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


  1. banana with buiscuits :) Probably gives a lot of energy though.

    While you are biking we celebrate Midsummer. One of our lovliest traditions. :)

  2. Seriously I am exhausted just reading about this effort of yours.

    What an accomplishment. Not just the ride, but keeping on keeping on.

  3. Hmmmmm... I believe it's legal to round 97 to 100. In the scheme of things, taking into account the wind, sand and traffic of the San Luis Valley, I'd bet the rounding gods would allow rounding to at least 120 miles.

    Nonetheless, it was a long day with great spuds.

    One other thing, Snowcatcher rode to a grocery store upon reaching Alamosa. She then packed dinner several miles to our camp. Round up another five.



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