Can you tell I love Barry Manilow? Or at least I did a long time ago...
The Lizard and I had decided way back in December, before I even knew if I could ride 60 miles in a day, we would try to get in this year's Ride the Rockies whether we like the route or not because 2013 is the tenth anniversary of my first ride. I was drawn for the first time in 2003, following a number of horrific events in my family, including both of my adopted children permanently leaving the nest on unauthorized field trips and the death of my brother. I had put in for Ride the Rockies five times before with my adopted son, and we were never drawn.
When I finally was drawn in 2003, alone, training was a huge part in the healing process for me. Completing the ride, my first weeklong bicycle tour ever, was the biggest feather in my cap at that time. It's still something worth celebrating every chance I get.
I didn't have to stay up until midnight last Saturday to learn the new route. They posted a map three hours earlier, even though registration would not be open until midnight. Some of the excitement was, well, not exactly gone, but different this year. Different because we already knew we wanted to go. We weren't basing our decision on where we would be riding. So where the ride went wasn't as important.
Imagine our surprise when we learned a portion of my first Ride the Rockies is included in this year's ride! And once again, it's seven heavenly days! (The last two years, the ride was shortened to five and six days.)
If we are drawn, we will have to figure out a way to get us and our bikes to Telluride, clear across the state, after planting a car in Colorado Springs so we can go home at the end of the ride. Last year, I'd fantasized about riding to the start and riding home from the finish. Riding home from Colorado Springs this year actually seems easier than riding home from Fort Collins would have been last year. However, if we end up driving our second vehicle to Telluride for the start, we'll have to return to Telluride to retrieve said vehicle, and we'll have only a day or two to do it. Can't do that on a bike!
So, this year's 513-mile route, which isn't as challenging as the last two Ride the Rockies we've participated in, is challenging in a different way. The before and after will require some forethought and planning. But it will be worth it. We're returning to Lizard Head Pass! Can you imagine a better place for us to start the anniversary of my first Ride the Rockies?
That first year, I rode from Cortez to Telluride. It was the first (and perhaps only) time in my life I've done 58 miles of sustained climb. It's tied with the Grand Mesa as the third most difficult ride I've ever completed.
If we are drawn this year, we climb to the top of Lizard Head Pass (The Lizard's first time ever climbing Lizard Head Pass on his bike) from Telluride, a 2,218-foot gain in elevation, but in far less than 58 miles. And then we get 58 miles of descent. !!! Can you say, "Woohoo!"???
We also will get to repeat our 2010 climb of Wolf Creek Pass during the 25th anniversary of Ride the Rockies.
The thing I remember most about that year's ride was losing my derailleur atop the Grand Mesa and getting to ride a loaner Trek Madonne for two days while my bike was fitted with a mountain bike derailleur because the appropriate road bike derailleur was no longer easily available. (My bosses gave me a gift certificate that Christmas to a bike shop that actually had the proper derailleur, and I'm still using it today!)
The thing I remember second best about the 25th anniversary ride was the Ouray to Durango stage, the first and only time in my life I've ever done three mountain passes in a day and, yes, you guessed it, the second hardest climb I've ever done in my life. (Pikes Peak is the hardest, and I've still yet to make it to the summit of that mountain on a bike.)
This year's ride returns to our favorite area of the state. This year's ride also will be another healing ride for me. A symbol of healing. A belt notch in my stubborn determination to prove I can do things I've been told I might not be able to do.
After completion of last year's ride and a day of working in our sun-parched garden, I was unable to move for nearly two months. At the time, I was diagnosed with degenerative disc disease caused by trauma to the disc. We (our doctor, a specialist, a physical therapist and us) now believe I may have done something to my back in addition to traumatizing the disc when I wrecked my bike in March while training, but I didn't get x-rayed in March, so we may never know the full extent of damage from that harrowing day.
I just completed more than eight weeks of physical therapy in an attempt to try to be able to ride long events again, plus, well, be able to function from day to day without such severe constant pain. I went from being told I'd just have to learn to deal with the pain because it wasn't going to go away to having hope now that life will indeed return to normal if I keep working at trying to manage the pain and keep my body in the best shape I can.
I've done 60 miles one time since last June. I have a bunch of training ahead of me. But I'm ready to take a chance again. I very much want to do this year's Ride the Rockies. So now, we wait atop pins and needles for the March 1 drawing to find out if we will be headed for Telluride in June...