Saturday was the last day of the 2009 Bicycle Tour of Colorado and the saved the best for last. That's if you consider 103 miles of headwind and Independence Pass (at just over 12,000 feet) fun.
The departure from Buena Vista was set for our grout at 7:30am, since the distance was going to take a while, but nobody prepared for the wind. Dad was quickly on his own, off the back and even my best attempt to bring him back were not enough, so he made the smart decision to get in the car and drive to the base of the climb. Dave, Teve and I continued on. It was probably toll of a week of hard riding, but my body wasn't feeling up to the task and once my mind began wondering, I knew things could deteriorate in a hurry, so I broke the ride down in parts.
Trying to drag dad back to the group
First part was to make it to the first rest stop, but that took longer than I thought, because of the aforementioned head wind. A quick stop to have some watermelon, PB&J sandwiches and water and off we went again, this time just me and Dave, since Teve had flatted a while back.
Rolling through the valley, Independence Pass looked mighty and the trees gave us a little break from the wind, but the gradient then took over to continue the punishment. As cars, motorcycles and U-Haul trucks passed us, their size became smaller and smaller the higher they went, and looking up to see the road carve the mountain would send chills down my spine.
About two hours later, and with a heavy dose of Safri Duo and AC/DC blarring from the Ipod, I conquered Independece Pass for the second time. The snow was still at the top, although it was dirty. No time to snap pictures or hang around to see the view, the weather was cold and I still had another 60 miles to go. The descend was what I later described as a "Moto GP", leaning the bike, counterbalancing on the outside pedals and letting the thing rip dowhill. Some sections of the road went from two to one lane and traffic coming up the mountain could give you a scare if not careful.
After a while of those downhill shananigans, the third and last aid station gloomed and I took the chance to have my last few watermelons slices. One of the ladies working at the aid station said, "it's only 46 miles to Glenwood Springs and it's all downhill". I was in no mood for jokes, and despite the fact that the gradient was all downhill as she said, the headwind had made a return and it was going to bitch slap me all the way to Glenwood Springs.
Getting tossed around by a headwind
Six hours and 17 minutes later, I rolled into Glenwood Springs and the elementary school where a week before we had started our tour. I was feeling pretty good despite the time spent on the saddle and knowing that Wendy's was just next door kept a smile on my face.
Long day on the saddle
Now two days off to recover from flight and a week of easy riding. The Vuelta a Chiriqui-Masters is just three weeks away and I hope all the riding in the mountains pays off then.