I marked the 8-year/353-day anniversary of emergency back surgery with a nice ride up Waterton Canyon. For nearly nine years, I'd been working on my climbing skills whenever I could. A few times, I was able to go beyond the dam, where the road grade ramps up significantly. Two or three times, I was able to make it up to the second bench, or the official starting point of the Colorado Trail, which winds through some of the tallest Rockies nearly 500 miles to Durango.
For nine years, I've wanted to make it back up to the third bench, Lenny's Bench, the very top of Waterton Canyon. But I just didn't have the strength, the ability to tolerate rock and root bumps, and the stamina to ignore pain and/or discomfort for the steep single track portion of the ride.
Three days before my 9th anniversary, I made it to the second bench again.
Seven days later, I did it again. My adrenaline was on fire. I still felt pretty good, so I kept going. I made it to the first switchback, where I opted to turn back because the narrow and rocky ascent was getting beyond my descent skill set. I made it up two short, steep and extremely bumpy sections, and I had to walk all the rest of the steep, bumpy sections. I had to walk down all the steep, bumpy sections. But I got higher than I've been on that trail in nearly 10 years.
I set a goal to make it to the top, to Lenny's Bench, on my next ride.
I celebrated the 9-year/11-day anniversary of emergency back surgery with a windy and bitter cold ride up Waterton Canyon...
ALL THE WAY TO THE TOP!
I made it up two more short but steep sections without having to dismount, and I was able to ride down portions of two short steep and rocky sections. My confidence is growing. And I'm still getting stronger.
The last time I made it up to Lenny's Bench was my fourth or fifth date with The Lizard nearly a decade ago. I didn't know if I'd ever see that bench again!