Pedal the Peaks 2003 - Colorado and Wyoming

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I'm BACK . . . from pedaling the peaks of Colorado and Wyoming! Absolutely awesome and definitely challenging. The kids had a blast at day camp.

It was a little tough being the photographer and also getting pictures with me in them, but I tried and had help. I'm a little bummed that I can't find one of my digital flashcards of photos, but here's a little summary of the week with a few links to pictures on the flashcard I do have:

Saturday, June 21
We arrived at Loveland, CO after driving for 15 hours over 2 days. There were approximately 400 riders and 37 kids registered for camp. We pitched our tents, attended a rider meeting, and tried unsuccessfully to sleep. We were happy campers.

Sunday, June 22
We were out of our tents by 4:30am and eating our catered breakfast by 5:45am. I dropped the kids off with the counselors and I was off on my bike to begin my adventure. It was a bit chilly--40s--but warmed up into the low 70s later in the day. I've never been a fast rider, and it was quite obvious as nearly everyone passed me with a nice hello or little chit chat. But that's OK. I tried to keep a reasonable pace, enjoy the scenery, and get up those mountains! The first day went through parts of Carter Lake and ended in Estes Park. 55 miles. We stayed at high schools each night and decided to camp indoors in the gym. Kids rode in a deluxe bus with TVs and a bathroom. They rode go-carts, bumper boats, at an amusement park today.

Monday, June 23
3 words. Trail Ridge Road. This is the road through Rocky Mountain National Park. 12 mile climb with very little shoulder. I mentally quit about 4 times, and then I'd get back on my bike and putz along at 4 mph. But I made it to the top! Yeah! I about got blown off the mountain going downhill with the strong winds. 4 hours up, 1/2 hour down. 65 miles. I arrived in Granby to one sick kid and a group pasta buffet. I think the change in altitude was a little much, plus the horseback riding adventure the kids had just been on. The kids were ready to go again the next morning though.

Tuesday, June 24
We're off to climb Rabbit Ears Pass. Destination--Steamboat Springs. 80 miles. It is called Rabbit Ears because it has an East and West Summit. Personally, I only like to peak once a day, but that's me. Snow was forecasted at 8000 feet or higher, but we managed to avoid it. Wind was strong today, but sometimes was our friend (tailwind) during the climb. Lunch was catered everyday and usually located between 50-80 miles out. Today's lunch was located in between the east and west summits. The food was great all week. Today was turkey burgers and baked potatoes, plus fresh veggies and fruits. And carrot cake (get it...Rabbit Ears Pass). I decided to get a hotel for the two days we would be in Steamboat Springs, and man, I was glad I did! A bed, a real bed. Glorious. It was a quaint little hotel with old but well maintained rooms. You could make your own coffee if you got up before the front desk was open, and you left your keys on the counter when you checked out.

Wednesday, June 25
We are still in Steamboat Springs. This is the "Day of Many Options," where you could go white water rafting (like the kids did the day before), horseback riding, hiking, biking on one of the many trails, or visiting the Natural Springs at Strawberry Park. I opted for a nice, relaxing visit to the Hot Springs. The kids had the choice of going to the Hot Springs Recreational Center with the other kids or hanging out with me. I didn't win ... or did I? In my ignorance, I was thinking of riding my bike to the Springs because it appeared to only be about 6-7 miles away. After talking with the guy at the front desk, he informed me that the last 3 miles was a steep, weaving, bumpy dirt road. There were several other riders at the hotel, so 5 of us rented an Explorer and drove to the springs. I had rented the vehicle, so I drove. It felt like I was four wheeling sometimes and some of the curves were quite interesting. The guys were all very kind and said I did a good job. Don convinced me to swim across the 42 degree spring to a little 95 degree waterfall on the other side. It was all of 30 yards, but I think I would have frozen if I was in that cold water for a few seconds longer. Brrr!!! I sat on a rock ledge under the little waterfall, trying to get up the courage to swim back over to the 105 degree hot spring. I did it and jumped right into the hot spring. My whole body was tingling. I think it helped my aching muscles, as I felt pretty rejuvenated the next day when riding. When the kids returned from day camp, we went on the Alpine Slide . There were grasshoppers, chipmunks, and marmots frantically jumping out of the way on our way down.

Thursday, June 26
128 mile day. We had the 'pleasure' of going back over Rabbit Ears Pass and then ended north toward Wyoming. There were times when I'd be riding across the plains--just me and my bike--with no houses, no cars, no bikes to be seen. I always knew the support vehicle would be checking on us, so no worries. Although I wanted to complete the whole day, I had to get a little ride from lunch to the last rest stop, in the interest of time. The goal every day was to pick up the kids by 4pm. Today I didn't arrive until close to 6, after riding 102 miles. We camped in Saratoga, WY that night. It reminded me of a western town. We enjoyed a taco bar (in a bar) for supper, and then walked across the street to the ice cream parlor. With our bellies full, we collapsed early that night!

Friday, June 27
We headed for Laramie, WY. We had to ride over 5 miles of rough gravel because of construction. I'm so glad I didn't get a flat, but it seemed to take forever as there just wasn't a very good path to ride in. Then we started climbing Snowy Range. This mountain pass was probably my favorite of the week, for its beauty, smooth road, and little traffic. Most of the climbs I did alone because the other riders were just better and stronger at riding in the mountains, but today I had the pleasure of riding with another rider. This was only because she was in some pain from pushing it so hard the day before and getting hit by a truck a couple of weeks prior. Lauren was great and gave me some good pointers. We made it together! Then, we had a most excellent last 50 miles (80 miles total for the day). Tailwinds and downhill slopes. I was flying. So this is what it's like to be able to ride fast for a good length of time. Cool.

Saturday, June 28
The last day of riding...sniff, sniff. I didn't want it to end, but my body was begging me for some recovery time. It was the warmest day of the trip, getting into the 80s. The kids were off to a water park as I rode through the rolling countryside. Then, I headed into Rise Canyon and a climb that, for me, was comparable to Trail Ridge Road. The difference was that there was very little breeze in the canyon. It was the first time during the week that I was down to my bikini top. Red faced and about two miles to go to the top of a steep incline, I realized I wouldn't even come close to finishing by 4pm at the rate I was going. Since I was the last rider and it was the last day, I asked for a little support help to lunch--that they were holding for me and a few others on the road. Then I road to the Finish, back to Loveland, by 4:30pm. Still rode 85 miles. What a week! With a quick shower and packing of the car, bikes, and kids, we were back on the road to the flatlands. I lasted all of 100 miles before crashing at a motel for the night. Yes, that made for looong Sunday of driving, but it had to be done.


If you ever have a chance to head for the mountains, do it! Nothing beats the feeling of experiencing it in person, especially on a bike!

And RAGBRAI is only a few short weeks away . . . I'll be ready!





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