Since there has been a lag between this post and my last bike tour post (due to the Tour de France postings), I decided to do some consolidation.
Day 5 was a day off in Pagosa Springs. The morning included a short hike and in the early afternoon a couple of us did a short and easy spin to keep our legs loose. One big find on this day was a store that sells poop.
Those of you familiar with the infamous Turd Trophy know how fond I am of lacquered poop. As it turns out, I’m not the only one that knows the value of these shiny treasures.
The store front is located just outside of Pagosa Springs. I didn’t get a chance to go into the store to find out if I should consider a second business of turd ornament manufacturing. Maybe I’ll stop in next time.
Day 6 of the tour was from Pagosa Springs to Monte Vista, with Wolf Creek Pass featured as the big climb of the day. In the photo below, I’m climbing the pass and you can see the “Runaway Truck Ramp” behind me. For those unfamiliar with steep mountain passes, when a big truck misses a gear or loses its brakes there is an uphill ramp made of deep gravel. The semi truck is to drive into the gravel and uphill rather than careening to an accident somewhere downhill. I’ve see the deep tracks in those ramps and can’t imagine how scary it would be to be out of control and heading toward one of those ramps.
Since we did seem to have the tour-de-wind this year, Day 6 didn’t disappoint with more winds heading into Monte Vista. Our regular Sunday ride group worked well and it turned out to be fun.
It was a 72-mile day, 4:05 ride time (17.5 mph avg), 5:12 “out” time, 3,911 feet of climbing.
Day 7 was the final march to the finish line. We rode from just outside Center to Gunnison, Colorado. Due to lodging differences and an early start to begin driving home, there were only three of us riding together today. (Todd Singiser, me and Bruce Runnels in the photo below on one of our last stops.)
The final day for us was 94.4 miles, 5:20 ride time (17.7 mph avg), “out” time of 6:05 and 3271 feet of climbing.
In the next post I’ll do a summary chart for you and explain how this week of fun is a big boost to fitness.
I received a note from a regular blog reader wondering when I will finish my bike tour blog. First, thanks for reading and nudging me. I'll finish the bike tour blog next week.
Meanwhile, I've written a few blogs for the Active Tour de France newsletter. You can check out my last Tour blog comments here. To see more blogs from Bruce Hildenbrand and I, just select "Up to Blog Posts in Active" at the top of that Tour de France page.
On day four of the tour we deserved an easy day after day three.
Before I launch into describing day four, I have to tell you that there are many options for lodging during the Bicycle Tour of Colorado. There is the outdoor camping option for hard cores. This means the tour company lugs your bags (limited size, number and weight) and you set up your tent at the end of each day’s ride.
There is an option where someone else sets up a tent for you. If you don’t want to risk sleeping in rain or wind, there is an indoor camping option. That means the tour home base each night is at a big facility (usually a school) and you get to sleep with about 400 of your closest friends on a gymnasium floor.
There is a tour-based hotel option. That means a tour company reserves rooms for you, moves your baggage from location to location and you get to sleep in a real bed each night.
Finally, there is the VIP option. This means someone you know transports your stuff from hotel to hotel and is usually within 10 miles of you on any given day. This person takes your warm clothing before a climb and gives it back to you at the top of the climb. They have cold drinks, including Coke, whenever you please. There is food in the cooler, a dog that greets you at each stop and critically important – a French press in the car for good, really good, coffee each morning.
Three of us selected the VIP option.
We had the luxury of Del (my husband) and support dog (Meeka) taking care of us. This is a huge benefit.
(Todd, Bruce, me, Del, Meeka)
During the tour week, we tried to optimize our benefits by selecting days to ride fast, and some to ride easy. Today was an easy day for three of us. Three other people that we often rode with during the tour had their heads down, riding fast, foaming at the mouth and they completely missed the “Welcome to Colorado” sign. They argued there was no sign. Hmmmmmm….
We enjoyed the ride at a toodle (easy) pace. At the end of the day, several of us went to dinner to celebrate my birthday. The dinner fun was a nice addition to the tour.
No, I get by with a little help from my friends Mm, I get high with a little help from my friends Mm, gonna try with a little help from my friends
Joe Cocker – “With a Little Help from My Friends
We stayed at the Fireside Inn Cabins in Pagosa Springs. This was our favorite lodging for the entire trip. The cabins are set next to the San Juan River and offer quality, comfortable lodging for humans, dogs and livestock.
Today’s stats: Ride time 2:50, Out time 4:00, 51.33 miles, 2241 ft ascending, 17.1 mph
Looking forward to a day off tomorrow; but we did ride some.
On day three of the tour, we rode from Alamosa, Colorado to Chama, New Mexico. It was a steady climb out of Alamosa for about 30 miles before we got into some rollers. From there it was a combination of rollers and climbing over two passes I hadn’t done before – La Manga (10,320 ft.) and Cumbres (10,022 ft.).
(Gale happily climbing LaManga. The ribs are tolerating eight pedal strokes out of the saddle today. Progress!)
While we had some tailwinds yesterday, today began and ended with unfavorable wind. Not just a little wind. It was relentless, strong wind that was blowing in our face most of the day. Downhill sections required pedaling. Ugh.
When we first rolled out of Alamosa, we got intermingled in a big group. I hate being in a big group of riders that I don’t know and are not categorized by riding ability. I’ve seen too many accidents happen when inexperienced riders get mixed into a group of experienced riders.
While I hated the situation, I hated the constant headwind worse. I worked my way toward the front of the group and looked for wheels of those I trust.
After the first aid station, a core group of people I know, and ride with often, were able to begin a rolling paceline were no rider stayed on the front for very long. We disallowed people to enter the paceline. We were fine if they wanted to sit on the back of the group and draft, but no one was allowed into the rotation.
No matter how the race is run it always ends the same Another room without a view awaits downtown You can shake me for a while Live it up in style No matter what you do I'm gonna take you down
CHORUS: Shakedown Breakdown Takedown Everybody wants into the crowded line
Bob Seger – “Shakedown”
I offered several riders the explanation of why we rode this way:
- We ride together often and can predict what the other rider will do.
- The formation is tight to shelter people from the wind.
- Please take no offense to your personal skill level, you are likely a great rider. Unfortunately, we’ve encountered people that did not have the group riding skills to keep all of us safe.
Most riders do understand, but I know some take offense. Sorry.
I will say it is a ton of fun to ride in a group like ours. We shelter each other from the wind and do our best to work together for the good of all.
Well…with a couple of notable exceptions:
- There are some city limit sign sprints.
- State border signs count double points.
(Left to right: Bruce Runnels, Scott Ellis, Bill Frielingsdorf, me, Ron Kennedy, Todd Singiser)
Though there was plenty of good fun ramping up the speed, I don’t think anyone can tell you the sprint or king of the mountain scores.
The reward for a hard, hard day in the saddle was the best Spanish rice I’ve ever had and killer green chili. I think it was called the Fireside Inn restaurant, next door to our cabins. We walked there for linner (late lunch, early dinner) and evening pie or ice cream.
Ride time 5:00, “out” time 6:34, 80.56 miles, 16.1 mph avg., 3216 ft of climbing
In another blog, I’ll give you more information on intensity each day. In the mean time, scenery photos below.
(Most blog photos for the bike tour were taken by Del Bernhardt)