11 May 2010

Bicycle Dreams

spring is on the way... I thinkFriday was humiliation day.

Palisade Peach Blossoms frame Mount GarfieldSaturday, everything we planned went awry, and we didn't get to test-ride the initial portion of the Day Two route of Ride the Rockies as hoped.

Sunday we explored the Day One route of Ride the Rockies.

Monday, I completed my third-highest one-day mileage ever.

Friday we had a very light dusting of snow, so I bundled up, thick full-finger gloves and all. Kept toasty warm. And kept my fingers.

I went into a roundabout a little too fast and failed to negotiate a curve. Chalk it up to inattentiveness; that and a lack of dexterity. I asked The Lizard what I need to do in order to hone my critical thinking and riding instincts. How do I train myself to know going off route into a soft, flat, green field is SO much better than trekking on skinny tires over rocks and grates? He said I need to do more mountain biking.

Admittedly, I am much too conservative on my mountain bike. When I'm four-wheeling, I always say I like the shape of my vehicle and don't want to change it. Same goes for my mountain bike and my body. I like the shape of both, and I don't want to change them.

Invisible CyclistFor at least a couple of years, The Lizard has wanted me to duplicate a timed exposure I shot of him riding through sunflowers. He wants to do the same thing, only riding through Palisade's peach blossoms with Mount Garfield in the background. We planned to do that Saturday. The blossoms were gone, and time constraints prevented us from riding at all that day. We're hoping for another chance next April.

Sunday was an absolute hoot. Colorado National Monument was one of The Lizard's favorite rides for many years before we ever met. The ride up and over was our third date. It was Day 1 of our first Ride the Rockies together. Every chance we get to go back and do it again is just as thrilling as the first for me.

There exists this Code among cyclists. We know the seemingly cryptic meaning of "You doing that this year?" Whatever ride jersey you are wearing, chances are, passing riders either have one of their own underneath their layers or a twin hanging at home. We all know the routine. We all know the exhilaration. And the disappointment.

"You riding that this year?" I was asked over and over and over again as I slowly made my way up the Monument.

"Yeah!" I'd answer, trying not to sound out of breath. "And you?"

"This will be my 11th," came one response.

Eleven. How do they do that? How do they get drawn over and over and over again?!? Lucky devils!

Colorful ColoradoThe wildflowers were spectacular. Desert weather has been a little friendlier to cyclists than what we've been getting in the Denver Metro. Words cannot describe the sensation of going from triple layers Friday to short sleeves, shorts, sunscreen, sunburn and a bucket of sweat Sunday. Then back to multiple layers routine Monday.

We had planned a multi-day trip to Moab to do some heavy duty riding, but plans changed at the last minute. Third consecutive year. Drats. So I arranged to take some extra time off work Monday to reel in a few extra miles. I've got only four weeks left to get used to long, long days in the saddle.

My goal for Monday was 70 or 80 miles, whatever I could eek out. The forecast, of course, called for thunderstorms and 40 mph winds in the afternoon. I decided to reign in as many miles as possible in the morning, just in case the afternoon ride got derailed.

As I prepared to leave home, I informed The Lizard I would not be taking my camera this time. Not only to lighten the load, but also because I had not been using it. Friday's spill left me a bit nervous about wrecking again and injuring the camera. I decided the Nikon could take a day off. Just this once.

The Lizard told me the camera gods would understand. "Yeah, right," I replied. "The 'camera gods' will throw every form of wildlife known to man at me for leaving the camera at home." And that they did.

Sunset BillsCurious deer on the bike path along the greenway. Elk near the lake. Cormorants in the sunrise. Baby geese closer to Downtown. Yikes!!! A skunk!!! Whew! Just a black and white kitty. Run, kitty, run! No less than 11 not-shy great blue herons near a sudsy spillway north of Downtown. They posed for me. And laughed. They thought my lack of camera was hilarious. A couple even flapped their wings and danced to display their amusement.

The sudsy spillway reminded me of my adopted daughter's first ride along this very same path. She would NOT cross the bridge. The 8- or 9-year-old was terrified of it, and we had no clue why. Finally, I convinced my then 12-year-old adopted son to portage all three of our bikes across the bridge while I carried my daughter across. She screamed bloody murder the entire way, but she was never afraid of the bridge again after that. In fact, she spent a few years fantasizing about living beneath a bridge with a Rottweiler to bring her food. But that's another story. For another day. Another year. Maybe another decade.

breakfastDuring a school assignment several years later, she wrote about being afraid to cross that bridge. She thought the suds in the water were acid. (Both my kids did a little too much "Dante's Peak" in the '90s.) She wrote that the bridge collapsed as we were crossing it, and we were being sucked into the acid. Then a dog came along and pulled us out of the water, one by one. She and the dog lived happily ever after.

That momentary step back into time was accented by a new bridge a little further along on the trail. Back then, we had to take a two-block jog through a heavily industrial area to get back onto the bike path. I was always nervous about taking my kids across that section of road, even for such a short distance.

Now it's done. The bike path goes all the way through. No cyclist has to brave the wrinkled road and huge trucks for that short little segment anymore.

I logged 53 morning miles, expecting to have to load the bike onto the train in the afternoon and be picked up by The Lizard.

However, the winds never reached gale force, and the thunderclouds didn't materialize. The 20 mph shifting breeze didn't make the ride home easy, but it did keep the bugs down. Thankfully!

As I neared home, I realized I'd topped 80 miles only twice before. I did my first and only century to date the day I had to, 108 miles on Day 4 of the 2003 Ride the Rockies. I did 88 miles on May 24 that year while training. Never again have I been able to go more than 80 miles. Until Monday.

I was so excited, I rushed home to grab the camera, then rode back out to get a picture by one of the pink trees down the street. By the time I got back to my front door, I'd logged 82 miles. And heck! It wasn't dark yet!!!

Insert "Theme Song from Rocky" here. Because that's what I'm feeling right now!
Rock on!


  1. Thank you for these awesome photos :D.

  2. yes, wildflowers are wonderful!!!
    But I will never imagine to be as fit as you, conquering the world with your bike :-) I guess I just have to take a benefit of internet and enjoy the beautiful picture you shared.

  3. Amazing! It has to feel absolutely amazing! Exhausting and exhilirating! We got out on our lacal trails yesterday, only the 2nd time this spring, looking forward to getting out more and more. My top day is only about 40 miles though. But it feels so good, and hurts too, lol.

  4. Ah, the magic in the process, the journey...

    Remember, you don't have to have fun to have fun.

    You make it look mighty good, either way, though.


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