This is the last long week of training before the Leadville race. Scott Ellis, Roy Gatesman and I took off this morning on a long mountain bike ride to top off the endurance tank. (Read: All of us just love to ride and "training" for Leadville is fine justification to put in long days of riding mountain bikes around in the mountains - as if any of us really need justification.)
The Front Range was predicted to be near 100 degrees Farenheit, another good reason to head for the mountains.
We planned to park at the intersection of Stove Prairie Road and Rist Canyon Road. We would ride a route called "Old Flowers Road" out-and-back, adding some on to total somewhere between four and five hours. Old Flowers is a ride we do two to four times each season. It's about an hour drive from home, so not quite out the back door - but not too far either.
The ride went great for the first hour-and-a-half or so and we arrived at a decision point, Pingree Park Road and Monument Gulch Road. We decided to ride the Pingree Park Road toward the Pingree Park Campus, part of Colorado State University. Although none of us had ridden this route in the past, we hoped the remote campus would have public restrooms and potable water.
We couldn't have been greeted by a more welcoming woman, who's name I did not get. She invited us into the conference center, showed us the restrooms and offered us ice and fresh water for our hydration packs. Heaven.
I have to tell you that this location in the mountains is far from anything city-like, which is why we love it. To have fresh water and ice near the half-way point in our ride was like a dream. We enjoyed sitting in the shade and watching dozens of hummingbirds feed on sugar water supplied by the staff at the campus. Scott took photos and if I can talk him out of one, I'll post it later.
We made our way back the same way we came, with one small detour to Twin Lakes. Sadly, with low water it looked more like a puddle.
Rolling back through low-traffic forest, we saw a few campers, some hikers, a couple of vehicles, two other cyclists and other than that we had the place to ourselves. One correction, I was rolling and Roy was bombing the loose and rocky trails like he was on a motocross bike. Jumps, tail kicks, and he was out of sight in an instant. It's great fun to see people ride so well.
We made it back to the car after 4:35 ride time, about 5:10 out time, 41.5 miles, 5400 feet of climbing and loads of fun.
At the car I noticed a van parked behind my vehicle, with road bikes spilled all around the van. The intersection where we parked is the top of a popular loop for roadies riding from Ft. Collins or Loveland. Strange to see a van parked at the top.
I noticed a guy standing next to the van and this weird feeling came over me. "I know that guy, but he doesn't belong here at the Stove Prairie School. He belongs in San Diego, at Active.com. No, can't be Mark Kussic. Wait a minute...he's wearing an Active.com cycling jersey."
No way. It is Mark!! He is traveling Colorado on a road cycling tour with a group of buddies. I had no idea he would be in Colorado.
What are the chances I would see him at that intersection after I rode mountain bikes and he rode one of the toughest climbs around on his road bike? What a strange coincidence. Some stuff is just too weird.