Left Gunnison after a day off under a cloudy sky. A storm was brewing high in the mountains and the thought was in the back of our heads for most of the day. I met my friend Dave in Almont, after a nice 10 mile warmup. Dad and Teve got a hour advantage and were already starting the first climb of the day.
Getting the techno music ready on the Ipod for the climb
Dave and I set a nice tempo, but the temperature didn't seem to be warming up, even though the sun was out and we were climbing. We decided to skip the first aid station and went straight to the second one and it was packed. No time to sit around since the sky was getting darker by the minute and we had a 14 mile climb on a dirt road up to Cottonwood Pass, at a nice 12,326 feet. Good thing mom was driving the "team car" and I picked up my knee warmers.
Somewhere up there is Cottonwood Pass, 12,326 feet
Up we went passing people all the way to the top and as the summit was getting closer, the temperatures kept going down and the storm was moving ever so close. I made a quick stop to put on my jacket, made it to the third aid station, got some PB&J sandwiches and some watermelon, put on a hat, long finger gloves, knee warmers and proceeded to head down the hill. Dave decided to call it a day at the top and dad and Teve were still somewhere up the climb.
This was a true TDF descend, switchbacks, not traffic and a smooth road. The wind was creating a bit of a problem at the top, but once I got the lines figured out I just hunched over the bars and let the Tarmac fly. It had to be the most fun so far during the tour, going down fast, 53.7 mph for the top speed. Once I reached Buena Vista, I found an old gas station and waited for the rest of the "team", and waited, and then waited some more.
Still waiting for the other three members of our group, the sky finally openend up and the downpour was strong with the temperatures also going south. I could see riders coming down the mountain shaking from the cold and soaked. A guy stopped where I was and he couldn't even talk, heck, he probably didn't even know where he was. After a few minutes he came back to life, but he was still shaking and we figured out which way he had to go to his hotel. Poor guy.
Finally the suburban came down the mountain with Dave at the wheel, dad on the passenger seat and mom and Mrs. Botacio in the back seat, but Teve was missing. The story I got was that Dave had found a place in one of the shuttle vans that was coming down the mountain and just as the van was about to head down, a gentleman brought Teve, who was freezing. Dave saw him and called his name, and Teve was in such bad shape that be broke down and started to cry, hugging Dave at the same time. Dave gave up his seat so he could make it down the mountain first, and as luck would have it, mom and the suburban were not far behind, so he got in and got warmed too. They turned around and picked dad up just before the top, as the hail, fog and high winds were causing havoc.