Ride The Rockies 2022 – Day 2
July 4, 2022 § 1 Comment
An “Easy” day they said. “Easier” was maybe more like it, but when you have the remnant lactic acid of a 110 mile day still being cleared from your legs, nothing is “Easier”. I think Susan had the right idea at the start. When the course hung a left to climb, she would continue straight along the river, because if there is anything I have learned biking, its this. When the route follows a river, there are no surprises. Back in May when I was Assaulting Mount Mitchell, it wasn’t until the climb left the creek that “Paid!” was stamped to my ticket, but the key word take away here is the difference between a “River” and a “Creek”. A creek empties into a river and drains higher elevations. A river is more established, so the Roaring Fork River, that drains down from Aspen through Basalt is a river, and as such it’s elevation loss, read that as gain when going against the flow of the river, isn’t all that bad, and as I recall, until we turned left to climb that hill, it is like we weren’t climbing at all.
If you read the last post, you know there was talk of a swim at the Springs, but as mentioned, if you wanted to ride the full loop on this day, then the swim should have occurred yesterday, as there wouldn’t be any Rest Area support if we left too late. When Ken showed up, I was ready to ride, but I was going to be more inclusive on this day, and I wasn’t just going to roll out with Ken, but would wait for a gaggle of Team Samaritans to roll out with. That gaggle included Rick, Susan, myself, and maybe 1 other. I though Andy would be here, but he was nowhere to be found. “What about Ken?” Yes, Ken was there as well, but he didn’t count as Team Samaritan gaggle.
Though we started out together, and though I thought I was going easy, I wasn’t paying too much attention to what was going on behind me. The trail is only so big, and while I wasn’t pushing it, it only takes a few over-takes before separation in the group happens, and if the front of the group doesn’t recognize it, and the back of the group doesn’t accelerate to close the gap, the gap grows, and the problem of closing the gap compounds. It was just such a gap, that wasn’t bridged, when we reached the turn-lefty turn, and it was only Rick, Ken and myself. Turn lefty we did, and then I quickly understood something about Colorado roads. If those roads are state highways, or US highways, or maybe even major local thoroughfares, there is an imposed engineering limit to just how steep the grade can be. That restriction does not exist for “the rest of the roads” in the state. As soon as we turned left, the grade felt like 10%, and remained high for most of the initial ascent. It was with tremendous relief that the only aid station was at the College after we gained all that elevation. Pulled in gladly we did. I think Rick and I held a steady tempo, whereas Ken pulled away, and to be honest, I don’t think I saw Ken again that day. It could be another case of “The Bathroom/Port-a-John hide and go seek” drama that separated us last year. You would think I could spot Ken’s purple Serotta leaning against a hot house of a toilet, but I did not, and maybe I did not again. Rick didn’t like to linger long at Aid Stations, and I was committed to searching out my new acquaintances to see about turn them into new friends, and this seemed like a perfect opportunity to get to know Rick better.
Off we set then. Of course, now, as I sit here in writing mode I realize I wasn’t listening all that well. Ha! I think I recall that he has at least two children, maybe a son and a daughter, the daughter went to a college nearby, maybe even spent some time at Colorado State, but I can’t be held to that detail. I am pretty sure one of the colleges was Colorado Christian College (?), but I wouldn’t bet money on that memory. I do remember that he told me that he wasn’t Catholic, after I shared that basically I was an Atheist, but I brought my daughters to the Unitarian Church so that they would have a “Community” to belong to and associate with. I shared my Paul story, and he shared that he met Paul because their daughters played soccer together, and though he wasn’t an “Across the Street neighbor”, he was a neighbor none-the-less, and when the doctor told him if he wanted any semblance of a normal life when he got older, he should stop running, and get on a bike, which Paul helped set him up on, and so he was pretty damn new to the whole cycling scene. A wee bit different than my 40 years of cycling, but Rick was pretty strong. He went uphill fine, and was cautious on descents, but we rode along together just fine. My gravity well is deep so every time the road kicked up, if it wasn’t something that I could simply power through, I dropped my gears, and started counting to ten.
We never saw anyone else, and again, whether Ken was ahead of us or behind us I didn’t know. I think I can surmise that if he was ahead of us, we wouldn’t catch him, and if he was behind us, then unless he had a real event in the port-a-john, he would catch us certainly. The college was not the top. It was just the beginning. It was the gateway into high open range land where it seemed like every descent was too short, and followed immediately by another long steep ascent. The saving grace on this day was I knew the route wasn’t much longer than mid 30’s in length, so after the fifth extra climb, I figured we must be heading down soon. And I wasn’t wrong as riding past a high lake, I could see ahead a tremendous view of snow covered mountains, and what looked like the lip of the descent that would take us into Basalt. Rick and I rolled into this, and soon the wind was blowing through my helmet as the negative grade took me down. We were kind of in the lee of the wind, and so I didn’t experience any de-stabilizing gusts, and soon I was on a long straight road where I soft pedaled until Rick caught up, and together we rode into Basalt where the route had rejoined the bike path we had been on earlier, until we broke off and dropped into Basalt proper. The course marshals guiding us all the way to Ride HQ where I found Ken, so he was ahead after all.
I found also that each day there was a free beer, and in search of that free beer I went, meanwhile Rick looked for the rest of Team Samaritan and we all settled down under some pine trees. This is where I met Haley, and Kat (Cat). They were both working for Samaritan House in their media relations department, and were gathering “media” for processing. We did some initial introductions, and then wanted to get some video of Rick, and myself with our stories. It’s kind of funny really. Seriously funny. Rick gave his interview, and was pretty terse and succinct and they seemed happy. Then, with record depressed, they turned the camera on moi, and well, they have to be forgiven, for they know not what they were getting themselves into. As Larry would say whenever I said something like “… and I was talking …” and Larry would interject “Really?!?”, and so I launched into my story. I was actually very comfortable talking and it wasn’t until I noticed the filmmakers biting into their sandwiches that I realized that they had turned off the cameras a long time ago. Having watched the finished product, it doesn’t seem that abrupt, however I crossed a line that shouldn’t have been crossed. Sorry ladies. Did I mention that Haley was some kind of local soccer legend, and a pretty big deal on the national stage? Well, she is.
I had been walking around in my socks, because when I was done, I didn’t want to wear my shoes anymore, and with all the pine trees around, I had only just become aware of the shit that was sticking to the bottom of my socks. Not just “things” but I had accumulated enough sap that no matter what I did, shit just attracted itself to my socks and so when I decided that I should go look for the RVs, I had to separate myself from a shitload of detritus from the bottom of my socks. I should note here that the hotel people, weren’t staying in Basalt. No. Those poor mother-fuckers were all set up in Snowmass. What the fuck is that you ask? Imagine it this way. You are a lucky contestant of Let’s Make a Deal. You have finished the ride, and that is your reward. You are done for the day. However, you can keep your reward, orrrr, you can trade it for whatever the fuck lies behind doors number 1, 2 or 3. The problem here is that nothing but a fucking hard extra 25 miles and 2000′ lie behind each door, and there is no shuttle to get there, so really your only choice is between a douche and a vesectomy in term of overall discomfort to get to your hotel. I shit you not. So, having endured a V already, Ken had set out. Now for those that are paying attention, yes, that means that on tomorrow’s stage, Ken actually has 20 miles less to ride, and 2000′ less to gain, but I will let him comment directly on his thoughts with respect to this engineered day.
So, with my sap-laden socks, re-inserted into my shoes, I decided on a route change to get to the RVs. I could see that I could have followed back along the way I came in, and where I needed to go, but I surmised, that I had an alternate, and somehow convinced a few people (no clue who they were), to follow me, and sure enough I short-cutted the distance and we all found what we wanted. My new friends were there setting up for the BBQ, and I found my shower bag and headed off for a repeat voyeur experience for anyone who was hanging around awaiting those moments. I returned clean, with my wet kit ready for drying, where I found my new friends engaged in some heavy Coors Lite consumption, and setting out the tables for cooking. Though I had spent some bonding time with Rick, it was like I had bonded with more, and I was engaged with everyone that night.
At some point Tuesday came up, and when should “we” start, and talk of 7 arose. I already logged myself in for a 4:30 massage, and so I indicated my goal to start was 5:30 in the am. Anyone was welcome to join, but I couldn’t wait till 6:30 let alone 7. In retrospect, that was my fault. In hindsight, I would have chosen a later time for my massage, but I didn’t know. 4:30 was my massage, and I was going to make that as it was another 110 mile day.
So, with all that running wild in my head, and a full stomach of whatever it is I ate, and all the beer I drank, I retired for the night. Uh Oh. I almost forgot something very important. It’s Monday. There was some drama on Monday, and that drama was Covid related. Remember Jon? Okay, one of the John’s. Recent business trip to Dublin, using an app called Time Shift to re-adjust to Mountain Time? He tested positive after we got into town. He was sleeping in my RV. Guess what? Well, Dave was in my RV as well, and Mike (Campbell) had spent time in our RV, and though he was sleeping in a tent, well that just wasn’t enough protection. John Positive. Dave Positive. Mike Positive. Holy fucking fuck! 50% of my my RV was positive! Now, yes, when I first found out, I should have walked to the nearest Walgreens, or local pharm, and gotten an instant test, but I did not. I alerted Ken, and Andy to the positives, and when asked whether John and Dave should be allowed to sleep in the RV, I was non-committal. They actually set John up outside, as he was the source of the infection, and Dave slept in the RV. Mike was tenting so he wasn’t really an issue. but that is how the night/day ended. Three positives, and John sleeping out under the stars under the Team Samritan tent. Rather than let this carry into the next post, I will end this post simply noting that all three of those individuals left the next day. The RV’s transported them down to Glenwood Springs where a rental was secured, and they drove back to Denver. Mike wasn’t from Denver, and so had to alter his travel plans to get home, though I don’t think he would have been allowed to travel until he tested negative. A big impact indeed.
Let’s fast forward here. Every single person in John’s entourage to Dublin came home positive. Every one! That isn’t on John, but it only says that John’s infection was real, the test was accurate, and precautions were taken. I don’t know how long Mike hung out in Denver, but maybe he didn’t travel again until he was negative. I didn’t ask, and he didn’t offer.
So, let’s conclude here. 3 positives, 2 of which were in my RV, though Bob (driver) and I didn’t feel like we were in any trouble. It was a rest day basically, and we had 6000′ to the top of Independence Pass. For those in Snowmass, assuming no fuck-ups, they would descend to the bike path, and then have to gain 4K. It was another 100 mile day, and there were few (if any) towns along the way. I was getting an early pearly start, and I heard that there would be a pancake truck serving up food in the morning. So, with that knowledge, I set to bed, which meant I started resting for the big day. The day was a huge success. I felt like Rick and I move from acquaintances to friends, and if maybe the word “Friend” was strong and came with extra connotations, then let’s say that the seeds of friendship had sprouted, and miracle grow was at work. As I write this now, I would definitely slot Rick into the friendship slot. We have kept in touch, laughed (lols) and I have made sure he is on my direct post list when I publish. Hell, he already led me to edit and re-publish my first post where I mis-identified his Havimalt as a Maltipoo. Ha!! What a fuck-up!
My push to engage my new acquaintances was at play, and was working. Independence Pass was another selfish day for me, but afterwards, I would play better. In the hours prior to bed, Tommy Dea, informed us that we were all invited over to his (former) business partner’s place in Sah-l-eye-dah, for dinner. I said to count me in, so there was another opportunity to integrate into my new group, and I wasn’t shying away from it.
PS. Look below for Suan’s picture. Now I don’t know if this is true, but why should I doubt it? Someone said she is 69. Really? Look at the picture. She doesn’t appear to be on the cusp of 60, let alone 70. That is what cycling does for you if you get into it. Now, does it reverse aging? No. Does it retard it? Most definitely. Actually what does that even mean? I am 63, and if I shave my beard, I know I don’t look 63, but I am still 63. So does cycling make you younger? No, it does not. Does it make you look and feel younger? Well, that is a resounding Fuck yeah! Is that actually good for anything? Who knows really? I am sure that barring catastrophe, I am definitely better off as an athlete than if I was just a couch potato. Looks, health, heart rate, resting heart rate, prescription drugs (only 1), the evidence appears to be in my favor, and I only mention Susan here because I heard that she has been involved in cycling for a long while. In fact look at everyone in my shots. They look great!
Yes, Ken was staying at Snowmass Village, which meant that the next morning I would have to ride back to join the “regular” route from Basalt. This meant about 101 miles instead of 109, more or less. However, that didn’t take into account my initial ~1,000′ descent from SV…on the wrong side of the mountain. The only way to get to the bottom of the *correct* descent was to climb back up and start over. Or grab the bus that was at the bottom of the mountain and get a $2 ride to the top, which I was so lucky to do. Thought my day was over before it began, but I had a reprieve. Add to that the total lack of route signage between SV and Aspen, I ended up at 109 miles.
The other highlight of the day was the fact that the idiot who set the route for the day thought that 17 miles between aid stations was close enough…not figuring in the fact that most people would need about three hours to cover that (I needed 2.5 hours) distance with 4,000′ of climbing. That’s a long way to go without resupplying with food or water, especially since the first aid station wasn’t completely set up yet (green bananas, anyone?).
Don’t get me started about waiting more than an hour at the third rest stop for some actual food, which was sorely lacking at every rest stop on the tour. Sorry, waiting in line for a breakfast burrito or a smoothie is not acceptable.
As for COVID, I started to feel symptoms on Day 4, but managed to complete the entire tour. I tested negative on “Day 7” back in New Jersey, but positive on “Day 8”. I conscientiously had worn a mask since leaving NJ anytime I was indoors or in a confined space (like a bus) the entire trip, but that didn’t protect me from the 99.999% of everyone else who couldn’t be bothered to behave responsibly.
Back to Big Bird’s much more positive blog!