Part I of II
On September 11th, the inaugural Aspen-Snowmass Ride for the Cure saw over 300 cyclist, and one unicyclist, ride to raise money for breast cancer research. The riders had two choices of courses to ride, a 64 mile ride or a 100 mile ride that spanned the Roaring Fork Valley here in the Aspen area.
To participate in the ride, each individual had to commit to raising a minimum of $500, ( in addition to the entry fee to cover event expenses). So far, the event has raised over $400,000.00, of which 75% will stay in the local community to fund research for early breast cancer detection, affordable screening programs and treatment projects for undeserved women.
Chris Carmichael and his Carmichael Training Systems was a co-sponsor of the event. Carmichael has developed a relationship with the Roaring Fork Valley community over the years, including bringing Lance Armstrong here to train. Chris was quoted as saying " This is one of the most beautiful places on the planet".
The course I chose was 64 miles, and included some of my favorite valleys to Coker. The morning started out with freezing temperatures and a police escort down main street out of town. The first valley to ride up was Castle Creek valley, which ended at the ghost town of Ashcroft. As with the other two valleys I rode, this one started at around 8,000 elevation and ended at around 10,000 elevation. It was a glorious day with Indian summer weather and fall colors radiating in gold hues. I was so pumped up for this EPIC ride, nothing like riding with 200+ friends in your home town.
The first turnaround point came about an hour from the start. It was a great push up the valley, as the views got better with every corner. The temperature for me was perfect, for the bicyclist- a little cold. They kept telling me how cold they were. I ended up in about the fourth group up, the first three were way to fast for me. So I played yo-yo with this group, I pass them on the uphills, they pass me on the downhills. For 12 miles to the first turnaround point, the ride went just like that. I got to know them well. About 2 miles from the top, the first groups had made the turn and were hauling ass back down the valley. I have never had so many words of encouragement, and hoots and hollers in the three years that I have been uni’ing. It was so awesome to be part of this event, and it had just begun. The group that I was still riding with were blown away by this, they said, “You know everyone, don’t you?”. It was yet another positive reason for me for living in a small mountain community. I made it to the turn around point, rested my bum, ate and drank a little and headed back down. I was 12 miles into my 64 mile ride at this point. This aid station like the others were entertaining and a fun part of the ride. This one was manned by the Aspen Historical Society, wearing original historic clothing, and they withstood the freezing temperatures. One of the members there was a recent cancer survivor, and was truly inspirational to all riders. I have personally lost both my parents to cancer, so this day had SO much more meaning to me than any other big coker ride that I have ever accomplished. Emotions at times were hard to keep in and control thoughout the day.
Everybody that I had passed in the first 12 miles, were soon to be passing me. I realized all along that after that first climb to the top, that I might be on my own for most of the remainder of the ride, which doesnt bother me, as most of my big rides are done solo. The last of the people passed me with 4 miles of downhill still to go. I made it to the bottom of the first valley and turned to go up the second. This one is Maroon Creek valley and is my favorite. The Maroon Bells are situated at the end of the valley, both 14er’s, with a aquamarine colored lake at there base. They are the most photographed mountains in the country. I pass the second aid station, this one is manned by the local politicians. I continue up the big climb as my rythym is really clicking. Just as the road grade climbs to a little over 8% I get this feeling like I am low riding on the Coker. My knees feel like they are coming up into my chest. I try to forgot about it, but it doesnt go away. I think, my seatpost has slipped down. But NO, I have just flatted my airseat. I didnt want to stop, my climbing was going to good, and it was certainly a little more difficult with less leg extension. Now my bum is really starting to hurt, but I only have a little over a mile of climbing left. I dig deep, knowing that I have allot of people that are supporting me that day. I make it to the second turnaround point, the Maroon Bells parking lot. I am greeted by more cheers and long faces as I ride in. I had passed about 30 people on the climb, so I wasnt the last to the aid station. I get the pump out, hopeing that it was just a loose valve stem. No such luck, it is flat. Now for the sorry part, my sorry ass left some tools at home that day because the ride was close to home. So I didnt have the equipment to fix it, can you say LOSER. I reach into my camelbak and pull out my winter hat and stuff it into my shorts. This provided some relief, both mental and physical. I was only 8 short miles from my house, where I could stop and fix the flat. There was almost 2000’ of descending to my house in those 8 miles. I was once again passed by those riders who I had passed going up. I was bringing up the rear, with a sore rear. Made it to my house, ate, drank and had my daughter help me fix my flat. Before I got to my house, as I was summiting a small hill, I noticed a lady and girl with a sign. As I approached the two, I realized it was my wife and daughter with a “Go Mike, Ride for the Cure” sign that they were holding. More emotion, and more inspiration to keep on truckin. At my house, I had been riding for almost 4 1/2 hours, had ascended and descended about 7500’, and had completed 40 of the 64 miles.
The stop at my house to fix my flat airseat turned out to be a very good thing. I was able to re-fuel, get out of the sun, get some hugs and kisses, and fix my seat. When I arrived at the fourth aid station, they were tearing it down. I was officially the last rider! I had one valley left to ride that was the longest and had the steepest switchbacks that I would encounter all day. I pushed ahead, and a thought came to me. This was that there were probably bicyclist finishing 100 miles already, and yet I still had 3 hours to go. Oh well, it was a spectacular day to be on a big coker ride. I reached the first of four tough climbs up Owl Creek. Ijust had a couple of GU gels and was ready. Once again, the pedals just kept going around and around, sure I was working it, but I was making good progress. My slowest speed got down to 6.5 mph, at that point the grade was almost 10%. The climb was short and over before I knew it. I kept looking at the mountain peaks and getting inspired. I rounded the last corner of this climb and could finally see the second of four climbs. Low and behold, I saw some riders. Yeah, someone to catch and pass before the top. I caught the first person, a lady that i had passed before on both the first and second valleys. She told me that I was her inspiration to keep going. Summit, two of the four climbs bagged. I had a screaming downhill to encounter before the third climb. My legs were doing fine, just truckin right along. The third climb was the easiest of the four, so I cruised right along feeling pretty damn good about the ride. At the base of the last climb, a older man was off his bike looking up the climb, I asked him if he had it in him, and he wasnt sure. I encouraged him on as my legs felt the pitch of the road steepen even more. I figured if I could make this last mile, then the ride was mostly downhill from here. This last series of climbs lasted almost 1 1/2 hours straight, and was miles 42-52. I saw the last corner and knew that I was going to make it. I cokered on in to the 5th aid station and once again, was received with cheers and applause. They were still set up and had food and drink left. I still brought enough food and water with me during the ride to survive w/o the aid stations. They were great to have anyway, most of the bicyclist carried nothing with them. Before I left the aid station, the older man that I had seen, came riding in to the station. Awesome, the guy was totally awesome. I chatted with some folks up there, this station was on Snowmass ski area, and began my long descent to the Roaring Fork river. My fist challenge was the steepest road I would encounter all day, this time I had to go down it. It is called snowmelt road, because they have to heat the road all winter long to keep the snow off of it. It is the main road to the Village of Snowmass and is STEEP, I think it is at least 18+%. I was holding onto my GB 4 handle with everything I had. What a rush, I made it to the bottom where it flattens out to a mere 7%. Thats when I lost a foot and single footed for what seemed like eternity. UPD onto the tarmac, but this time I couldnt run it out. So I did my patented shoulder roll back onto my feet. The GB4 handle hit my calf muscle and I was hurt. The first thing I did was look around to see if anyone saw me, noop. Then I sat down and worked on my calf. After a few minutes the intense pain went away and I was on my way… down the hill for 4 more miles. When I cruised under the highway, I knew that I would be allright.
Part I of II
110 kilometer benefit ride for cancer Part II
Part II of II
I had completed after six hours of riding, 59 miles, 12,500’ of ascending and descending and the three big valley sections. What was left was 6 miles of rolling terrain with 1,500’ of ascending and descending. I stopped one last time to rest the bum and refuel. The infamous Jaffey hill was yet to come, and I was getting prepared for it. Just before the hill was a intersection where the 100 mile cyclist were coming back from. At this point to town, I would have other cyclist to ride with. The hill came and once again I passed some riders. Granted they were on mile 94 of their ride, I still powered past them. I topped the hill and it was beautiful rolling hills for the remainder. I hooked up with some friends for a mile or so at the end, we told war stories and they pedaled on to the finish. I was back in Aspen, and my adrenilene was pumping. I got to the point where I could see the finish line, a huge arch of pink balloons, and I got chills up and down my spine. My whole body began to shiver, get covered with goosebumps, as I inched my way to the finish. I started pumping my fist into the air and began to yell with complete joy as I rode under the balloons. The cheers got louder and louder as I rode around the finish area, people were going nuts. High fives, low fives, you name it, it was going off. What a moment to be part of, it’ s good to be alive.
In the park adjacent to the finish line, a huge party was going on. Music, games, more great food, massage tables, and tons of people with grins of accomplishment on their faces. The stories were unforgettable, the support that I received all day was unbelievable, and the whole event was so well organized. Seeing cancer survivors cross the finish line after me put the icing on the cake for a ride that will stick in my mind forever. And by the way, the lady that I kept passing, she finished 100 miles with a smile on her face.
If anyone is interested in a top ride, next year the date is September 10th, 2005.
Stats: 110 kilometers, I told everyone that I would ride at least a metric century.
14,000’ of ascending and desceding
7 1/2 hours total ride
6 1/2 hours riding time
Average temperature 62 F
Maximum heartrate 168bpm
Average heartrate 136 bpm
Average speed 9.9 mph
Max speed 13.9 mph
Thanks for another epic write up Mike- gee that’s a lot of climbing
Oops- too fast for me- you posted those pics as I typed up my message. Nice cornering!
Very impressive, Mike!
Nice write-up Mike, and really nice ride. You continue to inspire me to push the distance riding harder. You also inspired me to get some 170s…now I just need to find some fitting climbs to train on with them.
Climbs in Washington
Climbs in Oregon
The books Bicycling the Backroads of Southwest Washington and Bicycling the Backroads of Northwest Washington and Bicycling the Backroads of Puget Sound probably describe some of the climbs. I haven’t looked at any of the three books to confirm.
>>>Thanks for another epic write up Mike- gee that’s a lot of climbing>>>
Climbing is my stressbuster, as well as I really don’t have much choice around here.
>>>Nice cornering! >>>
That GB4 36er corners like no other, big GS turns are way fun at 12-14mph!
>>>Very impressive, Mike!>>>
The strongest wheel is second to none!
>>>You continue to inspire me to push the distance riding harder. You also inspired me to get some 170s>>>
Thanks Tom, I see no limit to this long distance/climbing combo stuff. The 170’s are the only way to go for this combo, great climbing ability and you can still spin high rpm’s on the downhill. Keep at it, from what i’m reading your well on your way, congrats.
I hope you washed your hat! Otherwise next time you put it on you may get a smelly reminder…
Oh no, it’s in my camelbak. I guess I’ll have to throw the whole thing in the wash. I owe you one. …
Impressive ride! Thanx for the write-up.
What pressure are you running? There’s not much squash in your tire.
I like it tight, 65 psi. How’s the Cokering going Doug?
The Cokering is going fine. I can free mount a little more than 50% of the time now after talking to you this summer.
Wow, 65? I’m at 40 most of the time. 45 if heading out for some distance. I’ll try higher.
Oh, I’m 200 pounds (and losing).