On Saturday, our Denver group traveled to Colorado Springs to ride with the other half of our team. I had been looking forward to this ride because I knew it would be scenic. We were scheduled to hit Cheyenne Canyon, Garden of the Gods and the Air Force Academy.
As usually, we were scheduled to roll out at 8am. And as usual, we were a few minutes late getting started. Most of the time it doesn’t matter, but this time it caused us to change our route. A “fun run” had started and headed out on our preselected course. To avoid the joggers, we changed our route and headed out on the streets.
After cruising through Colorado Springs, we quickly made our way to Cheyenne Canyon. This climb is relative short at 3.5 miles, but has a couple of pretty steep jaunts. For the first time, I tried sucking down an energy gel right at the beginning of the climb. I’m not sure if it made much difference, the climb was still pretty tough. I didn’t watch my speed up the mountain, but my goal was just not to stop. As I approached Helen Hunt Falls, I knew I was nearly done, and I heard cheering from a few teammates that were already at the top. That gave me the motivation to work through the last 2 switchbacks and top the mountain. It was a great feeling and I felt the climb was actually easier then I had feared.
After another quick decent, we made our way over to Ridge Road and into the Garden of the Gods. This is a beautiful area, but the rolling terrain made it a bit difficult to ride. As I sat waiting at one intersection trying to read our map, most of the team caught up with me and pointed me in the right direction. This is when I also learned Jennifer was having a tough ride. She was having knee and back pain which made every hill even more painful.
Jennifer and I both took it slow riding over to the Air Force Academy. Not only was her back hurting, but we hit a couple of stretches of road that were being repaved. They had just been scraped of their top surface and were really bumpy. Each vibration shook us to the bone.
Once we got on the Air Force Academy, the wind slowly started to pick up. We rode through the AFA to the B-52 static display for our final rest stop of the day. By that time, Jennifer’s back was feeling better after taking pain killers and stretching. We started to head back to our cars, and Jennifer was ready to rock-and-roll. She quickly started leap frogging teammates and eventually led the pack back to the parking lot. I stayed on her rear wheel with the occasional turn up front to give her a break from the increasing wind.
By the time we had finished, we had another 60 miles done and it felt great. We were tired, but not exhausted. Each day, the Moab Century seems more doable.