Yesterday was Wednesday, which means another epic training day is in the books. Longs Peak two weeks ago was so much fun, it seemed like another 14er climb might be equally as exciting. This time it was up Mount Evans, with our bikes. Mt.Evans is one of two of the Colorado 14ers with a road up to the top. You might remember that I ran up it in the middle of winter this past year. This peak is best by bike. We all met up in Idaho Springs to take off for the summit. Troy took the day off of work so we had him and Annie along for SAG support the whole day. Thank you so much Troy, it was helpful to have the support and fun to have you along for the day. Although, I think I'm the only one who was constantly calling him asking for a new water bottle.
We loaded up the rental car (we just got our car back from the shop late last night) with all sorts of jackets, tires, wheels, pumps, food, bottles. You would think we were heading out for a week long bike trip. Chuckie went through the plan for the day, Troy took a starting photo and we all headed out.
Two minutes down the road we called Troy because we were all freezing and had all underdressed. It was pretty funny, we hadn't gone one mile and were were back digging into the car for more layers. It's very shady in the canyon leading up to Echo lake and we hadn't warmed up yet, so more layers were needed. Troy and I used our new walkie talkies for the first time and I really liked having them. Annie got on a few times that day and talked to me, it was cute.
We wound our way up through the canyon. Michelle was leading the way and I was just hanging onto her wheel. The girl pulled us up 85% of Mount Evans. She was setting good tempo and was keeping her heart rate consistent...thus mine was consistent as well. She just plugged along, up up up. Angela was up for an easy day so she was sitting back most the time with some sort of resting heart rate or something. Chuckie was there too, giving encouragement and keeping our minds busy with conversation.
I have recently been learning about bike gearing. The whole 11-25, or 12-27, and 53-39 stuff just confused me. I am in the process of re-gearing my TT bike and so I needed to learn what all these numbers mean. So, the whole time I'm following up Michelle I'm seeing that she has 2 gears left and I'm in my easiest gear (my 39-25) and she's spinning faster than me. For the first time I understood that Michelle's compact was giving her those extra gears. So I sat behind her and coveted her gears. I sang little songs to them in my head, wishing that her gears would jump ship and hop over to my bike.
Um, climbing up 14ers where the air is thin tends to mess with your brain. Oxygen deprivation! I guess the result for me is that I start singing to brainless objects. We wound our way past Echo lake and then through the toll booth. Apparently they have to let you through on a bike if you agree to not use the services. Chuckie is always a wealth of information. Troy in the SAG car paid and we were officially "on the mountain".
It really is the best way to see Mount Evans, via bike. Each switchback is felt deep in your quads and your lungs feel the air getting thinner and thinner. Michelle was setting good tempo still and we both laughed at the point that she really started to feel the elevation. She said it happens at the same exact point every time. I had been drinking diligently over the last few days in prep for the elevation and I was feeling pretty good. I would say I felt better the last 1000 vertical than the first 1000 vertical.
Plus, it's just amazing up there. The views were unreal and there was no threat of storms, which you always have to worry about. Annie and Troy had been following along and getting out and playing while they waited for us to bike by. When we would go by Annie would run along side, and would shout "I love you mom". I'm trying hard to stick these memories firmly in my mind so that I may conjure them up when she is 13 and telling me she hates me.
Winding up those last switchbacks is always brutal. I always seem to remember that the climb is 14 miles, but then you hit the 14 mile marker and there are still more switchbacks to go. I think it's actually 14.7, and that last 0.7 is brutal! The wind was really fierce up there and we would have to get focused to get across the switchback where it was straight in our face. Then we would turn and we would have a tailwind and all was good and easy. Back and Forth.
We pulled into the parking lot and there was Troy and Annie, waiting patiently. Yea!
And then we got cold. We quickly put on all the layers that we brought but everyone was shivering. We huddled together in front of the cars. I got to show off my superpower. My hands, toes and nose were warm. I think it might be the one time that being a little heavier than everyone in the group, Chuckie included, is a good thing. I stay warmer. I seem to be able to retain my warmth, or maybe it's my super high heart rate. Either way, I'll take it.
Eventually we gave up and crawled in the car. It was a funny sight as Chuckie, Michelle, Angela, Annie and I were stuffed into a car packed with stuff, while Troy just sat outside on the hood, happy as pie. He's so chill, I love it.
After everyones hands were warm we pried ourselves out of the warm car, took 11 seconds to have Troy take a summit shot and we were off. I'm told that every 1000 feet you descend adds 7 degrees to the temperature. It was sure nice to go down and get the effects of this.
We wound around and ran into a family of mountain goats. They still seem like foreign creatures to me. There was a baby goat with them and they were loosing their fur so it was all patchy. It's amazing that they live up there and find enough to eat, make babies, and stay alive. Plus, they are beautiful creatures.
The descent was so fun this time. Last time I was up on my bike I had taken a fall and injured my wrist and the descent was painful and scary. This time was the opposite. We stayed together and stayed safe, but had fun too. My favorite!
We quickly arrived down at Echo lake, and we pulled in. Troy had followed us down and now it was time for us to run. Off with the bike kits, on with the run shorts and shoes.
We all took off for our various runs and the minute I got into the technical single track I just relaxed and got a huge smile on my face. I love running trail and had so much fun making my way past Echo lake, up to Idaho Springs Reservoir, and onto the Chicago Lakes Trail. It was really really hard to turn around when I was supposed to, but I managed to cajole my feet to make the turn. The only thing more fun than technical single track is running DOWN technical single track.
There is something about needing to tune out, yet needing to focus on the rocks in front of you that I find therapeutic. It's an odd meditation, taxing all your brain, yet not allowing you to think about anything else. Ahh, it's like pushing the reset button. Good times!
After the run we broke open the watermelon. Yea, literally, we forgot a knife so Troy broke the watermelon in half, and then Angela got to work on the rest of it. It's amazing how productive you can be on a watermelon with the cap of your water bottle. Humans were made to use tools!
One watermelon and several peaches later (thanks Michelle) and we got back into our kits and back on our bikes for the final 13 mile descent to Idaho Springs. This was so much fun! It was warm, and the curves were fun. I tried hard to stay with Angela and was mostly successful at that (so glad she was taking it easy). My descending always gets better as the summer wears on.
20 minutes later we were in Idaho Springs. Whew! That's a fast way to travel! It was quite a successful training day, with a bout of adventure added in. Lots of good work was done, and lots of fun was had along with it. This was a great day, and it was so fun to get up another 14er, just 2 weeks after Longs.
Thanks Troy for driving support, and thanks Annie for being an absolute doll through it all. Another day in the books!