|JULY 10, 2010|
It was going to be a crapshoot how long we would all stay together during the day, but we all started together at 6:45am on Saturday morning, July 10. It was a cool sunny morning and we were facing the typical Colorado forecast with a chance of showers sometime during the ride. The climb up to Squaw Pass was gorgeous. For some reason I had it in my head from the previous year that the climb was 12 miles, but it was actually about 15 miles. We all started together, but the group started separating after about 2 miles as Kevin Lawrence, Dean, Jamie and I picked up the pace and everyone else strung along behind us. I reached the Squaw Pass Aid Station a little after 8am and everyone else rolled in over the next 20-30 minutes. So far no issues and the weather was perfect.
Jamie and I descended together and it was a blast getting behind his big frame and hitting speeds in the mid 40s. We all regrouped at the bottom of the descent before going through Idaho Springs and our number had dwindled from 13 to 9. Behind us were Michael, Sonny, Todd and Marty. We all rolled through Idaho Springs and formed a paceline that stayed together for a good 5 or 6 miles until the road started to steepen a little.
We arrived at Aid Station #2 at around 10:15am and started to see some clouds on the Western Horizon. Aid #2 is about 44 miles into the ride. Our group spread out again over the 12 miles from Idaho Springs and everyone left Aid #2 at different times as well. I pulled out of Aid #2 with Kevin Kane, Flyer, Malin and Gregory and we began the big 10-Mile slog up to Aid #3 at Loveland Basin. This section kind of blows as there is a good 5 miles of riding on the shoulder of I-70. I decided to hit this section pretty hard and turn it into a training ride. On the bright side, I enjoyed the pace and felt great pumping circles into Aid #3 at around 11:45am. On the negative side, it was a good 30-45 minutes before the rest of the crew pulled in and I tightened up pretty badly sitting at the Aid Station for such a long time.
We didn't all pull out of Aid #3 until close to 1pm and now it was starting to cloud up pretty badly. In fact, it looked downright dark at the top of Loveland Pass. On the climb up to Loveland Pass, everyone strung out pretty well again and it was every man for himself when we each hit the top as it was starting to rain and hail. The descent down through A-Basin and Keystone was fast and scary because of the weather. I had bad memories of the year before when my front tire blew out and I had to catch a ride down in a SAG wagon. Fortunately there were no issues like that this year. I met up with Deano and Jamie at the bottom and we popped up over Swan Mountain without much trouble and arrived at the Frisco Aid Station #4 just as the skies really opened up and it started to pour. We were now about 80 miles into the ride and it was around 2:15 in the afternoon. I checked the radar map on my phone and it looked like we had about an hour of rain in store for us, but that it was clear behind the current storm. Kevin Kane, Flyer, Neil and I decided to hang at the aid station and wait it out. Everyone else either took off in the rain or had not yet arrived at the Aid Station.
At 3:15 the rain stopped and we ventured back out for the last 40 miles. The ride to Copper was pretty uneventful and we kept a slow and smooth pace together. We took a quick break at a tent at Copper and then climbed the 4 miles up to the Vail Pass Aid Station at Mile 93. Several of the guys were waiting at the aid station, but we were essentially down to about 5 riders at this point. Jamie and I hooked up for the descent and we passed anyone in our path on the way back into town. Coming through Vail we hit a nasty headwind that pretty much sapped our remaining energy and we just cruised the last few miles to the finish in Avon, arriving at around 5:30pm. Neil, Michael, Kevin Kane and Flyer arrived shortly after us.
Interesting day. My total ride time was about 7 hours and 45 minutes, but we were out there for about 11 hours. I spent way too much time at aid stations, but that was the price to pay for riding with a big group. A lot of fun nonetheless.