Yesterday I got out to scout a climb I've been wanting to do for a while, the complete Golden Gate Canyon. I had ridden the first half last year but had never been able to ride all the way up to Peak to Peak highway. The forecast wasn't promising so Marni and I slept late and I made her some breakfast while I waited for temperatures to warm up a bit and make sure any rain/snow wasn't going to ambush me at high elevations. By 1pm I'd read the best of the issue 23 of Alpinist and the sun was out so I geared up and hit the road.
I hit every climb that was remotely on the way on the approach and was surprised how good I felt considering the time trial the day before. On one short testpiece climb I ride often I was only 14 seconds off my PR and I wasn't pushing anywhere near PR effort level. By the time I hit the turn to the base of the climb I had my sleeves pushed up and my jersey unzipped and I attacked up the road. Mile markers were clicking by fast and I refused to look at the time/distance screen on my GPS until I got to the top. A couple short descents later I was headed up the last section with snow on the ground all around me. I even got snowed on lightly a few times but there were patches of blue sky in between the darker clouds so I kept heading up.
Not far after the "short dirt road" I reached my goal, the Peak to Peak highway. I stopped and had a snack and continued west up the road. The highway rolls from here all the way up to Estes Park. I really wanted to ride all the way there but I had a feeling daylight and Mother Nature had different ideas. Nevertheless I decided to see how far I could make it since there were plenty of shortcuts and bailouts back down to lower elevation.
I rolled along between 8500ft and 9400ft, slowly dropping down towards Rollinsville.
The views didn't suck, that was for sure. The mountains were mostly in patchy sunshine and the big peaks looked awesome. When I can't be climbing the big mountains, it's sure nice to spend the day riding and looking at them.
Before long cold hands, clouds and a rapidly dropping temperature forced me to put my jacket on. Not long after that the hood went up and by the time I reached Coal Creek Canyon between Rollinsville and Nederland I knew it was time to head down. The descent was freezing and I was pretty happy for the 800ft climb in the middle of it to warm back up. Before long I was rolling back down across highway 93, thawing out my hands as I rode back home.
My new food choice today, along with my liquid calories, was Fig Newtons. Yummy and Marni doesn't like them so she won't steal them :) Energy levels were rock solid today, no peaks or valleys. Another cookie to add to the long ride arsenal.