Monday, August 10, 2009

High Altitude Training Camp-Day One

I was in need of a change of pace so when Greyhound ordered me to get my rear end on a plane and head west on a Monday, I booked my flight on a Tuesday, found a bike box ( I had loaned mine out) on a Wednesday, shipped it off at FedEx on Thursday, found a new helmet on Friday because I found a crack in my trusty Giro, did laundry on Saturday after my 3 hour ride, packed on Sunday, and tied up loose ends on Monday before hopping on a plane with the kid on Tuesday morning at 7:23 a.m.

Ahhh! :)
On the way up to Copper Mountain!

Denver was cooler and rainy but as we went into the foothills and up into the mountains, the clouds broke open and we had lovely sunshine and gentle warm temps. Karen and Dutch, who I have ridden with before, and their kids were on the same flight as I was and got to the "dog run" before I did. We caught some time down at the Blue river and a little lunch and when we walked back up the hill to the house, my bike had arrived. I was looking forward to good times with good friends and to get a little relaxation in with all the fun training we were going to do.

On Wednesday, Greyhound and I took off to head to Vail, CO. Once we got there, the plan was to turn around and go back over Vail Pass. All I can say is that it was cold! Greyhound and I must have looked like goofballs wearing so much clothing. About 8 miles into the ride we had to pull over and start peeling off some layers because it was warming up. We had almost the entire way on hike and bike paths! NOTE TO TEXAS: You may be the Lone Star State, but you SUCK in providing alternative transportation options for those who want to "Keep it Green" or be an endurance nut. So we were climbing up to Copper Mountain and you are cleverly fooled by looking ahead and thinking that you are going down hill. But why are we working so hard to go down hill??? One look to the right and the mountain stream is running the opposite direction. D'oh! We are really going uphill!
Water break half way to Copper Mountain...

Copper Mountain is kind of the mid way point to Vail. Now we had some serious climbing to do. We were looking at some dark clouds to the left of the pass and we asked a few people coming down off the path if they encountered any rain. We got reports of sunny skies so we decided to push on. The last place you want to be is caught out in one of these storms because they produce lightning strikes and hail and at over 9,000 feet above sea level, we were not too far away from the clouds!

Again, we were on a hike and bike trail but a few miles after we left Copper Mountain, we did not see any more hikers. As was true of the first stretch, the water was running the opposite direction from where we were pedaling to. There were a few nasty spaghetti like switch backs up to the top of the pass and oxygen was at a premium. I kept trying to distract myself by looking at all the wild flowers along the side of the bike path. I was so glad that there was a Rest Stop at the top because I had been letting the kidneys do more work than sweating off the fluids I had been taking in.
At the top of Vail Pass, 10,700 feet above sea level.

After a snack and a break we headed out because we needed to get ahead of a group of "fun seekers" who had been brought to the top and were riding back down into Vail on mountain bikes. It was too risky to be behind them. There were little kids, people not wearing their helmets, people pulling over without warning to take pictures, etc. Too risky. The first stretch off the summit was fast and fun but then the signs for limited sight distance and curvy-swervy roads started to appear. I was no longer having fun. At one point, the bike path was less than 3 feet from vehicle traffic coming up the mountain in the opposite direction. There were cyclists coming up the opposite side of the path. The clouds had started to roll in and I was having trouble seeing far down the road. Greyhound took off and told me not to pop a tire by heating up the rim using my breaks. I was not having fun. I just fell off the bike 5 weeks ago and I did not want to do it again! We rode the bike path under I-70 and it brought us up on a street wide bike path that would take us the rest of the way down into Vail. After spending some time trying to help some guy change his tire we rocketed down the mountain. I had longer stretches without turns and I could see better, but now it was starting to rain and it was hurting. When I was finally able to slow down and come to a stop, I realized that it was hailing. No wonder it hurt. I made it the rest of the way down, found Greyhound and we pedaled out of the rain, but into the wind as we entered west Vail. It started raining really hard and we took shelter under an overpass on I-70. Once it stopped, the sun came out again and we rode the rest of the way into town.

There were more dark clouds just behind the peaks and we decided that we would call the clan to come have lunch and we would have them take us back home rather than ride in the rain. Greyhound found some coffee and chocolate milk at Starbucks and I found Marble Slab Ice Cream to fuel back up.
Ooo Yummy, recovery yummy!!! Me like recovery!!!

As we were waiting for the group, the thunder started and we decided that we had made the correct decision to not ride back over the pass. We had a great Mexican food lunch, took a peek into some of the shops in Vail and then loaded up the bikes and headed home.

Milage: 37.7 miles
Gain: 1,700 ft. (not accurate) Greyhound said we did more climbing. His Garmin doesn't lie.
Time: 2 hours, 23 minutes

Next up, Loveland Pass!

Later Gators,



BreeWee said...

Nice climbing you hot momma you! ha ha... you would have loved Sea to Stars!! Oh, and the temperature changes went from about 78* to 44*, I might be a little off, I heard it got sub 40* but I'm not sure, maybe I was too freaking amazed to notice that :)

Hope you have a GREAT week Liz :)


Rainmaker said...

Awesome new banner, and looks like an incredible journey thus far. I sooo want to bike through colorado.