A blog for (semi) athletic middle-aged men (and women) holding on to (the last vestiges of) their youth
by training for and competing in running, cycling, swimming and triathlon events!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Ride the Rockies 2013 Recap: The Epic Adventure

 Epic. That's the word that keeps coming to mind when people ask me, "How was it?" Epic. Seven days, 545 miles and 22,067 vertical feet of climbing. The Longest Ride the Rockies in history!

Congratulations, on your really weird tan lines!
After a great Day Zero celebration in Telluride, we began Day One with a nasty little climb up past Mountain Village that leveled into a nice, steady climb up Lizard Head Pass. After descending the pass my buddy Woody and I made the first in-route beer stop at the Enterprise Bar and Grill in Rico, Colorado.

Woody dismounts at the Enterprise Bar and Grill in Rico
Although we were only 28 miles into a 75 mile day, it was essentially all downhill from Rico into Cortez. Besides, how many people who completed the longest RTR in history can say they stopped for beers in Rico?!

At the Enterprise Bar and Grill (photo taken by cute young Ukranian girl working as a bartender in Rico for the summer).
Day Two was a not-very-memorable 64-mile roundabout ride from Cortez to Durango with a moderate climb over Mancos and Hesperus Hill. But for some reason it was a bit of a struggle. Perhaps it was the last couple of beers we managed to finagle from the Odells beer truck guys long after they had shut down the night before!

The beer tent and overnight campground in Cortez.
Day Three took us 84 miles from Durango to Pagosa Springs, past Chimney Rock National Monument. I started off a little slow on the initial climb toward Lemon and Vallecito but my legs recovered nicely and I was able to push it pretty hard up the final climb into Pagosa Springs, where we stopped at the new Riff Raff Brewing Company for post-ride recovery. This was my favorite brewpub stop on the route. The owner/brewmaster was pouring beers on the shady patio where we enjoyed lamb nachos and beef burgers.

Unfortunately, while setting up camp in Pagosa Springs, I blew out my flip flop (fortunately, I didn't step on a pop top). Literally, my flip had no more flop. By the way, these were my only non-cycling shoes. And every store in town was closed (never understand why some towns just don't seem to get the word out to store owners that there will be 2,000 hungry, thirsty, flip-flop needing consumers in town!). So, I just rode to the beer tent in my cycling shoes and waded in the river barefoot. I'd just have to secure new shoes in Alamosa the next day.

Day Four began with the climb out of Pagosa Springs up Wolf Creek Pass. This was the climb I was looking forward to. I've done most of the major passes in Colorado on Ride the Rockies but this was my first time up legendary Wolf Creek Pass. To be honest, I was a little worried. Not about the climb, but the descent down the other side. A good friend of mine had a nasty fall descending Wolf Creek on RTR several years ago and spent more than a month in the hospital. That is my worst nightmare!
Fortunately, the crosswinds weren't too heavy on our descent and I didn't hear of any major wipe-outs. Even more fortunately, the crosswinds became primarily tailwinds for the final 40 miles into Alamosa. So, once again, Team Bar2Bar stepped up and added beers to the mix at the famous baked potato rest stop in Monte Vista (hosted by the local Colorado potato growers).

After arriving in Alamosa we hung out at San Luis Brewing Co. for a while before heading back to the campsite and closing out the night at the beer tent. Let's face it. There ain't much else to do in Alamosa! Besides, the adventure was just about to get epic.
After Four days we had ridden 315 of 513 miles, with the easiest 3 days to come. Or so we thought. By this time, news of the Royal Gorge fire had spread like, well, wildfire, through the RTR ranks. It was obvious that the planned route that took us across the Royal Gorge Bridge would be changed. Rumors circulated that perhaps the ride would end the next day in Salida (2 days early) and we'd all be bussed back to Colorado Springs. All we knew for certain was that we'd ride the next day to The Vic in Salida and wait to see what happens. Of course, The Vic always delivers a good story!
But that story will have to wait until Ride the Rockies 2013 Recap Part II: The Adventure Gets Epic.
Ride on!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Day Zero is in the Books

The opening day of Ride the Rockies 2013, what we refer to as Day Zero, is done. Telluride was a great host for the start and well worth the long drive to get here. Here are my photo highlights of the day:

Our old friend Stewart drove us up the road to Bridal Veil Falls
Overlooking Telluride from an old gold and silver mine near Bridal Veil Falls
The town closed the main street all afternoon and evening for the RTR street party and the weather was absolutely gorgeous

We met up with old friends like The Hankster and Flip Flop Jenny at the street party

The sun set over Telluride as the street party wound down.

Ride on!


Saturday, June 8, 2013

Ride the Rockies 2013 Preview: Days Six and Seven

We have arrived in Telluride for the start of Ride the Rockies 2013! After a 6-1/2 hour drive we started off Day -1 with a good dinner at Flavor. I had the Snake River Farms Kobe Beef (Wagyu) Eye of Ribeye (the round center portion of the ribeye steak without a cap -- the tender, tasty portion around the edge). Then we headed over to the New Sheridan Hotel and met up with old friends to down a few pints of Telluride Brewing Company Face Down Brown. Day 0 kicks off with the street party in downtown Telluride from 1:00-9:30 p.m. Then, at long last, the ride begins tomorrow!

Leslie and I met up with our old friend Stewart from our days in D.C. (in the late '80s/early '90s), who now lives in Telluride.

Over the past month or so I have been previewing each day's ride but I fell a litle behind, so here are my previews of Day 6 and Day 7.

Day 6 begins in Salida and travels alongside the Arkansas River toward Canon City. The first 45 miles is a gradual descent from about 7,100 to 5,763 ft. Then the ride takes a nasty turn and climbs 1,000 ft. over the next 6 miles to the South Rim of the Royal Gorge. For a two mile stretch the grade bounces between 10-15%. We rode this same stretch in 2006 and, as I recall, it was the toughest 2 miles I have ever ridden.

At the Royal Gorge on RTR 2006
The payoff after the climb is an amazing photo opportunity overlooking the Royal Gorge, then riding across the wooden plank suspension bridge 1,250 above the Arkansas River. After a stopping for a beer at the visitor's center on the North Rim we'll ride on into Canon City for one last night on the town at the Royal Gorge Brewing Company.

Day 7 is a 46.5 mile ride to the finish line in Colorado Springs. I have never ridden this route so have little to offer in the way of a description but my friend Woody from Colorado Springs says we'll hear mortar fire from Fort Carson as ride ride along the western boundary of the masive military base for most of the day.

The finish line in Colorado Springs is at Cheyenne Mountain Resort. The beer will be flowing as they announce the winners of the bike giveaway and other door prizes. But the highlight of the finish line party for me is the parade of State Highway Patrol motorcycle officers, Support and Gear vehicles, and other volunteers who have assisted riders along the route during the week. Riders line up to cheer the folks for helping keep us safe from motorists, repair our bikes and occasionally bandage up our wounds.

Here's hoping for a safe and fun ride for everyone. It's about time to head over to get registered. Stay tuned for updates and pictures throughout the week.

Ride on!


P.S. In case you missed them, here are my previews of Day One, Day Two, Day Three, Day Four, and Day Five.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Ride the Rockies Forecast

Here's the Weather.com forecast for Ride the Rockies 2013: average high 86 and low 48 with mostly sunny skies and winds in the teens. Hot days and cool nights with very little chance of rain. Sounds about perfect.

Sat Jun 8 (Telluride)

Partly Cloudy76°/46° Partly Cloudy

Wind: WNW at 13 mph

Sun Jun 9 (Cortez)

Mostly Sunny 96°/48° Mostly Sunny

Wind: NW at 10 mph

Mon Jun 10 (Durango)

Mostly Sunny  91°/47° Mostly Sunny

Wind: WSW at 12 mph

Tue Jun 11 (Pagosa Springs)

Mostly Sunny 85°/43° Mostly Sunny

Wind: SW at 15 mph

Wed Jun 12 (Alamosa)

Sunny 89°/42° Sunny

Thu Jun 13 (Salida)

Sunny 84°/50° Sunny

Fri Jun 14 (Canon City)

Mostly Sunny 88°/58° Mostly Sunny

Sat Jun 15 (Colorado Springs)

Cloudy 78°/53° Cloudy

Ride on!