Here is my Fathers Day ride:
The summers are short in Colorado, especially at 12,000’. Having read George and Tonys EPIC MUni adventure this last week, I knew it was time to get HIGH in the Rocky’s. I love this ride for many reasons, but mostly because it is very hard, it is in my backyard, and I do NOT have to drive to get to it. You can pretty much count on the 3:00 thunderstorm these days so I knew I had to leave early, plus mornings are best to catch the wildlife and not catch the traffic. As well, the temperatures are perfect to climb mountains early in the morning. When I left, 6:30 a.m the temperature was 42 degree’s, just right. I had 25 miles to get to the Continental Divide at 12,095’. My house is at 8,080’ so I had approximately 4,000’ vertical to climb. The actual climb is 4,500’ with the ups and downs along the way. The biggest part of the climb is the last 17 miles where 4,000’ is attained.
Here are some pictures.
I had the road, Co. state highway 82 to myself yesterday. The only people on the road at that hour are old people, (they can't sleep) and other people heading out for adventures, typically mountain climbers attempting to summit some fourteener before the afternoon ligtning. I ride around 8 miles along the valley floor, with very little altitude change. The deer are hanging around in the meadows before they get chased away by traffic. I notice that the valley is getting narrower and the cliffs are getting steeper and closer to me. It is time for the big push up the Pass. I know this road really well, and it always kicks my ass. But time after time, I find myself pushing up the first climb. Deep inside I love this stuff, is it the pain I like, or is it that ZEN feeling of climbing up mountain passes on a Coker, (now a GB4 36"er). You long distance Coker riders know the "High" I'm talking about, it's one that is hard to beat and describe. I know that I am an adrenaline junky, and this activity is awesome for adrenaline. I go almost one hour and forty five minutes before I stop to refuel and give my butt a rest. I have climbed almost 2,500' in two hours and have ridden approximately 17 miles. My next fuel stop, is at treeline, which is around 11,600' in Colorado. The famous "Last Cut" looms in front of me while I munch on a Snickers bar covered with GU gel. I hop back on the GB436"er after a couple of minutes of rest and push up the Last Cut. The road is very narrow here, so people end up following me until they can find a safe place to pass. I wonder what they are thinking when they are behind me? I'm going at most 7-8 mph, the road drops off 1,000' next to me, and all they can see is mountain peaks and some fruitcake riding a unicycle up this steep mountain road. I smile as they pass with their heads attached to movie or still cameras hanging out their windows. Unicycling is GREAT, people totally love it, and truly appreciate you when you are uni'ing. The wind picks up and trys to blow me off of the mountain, but somehow I maintain my line. My heart rate is very medium today, and I am glad because the last steep climb is within view. This last climb comes out of nowwhere, it is steep and at 12,000'and usually makes the heart go right off the chart. Today, the last climb was no problem, I was lucky, I had a tail wind. I raise my hands, kiss the sky, (Lance Armstrong move) and praise the lord as I have made it to top of Indenpendence Pass one more time. I don't stay long as the temperature is cold and the wind is now blowing 30 mph with gust to 50mph. A few pictures and a drink of water and I am on my way back home. What lays ahead of me is a 4,500' vertical foot downhill ride with no brakes, I like it that way though. I ride with 175mm cranks and like how the long arc allows me to control my speed downhill. The summit was awesome as always, but is only the half way point of my ride. I fly, for me anyway, down the mountain at an average of 12-14 mph. Some of the grades are 10%, but most are 7-8%. Very rideable at a fast cadence. But, I certainly did not want to UPD as there are big drop offs and cars next to me. I cheat the white line a foot or so on the way down; cars can wait for a good spot to pass. I finally start to see a few bicyclists on their way up to the summit, wave, and continue on my descent. I do stop for a fuel break and to enjoy the spectacular scenery. The traffic picks up as people are on the move. I reach the valley floor feeling great, legs a little sore, but plenty left. My butt hurts more than anything, but not major. I enjoy the relatively flat miles to my house through the town of Aspen. Aspen is rocking these days with festivals and people everywhere bending their fun meters. I feel especially good as I just bagged Indenpendence Pass on my GB436"er. I make it home safely, (12:15 p.m.) to where my wonderful family is waiting for me. I proceed to then MUni with my daughter and son. A fathers day to remember, one where unicycling was the key player. I can't wait for my next big ride. Life is good. Some stats about the ride:
- 48 miles 24 up and 24 down
- 4,500’ uphill
- 4,500’ downhill
- Average riding altitude 9,500’
- Summit 12,095’ starting and finishing elevation 8,080’
- 100% ridden
- Average temperature 53 degrees F
- 2hr55 to summit
- 2hr05 down from summit
- 5hr45 time out on ride
- Wildlife spotted deer, beaver, hawks, eagles, and marmots