Monday, July 18, 2011

The Bicycle Tour of Colorado 2011

It always awesome in Colorado ... in my opinion. The Bicycle Tour of Colorado (BTC) allows for a slower road tour of some of the most scenic terrain the world has to offer.  http://www.bicycletourcolorado.com.

I have not had time to write a formal trip log. We also have five hours of video that I still have not pulled off the GoProHD. Heck, we haven't even processed all the photos yet. Remember the crazy July I mentioned. I digress.

We (Carrie, Ted, Sally and I) stopped and stayed one night at the Hatfields in Bayfield, CO. We pitched a tent in their front yard. It was good sleeping weather. We like Susan and the boys ... and we deal with Jeff.

On day one of the tour we went from Central City, CO to Estes Park, CO. I think it was about 60 miles. It was not a hard ride because I sort of knew what to expect. I think it shocked Carrie a bit. She tried to go at my pace rather than her pace. This is not advisable at altitude. We played tourists in the rain in Estes Park that afternoon. We heard grumblings of snow on "trail ridge road". That is the road that goes through Rocky Mountain National Park. That is where the route went on day two.

It rained most of the night in Estes Park. It was also a bit chilly. We woke to news of a special announcement coming from the tour director at 5:00am. Day two was not looking very promising. At 7:00 am - three announcements later the tour director released everyone to ride toward trail ridge. Day two was starting. Carrie urged me to go ahead without the rest of us to see how far I could make it before the ridge closed. 15 or 20 minutes passed and I finally took off. I made great time to aid one considering it was all uphill ... but the park rangers stopped me and about 10 other riders saying that aid two was full of riders and that no one had been allowed to go any further.

I waited for about 30 minutes and then Carrie got to aid one. After a long wait in the sandwich line we decided that we would ride back down to Estes Park and take the bus around the mountain ... because they had told us that it would be two more hours before they opened the pass. Sitting around was not pleasant so we bailed. We rode 27 miles total on day two.

Five hours later the Greyhound bus pulled up in Granby, CO where our bikes and tents were to be set up. I'm going to spare the details here because I am still a little miffed that I didn't get to ride trail ridge. It will be there in the future.

Day three - Granby to Steamboat Springs,CO. I think this was an 87 mile day. About 40 miles of gradual uphill leading up to the steeper Muddy Pass and Rabbit Ears Pass (about 10,000 feet). I just went. I had to stretch my legs after not getting enough riding on Day Two. There were five aid stations. I think I stopped at two of them. I rode up to Steamboat High School in about 4hrs and 34mins. The ride from the top of Rabbit Ears down into Steamboat was a beaut! 40-50 mph for about 9 miles. Carrie rode fairly well too ... and she was back on track. It rained again that night. Not as much ... but rain nonetheless.

Day four - Steamboat to Gypsum, CO - About 91 miles. Carrie and I rode together until Aid Three. It was uphill most of the day. We got to State Bridge at about mile 60 where the photographers snapped our picture. It turned out rather nice. After that ... Carrie began to struggle. The tour had to reroute the ride on day four due to some road closures for flooding ... so the route marked in the map guide was not the ride we were on ... the ride we were on was way more vertical. I gave Carrie my Gatorade and rode ahead to see how far we were from Aid three. We were only about two miles away. She cruised in to Aid Three and sat and ate. After I knew she was fine she sent me on my way. The remaining 25 miles were fast. I found three other guys that were faster than me on the way down. I pulled in to their crew and let them pull me in the draft. We consistently rode 35-50 mph on the way in to Gypsum. That was fun.

Day five - no riding! We acted like tourists in Glenwood Springs. We saw the Doc Holliday memorial. We went to Glenwood Caverns amusement park. It was fun.

Day six - Glenwood to Frisco,CO - over Vail Pass (roughly 11000 ft - Roughly 80 miles). I stayed with my crew for a good while on Day Six. I shot some decent video. My quads and calves started to get stiff so I asked if I could leg it out again. This was approved. By the way, earlier that day I had to have my chain replaced. I had bent eight links of my old chain. The repair guy told me I was pedaling too hard. I laughed. He did not. He was serious. He said he had seen lots of broken links but not eight bent links. I left Carrie at aid one. She said she was fine. I caught Sally right after aid two when the route started really going up the pass. I rode with her for a few miles. She said it was nice for me to ride with her but that I could go on if I wanted. Of course I obliged. I blasted the pass. Stopped for some photos and rode hard into Frisco on some great closed course and even part of the famous I-70! Both Peter and I hit 60mph on I-70. That is a bit too fast on a bike.

Day Seven - Frisco to Central City - the end of the tour. Up and over Loveland Pass! My task on Day Seven was to get back to Sally's Yukon so that I could fetch it and everyone's bags for the trip back to Bayfield. I blasted Loveland Pass. I even sprinted the top 1/2 mile at about 16 mph. Granted I was gasping for air when I got to the top - but I was at 12000 feet. By this time on the tour the climbing was much easier. The surprise of the day was just how steep it is from Idaho Springs up to Central City. That was a pull! I purposely saved some juice because I knew it was up ... but I didn't know it was THAT UP. 8% grade for 10+ miles. I pulled up to the Yukon before noon. I gathered everyone's bags and waited. About 1pm, Peter got to the parking lot. Shortly thereafter Carrie arrived and then at 2:15 or so Sally and Ted pulled in ... just in time for us to catch the shuttle in to Central City for a shower and some food.

Good times!

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