that we'll have to come back sometime and ride the bike path from Glenwood Springs when it's repaired. 

I rode hard to the first aid station and pulled in for a NASCAR type speedy stop. Just some water and a couple pieces of fruit. I came back to get my bike and it was gone. Talk about a momentary freakout. After a few minutes of wandering, I found it in a different part of the aid station. I'm not sure who moved it, or why, but it's totally not cool. 

With that business out of the way, it was time to get to the business of climbing Vail Pass. I hit it as hard as I felt like I could sustain for the whole thing and cruised all the way up. It's quite a bit longer than I remembered though and I'm glad I didn't run out of gas. 

From the top of the pass, it's a descent down to Copper and then on into Frisco via the bike path.

The truck carrying our bags got a flat tire, so again I was hanging out at camp waiting for my stuff to arrive. I passed the time by getting a massage and then getting back on my bike to ride in with Christine. One day to go... 

Friday, June 24, 2011

2011 BTC day 5 - Rest Day

What to do on a rest day? So many options. Raft, hot springs, lounge... We decided it was a good day to shuttle our car from Granby to Central City.

We took a shuttle to the Eagle airport and picked up a car. Then we took a really nice drive to Granby. We ended up on a dirt road (Trough Road) that had awesome views. I would love to include that road in a motorcycle trip some time. 

We also saw something really cool on this road - a bear. I've never seen a bear in Colorado before. It was pretty awesome. He was near the road, and then ran up a hill as we got closer. I would have loved to stop and take a picture, but I didn't want to be "that guy" who gets mauled trying to get close to a bear. It was pretty cool though. 

The rest of the driving wasn't quite as interesting, but the scenery was great. There's still snow on the mountains, the valleys are green, and the skies were blue. Beautiful. 

Back in Glenwood Springs, we showered up and went to dinner at Fins. The food was okay, but the service was awful. I won't be going back. And for a Colorado place to serve trout that's farm raised in Canada?  What's up with that. 

Then we sat around camp and probably disturbed everyone with our chatter before hitting the sack. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

2011 BTC Day 4 - Steamboat to Glenwood Springs

Today we rode from Steamboat to Glenwood Springs. Well, sort of. We rode to Gypsum and then took a bus to Glenwood Springs because the river has washed out parts of the bike path. 

Steamboat was chilly in the morning. Christine and I packed our stuff up and rode to breakfast at Freshies while we waited for the sun to warm things up. A little after 8, we finished our breakfast and started our 90 mile trek. 

Something about last nights's dinner didn't agree with me, and my stomach was still uneasy. I knew I had a long day ahead of me, so I picked a comfortable power range that I felt like I could sustain all day. 

I pulled a few groups here and there, but they'd usually drop off before too long.  About 5 miles from the first aid station, someone was passing me and put a hand on my hip to let me know he was there. It's an unfamiliar feeling on a bike tour, but pretty normal for bike racing. I figured that'd be a good group to hook up with and latched on to the back. 

There were about 6 people, but I noticed that only two were up front pulling. I didn't want to be a paceline freeloader so I went around the slackers and worked with the other two until the aid station. They pulled in and I kept going. 

I got back into my steady groove and chugged along to the next aid station, where I stopped for a refuel and to shed some clothing. On the next climb, the two workers from my earlier group caught and passed me. I didn't feel good enough to up my pace, but they slowed down near the top and I caught them. Good timing because the descent was rip-roaring and the three of us had a great time killing it. It's awesome to have a couple good and safe riders to descend with. 

The detour around the damaged bike meant we had an extra climb to do. It was a long 7-8% grind up to the final aid station. Then a short descent down and a slight downhill run to Gypsum where we stored our bikes and took a shuttle to Glenwood Springs. 

From the shuttle we could see the raging river and the washed out bike path. Impressive. I've never seen the river that high. 

We spent our evening drinking recovery beers with friends and probably disturbing the rest of the camp. It's my only chance to get back at the people who are up getting ready before sunrise. :)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

2011 BTC Day 3

Finally some sunny weather today for our ride from Granby to Steamboat Springs. 

As much as I try, I can never sleep in here. Between the early sunshine and the noise of people getting moving at 6am, it's just not possible. I didn't want to get an early start on the road today, so I went out and picked up breakfast for Christine and I. The world famous Jessie McDaniel (who is on the tour to entertain us and also work the massage tent) recommend a great place - Ian's Mountain Bakery. Ian makes some wicked biscuits and gravy and it was such a good way to start the day. 

I eventually got on my bike around 8. The whole route today was on US40. It's not a terribly nice road to ride on. Sometimes there was a nice shoulder, other times there was little/no shoulder, and sometimes we had some bonus rumble strips. There was also a consistent headwind, which made for a tiring day. 

With all the wind it probably would have been smart to get into some pacelines, but some days I just want to ride my own pace. Not to mention that it frightens me to think about getting into a paceline with a lot of these people. I certainly towed a lot of people today though. They were happy to sit on my wheel, and I was happy to just cruise. 

Tomorrow was supposed to be a 100 miler, but they had to reroute due to some flooding. So we're *only* doing something like 90 miles. 

Monday, June 20, 2011

2011 BTC - Day 2 - Making Lemonade

What an interesting day. The route for the day was Estes Park to Granby, over Trail Ridge Road. I've always meant to ride Trail Ridge, so I was really looking forward to this.

There was a lot of uncertainty through the evening and into the morning as the whether the road would be open or not. An official announcement was made sometime around 8am. People would ride up to the second aid station, and if the road wasn't passable, they'd ride back to Estes and get bussed over to Granby. 

The chance for rain in Estes Park was nearly 100%, and that translates into snowfall on the pass. At the end of the day, we'd like to primarily have fun on this trip. It is vacation afterall. To paraphrase the neo-philosopher Livia, the fun-to-suck ratio should be way on the fun side. So Christine and I came up with another plan. 

The potential of riding partway up Trailridge, getting wet and cold, and then having to sit in a bus for a few hours sounded sucky. Instead, we hopped on our bikes and rode from Estes to our house in Fort Collins. It's mostly downhill and we enjoyed a really nice ride through the Big Thompson canyon, with minimal moisture until we got near home. 

At home, we cleaned up, did some laundry, and went to REI to buy some warm stuff for a friend. Then we packed up the car with a cooler full of beer, some clean and warm clothes, our bikes and we drove to meet the bike tour in Granby. 

As expected, Trail Ridge got closed and nearly everyone had to get shuttled to Granby. Some people made it through the pass before it was closed but it didn't sound very fun. We totally made a good choice today and had a great time. 

Tomorrow is another day, and it looks to be clearer than today. I'm looking forward to it. 

(I'm blogging via my mobile phone, so I expect there'll be lots of typos. Try not to think any less of me than you already do.)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

2011 Bicycle Tour of Colorado - Day 1

BTC Blog

Day 1 of the 2011 BTC is in the books. 56 Miles from Central City to Estes Park. It was a beautiful ride along the Peak To Peak Highway. 

I would have loved to sleep in today since it was such a short day, but people just *love* to get up at the crack of dawn. I think I finally couldn't take all the noise anymore around 6 and rolled out of the tent. People were already on their bikes and moving out. 

I decided to try the early departure thing and got out of camp around 7. I rode the first 20 or so miles fairly hard to get past big groups of people. After a quick stop at the first aid station, I carried on but at an easier pace. 

I ended up getting to Estes around 10:30 and was bummed to find out that I had beat my luggage here. In fact, the people transporting out bags didn't get here for many more hours and I just had to hang out in my nasty bike clothes. Not cool. 

Late in the afternoon the rain started moving in and we got a few waves of heavy moisture. There's talk about snow on Trail Ridge (our route tomorrow), but I've got my fingers crossed. It's one of the reasons I wanted to do the your this year. 

One thing is for sure, I'm not going to get as early a start tomorrow. :)