On my first full day in the mountains and thin air I was up early in anticipation of the adventures of the day. I watched the sun rise and light up the mountain peaks as I ate some left-over pizza for breakfast. It was still chilly outside so I did my strength training workout on my TRX system hooked up on an Aspen tree outside in the sunshine. It was not long before I was sweating and peeling layers off. The 54 degree weather felt great. I had to do something healthy. I had splurged on a beer at diner the night before, a glass of wine later, and ice cream before bed.
Once the strength training session was done, it was time to get ready for a bike ride. I love to ride my bike in the mountains. I love the challenge. I love the work that is involved. I love the feeling of accomplishment when I get to the summit. I wanted to get the mountain air in my lungs.
It was nice to roll out of the drive way, drop down into town and then on to the bike path for 6 or so miles of nice gradual downhill at 22 mph until hitting Swan Mountain Rd. At this point the work begins. For a long stretch, the climb is at 7% grade. I thought that there were 4 corners, or left turns on some switch backs but when I hit the fourth one, the road kept climbing! Ugh, I miscalculated. There are 5 left hairpin turns (and 6 right hand hairpins) to the top. There is a nice scenic pull out at the top and I regrouped before heading down the backside of the climb.
Sorry, I thought I had oriented it upright. This is where I had come from...
And this is where I was going...
Sadly, I am cautious on downhills that I have not been on multiple times. I feathered the breaks all the way down and I was still hitting 37 mph. At the bottom of the decent there is a bike path that runs along Hwy.6 heading to Keystone Ski Resort. It is up and down, twisty and turning, and full of hikers and mountain bikers. I had to keep a sharp eye out for people stepping out in front of me. I was glad to see Keystone for a public restroom!
From Keystone, Hwy.6 continues up to Loveland Pass to the Continental Divide that I climbed last year. At the bottom of the climb there is a road that turns left called Montezuma Rd. I had heard that there were some steep sections on this climb. Yup, it was steep. 5%, 6%, and 7% grades. I was cruising along at 7 mph! Yahoo!!! But I just kept plugging away. I was breathing hard, but I never got breathless. I kept my head down and just focused on the road just ahead of my front wheel not to get intimidated by the climbing road before me. As I neared the top, I wondered how much farther I had to go. I saw a sign that told me I was near....
And then less than 300 yards further, I saw that I was at the end of the line....
Not Where the Sidewalk Ends, but where the pavement ends.
Again, I took it cautiously on the way back down and even stopped along the way to take a picture of the Snake River. I had to work a little bit in some sections because the wind had picked up and was blowing up the mountain. Keystone became another stop but this time for lunch and fluids. I needed to get some calories in me for the climb back over Swan Mountain Rd. I knew that I still had 15 tough miles back home to go.
The Snake River
Swan Mountain Road seemed steeper on the backside even though the GPS disagreed with me. Again, I was breathing hard and working between 7-9 mph but I never ran out of air. I paused at the scenic lookout to grab some fluids and then headed back down to to Lake Dillon and back on the bike path to go home. The bike path is a false grade up to Breckenridge so my legs were starting to feel a little toasty. The last 400 yards to the house has a stretch of 18% grade. OUCH!!! And I had a dump truck coming up the road behind me!
Well, it was 41.65 miles of riding and 2520 ft. of climbing and I got it done. I have devoured a humongous plate of pasta and meat sauce and drank a bucket load of water since finishing. Tomorrow is another big climb and I have a feeling this one will be over the Continental Divide. I leave you with this view of the road and the trees as inspiration to get outside and move. Do something each day that scares you. Do something that you thought that you could not do. Just do it.