We finished our third Fall Blaze recently. It's one of the newest annual additions to our ride calendar. The first one we participated in was thanks to my employer signing up along with other corporations to sponsor the ride. Sponsors receive a free entry into the event. Most of my co-workers think eight hours (one-way) is too far to drive for a bicycle ride, but The Lizard and I absolutely love the Durango area, so we raised our hands when the free entry went up for grabs. We had no competition! So that first ride was ours!
The Fall Blaze raises money for cycling team scholarships at Fort Lewis College, currently the top-ranked collegiate cycling team in the nation. This year, the team cycled right along with us in the fund-raiser, and it was exciting to see how fast those kids can pedal.
I'd signed up for 60 miles back in February. The Lizard signed up for a century, or 100 miles. He came down with a head cold the day before the ride, so he rode with me and at my pace, except for the climbs, which he powered up and then waited for me. Because everything I do now is a bonus, this ride was special. Riding the entire route with The Lizard at my side made it one of the highlights of my life.
I wasn't sure how far I'd be able to go, but I'd successfully done Colorado National Monument the weekend before, so I knew I could do at least 30 miles. The 37-mile route takes us partway up Coal Bank Pass, then back down along picturesque country roads before a two-mile steep climb back up to the college.
When we reached the turnoff to go back up to Fort Lewis, I was feeling pretty good. I told The Lizard I thought I could do three more miles to bring my total up to 40 miles even, but I couldn't do it on the climb to the school. I asked if he felt he could tackle the first mile and a half of the 60-mile turn-off. The ride was clearing his lungs and sinuses, so he agreed, and off we went toward Vallecito for just a short mile and a half. I'd forgotten that portion of the ride is uphill, too. But not as steep as the road up to Fort Lewis.
The extra mile and a half of up meant an extra mile and a half of down before going up THE hill, and that was just the pill I needed to get up that final climb. I crossed the finish line at 40.2 miles, and both of us thoroughly enjoyed the potato bar that followed. I was tired and sore, but I'd made it. Double helpings of brocolli for me, please!
My goal when I got back on my bike in August was 30 miles in October, 40 miles in November, 50 miles in December, and 60 miles in January so we would know in February if it would be realistic to put our names in the Ride the Rockies lottery once again.
I did 30 miles and 40 miles in September. I don't know yet how much more I can improve, but every baby step I take helps me grow in confidence that I CAN get better. I'm officially ahead of the goal now. I'm beginning to believe it can happen. I'm hoping I have a few more Ride the Rockies in me!