The start of my trip could have gone a little better. This was the first
time Iíve flown anywhere with a bike and it was definitely a learning
experience. I rented a GABA club bike case and picked it up a week
before my trip. But I foolishly waited until Thursday night to try to
pack my bike. To get the bike to fit, the pedals must be removed.
Threads on a pedal tighten over time and mine had been on the bike for
years. The left pedal was tough, but I got it off ok. The right pedal
however wouldn't budge. I stripped the edges off two allen wrenches
before calling Mike Cox (my bike mechanic) for advice. He thought I
might have been turning in the wrong direction, but it turns out I was
turning in the right direction it just wouldn't move. After stripping a
third allen wrench and an open ended pedal wrench I gave up - completely
frustrated. The first thing Friday morning I ran over to Home Depot and
bought a set of open end wrenches (for some reason the set I had went
from 14 mm to 17 mm -- I needed a 15 mm) and a 2 1/2 foot pipe to use as
a breaker bar. $30 and one try later that damn pedal was off!
No problems getting the bike case checked at the airport and I had a nice flight to Denver. But when I got my rental car only 1/2 of the seat going to the trunk opened, so the bike case wouldn't fit. The agent tried to tempt me into renting a speeding ticket guaranteed Dodge Magnum, but I passed on that and went with a PT Cruiser instead. With the rear seats down, there was plenty of space.
I got my bike put back together without a problem, but I should have checked the sensors on my Polar Power unit. When I started the ride, I didn't have any speed, cadence, power or distance readings. I fiddled with the speed sensor for several minutes after everyone else left, but couldn't get a reading so I decided to ride without fixing it. The route sheet indicates how far you have to go before each turn so I missed not having a distance reading the most.
It was a bit brisk at the start, but not too bad (mid 50's I think). The ride started just off of I-25 outside of Longmont, CO and went through rolling farmland. Not having a speed reading didnít bother me too much and it was kind of nice because I just rode on feel, keeping my heart rate low. I had mapped the course using DeLorme's TopoUSA and knew most of the major climbs happened in the first 50 miles or so. TopoUSA also showed some 12 and 15 percent grades with 9230 feet of cumulative ascent - yowza!
Since I rode easy for the first 25 miles, the climbing wasnít bad - especially since I decided to bring my 5200 with a triple chainring and I put a 12x27 on the back. I also had my inclinometer on and decided I definitely made the right gearing choice as I watched the bubble hit the 15 percent line several times! Luckily they were relatively short climbs with a couple extended 6-8 percent grades. Overall, not bad and I caught and passed a couple other riders on the way to the top.
The descent off the summit was great! It was relatively technical and I was having a lot of fun until I hit one corner a little hotter than I would have preferred, so I slowed down quite a bit after that. Good thing too, because a few corners later there was a cattle guard at the apex of a turn Ė dangerous at speed. But I had already slowed by then.
At the bottom of the hill, the route went through a canyon with a bit of a headwind. There was one short tunnel that seemed to just funnel that wind and made it pretty strong, but for the most part it wasnít bad. I met up with John Lee Ellis, the Colorado Regional Brevet Administrator, somewhere along there. He had stopped to take a picture Ė the scenery was magnificent with leaves on trees starting to turn autumn colors. I rode with John Lee for a few minutes, but it was a narrow road, so he dropped behind to ride single file.
Around 12:30 or 1:00 I stopped at a store to get a turkey, ham and cheese lunchable (my favorite mid-ride snack). John Lee also stopped for a bite to eat, but left before I was finished. There was one more major climb up to Horseshoe Reservoir, but I made pretty good time -- I REALLY liked having that 30x27 option to spin up hills! I met up with John Lee again at the last checkpoint at the top of the climb, but I rode the descent a bit faster than he did. I was doing a good job watching road signs to stay on course. At this point we had finished a loop and were backtracking the course to the start, so I figured I had it made. Wrong. There was a 2.4 mile stretch between two turns. I was supposed to turn left on Colorado route 29. I was going pretty quick at this point and I passed a road to Carter lake, but the road sign had a different name (I failed to notice the large Route 29 sign about 200 feet away from the intersection) so I kept going straight figuring I had only gone 1.5 miles or so and I could see a road that ran along a ridge ahead of me that I assumed was my road. There was another good descent and the road I assumed was Route 29 turned out to be a dirt farm road -- not good. At the bottom of the hill was ďThe Dam Store.Ē Thatís a name I would have remembered on the way out and I didnít! Just past the store was a sign about entering a canyon. Didnít remember any canyon on the way out either and I was sure I had gone more than 2.4 miles by now.
So I turned around and went back to the Dam Store for directions. Another cyclist happened to be heading up the canyon and stopped to help me out. He invited me to join him for his climb up the canyon, but I thanked him and passed on the offer. Turns out I had gone quite a way past the turn, but made good time back to it. The rest of the ride went by without incident. It was a nice cool afternoon for the ride and I really enjoyed just taking my time and enjoying the day.
John Lee was already at the finish when I got there so I turned in my brevet card and chatted with him for a few minutes. I also checked my Polar ascent reading and it only showed 6200 feet which was more in line with what John Lee expected. I would expect some difference, but over 3000 feet?? The ride definitely did not feel like it had over 9,000 feet of climbing, so I'm inclined to believe the Polar. I may enter some of my old rides into TopoUSA to see what the difference in ascent shows between it and my Polar results. If they are consistently way off, I'll send DeLorme an email asking about it.
What a difference from my last Colorado 200k attempt. I really think muscle fatigue from the Death Ride and the Taylor House Century (with no real recovery time in between them and that 200k) was the major reason I had those cramping problems. With my missed turn, I wound up riding over 130 miles without problem and felt like I could have kept riding after I finished. It was a great prep ride for the Cochise Classic and gave me my confidence back. I feel like Iím riding strong, so I will be going for that 7:45 platinum time in the 157 mile event! Wish me luck!
Copyright © 2005 by Mike Enfield. All rights reserved.
Revised: 04/06/09 11:29:49 -0700.