Red Rocks

Red Rocks

This week we cranked up the mileage and the climbing. We started at the familiar Park-N-Ride near Santa Fe and C470. The temps were suppose to be in the upper 90s so we rolled out early.

We quickly rode over to the Chatfield Damn and then out on Deer Creek Canyon Road. This time, instead of heading up toward High Grade, we took a right and rode past Lockheed before looping around to the 470 loop again. There were a couple of short climbs on this first segment, but nothing too bad.

After our first SAG (Support And Gear) stop, the climbing began. The first one came as a shock to me. We left the SAG, rode a short way and then made a right turn. That’s when a short but steep climb appeared. I noticed the chattering between teammates quickly ended as everyone began breathing hard on that first short climb.

Luckily, the climb was short, but when then entered Red Rocks and had more climbs and then we had the steady climb to I70 for our second SAG spot. The temps were heating up and it was taking a beating on all of us.

At our next SAG, we all topped off water bottles and ate as much as we could in order to prepare for the next segment and biggest climb of the day. We had already done about 25 miles of riding and the big climb of the day was Lookout Mountain. This time, coach had us go up the back side which many consider to be the easier side. Sure we get to the same peak, but going up this way the climb was less steep but spread out over more miles.

The sun was pretty brutal on this segment and there surely wasn’t any breeze. In the early parts of the climb, I would occasionally get out of my seat for a burst of power and to change positions for a moment. By the time I was 2/3rds up, I could no longer get out of the saddle. My legs were feeling weak and shaky. I just focused on trying to keep my cadence up, taking sips of water, and not stopping. Part of your mind keeps saying, “come on, just stop for a few seconds!” But the training we have done has taught the other part of the mind to take control and just keep pedaling.

It works and soon I arrived at our SAG spot at the top of the mountain. It always feel so good to reach the peak. I was anxious to get some cold water and some food. I knew I had used a lot of energy to get up the mountain and we still had a 32 mile or so ride back to the car.

For some people, eating on the bike and at stops is easy. For me, I just don’t get hungry and nothing tastes good to me. I am learning to force myself to take in calories. When I don’t, I just bonk (that’s when you lose all your energy).

Before long it was time to head back. We went down the front side of Lookout to get started on our return trip. I started with the second group of riders. I have learned to love descending and decided to break out and try to catch the first group.

I started pedaling as fast as I could to get even more speed on the descent. Going downhill on a bicycle is quite a thrill. I felt I was flying down the mountain and trying to brake perfectly and follow clean lines through the switchbacks. I started pedaling as I shot out of every corner and I saw that I was gaining on the first group.

And then I noticed that I was gaining really fast on the first group. I gripped the brakes as hard as I could to come to a stop. As I was slowing I noticed the cop car on the shoulder. That’s when I realized the first group had been stopped by the cop — for speeding. We were doing 36mph in a 20mph zone. Ooops. I didn’t even realize the speed limit was that slow. Luckily he just gave everyone a warning (instead of a $153 fine) and we all rode our brakes the rest of the way.

The rest of the way back seemed pretty long. Somehow, our coach was able to find a ride back that had some nice climbs. (On one of the descents from these climbs I was able to hit 42mph, but the speed limit there was 40mph.)

Although the small group I was with took a couple of wrong turns and got off our prescribed course, we eventually made it back in decent time. All told we did 65 miles. Our coach told us the ride was a pretty good simulation of the Big Nasty Moab Century — small climbs in the beginning of the ride, a nice big climb after 25 miles, some fast descents, followed by a long slog back to the start with a nice mental challenge/climb near the end.

The team felt pretty good afterwards and a few of us went over to Panera Bread to eat (i.e. scarf down lost calories). Another week and another ride down. Next week, we team up with the Colorado Springs team again!