18 June 2012

Balm, Sweat and Granny Gears

Day Two
McClure Pass
Hotchkiss to Carbondale
82 miles
12 June 2012

The Raggeds reflect in Paonia Reservoir

Yes, I had to ask for balm at the second rest stop. If you have to ask what balm is, well, let's just say it's too late if you are asking for it 40 miles into your ride.

I also forgot to wear deodorant today. I guess there are worse things I could forget to wear.

And I granny geared all the way up McClure Pass. 3,894 feet up, 2,754 feet down.

Don't tell my wrist, my achy, brakey wrist. I just don't think it understands. (Yes, I meant to spell it that way.)

McClure Pass

We had wind again. Mostly headwind. Mostly bone-chilling cold. I had to stop a bunch. Tomorrow will be harder, not as steep, but much longer, higher with less air.

We also had more outrageous stands of wild sweet pea outside of Paonia.

"Agent Orange" is an RtR volunteer who scouts the route ahead of the cyclists to mark hazards and turns with neon orange chalk. He also leaves motivational messages and humorous one-liners on the steepest climbs.

McClure Pass

One of today's gems was, "Become one with your bike."

If he had put, "Become one with the road," I might have laid down on the highway right then and there. That would have been so much easier than climbing!

Yesterday's and today's climbs taught me I can't do Pikes Peak. I can't do it in three hours. What I did today was only 8% grade. Pikes is 12%. I was discouraged when I first realized this, but then I worked on attitude adjustment by reminding myself I can climb Pikes Peak, I just can't do it in three hours. What I don't have in speed, I make up for in endurance. And besides, how many other cyclists who CAN climb Pikes Peak in three hours or less can also whip up a snowflake in 15 minutes?

Colorado's version of West Virginia's coal belt at Somerset

I wanted to stop to get a photo of the coal train filling one car at a time at Somerset, but I was cold and didn't want the wind to get a tighter grasp on me than it already had.

No one stopped for pictures at the coke ovens, so I didn't either. Maybe everyone else was too tired to notice them.


We pedaled to get dinner, so I wasn't totally washed out at the end of the day. We went to the grocery store, and The Lizard watched our bikes while I bought deli items we carried on our bikes back to our tent. Before dinner, I thought it would feel good to take a soak in one of the three hot tubs the town set up for riders. After dinner, I was too tired to change into my swim suit, so I went to sleep instead.

The funniest event of the day was first thing this morning. I can laugh because it didn't happen to me. Most cyclists camp on the football field in every town, including this one. We tend to stay closer to the school and away from the crowd. This morning, sprinklers came on before first light. Right beside a huge group of tents.

Now that's a wakeup call.

Carved Marble marble in Redstone


dry, baby


  1. Enjoyed every single word (and photo) in this post. It's almost a chapter-book of life experiences, training and determination condensed into a few succinct sentences.

    Love this, Deb. You do have incredible endurance...

    "...the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong... time and chance happen to them all..."

    Time and chance are the great levelers in endurance events (such as Life); both are on your side, my friend.

    Ride on.

  2. Love your spirit... How many people can do either... The mountain or the snowflake?

  3. There is a balm ... in Colorado ... to make the wounded who-o-ole....

    (couldn't resist)

    Once again, thank goodness for granny gears. Use them with pride! It's not whether you finish first, or last; it's the finishing itself that counts.

    Great photos all, and the daisies make me want to jump into the screen and BE there. I love the forest of tents and the desert of bikes.

    P.S. Better deodorant than, say, shorts. Or sports bra. :)


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