Wow. Yesterday was epic! It was the farthest I've ever ridden, the highest I've every ridden, and the longest amount of time I've spent on the bike. Somewhere around 100 miles, hit a high point of 14,264 ft. (summit of Mount Evans), and around 8 hours in the saddle.
At 7am a large group of Practical Coaching athletes and friends left the Bergan Park parking lot and headed up Squaw Pass towards Mount Evans. I could tell I felt good and that my legs were happy. We worked our way up the pass staying together as a group until Steve rode by and with the nod of his head the faster riders knew it was time to jump on and go. 7 of us picked it up and it was nice to ride hard. I felt smooth and consistent. We hit the top of Squaw Pass, headed down the other side and into the Mount Evans toll booth. The charge for a cyclist is $3 so we lined up and paid our tolls. From the toll booth to the top of Mount Evans is a little over 14 miles, and it's all up up up. We stayed in our little group and about a mile after the toll booth I clipped a fellow riders wheel and down I went. Luckily we were going
slow uphill. After a little help from Barry I was back on my bike and catching up to the group. Before I knew it I was back with them, pedaling hard, and reaping the benefits of the adrenaline rush I got from my brief meeting with the asphalt.
We wound our way up Mount Evans and I continued to use the common practice amongst mountaineers of "pressure breaths". They sound funny and Steve calls them lamaze breathing (which they are not), but after the many many days I have spent acclimatizing to altitude in my life, I swear by them. A slow breath in and a super quick contraction of the lungs while you blow the air out, every 10 minutes or so does the trick. Up up up, and I was still feeling good, except something was seriously wrong with my elbow from the fall. With about 1 mile to go Steve started putting the smack down and I knew we were going to break up. I started going harder knowing that today I could handle it. At 14,000 feet you can go from fine to blown up in about 5 seconds so I tried to keep things in check. I rolled into the parking lot at the top just behind Steve and Ed and proud that I held my own as a girl amongst the boys.
Barry's wife Priscilla was our sag support for the day and she was waiting there at the top with the Practical Coaching van. I suited up for the chilly descent and refilled the two bottles on my bike. We waited for Tyler to reach the top, much to our disappointment Tyler was experiencing some altitude sickness. Steve and I realized that he was done for the day. The original plan was for Steve, Michelle, Tyler and I to ride all the way home to Highlands Ranch from the top of Mt. Evans, about 70 miles. Michelle had to bag the ride early this morning due to a sick kiddo, and Tyler needed to take care of his altitude sickness. So Steve and I headed out. A few of the other riders that we rode up with were riding back to their cars so we had a little company for the first part.
Down the backside of Squaw pass Steve started putting the hurt on the descent. I always think the downhills are going to be easy but trying to hang onto his wheel through the curves while he is going all out just kills me. I am still learning how to take the right lines during descents and when he pulls off to let me lead for awhile my brain gets maxed out. Pedal your butt off... biggest chain ring... spinning... down in the drops... take the right line... come out of the turn right... check for cars behind... set up the next turn right. It's just a lot. Add onto that the fact that I just rode up Mount Evans and my elbow is not in the best shape and I was bound to make an error. I didn't set up a right turn correctly. I got over left too late, I got thrown out of the turn, very close to the double yellow line, and there was a car in the other lane. I almost got hit, 100% my fault. Steve yelled at me and made me stop. I got a stern talking to and the tears started rolling. No excuses, the best thing to do is get back on and ride. So we did, this time with Steve yelling commands at me on how to get into that turn correctly. I feel dense because he's explained it a million times, but every turn is a little different and I guess I'm still absorbing his teachings. The faster you go, the harder the turns get, so there is that element too. But again, no excuses, I've got to learn, it will only make me stronger. And if I want to go from hanging onto the boys, to keeping my own with the boys, I've got to learn.
I have never been so happy to be done with the downhill. After a little more stern talking we were headed back uphill through Evergreen, onto Little Cub, our next climb. Boy did Little Cub hurt. We took it at a steady crawl and it was pretty uneventful, as in, no crashes, no near collisions with cars. We wound our way down and through the North and South Turkey Creeks, over to Deer Creek Canyon road. At the top of Deer Creek we had a potty stop on the side of the road and forced my bike into it's big chain ring for the descent. By this time my bike was revolting and didn't want to shift very well any more, plus shifting from my small ring to my big ring with my bum elbow was out of the question, it just hurt too bad. Despite my bikes bath on Friday, it was still in need of some serious LTC. We took the descent easy, not much left at this point and drug ourselves the last 20 miles home. On the last hill up Santa Fe I tried to challenge Steve, but he just cussed at me. I almost fell off my bike I was laughing so hard. We rolled into his house happy, extremely tired, and barely able to move.
I learned a lot this ride. It was an epic adventure and was great to have Steve there with me, to yell at me when I screwed up and to pat me on the back when I did well. Long days on the bike are one of my favorite things to do right now, I know I have said that one million times on this blog. I am so super thankful for my coach, he really pushes me in a way that he knows I can be successful. I also want to thank Prescilla and Chris for their SAG support, and Andrea for making me dinner after the ride when I was starving, and too tired to drive home.
Waking up this morning the elbow is a mess. I have about a 10 degree range of motion and lots of swelling. I've been taking Advil, rubbing anti-inflammatory cream on it, and ice ice ice. Hopefully it was mend quickly (please send "mending thoughts" to it). I'm proud that I rode another 5.5 hours with a bum elbow, I think it's important to finish what you start, good for the soul.
Troy was home all day yesterday with Annie, continuing with the potty training. He's such a rock star and I want to thank him a million times over for stepping into the house-maker role when I step into the athlete role. Annie is doing pee-pee's on the potty and Troy has been so consistent helping her along. Thanks Troy, I love you!