Sunday, July 26, 2015

Injured and Happy.

Sunday morning I woke up too late to join some RMR for a new 31 mile rendition of the classic High Lonesome Loop. As such, I pedaled up to Chautauqua as I all too often do after mulling over route choices. I wanted to do stay with sufferfest theme so I settled on going for a Flatiron Quartet plus some bonus scrambles of Challenger and the two dihedrals in the Amphitheater. I somewhat awkwardly soloed around the Rocky Mountain Rescue team practicing saving people on the 2nd -- I chatted with them on top as I had to wait for someone to jumar (I think that) up the fixed line on the West Face downclimb. They were pleasantly positive if not all together encouraging in my rope-less manner of ascent, I guess some other Minions are on the team. Anyways, running down to the 1st I landed with my ankle completely sideways and heard a few pops. Crap. I limped back down to my bike and by the time I was home my ankle bones were painfully enveloped in a swollen and squishy glob.

I used crutches the rest of the day. I tried going for a walk on Monday, but barely made it out my front door before the pain overwhelmed me. On Tuesday I woke feeling noticeably imrpoved but assuredly incapable of running. Despite drooling rain clouds hovering over Boulder I resigned to my bicycle to at the very least get some fresh air. In my incredibly cool keen sandals, running shorts and a U-lock rattling around on my handlebars I was lacking in any hip cycling kit. When I reached the end of Boulder Creek I felt fantastic so I finished the ride with a loop of Fourmile-Poorman-Sunshine. In short, I had a great time but arrived home with a much greater thirst for riding than when I left a short hour beforehand.

I immediately sent out a message to Justin Simoni (if you don't know who he is, please click and read; you're mind will explode), he gave me some route beta on getting up the I-70 corridor to Mt Evans. It wasn't so much of where it is so much as what roads are safe to bike on. I thought I would be able to get all the way up the paved road to summit Mt Evans at 14,000ft+, but I started an apparent hour too late with far too little biking fitness. I turned around about 13 miles but 4,000ft beneath the summit. It was cool though, and really encouraging. Its similar to driving up, but the moments last forever, a cool view lasts 30 minutes, a boring stretch could be 2 hours. You're actively engaged in every moment, not sitting inside of cage passively rolling along. Everything just feels more real, if that makes sense. This was by far the biggest ride of my life at 108 miles, 10,900ft of gain and 7h47m.
Clouds were building in the West, with all the lightning accidents (and my lack of fitness) I was easily persuaded to head home.
Talking to the Long Ranger upon my return he gave me quote that I resonated with, "when in doubt, go slower". Its a weird quote that is not something deeply inspirational, but rather something that should be blatantly obvious but is usually stamped into silence. Looking at the Ranger's rides on Strava, his elapsed times are massive. He's not racing to and from every destination per se (he can still get to movin' if he pleases though), he's out enjoying things. Of course, this is my interpretation from what I've seen; he's a fast dude too, but I think he and everyone would agree that it is near infinite endurance which separates him from others.
Its all about enjoying the ride.
After some recovery miles, I was ready for a big adventure this weekend. My friend Matt -- but we call him Dragon -- is staying in Silverthorne this summer, which is just on the outer edge of my bikeable radius at 92 miles from Boulder. Of course, there is that pesky Continental Divide which is unavoidable. I spent a long time studying maps, Justin's Strava (he's seriously the best source possible for the this sort of thing), and the Strava Heatmap. When you know the route, its pretty simple, but I can imagine lots of erronious navigation bonus miles for someone who hadn't studied the map. The plan was set, I would ride to Lookout Mountain in Golden and zig-zag across (and one white-knuckle section actually on) I-70 until I could bop over Loveland Pass and descend bikepaths to Silverthorne where a shower and bed awaited me. With all my inspiration from Justin, this was likely the factor which separated the hardened mountain-man from the more reserved cyclist dipping his toe in the water.
The westbound route in all of its glory.
I left the house at 4:30AM Saturday morning with two bottles of Tailwind, numerous Chinese rice-crispy thingies (very cheap and 220cal each!) and a small pack of clothes and charging cables for my watch and phone. I almost forgot my Gore-Tex windbreaker, but thankfully pulled a quick U-turn a half mile out. I received a merciful tailwind on the rolling terrain to Lookout Mountain in Golden and found myself on top of the surprisingly cool mountain (where Buffalo Bill is buried no less). The view looks out between two mesas to downtown Denver beyond, which at sunrise was deserving of a photo that I didn't take. Oops. From there it is a very, very long grind to Loveland Pass. I stopped in Georgetown and picked up the ultimate pick-me-up of a vanilla coke and a bag of chips. Despite being pinned down in a low gear puttering along, the bikepaths out of Georgetown were amazingly tucked quietly into the forest but still deceptively close to I-70. The pass itself was easier than I expected; I'm reasonably acclimated to high altitude at this point and though it gains quite a bit of elevation, it wasn't much different than what I had been doing for the last few hours aside from being a bit more relentless at the gradient. After 75 miles of climbing 11,000ft, the descent into Summit County was arguably my hardest earned ever, and I grinned the whole way down. I found some hidden reserve of legs on the flat roads and found myself at Dragon's house eating a burrito before I knew it!
The out-of-state tourists' minds melt when you say you started in Boulder. In-staters roll their eyes and say, "You would be from Boulder". Its a problem.
I woke at 4AM (again) Sunday, but had to linger around while I charged my phone which I apparently didn't plug in all the way the night before. Google Maps can be an indispensable aid I've quickly found, and I would not be running out of battery. The predawn air at 9,000ft dipped down to the low 40's (as I should have known) so I bundled up heading up Loveland Pass but my fingers and toes were left to freeze in the cutting wind. After the opening 3,500ft of climbing I had a long descent to Idaho Springs, so I savored a small patch of sunlight on top of the pass, regaining feeling in my feet. The miles flew by heading down, stretches that seemed relatively flat yesterday were now obviously a decline (or incline, depending on one's heading). Per my highly accomplished cycling uncle's advice I ascended "Oh My God" Road into Virginia Canyon from Idaho Springs for a "scenic" route home. The thing starts off as a wall, but eases into a moderate grade on startling smooth dirt -- smoother than most of the asphalt I was on! Upon entering the casino town of Black Hawk, I was repugnant with the towering citadel of vice smack dab in the middle of an otherwise wonderful area. The remaining rolling terrain along Highway 119 to Nederland hit pretty hard with my body feeling drained with accumulated fatigue. Its net downhill, but the constant little hills were bringing me to a halt each time. In Rollinsville, I spied Devil's Thumb on the continental divide and my mind was refreshed by the familiar terrain (and perhaps a bit upset I wasn't up there on my good ol' feet). I finished off my water and my final candybar (cheaper, tastier and more calories than most sports bars) and descended hard to Nederland then happily zipped down Boulder Canyon with even more extra effort to outrace the rainstorms.
Enjoying some long awaited sunshine on round 2 of Loveland Pass.
The rides wound up being 95mi/11,000ft/7:16 westbound and 97mi/8,700ft/6:50 eastbound. So, while my ankle slowly regains strength, I'm perfectly satisfied pushing my bike around the mountains. There is simply so much stuff that I've either never bothered to inspect or have unknowingly blown past in a car. Looking closely, there is fantastic stuff all over the place -- I mean, its Colorado for goodness sake! This weekend pooped me pretty well (even though I just missed the century mark both days, argh!), but hopefully I can get back out there with a day or two of rest. I'd love to make a go at Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park, I'm sure I could wow a tourist into some free food -- or make someone say "you are from Boulder", to which I would be proud.

1 comment:

  1. Dude that is a wickedly epic ride right there. That is a ton of miles and climbing.