30 June 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Today's photos courtesy of The Lizard!
Me and Longs Peak
Rest Stop Before the Masses Arrive
green bananas... ummm... maybe not...
Lunchtime Entertainment: Irish Step Dancers
Me - Dancing to the Music!
Heavy Medal!

29 June 2010

I can ride for miles and miles!

Day Two SunriseEither Ride the Rockies made me tough, or the MS-150 got easier.

I finished Saturday's ride in 5:25. That's the best MS-150 time I've had since my back surgery in 2004. I finished Sunday's ride in 5:36. Total saddle time for both days: 11:01.39. That's my best two-day 150-mile time EVER.

It got hot a couple of times, but I never once felt I couldn't go on. The climbs seemed easy compared to what we did last week. The miles literally ticked by like seconds on a clock.

My back started hurting about mile 120 Sunday (I didn't reset my odometer before starting the second morning), and my knee is a little sore. My saddle is a little tender, but not anywhere near as bad as after Ride to Work Day last Wednesday.

Sunday SweetsMS-150 rest stops are much closer together than Ride the Rockies rest stops. MS-150 staff, volunteers and sponsors work very hard to make sure riders with multiple sclerosis have everything they need so they can complete the ride if they are able (which makes the entire weekend easier for people like me who don't have MS but battle different hurdles). A wide variety of fruit, cookies and trail mix concoctions were abundant at every stop. I had FRESH peaches at three stops! I had watermelon at one stop and at both finish lines.

I've learned from this ride that stopping to stretch on the bike when I get tight or sore is not enough for me. I need to get off the bike and walk around every 15 miles or so. I suppose that's what my body has been conditioned to do through years of cycling events, and the 2010 (most difficult course on record) Ride the Rockies may have thrown me off a bit with rest stops much further apart. Now I know to just stop, lay my bike down or lean it against something, and walk around for about three minutes every 15 miles, whether there is an official rest stop or not. My back handles the stress much better if I treat it that well.

I've also learned it's a heck of a lot easier to climb when there's air! Air is in abundance at 5,000 and 6,000 feet and not in such ample supply at 10,000 feet.

Check out the little tire tracks on the logo!I didn't take any pictures at all. (But The Lizard had a ball with my camera!) Does it sound like an imposter rode in my place?!? Never took my camera out of the pack. Partially because I was having a good ride and wanted to continue, and I think I also might be just a little biked out on cycling photography. No ride photo opportunities appealed to me, so I just kept riding.

We watched Team USA's World Cup bid come to an end after Saturday's ride. That was one really humorous aspect of this year's MS-150. Many of the riders who passed me on Saturday were discussing where they would watch the World Cup when they finished. Everyone was in a hurry to get to CSU so they could find a television. To heck with the traditional bands, entertainment and presentations at the finish line; gotta watch soccer!

And now I have a little pop quiz to see how well you know me. I made the HUGE mistake of
calculating my miles for the month of June as of Sunday night, and I'm at 909. Any idea what I'm trying to do before midnight June 30?

Today's photos courtesy of The Lizard!
My MS-150 Medal Collection

28 June 2010

Snowflake Monday

A week ago, I was bicycling 522 miles across Colorado. This last weekend, I rode in the MS-150. Ideas for a July 4 snowflake have been churning in my head all that time like a mouse trapped in a complicated maze. Last night when I got home, I designed this flake, not only to celebrate Independence Day, but also to express how I feel after finishing all those miles and my newfound freedom to stay out of the saddle for a few days! Yippee!!!

I had to wait for the flake to dry before I could shoot it, and that's why this Snowflake Monday is a bit tardy. Still in plenty of time to make it before fireworks next weekend, though!

Happy Fourth of July!

You may do whatever you'd like with snowflakes you make from this pattern, but you may not sell the pattern. Thanks, and enjoy!Finished Size: 5.25 inches from point to point
Materials: Size 10 crochet thread in red, white and blue, size 9 crochet hook, empty pizza box, wax paper or foil, cellophane tape, glue, water, glitter, small container for glue/water mixture, paintbrush, stick pins that won't be used later for sewing, clear thread or fishing line



Make 3 red and 3 blue.

Make magic ring. Chain start will not work with these stars because chain would need to be very tight.

Round 1: 5 sc in ring. Do not join. Pull magic ring tight.
Round 2: *1 sc in next sc, ch 1, 1 dc, ch 1, sl st in top of dc just made, ch 1; repeat from * around 4 times for five points; sl st in 1st sc of Round 2; bind off. Weave in ends.


Make magic ring.

Round 1: Ch 4 (counts as 1 dc and ch 1), *dc in ring, ch 1; repeat 10 times for a total of 11 spokes; sl st in 3rd ch of starting ch 4. Pull magic circle tight, but leave opening big enough to allow stitches inside it to lay flat.
If you're not reading this pattern on Snowcatcher, you're not reading the designer's blog. Please go here to see the original.

Round 2: Sc in next ch 1 sp, ch 10, skip next ch and sl st in each of next 9 ch back down to main body of flake, sc in next ch 1 sp, ch 15, sl st in any point of 1 red star, skip 1 ch and sl st in each of next 14 ch back down to main body of flake, sc in next ch 1 sp, ch 10, skip next ch and sl st in each of next 9 ch, sc in next ch 1 sp, ch 15, sl st in any point of 1 blue star, skip 1 ch and sl st in each of next 14 ch; repeat from * around two times more; sl st in 1st sc of Round 2; bind off. Weave in ends.

Finish: Tape wax paper or foil to top of empty pizza box. Pin snowflake to box on top of wax paper or foil.

Mix a few drops of water with a teaspoon of glue in small washable container. Paint snowflake with glue mixture. Sprinkle lightly with glitter. Wash paintbrush and container thoroughly. Allow snowflake to dry at least 24 hours. Remove pins. Gently peel snowflake from wax paper or foil. Attach 10-inch clear thread to one spoke, weaving in end. Wrap fishing line around tree branch (or tape to ceiling or any overhead surface) and watch the snowflake twirl freely whenever you walk by! Snowflake also may be taped to window or tied to doorknob or cabinet handle.

26 June 2010

Insert Theme from "Rocky" Here

Day Seven
Alamosa to Salida
86 miles
19 June 2010

A week ago, I couldn't believe Ride the Rockies was here. Now I can't believe we're done.

What an incredible tour. Beyond hard, but spectacular. Not only were the scenery and challenge the best ever, but I DID IT!!!!!!!!!! Wednesday night, I wanted to quit and go home. Today, I crossed the finish line with my fist in the air and tears of joy streaming down my face just like the many waterfalls I've passed along the way.

About 40 miles of long, straight flat though sometimes bumpy road with a slight tailwind led to a 30-mile rolling hills stretch called Poncha Pass, a 9,010-foot bump in the road you hardly notice when driving it. Riding taught me it is a climb, albeit a mild one in comparison to the other passes we've done this week. The wind finally gave us a hand and powered us up and over. I anticipated finishing around 3 or 4, due to mileage, but I finished at 1 p.m.! Even better, I wasn't wiped out when I crossed the finish line. I was on the complete opposite end of the physical and emotional spectrum, compared to last night and Wednesday night.

In fact, I was so enthusiastic and full of energy, I rode back around the park again and crossed the finish line a second time, hand in hand with The Lizard, so my co-worker Mike could get a picture of us crossing the finish line together! (The Lizard finished at 11.)

I'd planned to start the ride before the sun came up so I could see the sun come up over the Sangres and also so I could finish before nightfall. I got two blocks out onto the course before realizing my back tire was flat.

If I'd done my extra three miles last night, we would have figured out one of the day's potholes had killed my inner tube, and we could have fixed it before bed. But then I guess that would have kept me from playing hero today. Twice. And I'm not so sure I would have chosen to miss these opportunities.

Near the top of Poncha Pass, the heat was getting to me. I was beginning to get discouraged, and I've learned attitude is key when I'm on my bike for long distances. Suddenly I noticed a rider on the side of the road. As I grew closer, I realized she was not laughing on a cell phone, she was crying. She was in severe pain. At first, I thought she may have crashed, and I was puzzled why other riders passed her by.

I stopped to find out what was wrong, and she sobbed that her legs were cramping. You could see the pain in her face. She was so close to the finish, and she'd done fine all week, but now she wasn't sure she could go on. She was in that much pain.

Leg cramps typically are caused by inadequate salt intake to replenish what you sweat out. I rifled through my pack to see if I had anything with sodium. My final squeeze packet of almond butter would have to do.

Soon her friends rolled along, and once they made sure she was feeling a bit better, she sent me on my way, graciously thanking me for coming to her aid. About half an hour later, she passed me, of course; everyone passes me. I asked if she was feeling stronger. She said she wasn't top of her form but would make it, thanks to me.

Needless to say, I didn't have any problem continuing the ride from that point on. I felt as if I was riding in the clouds, even though the sun was still desperately seeking weak spots in my sunscreen and chapstick.

On the other side of the summit, during another wind-enhanced descent, I noticed a cyclist on the side of the road who appeared somewhat perturbed at his bike. I heard him shout out for help as a group of us whizzed by, but no one stopped. Except me. I'm assuming no one else heard him, since they were moving much faster than me. I'm pretty hard on my brakes during descents, no regrets.

Turns out he'd flatted for about the fifth time and had no more tubes. I felt pretty confident about my own tires, even though I'd experienced my first flat of the ride the night before without knowing it. I keep Kevlar strips in my tires precisely to prevent such occurrences, and today's flat was my second of the entire year. So I surrendered my final spare without hesitation, and he thanked me and sent me on, saying he'd become quite adept at changing tubes in the last few days.

By now, my mood was soaring higher and faster than my bike downhill in a terrific tailwind. Note to Self: Next time you're feeling sad, lonely, exhausted or discouraged, do a good deed. Does absolute wonders for your spirit!

This is the most difficult tour I've ever done. During the last five miles, I reflected upon the most difficult times of my life. Losing my sister. Losing my brother. Raising two adopted and troubled special needs kids alone. The kids running away. Selling my home to pay for my daughter's rehab.

All were such difficult tragedies, none were by choice (except the adoptions), and I trudged my way through, with the help of friends and blessings from Heaven.

Today, I finished something hard I chose and brought on myself. I did something I wasn't sure I could do to see if I could, and it feels fantastic to triumph. This is not a feeling I want to let go of. This is something I wish the whole world could feel.

I didn't take a single photo today (see Denver Post Day 7 photos here), but hopefully the emotional images engraved upon my soul will last forever.

Thanks, Mike, for the photos! We LOVE them!!!

25 June 2010

One Potato, Two Potato

Artistic Rest Stop TreatsDay Six
Pagosa Springs to Alamosa
97 miles
18 June 2010

Climbing Wolf Creek PassI have 97 miles, and I don't have the energy to go out and grab three more miles for my second century ever. How sad.

I seem to do okay until I hit about 80 miles, and everything beyond that, I struggle.

Today's ride took 10 hours, nine hours in the saddle. If I use today's rest stop time to average Wednesday's ride, I spent approximately 11 hours in the saddle on my hardest day ever. And my sit bone still feels it.

I was back on my bike today. There's no comparison between my jimmy-rigged shifters and the Trek I rode the last two days. But it was so good to be back on my bike.

THE Infamous OverlookThe Trek fit well, and it truly is a nice bike. But today helped me remember something important. I spent six weeks picking my bike. I tested just about every bike in my price range in Colorado before I finally picked this bike. The first time I rode it, I knew it was my bike. It's still the best fit of any bike I've ever been on. Even if it limps, I still love my bike.

It took me so long to get in today, I cancelled my demo for tomorrow. I had planned to ride a newer model of my bike, but Ride the Rockies officially ends at 4, and I'm not sure I can make it to Salida by then. They'd have to put my saddle and pedals back on my bike, and there's no way they'd get out of Salida at a reasonable hour if they wait on me. If we have another headwind, I'm toast. So I get to ride my bike again tomorrow, and I'm not too unhappy about that. I feel like I've reclaimed one of my best friends, and the feeling seems mutual. It is a bit kinder to my behind, even though the saddle travels to other bikes with me.

Still Climbing Wolf Creek PassI heard the starting temperature this morning was 28 degrees. I don't know if that's accurate, but my fingers would sure agree. I spent the first couple of hours wishing I'd worn my tights and wool socks. Then the sun finally hit us, and everyone was shedding layers within about five minutes.

I learned I can climb much better and more efficiently when I'm cold!

One particular lookout on the west side of Wolf Creek Pass supposedly is featured in National Lampoon's "Vacation." It also is featured in the first Ride Across America movie. (You GOTTA see "Bicycle Dreams" when it hits the big screen!!!) So I planned to get a classic Ride the Rockies shot from this famous lookout.

A Flat Tire on Wolf Creek PassTurned out the emergency vehicles that passed me before the sun came up were en route to an 18-wheeler rollover right at the lookout. Fortunately, the Dr. Pepper driver wasn't hurt, and most of his load seemed to have survived without spilling all over the roadway. So I snapped what I hope are somewhat humorous photos of bikes passing by the underbelly of a big truck. Not your everyday RtR view!

The next time emergency vehicles passed me, the outcome wasn't as fortuitous. A cyclist supposedly hit an obstacle, and two riders behind him also went down. That's all I know right now. We've heard there was another accident yesterday, and one of two cyclists involved is still in critical condition.

Every morning, I pray the cyclists will be safe and that cyclists and motorists will be alert and courteous toward one another. Every day, I pray we will all get home safely. So this news created sadness in my heart that just won't go away.

My altimeter is just a wee bit off atop Wolf Creek Pass.The top of Wolf Creek Pass was super windy. Swirly winds, and the descent reflected the unpredictability. The famed tailwind kicked in by South Fork and lasted a good 30 miles before turning on us and hammering us head-on all the way into Alamosa, completely uncharacteristic of the normal prevailing winds of the San Luis Valley, home of the Great Sand Dunes created by those same tailwinds we all wished would have lingered.

Maybe I could have done better without the wind. All I know right now is that I die and don't want to go any further after about 80 miles.

I was reaching deep inside for whatever I could muster when I hit Monte Vista, where the Colorado Potato Growers Association was giving out fully loaded baked potatoes. FREE. Yes, FREE!!!

Oh, yum!

Aaaaaaah!Normally, I can't eat white potatoes because of the high starch content, but I'd just finished 75 miles with a stiff climb, and I had about 17 miles of debilitating headwind to go. I gobbled down my potato so fast, the eating may have qualified as certified magic. That potato fueled me for the next nine miles. Then my tank was empty again. There was just no way I could ride another three miles when I finally finished. It had taken everything I had and more just to get to the Rec Center where we would be camping for the night.

So for right now, for this very minute, 97 has all the allure of that elusive 100. Just try and tell me this wasn't an accomplishment. I did 97 miles, and I'm riding again tomorrow. On my bike. I'm literally a happy camper.Loaded Baked Potato in Monte Vista

24 June 2010

To Sag or Not to Sag

Chimney RockDay Five
Durango to Pagosa Springs
88 miles
17 June 2010

Orange TossI asked The Lizard when the alarm went off at 4:30 this morning if we could ride to Pagosa on the highway instead of following the hilly route (with tons of climbs). It would cut the distance by nearly half.

The Lizard didn't want to ride "that busy highway." I can't blame him for that at all, but I just wasn't sure I could ride any more. I thought once again about trying to track down my co-worker's husband who also is riding and whose father is following along in an RV. I could ride into Pagosa with him and give my body a day to recover. If I could find them.

Tossing Oranges to Win a T-shirtIn addition to being tired and still a little sore and stiff, my lips were extremely swollen. I think they are wind burned. I used chapstick, and I think I drank plenty of water. I never got to ask a passing medic, so I'm not sure what caused the swelling.

As if on autopilot, I got dressed and got ready to go. The Lizard said he'd ride along with me to get me through the day.

That was so encouraging for me, especially after riding 12.5 hours alone yesterday. But I know The Lizard would be miserable if I made him ride at my slow pace all day. I couldn't do that to him. I wanted him to enjoy his vacation. I wanted him to feel exuberant at the end of the day. Not as if he'd spent the day nurse-maiding me.

He sent me on and finished taking down the tent and packing by himself. He caught me just before the first rest stop.

Cooling OffI was totally intimidated by the route before I began riding because yesterday was so demanding and took so much out of me. After about a mile or so, though, I was having fun. I remembered the terrain from our previous trips to Vallecito and Chimney Rock, and none of the climbs would be as gruesome as yesterday. I tried to look at today's ride as just another Elephant Rock, but with prettier scenery, and I knew I could do it. So I was in a really good mindset by the time The Lizard caught me.

I wanted to ride with him. But it would have been selfish of me to hold him to my snail-like pace. He needs to train for the Triple Bypass and the Mount Evans Hill Climb. Riding alone isn't going to kill me. I know The Lizard will be waiting for me at the end.

If the situation was reverse, I know he would make the very same sacrifice for me.

Pagosa Tent CitySo after a delicious breakfast (he had all-you-can-eat pancakes while I had two scrambled egg and cheese burritos), I sent him on. At first, he was nervous about leaving me alone. He said he felt as if he was abandoning me. I assured him I would be fine. Three times! The kiss when we parted was magical. It carried me the rest of the day.

The Vallecito Valley is so beautiful, but you can't really soak it all in when you're riding into the sun. When we finally looped around and headed into the opposite direction, I enjoyed gazing at the rolling lush green hills, horses, ducks, geese and meandering Vallecito Creek. Looping around, of course, points us in the direction of New Mexico. New Mexico is not my home anymore, but it still holds a special place in my heart, and I enjoyed basking in the memories as the terrain changed into juniper- and pinon-dotted sageland where desert touches hills.

Seeing Chimney Rock again brought back more wonderful memories. Remind me to tell you the tale of Chimney Rock one day. The photos and story from that trip are literally out of this world.

Drying RackI didn't take many photos today, but I had a good attitude. One of the things I've notice about doing big rides is the more the miles wear on, the more exhausted I become, and the fewer photos I take.

On two long, straight, smooth, windless stretches today, I got to let the demo bike go. How I wish I knew how fast I went. The Lizard said it is a fast bike. Boy, he wasn't kidding.

Here is something I wanted to include yesterday, but I was too beat to write at the end of the day:

I was on Molas Pass with Alison Dunlap! I'd like to say I climbed the pass with her, but I think in reality, she was in Durango by the time I got to the top of Molas. She's FAST!

a hard-day's ride
As she sped away, if you pretended the sun was just poking over the horizon, when shadows are four miles long, I could just barely touch the very tip of her shadow.

She was supposed to speak at 5 but didn't get started until 5:30. That's when I pulled into Durango. So I got to see the tail end of her presentation, which was, by the way, fabulous. She shared pictures from her Olympic and World cycling adventures, and she described how differently women are treated on stage races compared to men. Men are pampered in comparison, and they don't have it easy. The women really rough it.

I had been hoping since the day before we started I might get to meet Alison. Stopping at the same overlook she did and getting to talk and take pictures was such a bonus. The experience powered me over the three mountain passes I had to climb. That she remembered me after her presentation further boosted my attitude. She high-fived me when she found out my ride was 12.5 hours and I didn't sag.

That makes it all worth it!

23 June 2010

Star Struck

Sweet Ride of MineTwilight Red Mountain Pass TunnelDay Four
Ouray to Durango
75 miles
16 June 2010

The sun has already set, so I don't know if I can write everything on my mind. Suffice it to say I was in the saddle for 12.5 hours today. That includes breaks. The demo bike doesn't have my cyclocomputer, so I don't know my actual saddle time, my mph average, my fastest speed or my total mileage. I have to use the mileage The Lizard's cyclocomputer provides. He finished the ride in just over five hours.

How Many Riders Felt at One Point or Another on WednesdayHeadwinds the entire day. "Deep dish" wheels on the demo bike tempted the wind to carry me and the demo away. I was swept three feet across the road on one frightening switchback during a 28-mph or so descent. Just about the scariest moment on a bike I can ever remember. As best I can estimate, two hours of ride time trying to motivate and cheer myself into finishing. Two hours of pedaling spent crying and wanting to go home, hating cycling, cursing the wind, wishing I were done, spinning and spinning and spinning even though every muscle in my body wanted to quit.

Molas Pass SkylineThis was no measure whatsoever compared to the Grand Mesa. Riding the Million Dollar Highway by far exceeds the most difficult ride I'd ever done, Lizard Head Pass on Day One of my first Ride the Rockies.

I could seriously fall in love with this bike if it weren't so expensive. I didn't like running without a cyclocomputer. The demo truck was ready to close by the time I pulled into Durango, so they're letting me ride this jewel again tomorrow.

Coal Bank PassShifting is SO smooth.

But my sit bone is sore. I don't have anything left. I've scraped the bottom of the barrel. My tank is completely empty, and there is no satisfying fuel. I'm so tired. Everything on my body hurts. I don't know if I can do three more days. I don't want to do three more days. Three more hard days. Three more very difficult hard days. I don't want to ride anymore. I want to go home.

True Rest StopI spent so much time today wondering why in the world I do this.

This was not fun. This was a suffer fest. Pure and simple.

Believe it or not, the most difficult part of the entire day for me was the two-mile grunt up to Fort Lewis College in rush hour traffic after all the volunteers had called it a day. No one to guide us through the course. No one to get us safely across the furious intersections and through impatient traffic.

On the bright side, I was not last. I did not sag. And I met Alison Dunlap. In person.Me, Marge and Alison on Molas Pass above Silverton

22 June 2010

Paris-Roubais, Colorado-style

Curious TouristsDay Three
Delta to Ouray
70 miles
15 June 2010

Four thousand feet in elevation gain today, and most riders unfamiliar with this part of the state thought this was going to be an easy day. It wasn't too hard for me, just hot.

Ouray Tent CityWe're camped right below the highway, so passing motorists are getting quite the sight. I had a great time with my big long telephoto lens today taking pictures of gawking motorists who had never seen a tent city. I couldn't have shot some of the pictures I took today without that monster lens, but I think I've decided I don't need to carry such a big and heavy lens on a tour like this. My big lens will get a vacation during the MS-150. I guess that means my shoulders will be getting a break then, too! I'll burn fewer calories, though…

The "cobblestones" of Pea Green made for an internal blender. My stomach was in knots by the time we finally hit the highway outside of Montrose. The advantage, of course, was country road traffic is never as bad as highway traffic. The highway was… busy.

Climb, climb, climb. Then climb some more. We did have a couple of sweet payoff descents, but they were very short. The kind that make you grit your teeth because you know you have to climb it right back.

Ouray is a trip. The Lizard was one of the first riders here, and he helped unload the trucks. There were no porta-potties until I got here at close to 2 p.m.! 2,000 riders and assorted family members and friends, plus the normal accumulation of wide-eyed tourists, with four public restrooms to go around. By nightfall, there was no toilet paper to be found. Major whine!

Rest Stop RestI had to wait in line every time I needed water today, and I had to wait in a very long line for a shower. Hot day. Red-hot day. Guess it's better than the weather we had on the Grand Mesa though. I suppose. (Would drizzle really have been that bad? I have rain gear!)

Yesterday, I forgot to take my towel to the shower. Today, I forgot to bring the towel back to the tent. I got my towel back. We weren't as lucky with the shampoo. The Lizard accidentally left it, and we had to buy more.

Trek...ingThe shifting wasn't as bad as the guy from Wheat Ridge Cyclery made it sound, but he probably did that on purpose so I wouldn't be devastated riding my crippled bike. There's a definite difference. I have to remember to push the shifter harder and farther, and the delay is noticeable. But I might be able to limp through the rest of the season on my bike. I think it might be okay to ride for the MS-150.

Nevertheless, I get to demo a $4,000 bike tomorrow on the second most difficult day of the tour. We begin climbing immediately, no warm-up whatsoever. I'll be riding the female version of what Lance Armstrong rides. No way could I ever afford to spend that much on a bike. But I get to ride one, even though I can never buy one!

Someone I once knew (a compulsive gambler) used to always say, "Go big or stay home."

Tomorrow, I go big.

21 June 2010


Is that gray skies I see over the Grand Mesa???Day Two
Grand Junction to Delta
60 miles
14 June 2010

Since the first Sunday in February, the day the 2010 Ride the Rockies route was announced, I have been planning to ride seven extra miles today if my body could handle it. I wanted my second century.

Today was the day I trained for. Well, Wednesday is a biggie for me, too, because I've never done three mountain passes in one day before. But Wednesday isn't 6,000 feet in elevation gain all at one time. And it's not 93 miles.

Pears! Mmm! Breakfast!Today also was a personal challenge for me because the first time I did this climb, I'd had back surgery six months earlier. I didn't do the first 30 miles through the vineyards of Palisade because I knew I couldn't do 93 miles. I wanted to climb the mountain. That was my goal.

I did climb the entire Grand Mesa, but I've felt ever since that I cheated myself out of that first 30 miles.

Today was my chance to make up for that. I was going to do the entire 93 miles, plus some.

I needed to prove to myself I could do the entire 93 miles. I wanted another century under my belt. I wanted to prove I could do it.

It rained most of the night, but I slept well. I felt so ready.

We'd heard it snowed on the Mesa, so I wore extra layers, just like training all spring long. We left at 5:25, just ten minutes later than planned. We had drizzle almost all the way to the vineyards.

Cherries! Mmm! Breakfast!This was my first time ever doing The Tour of the Vineyards, which officially occurs in the fall. This section of the ride was so aromatic and visually stimulating, I think I may do the official ride and claim the fruity jersey this year! I could smell the pears through the entire orchard route. The cherries look ready to eat. Every once in a while, I caught a good whiff of the peaches and the apples. Made me SO hungry! In just two more months, we'll be back for fresh Palisade peaches!

Today was the first time I'd ever ridden on an interstate (although portions of Vail Pass parallel the very same highway further east). This portion of the ride was as hair-raising as I'd anticipated. They did cone off a lane for us, thankfully, so we were safe, and this portion was only about five miles. Nevertheless, having so many big trucks right next to you going so fast and making so much noise in dusky mist is a bit unnerving.

Then the true climbing begins. This is where I got dropped off to begin my ride five years ago. Drizzle and cloud cover kept the temperature comfortable until about 9,000 feet, and then it got downright cold. Out came the layers again.

Hotcakes! Mmm! Breakfast!Meanwhile, Agent Orange kept things interesting. Agent Orange is a volunteer who carefully scans our route the day before we ride, marking with fluorescent orange paint all the hazards and route instructions, plus some one-liners that keep riders smirking.

"1-70... What were you thinking?!?" was the first bright orange highway message of the day.

Then on a more difficult section of climb came:

"Things could be worse. You could work for BP."

Later I was annoyed by rest stop volunteers who cheerfully told riders, "Only three more miles to the summit!" -- for NINE miles!!! I've done this ride before, so I knew better. Other riders who've never done this don't know how much further the summit truly is, and to me, that would have been utterly demoralizing.

Darn it, tell the truth! You do riders a disservice when you tell sweet little lies.

Loaded SAG WagonAt the top of the climb, I was ready to dance in my saddle because I'd made it! I fueled properly, I'd stretched adequately, and I was mentally in great position for a century. I'd taken a lot of great shots along the way, too, so I felt almost as if I was double-charged.

I shifted to begin the descent. The pedals absolutely froze. They wouldn't go forward, and they wouldn't go backward. I thought the chain had slipped off the chain ring. I looked down, and the chain was still firmly in place.

As I jolted to a stop, I looked back at the cassette, expecting to see the chain caught up somewhere.

I gasped.

The derailleur was between spokes, and the chain looked as if someone had run it through a curling iron.

Ouch!!!Without further inspection, I think I instinctively knew the bike was done. Dead in the water. Or dead in the drizzle. But I'm no mechanic. I was so traumatized by the thought of sagging, I allowed my hopes to soar unrealistically. They'd be able to fix my bike at the next rest stop, I fantasized. If I could just pull the derailleur out of the spokes, I could walk to the next rest stop and not have to sag. (SAG is an acronym for Support And Gear. Each SAG vehicle is equipped with bike racks so volunteers can transport riders who are unable to finish to the next destination.)

A few minutes later, I was on my way, yet missing out on a great straight and smooth descent. Once the road leveled out again, passing riders had time to ask if all was okay.

"Lost my derailleur."

"Bummer! I'll send help!"

The first sag wagon that came by was already full. Grand Mesa traditionally claims more riders than any other segment of any RtR in history. Before my technical problem, I'd noticed each sag wagon that went by was full.

Aid StationI told the driver I didn't need a ride, I could walk to the next rest stop. He insisted I be picked up by the next wagon with an empty seat. Probably liability issues. Or maybe they were worried I might succumb to hypothermia. I didn't worry. All the wagons had been full, so they wouldn't have room for me, and I could just keep walking. The next stop couldn't be more than about a mile away, and that was a piece of cake for me.

As my luck would have it, the next sag that came by was empty. Dang!!! The driver was going back to the previous aid station.

A light bulb went on in my head. The previous aid station was seven miles back!!! I'd actually skipped that station because I didn't need anything when I passed it. If the bike shop stationed there could fix my bike, I could re-ride that seven miles of climb, and I'd have my century!!!

Another Fully Loaded SAGThe next stroke of luck actually was a stroke of luck, even though it didn't have the ending I'd fantasized. The bike shop at the previous aid station was Wheat Ridge Cyclery, the very shop where I bought my bike in 2004! Exactly one month to the day before my first date with The Lizard, when I rode my bike into Arches National Park! Woohoo! I just knew the whiz dudes from Wheat Ridge could work the magic to fix my bike!

"Gnarly," was their initial breathless reaction upon first sight of my tangled derailleur. After surveying the damage, the news got worse.

"This is a nine-speed," one mechanic explained. "These were discontinued a long time ago. We can put a mountain bike derailleur on it, but it's not going to shift as smoothly. If you put a 10-speed derailleur on it, you'll have to change everything."

Major surgery. Major investment. Major discouragement.

In other words, I'd be better off buying a new bike.

Oh, and the derailleur also knocked my wheel out of true, and it damaged two spokes. No kidding.

Drizzle CityWords cannot describe the deep depression that followed as I was sagged, along with my broken bike, to Delta. My century day was held to 60 miles, the same number of miles I'd done five years ago. Back then, I was broken. Now my bike was broken.

On the bright side, I still completed a mighty climb. I'd made it to the top, and I'd done it the long way. But my dream was shattered. What would I do for the rest of the week??? What would I do for the MS-150 next week???

Losing a bike, to me, is like losing a camera. My equipment is a part of me, an extension of me. I feel as if a part of me literally has died.

Back on the bright side, I did finish the climb. I felt I could do another grinding seven-mile climb if given the opportunity, and feeling that strong after 60 hard miles is simply amazing for me. I also didn't have to ride in "The Meat Wagon," the heated, comfy charter bus full of hypothermic and altitude sickness-affected riders who couldn't go any further.

Cold and WetI also got to hear the expansive variety of situations the SAG volunteers must navigate on an emergency basis all day long every single day of a week-long ride. I appreciate the volunteers even more now than I did before, and I already thought they are all super heroes.

I also got to hear the radio report of the official ride photographer capturing a shot of a black bear running across the road near the aid station where I broke down. If only I and my camera could have been there... with my bike... in working order...

My bike is now part road bike/part mountain bike for the duration of the week. I guess I've come full circle. After riding my first RtR on a mountain bike with knobby tires and my second RtR on this road bike, now I'm on a makeshift hybrid!
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