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!


  1. My little 15 mile commute is so meager.

    (But I did have to put up with all the bike-to-workers yesterday!))

  2. Did you bike to work on BtWD??? I did, and I scored tons of swag! Water bottle, key chain, sunscreen, blinky reflector, whole wheat bagel, fresh strawberries, banana and a sugar-free bottled drink. The bike path near downtown Denver was like a highway!

  3. I did. I did not stop at any of the breakfast stations, however, being quite irritated by those that meander back and forth across the trail, without looking or paying attention to those of us ON OUR WAY TO WORK!!!!

    It's Bike-To-Work, PEOPLE! Get to work!!!!

    I only have one drink carrier and that has my water bottle. If I picked up a cuppa joe, would I have stopped and waited for it to cool? And my saddle bag is already full of lunch and change of clothes and, yes, knitting.

    I would have stopped at some if they would have been there on the commute home, however. Some refreshment and a break then would have been welcome. I should get in 3 bike commutes this week.

  4. You made me giggle! I was shocked at the number of people on Ride the Rockies who would kick their leg over their bike (getting on or off) without looking to see if they were going to kick someone in the face, so I tried really hard to be sensitive to that.

    And yet, I noticed that the volunteers don't have to spend as much time telling riders not to block the roadway on RtR as they do on the MS-150. I guess the MS-150 attracts the same grade of riders as Bike to Work Day!

  5. I´m impressed! But..how do you find time for internet?

    I hope you will get some strawberries, but they seem to be very late.


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