The weather started to shape up on the third day of the tour, yeah!
Day 2: The ride went from Granby to Steamboat Springs and included Muddy Pass (8,772 ft) and Rabbit Ears Pass (9,426 ft). Relative to the last couple of days, today was uneventful. I’ll take it. (83 miles, 3386 ft. of climbing)
Though the weather was better, the pass still required vests and arm warmers for Ron, Gale and Scott.
The rabbit ears - of Rabbit Ears Pass fame. Ron Kennedy, Gale Bernhardt and Scott Ellis doing a mix and match of Peloton Cycles gear on top of Rabbit Ears Pass.
Day 3: From Steamboat Springs we were supposed to ride to Glenwood Springs. The ride was to go through the Glenwood Canyon that spans from Dotsero to Glenwood Springs. This canyon is often on lists of “most beautiful drives” in the United States. My preference is to ride the canyon on the bike path that runs just below the interstate and parallels the car pathway. Unfortunately, the high water runoff this season encouraged the Colorado River to submerge the bike path in several locations. In at least one location the path has been destroyed and sent downriver in pieces. Read more here from the Glenwood Post Independent. (Steamboat to Gypsum was 87 miles, 4783 ft. of climbing)
Calm Colorado River bulging at the seams. The bike path is just below the road surface, underwater. A different section of the Colorado River as it rages through a steeper and rocky section.
Bikes were left in Gypsum and people were transported by bus to Glenwood Springs. Most people were happy to have a day off in Glenwood Springs and take the opportunity to enjoy a raft trip on safe parts of the river, swim in the hot springs pool or take a tramway ride to the caverns.
Others (like Bruce Runnels, Ed Shaw and Gale) had a way to get bikes to Glenwood Springs and took an easy ride to the State Fish Hatchery and soaked in the views of Storm King Ranch. The day off ended with me in a somberero and singing...but that's another story.
Before I tell you more about the bicycle tour, I thought I’d fill you in on some things I’ve learned about Skype this year:
1. Some countries block Skype and other voice over internet protocols (VOIP). If you do an internet search for “countries that block Skype” or similar, you’ll see lists of countries or telephone/internet companies that block VOIP. If you are forced to use the telephone at $3 USD per minute, that’s a tidy income for someone. (Calling computer-to-computer with VOIP and using them like telephones is free.)
When I was in Belize, I was not able to access Skype, but my Latin American friends could. In the hotel lobby, other people from the U.S.A. were not able to access VOIP services. Obviously, internet provider numbers from the United States were blocked. (Don’t know about Canada – if it was only U.S.A. or all North American numbers.)
There are a couple of work arounds for this issue. One way is to simply borrow a computer from one of your non-U.S.A. friends. A second way is if you’re traveling with primarily U.S.A. people,
then there are services that can “hide” your internet provider address and replace it with another one, appearing to originate in a different country. I used the first option and have not tried the
second option. Anyone out there tried a IP masking service?
2. On the bike tour, we stayed at a place that had zero cell phone coverage - but it did have internet access. My bike buddies didn’t have internet, but had cell coverage lower on the mountain.
I just used Skype to call their cell phones. (There is a small charge for this.)
If you read my last blog, you’ll know I was heading out on a bicycle tour of Colorado last week. My goals for the tour were:
Ride as much as the tour as possible, while staying healthy.
This year has included a good bit of travel, stress and illness for me. It happens to nearly everyone at some point and this was my year.
I wanted the bike tour to boost my fitness and not send me into another illness setback. With those basic goals in mind, I set out on the tour.
Day 1: The tour went from Central City to Estes Park, Colorado. Since Estes is near my hometown, two of my riding buddies (Ed Shaw and Bruce Runnels) decided to start from the Front Range and ride to Estes as our day 1. With the storm already breathing down our necks, we left early and arrived at our favorite Notchtop Café literally 5 minutes before the rain began. (36 miles, 3443 ft. of climbing)
Day 2: We were all watching the weather, as big storm was moving into Colorado. Because riding over the highest paved road in the United States is such a big deal, everyone was hoping that the weather would allow officials to open the road. We rode from Estes Park to the parking lot for the now closed Hidden Valley (or Ski Estes Park) ski area and waited. Word was that it was snowing on the western slope and opening the road was a challenge.
After a good amount of watching and waiting, several of us (Ed, Bruce, Ron Kennedy, Linda Kennedy and I) all decided to ride back to Estes Park. We changed some clothes and headed off toward Central City. The goal was to ride as far as possible until the weather turned on us. (Keeping in mind the two primary goals.) We didn’t make it far before rain and cold put us into cars and shuttling around the Continental Divide to the town of Granby. (24 miles, 2411 ft. of climbing)
As it turns out, some riders made it across the divide in the really bad conditions. Every rider I spoke to that rode across said that if they knew how bad it was and how cold they would get, they would have declined the ride. Tour operators had to shuttle riders off of the mountains and around the high mountains from Estes to Granby.
Ron Kennedy, Scott Ellis, Linda Kennedy, Gale Bernhardt, Linda's friend (?) and Ed Shaw wait in the parking area for word about opening Trail Ridge Road. Behind us, snow is falling on the peaks and clouds cover the mountains.
The snow, rain and fog made visibilty low going over Berthoud Pass in a car. Trail Ridge Road had to be worse - and people confirmed it was bad. We made the right decision to be in a warm car.
Looking ahead, the predicted weather for the remainder of the tour looked great - hot weather. But, this meant high running rivers. We knew there were already problems with flooding and likely more problems waiting.
Today I’m heading into a week of cycling. I love week-long bike tours for lots of reasons including stress relief, seeing scenery otherwise missed in a car, a fitness boost, time spent with great people, and the list goes on.
I’ve done Bicycle Tour of Colorado (BTC) and some other events over the years. This year it is BTC again. It seems that each year Mother Nature dishes out a weather challenge and this year is no exception.
Three weeks ago the Sunday group ride that leaves from my doorstep did a ride from Loveland Colorado to Rock Cut on Trail Ridge Road. I was out of town and missed the ride, but below is a shot of Scott Ellis as he stands next to one of the snow drifts. Scott is about 5’10” so you can see the drift is around 20 feet.
BTC is scheduled to head over Trail Ridge Road on Monday and I’m not optimistic the ride will happen. The weather prediction this morning is 3 to 6 inches of snow on Monday for elevations above 9000 feet. A full 11 miles of the road is above treeline, with the highest elevation at 12,183 feet.
The road is exposed and dangerous in bad weather. It is normally some 20 to 30 degrees Fahrenheight colder than the two closest cities of Estes Park and Grand Lake. I suspect the Parks Service will close the road and we’ll be shuttled to Granby by gas-power rather than leg power. Just last week a man was blown off of his bicycle on Trail Ridge Road and he required emergency help. I doubt they want to be rescuing some 1500 cyclists.
I’d rather miss a day of cycling than risk serious injury.
Some athletes struggle with balancing life responsibilities and athletic goals. When the dreamy world of training like a professional athlete collides with the reality of life, it can be disappointing.
I’ve found that the more stress an athlete has in his or her life, the less training volume and intensity they can handle. Too much of either volume or intensity and there is a higher risk of illness or injury.
This stress scale estimates the likelihood of illness based on the number of stressful events in your life. If your score is 300 or more, you are at a high risk of illness. Scores between 150 and 299 indicate a moderate chance of illness (50-50). Scores 150 or below indicate a slight risk of illness.
Keep in mind this scale was designed for “normal” people, not those aiming high for athletic accomplishment.
When you find your stress scale is on the increase, consider reducing the amount of volume and/or intensity in your training.
The extra rest just might keep you healthy and make you a better athlete as a result.
Below is a shot of the avalanche near Officer’s Gulch. (I was told by a local that the avalanche occurred in late April or May.)
Below, notice the tiny spec of a road cyclist beginning to do a hike-a-bike from the right side of the photo to the left.
Ah, easier to see the cyclist with zoom, which gives you some idea of the magnitude of the slide.
The Summit Daily, in their Summit Up section (June 4, 2011 “Where Monday can wait), wrote over the weekend that some random benevolent dude is beginning to shovel a path for cyclists. That will be a lot of shoveling.
In Colorado, it is not unusual to not have cell phone service in many foothills and mountain locations. This can be a very dangerous situation.
Case in point, a couple of days ago local rider Barb Schultz told me a story about her neighbor Chad (don't have Chad's last name). He was mountain biking on a local trail when he sustained a serious injury to his upper leg. The short story is that the front fork on his mountain bike suffered catastrophic failure. The break ended up slicing his upper leg wide open.
Chad was only a quarter of a mile from the ranger station when the accident occurred, but he had no cell coverage and couldn’t call for help. Luckily, Chad is a medical student and knew how to take care of himself until he could walk out of the single track and get help. He used his jersey as a tourniquet to stop the bleeding. He did get help and eventually received 32 stitches in his "fillet gash" to repair the injury.
Barb told me that Chad’s story is one good reason why she carries something called SPOT. It is an emergency response system that uses satellites (not cell towers) to call for help when you really need it. I hadn’t heard of it before.
Barb uses the personal tracker (I think) although there are options to have the application downloaded to your smart phone. The service plans can be found here.
Because Barb frequently rides alone, her husband can watch her on the website and know where she is and if she’s still moving along at the expected rate.
I’m often on trails and roads, with and without other people, where there’s no cell coverage. There have been two occasions I can think of where someone was injured and no one in the group had cell coverage. We were able to get help by riding out to a car or to phone coverage, but having an emergency response option would have been great.