|Paul (left) and Mike (illustrating the course elevation profile with his fingers)|
"30 mile climb to Ward?"
"Yeah, but then another hilly 25 miles to Nederland and back. It'll be great!"
After the RAM Bicycle Century Classic a few weeks ago I was a little skeptical as to whether I wanted to do another century. I mean, there were like six of us who started the RAM, barely any course markings, no road marshals, not much of anything, other than the outstanding beer and food at the end, which made it the most glorious day in my life (ok, so I use a lot of unwarranted superlatives and commas. Let's move on).
Immediately after finishing the San Diego 100 mile trail run Sunday, I was fairly certain I wouldn't want to do the Sunrise Century six days later but then remembered that it was in fact I who emailed the link to the ride to brothers Paul and Mike, who obediently registered and emailed their confirmations to me. So, upon remembering this, I half heartedly registered for the ride Thursday.
The good thing is that the start is 5 mins from my place, so, of course, I was late by a couple minutes. We rolled out at about 6:45am.
|This "difficulty" scale is from the website. I strive for insanity.|
|Mike ready to go at one of the early aid stations (which were stocked like an endurance family's Thanksgiving table)|
The first 15 or so miles were amazing smooth, mostly flat to rolling, light breeze and cool partly cloudy morning sunshine conditions. This was going to be a nice ride. Then at about 20 miles there's a small, simple sign staked into the ground on the side of the road "Tough Climb Ahead!" How bad could it be? At this point I remember that I neglected to switch out the cassette of gears on my Della Santa, which only goes up to a quad bursting 23 tooth ring. I like high cadence, a la my hero, Lance Armstrong. So, when I snap the lever for another climbing gear and nothing happens and we're .6 miles into the first 30 miles of climbing, I know I'm in trouble.
Though I feel recovered from the 100 mile run last weekend, the climb sifted out that perception, leaving the reality that my legs were still fatigued and dull. I pleaded with Mike and Paul to ride their own ride and not wait for me on my slower sections. I decided to set a min level of no slower than 8mph on even the steepest sections. That meant out-of-the-saddle riding for several minutes at a time for certain parts of the climb but I never dropped below 8.
The ride climbed to the town of Ward, then heads to Nederland via the Peak to Peak highway. The decent to Nederland was nice; the 11 mile climb back to Ward... not so nice. Ironically, I got stronger as the ride progressed and wished I would've just suffered a bit more to stay with the brothers because I imagine we were riding about the same speed from mile 40 to the finish.
|Moi in Nederland around mile 60.|
With all suffering there is a slope of descent into goodness (or, that's what I tell myself to make it through the crappy times). This holds true for this ride. Once climbing to Ward at mile 70, there is a roughly 20 mile descent where 50-60mph can easily be obtained. I and two other riders formed into a group and made the descent in no time. Then there's just 10-12 miles of rolling flats to the finish where I held 23mph average (with angled head wind, thank you very much) to the finish.
Finish 102 miles in 6:07. With the massive climbing, I'm ok with that.
|You ladies admiring my Della Santa? Maybe not.|
Afterwards, I introduced the brothers to Walnut Brewery and their ballpark hot pretzels and queso dip, along with the Brewery's house IPA. Another great day in the Rockies with great company.
Followed that up with a 16 mile run this morning. "Hi Hardrock, my name is footfeathers. Mind if I run on you for 30-some hours?"