The weekend went although it wasn't smooth. By Saturday night things were alright though so plans were hatched and the alarm was set for predawn. I woke up late anyway and was rolling out the door at sunrise for part one of the day.
The first hour of riding is small rollers and a moderate headwind that would dog me all day. The weather man predicted a tailwind in the afternoon for my desired path but I would be long gone by them.
I hit Lookout while most people were still sleeping but I had the company of a few riders on the mountain. The sun was rising fast though and Golden was waking up below me.
I was accompanied by Mr.Snake as well and I stopped to document his presence as well as strip off the knee warmers and down some Endurolytes. It was going to be hot so I might as well get a jump on keeping everything all together.
From here I began climbing, really only pausing to figure out the correct direction. I'd never ridden this path although it had been on "the list" for a while. On a few wrong turns here and there but mostly I climbed. There were two nice descents though and each was freshly paved making them pass all to quickly and making way for the climbing to resume.
I almost brought my SteriPen and less water. I should have. It was everywhere in splashes and roars.
Finally I left the shadow of the big highway and headed towards the pass. Along the way I snapped this picture of our occasional post race eatery. Delicious and capable of producing heart attacks. Yum. The wheels kept rolling and the pedals kept turning over. It was well into the morning now and I knew I'd soon be caught. Between the late start and a bit of an underestimation on my part I knew I wouldn't make it all the way to Winter Park in time for part two of the day. Luckily Marni would come right by me and pick me up to speed things along.
And that she did. After 4 hours and 20 minutes I hopped in the Element and took a short nap on our way over the rest of the pass and to our predetermined meeting spot. Bill and Jason were already there and the rest of the gang filtered in bit by bit until everyone was ready.
We set off to preride the third course of the Winter Park XC series, a 14.4 mile loop with more climbing than we anticipated. After some last minute McGyver work on Melissa's bike that included me stealing the bolt out of Marni's headset we rolled out. Bill came to the rescue with another bolt while the group hit the bathrooms and up the ski road we climbed. Missing an unmarked trail several hundred vertical feet below us we got in some extra credit climbing before finally ending up on the right route. Up and down we rode on some really fun trails but all and all it was generally up.
The group at one of many regrouping spots. There were lots of other people out enjoying the day and I even ran into an old friend from the CU Triathlon team.
We were also joined by one of Bill's Clyde competitors Jason who rode really strong all day while being a good sport about all of us marvelling at how freaking tall he is (6'8").
After descending some singletrack that pretty much resembled a skating rink covered in boulders (but in a good way, ha!) the group popped out at the big creek crossing on the course. Most Winter Park water crossings are rideable in go for it style but this one is pretty high.
Everyone walked even though I tried to ride it and failed miserably, happy not to end up totally submerged. Unless the level drops quite a bit since there is a deep spot in the middle this will be one to run during the race. The cold water felt really good though and I had no problem hanging out in the creek while helping the ladies across.
We climbed, walked and climbed some more before finally finishing the climbing on some really nice singletrack. Marni was all smiles when we finally topped out over 10k feet and would get to point the bikes downward for most of the rest of the ride.
John had joined us for the second ride in a row and looked happy to be at the top as well.
The clouds loomed but we never got rained on. In the distance I spied something more interesting, the porta potty. Hey I'd been out riding since dawn and some things are just more pleasant not taken care of trailside.
The group took off ahead and I chased behind a few minutes later. We dropped 1000 feet before you knew it and were riding the last bit of singletrack before the course finish. It was a bit dicey due to a big blowdown not yet removed(?) but Marni and I made it and found the group just in time to checkout this sweet train. Awe man. I was going to before you told me I couldn't...
Melissa and Marni cruised in while the boys pretended to sprint it out at the finish. Interesting finish it was as none of us decided before taking off where exactly we were sprinting too.
Back at the car we had plenty of dirt to show for a good day of riding. Pizza and pasta on the way home after avoiding the traffic backup with my new found knowledge of the frontage roads.
74 miles and 8300 vertical feet for me. The pace was steady, never feeling very fast or very strong but the GPS never reading a snail's pace at least. It was good to get a long ride in again with lots of climbing since it's still the area I need to work on most. Compared to the past I'm a much better climber but compared to the elite I still struggle on the long climbs. Many days I can't find my rythem. My ribs still bother me a lot on the road bike and I'm not sure why the MTB's feel better but the nagging pain all day gets a bit frustrating. At least the Perpetuem experiment was positive. It will take a little getting used to but even warm and concentrated it went down fine with no distress. Marni however isn't going to start using it anytime soon. She's not a big fan of soy in general and warm Perp almost made her Nectar bars come back up. The mileage has been ramping up the past 3 weeks so I'm hoping my body will follow along. Haven't made any decisions about the rest of 2007 yet and all the chips are still on the table. We'll see if I can draw any more good cards before I decide how to play the hand.