19 June 2018

Back in the Saddle Again

Although I miss participating in organized rides, I'm sure having the time of my life riding for fun!

I don't have to meet any deadlines (other than being to work on time), and if the wind is howling, I don't have to ride if I don't feel like it. Riding is just plain fun this year!

My goal this year is to become a cyclist again. I had to start over after physical therapy last year and build up from a mile or two, even though I wanted to pedal 50 miles first day back on my bike.

I'm up to 30 miles now, and I don't know if I'll be able to go beyond that, but there is SO much I can do in 30 miles!!!

I can ride to work, and Bike to Work day is next week! I did half the ride over the weekend, and most of the construction that hampered me the last three or four years is finished!

I can ride up and down Waterton, probably my favorite ride. Close. Fun. Easy. Wildlife. Water. Bighorn. Need I say more???

On a recent very hot ride up Waterton with the Lizard, I pulled my my homemade refrigerator pickles from my jersey pocket to beat the 95 degrees, and I thought the degrees had beat my snack! I forgot I'd packaged the first resealable bag with brown napkins inside a second bag to keep the vinegar off my jersey! My initial thought was, "Ick! I'm not eating that!" Lizard's first thought was, "Why did you bring baby poop???" (The pickles were fine, and I enjoyed them, every bite!)

I can ride up Deer Creek Canyon, which I have not attempted yet this year, but it's a good climb. I can ride Vail Pass, which I also have not attempted yet this year, and it's a great climb in thin air. It probably will be the most important training I do this year, just to make sure I can still ride with less oxygen!

I can ride along the greenway. On a workday when I can't get up into the mountains, the greenway is the next best thing.

On Day 2 of Ride the Rockies, I was riding along the greenway, enjoying the wildflowers, the cool breeze, the sound of the river and many different species of wetland birds, taking way too many photos, chancing being late for work. I kept seeing chalk messages on the bike path with "RTR" directions. Ride the Rockies was about 120 miles away, pedaling from Breckenridge to Edwards... I confess, I felt as if I was riding my own personal Ride the Rockies!

Finally, I realized this RTR was for the Run the River, a foot race that occurred the previous day. Well, RtR will always mean something else to me, and I had no problem pretending!

I can ride all the way around Chatfield Reservoir, which has been under heavy duty reconstruction, I think due in part to the floods a few years back. The new road on the west side of the lake is higher, I assume above the flood plain, and it has a bike lane on both sides all the way to the paddle board ponds!!! I assume the east side of the road will be redone, too, so for now no bike lane on that half, but if I ride early in the morning, I shouldn't have to contend with too much traffic.

I love Chatfield for the sunrises, the wildlife and the dam. The dam is one of the best climbs in my neck of the plains meet foothills without going up in the foothills. The dam also has a one-mile road along the top, closed to traffic, that I've enjoyed many times over the years, but it was a bumpy ride more suitable to a mountain bike than a road bike, thanks to all the goat head stickers and pavement cracks.

Not anymore! The new road along the top of the dam is OUTSTANDING! I've noticed far more cyclists on it than ever, now that the pavement is brand new and smooth! No stickers, and every once in a while, I even get to hear the lovely song of a meadowlark!

On a recent Chatfield ride with my deer, sweet hubby, we encountered my first kingfisher ever. I wasn't able to get a photo, but I had no idea how many different noises they can make. I got into a shouting match with it, trying to imitate each of its calls, one after another, until it finally blasted a rattle I couldn't duplicate. It clearly won the contest and continued to rattle proudly. Show off!

My crowning Chatfield achievement, though, came last weekend when I was able to climb the dam with the same speed and vigor of 2011, my second year of training for the climb of Pikes Peak (which I did not successfully finish).

I had to work my way back up to being able to ride uphill at all after emergency back surgery in 2004 and the arthritic side effects that linger even this day. In 2010, I missed the summit of Pikes Peak, a timed event, by less than a mile. I worked throughout the next 12 months to shave 30 minutes off my time, not knowing they had cut the official allotment by a full hour. I missed the Crags cutoff by less than five minutes. But I was in the best post-surgery shape of my life, and the next year was going to be my year.

In 2012, an unplanned Over-the-Bars Scar Club membership left me with a cast on my right/write hand and a crushed disc in my back. I've been trying to work my way back ever since, but was sidelined again last year with what I initially thought was mouse elbow... you know, too much Photoshopping on the computer, but turned out to be two collapsed discs in my neck.

After Saturday's climb, my fingers on my right hand were numb. That's not a good sign, ever. But I finished my ride before elbow pain could take me down. I'm still very slow, and Chatfield's dam is not a long climb. Nevertheless, I climbed the way I was climbing in 2011, and even if I can never get up to 70 miles in a day again, I am thankful and celebrating being back on my bike and being able to keep on trying, even with limitations.

My bike can take me so many places I can't get in a car and can't get to as fast on foot. My bike allows me the freedom to get from point A to point B under my own power, and I get pretty darned good gas mileage off a superfood salad and ice cold lemon/cucumber infused water!


  1. Love all the places you have been!! Waterton looks so amazing!

    1. Thanks, Alycia! I hope the recent rains are helping the firefighters out your way...

  2. Freedom and enjoying it sure is the way. Can sure do a lot in 30 miles indeed. Lol Butts up for those guys. Could make a great meme out of that. Run the River, Ride The Rockies, close...sorta.

    1. What?!? No angry bird comment?!? Sorry... I couldn’t resist! But I KNEW you’d have a comment on the butthead photo!!!

  3. I'm so glad you're enjoying your riding this year! It's great to feel the climbing rhythm come back, isn't it? You're so blessed to have so many amazing rides close by. :)

    1. Thanks, Sue! I hope I can get my mileage back up so we can do the MS-150 again one day!


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