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.