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!!!


  1. Congratulations! Super well done :)

  2. Congratulations on finishing the tour!! Thanks for sharing it with us!!!

  3. I can hear the "Rocky" score playing, and without a doubt you deserve to be extra proud of your accomplishments...every one of them. How kind of you to help your fellow riders the way you did! I'll keep that advice in mind next time I feel overwhelmed by my own worries. Congratulations!!!

  4. Congratulations :). I had a lot of fun reading your posts.

  5. Whoa...that's beyond impressive. Congratulations!

  6. Congrats. I am beyond thrilled for you and so impressed.

    Very well done.

    I looked for you Saturday! :)

  7. Well done!! I knew it! Congratulations!! Kisses, kisses, kisses...

  8. Woohoo! Congrats. You should feel very, very proud! That is a TOUGH ride and you did it!!! :D Your blogging buddies are super proud of you!


Dusty words lying under carpets,
seldom heard, well must you keep your secrets
locked inside, hidden deep from view?
You can talk to me... (Stevie Nicks)

All spam is promptly and cheerfully deleted without ever appearing in print.

If you are unable to leave a comment and need to contact me, please use the email address in the sidebar. Thank you!

Related Posts with Thumbnails