We skipped the Saturday Road Race on 6/13 and watched the Stanley Cup the night before. The RR was part of an omnium, Lance Armstrong and Levi Leipheimer participated in the time trial on Friday. He has been vacationing/training in Aspen for what seems like a couple weeks now. Before we left Glenwood he and Levi went over Independence Pass (our day 6 from Leadville to Aspen) and reported wind/hail/snow/ice/sleet, etc… so we have a lot to look forward to in a few days.
Brian and I started Ride the Rockies with the criterium in Glenwood Springs. It was a field of about 55 or 60. In Colorado there are only 4 categories of racers so there it looked like a lot of new folks in the race. One had put his number upside down, others on the wrong side. On the last 10 laps the officials hadn't cleared lapped riders who were getting in the way and who also tried to race the peloton to prevent another lapping (if that's the correct term). I stayed mostly in the back except for one lap which prompted one of the participants to ask if I had been lapped. I kind of expected this since I had a Ride the Rockies kit on and nothing denoting I was on a team. I said a flat "no" and continued. I finished with the pack of about 20, there wasn’t a lot motivating me since it didn’t count for anything anyhow, it was good to be in a race to see how the legs would hold up after 2 weeks of endurance cycling… Everything seemed fine.
We turned our attention to Hotchkiss around 9:45am, 80 miles away. We knew we would have a bad headwind based on the habit of the winds these past few weeks coming from the south. 20 miles in we were met with the wind furies but fortunately we picked up another strong person by the name of Evan in our streamline to make our ordeal a little less painful. The first rest stop was already picked clean of any food so we continued to the base of the mountain for McClure Pass. The climb was the first time in a while I hadn’t had 50 lbs to lug up with me, the ascent was double the normal loaded speed. It was a cycling relief of sorts since I was considering putting the rack on to carry cameras and other items. There were many folks on the route who elected the rack and I’m sure they have great pictures along the way.
The short 18 racing miles at 24.5 mph average earlier had taken its toll. My left hamstring seized up halfway up the mountain and I learned rather painfully through trial and error how to climb without using my hamstrings (point your toes down). I’ve never cramped like that before nor did I realize how much I used my hamstrings.
Leaving late gave me the opportunity to see more folks on the road, last year I typically left early so I’m on my own most of the way. On my way up McClure it looked like the aftermath of two warring cyclist colonies: bodies littered the roadways tending to their wounds and others were walking their machines up the roadside… the two pistons to drive them had obviously overheated… Hopefully there wasn’t anything too serious.
Personal SAG vehicles were also retrieving their wounded, which was a little obnoxious because it made getting around the rest stop at the top difficult. Oh well – it looked like people were having fun for the most part while killing themselves :)
The ride into Hotchkiss was uneventful, there was a roadside barrel wine tasting but it was too close to town so I didn’t stop. I think whenever I’m within 10 miles of “home” there’s not going to be a lot to keep me from getting there. My hamstrings, quads, and other muscles I couldn’t name continued to seize along the way, which probably made some of the other cyclists curious as to why I would pass them and then stop pedaling for a while until I could work out the kinks… they would pass me and a minute later I would pass them again. I was/am one of “those guys” that race to the next town in Ride the Rockies. Calories included the obligatory clif bar, a roadside peanut butter and jelly sandwich with cookie, a tentside paella with sausage and chicken, peanuts, and some Ben & Jerry’s ice crea