Ride the Rockies 2007 was a seven-day, 422-mile, cycling adventure featuring snow capped mountain passes, scenic mountain lakes, a forest fire, gusting headwinds, temperature swings from 35F to 95F, and plenty of local wildlife!
After arriving Saturday afternoon in Frisco, CO, I met up with old friends from Team DFL, Team Bar2Bar and Team Bob at the Moose Jaw pub to share a pint or two and get reacquainted. Then it was off to dinner to fuel up for the 99-mile ride from Frisco to Steamboat Springs on Sunday. The first -- and longest -- day on RTR07 began with a 500 ft. climb around Lake Dillon (over Swan Mountain) before dropping over 2,000 feet in the next 50 miles! But when riding in the Rocky Mountains what goes down usually has to climb back up...and climb we did, up Rabbit Ears Pass, ascending from 7,500 to over 9,500 in the next 27 miles. But once we reached the summit it was all downhill to Steamboat.
[Note: click on the link to "My MotionBased Activity Log" under "DDubs Favorite Websites" (at right) to view maps, elevation profiles and other information on over 200 rides and runs I have recorded using the Garmin Edge and Forerunner GPS-enabled cycling and running computers.]
Day Two was a "short" 44 mile ride to Craig, so we stopped about halfway in Hayden for a long lunch at a restaurant across the street from the Aid Station. With a belly fully of food (and a couple of Fat Tires), I rode on in to Craig where I enjoyed a refreshing Skinny Dip at the city pool (No, I didn't go suitless -- Skinny Dip is New Belgium's new summer brew!) . After dinner at a local pizza joint I decided to turn in early to prepare for another long day on Tuesday -- 89 miles from Craig to Rifle.
The ride to Rifle was probably my best day on the bike this year. My legs felt good and the scenery was beautiful -- especially around Aid Station #2 where I ran into Team Biker Chick (don't worry, Les, they just wanted free Garmin gear!). Seriously, though, it was a beautiful ride through a valley with interesting rock formations on either side and pastoral cattle ranches lining the road.
Upon arriving in Rifle I realized we had ridden 232 of the total 422 miles – almost 55 percent of the mileage in just three of the seven days. So, I decided to celebrate along with several dozen other riders who packed a local bar for karaoke and dancing. The locals never knew what hit them! After we shut the place down I headed back to my tent for a few short hours of sleep, taking comfort in knowing the next day was the shortest ride of the event – 36 miles from Rifle to Glenwood Springs.
The ride to Glenwood Springs on Wednesday featured a rest stop in New Castle about half way through the day's ride. As we dismounted at the city park one of my partners in crime from the night in Rifle noticed a store across the street advertising "The coldest beer in the West." So, of course, we decided to test their claim! As we approached Glenwood we rode past a major forest fire burning just outside town and we were treated to an air show of firefighting helicopters working to help the firefighters on the ground extinguish the flames with water from the Roaring Fork River. It was an amazing site -- nearly every rider stopped to take pictures --but I’m sure the local residents view it with different eyes.
On Thursday day we rode uphill to Aspen for a wonderful afternoon at the Sky Hotel lounging around the pool bar (voted “Top Five Places to View Wildlife” by Skiing magazine)! It was the perfect place to rest and rejuvenate for Friday’s 61-mile climb over Independence Pass (elev. 12,095 ft.).
[Note: Check out my custom "Beef. It's What's for Dinner" cycling jersey we had made just in time for Ride the Rockies! I highly recommend Pactimo for custom jerseys -- minimum order is only 5 and the quality is unsurpassed.)
The Day Six ride over Independence Pass featured 5,700 ft. of elevation gain in 61 miles and left me wondering if I’d have any legs left for the final day (that's me on the left climbing the last few feet to the summit of Independence Pass). After climbing up and flying down the pass I was really dreading the last 16 miles -- a long, slow pull up to Leadville (elev. 10,200 ft.). But then Team Bob came along and I jumped in line with the guys and we cruised on in to town.
After a final night of fun in Leadville we all packed up our tents, sleeping bags and dirty laundry, strapped cycling shoes on our aching feet and climbed onto the saddle (ouch!) for one last ride. And what a ride it was. First we climbed up and around Turquoise Lake with amazing views of Mt. Elbert (the tallest peak in Colorado) and Mt. Massive. Then came our final climb to the summit of Fremont Pass. From there it was all downhill back into Frisco for the final party at the New Belgium beer tent.
So I finished my third Ride the Rockies having ridden every mile of the official route, visited the official bar in every town (as designated by Team Bar2Bar) and officially sampled the coldest beer in the West! And along the way I made some new friends. You meet some amazing people on Ride the Rockies, which is really what’s it is all about (it’s not about the bike!). And one of the most amazing we met this year was Ed Acevedo. Ed is riding across the United States in a solo effort to honor America’s disabled veterans and their sacrifices for our freedom. Ed heard about RTR and took a little detour to join us on the ride. Check out his website for more information, photos and journal entries about his RTR experience at http://www.bike4vets.org/.
So now it is on to me next big challenge, the Vineman 70.3 Ironman Triathlon on July 22. Stay tuned to DDublog for updates on my training progress…