01 September 2009

I Want My Bike Back

21 June 2003
Day 7
Buena Vista to Copper Mountain
62 miles


On the bright side, riding a bike I didn't know prevented an anticlimatic ending to Ride the Rockies for me. I was quite certain I would burn the brakes off that bike before I ever reached Copper Mountain.

The gears and brakes are in a different place and hard to get used to. The tires are so skinny, I wobble more than normal. And I wobble. Especially when I'm carrying a full-sized 35mm camera and two lenses in the handlebar bag.

Oh, and did I whine that my handlebar bag doesn't fit on this Lemond? I have no qualms with Greg, but I sure don't like his bike.

I made it all the way to Leadville carrying the handlebar bag as a fanny pack. It pushed my Camelbak up my back, reducing my ease of mobility and creating terrible weight shifts and shimmying every time I moved. Adding or subtracting layers, which was a highly necessary component of today's chilly and breezy ride, was major surgery.

I knew I wouldn't be able to descend with the extra weight on my hips. I was terrified of the potential speed of the descent without the added stress of shifting weight.

I couldn't get my bike back; it was in a truck somewhere en route to Copper Mountain via a different path. I didn't think sagging my Camelbak would be a very wise idea. So I endured the physical pain and mental anguish of sagging my camera. The final day of the ride, with emotions riding high, seeing people I'd met for the last time, with no camera. I could hardly bear the decisions I'd made, both to demo a bike I didn't know and to part with a piece of me that felt as if it was being surgically removed without anesthesia.

I must confess, passing road bikes on the way up the pass was quite an unusual experience. All week long I'd heard, "Boy, you'd be kicking my butt if you were on a road bike." Now I was passing people, something I don't often get to do. If I hadn't been so terrified of the upcoming descent, I might have really enjoyed this climb.

At the top of Fremont Pass, which I believe was more difficult because I was on a bike I didn't know and because I was so tense, I begged for my bike. I was such a wimp.

I couldn't get a phone signal at all. My ride home would not be at the resort until noon. So I waited an hour, trying to work up the nerve I'd need for the descent, wishing I had my camera, and hoping one of the speedy guys I'd met along the way might come by and coach me down.

None of the above.

I prayed a lot. Obviously, that worked. I lived to tell.

At the finish line, which was, to my surprise, crowded with well-wishers, I saw my friends Tami and Don. My heart soared. I really was happy because it felt so good to see someone I knew, but I think my heart was racing, too, because I was so grateful the scary part of the ride was over. I had no speedometer on the demo bike, so I have no idea how fast I went. But at one point, I was going as fast as the cars alongside me, and I don't think I breathed the whole descent.

One of my friends who'd done Ride the Rockies before said I would experience a real letdown at the end because it was over. I was glad to get off the Lemond, and I'm so happy I don't have to take my tent down tomorrow. But I am truly going to miss riding -- just not the Lemond. I really enjoyed riding so much every day. I enjoyed the climbs. I enjoyed the views. This has been one of my best vacations ever.

I wish it didn't have to end!

Author's Note: I bought a rode bike in time for the 2004 Ride the Rockies. But I didn't get drawn…

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