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!

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