Big-name riders from Rock Racing, Chipotle, Rabobank, Toyota and Health Net were in Estes Park yesterday on the Sunday group ride. Tyler Hamilton and Tom Danielson are two of the names you might recognize.
Before I launch right into the adoring-cycling-fans photo, let me begin by saying the ride today was to bag our monthly Estes ride. I've mentioned this monthly goal in past blogs, and I can tell you that today's weather was better than any of our other December Estes rides in past years.
We started with ten people from my doorstep. Scott Ellis, Steve Douglas, Todd Singiser, Bill Frielingsdorf, Bruce Runnels, Ron Kennedy, Peter Stackhouse and Dave McClure. It was one of those rides filled with flats. There were four flats on the way up, Todd and Peter had two each. Ron turned around early due to family commitments, Peter and Dave turned around at the top of the Glen Haven switchbacks...would they regret it?
The remaining members of the group arrived at Estes later than normal, by about an hour-and-a-half. Not only due to flats, but we were riding at a winter-out-of-shape pace. After a leisurely lunch, we were getting ready to head back down when a "that's no amateur" rider walked in the door. More followed.
Steve, his shy self, walks right up to Tyler Hamilton and says, "Hey you look a lot like that Hamilton guy" and that opened up the conversation. Turns out several of us know mutual people.
The last time I saw Tyler was at the 2004 Olympic Games. The TT course was held just outside the city where the triathlon was held so a few of us walked up there to watch them warm-up and ride some of the course. The rest of the guys I have not met in person.
These guys were very friendly and approachable. How many professional athletes do you know are completely approachable (sans the triathletes, of course)?
Though not on my Sunday ride, they were out for a Sunday ride. I'm happy we were delayed on our trip up and got a chance to talk to them awhile.
Yesterday was a sweet ride up Mt. Evans. Today, the original plan was to mountain bike from Central City over Rollins Pass to Winter Park. Scott Ellis made a few phone calls to bike shops in Winter Park to check on the condition of Rollins pass and they said, "unpassable". Darn.
The back-up plan was to ride road bikes from Central City to Winter Park. That plan, however, needed modification as well. The first plan was to ride east on 119, connect to the Clear Creek Canyon Road and then to Idaho Springs. From there we would ride the Frontage Road to Empire and a sweet climb up Berthoud Pass and descent into Winter Park.
Foiled. No bikes allowed on the Clear Creek Canyon Road.
There is another way out of Central City that connects to the new Parkway and then Idaho Springs. The name of that route is, "Oh My God Road". Gee, wonder why they call it that? Let's do a pre-drive.
There is good reason it is called Oh My God Road. That is what I kept repeating as our car moaned to climb the road. To get out of bed and immediately start this climb is a recipe for blowing up knees. Not a good idea.
Plan D: The Sag Teams (Del and Meeka; Sandy, Allie and Craig Singiser; and Janie Shaw) hauled us to Empire via cars and we started our road ride from Empire. A much-needed shorter day, though still a good amount of climbing. It is 26 miles with a total gain of roughly 5,829 feet over 13 miles and a descent of 4,941 feet over 23 miles.
I love Berthoud Pass. It's a sweet climb. Not many photos today, just one of a waterfall next to the road. Ride time 1:55, out time 2:15.