Ride The Rockies 2022 – Day 5

July 23, 2022 § Leave a comment

A glorious day!

I tested negative the night before and today was a beautiful rest day. Yes, there was still a ride, but we were looking at 30 miles with only Swan Mountain to climb instead of a longer day that included and out and back to Ute Pass. It is the fifth day of the ride which means it all comes to end on the morrow, but let’s not fret about that just yet. The plan was a simple one. Follow the leaders into Frisco, and Silverthorne and find a place for some coffee, or even a sit-down place to get a bite for either a late breakfast, or an early lunch. It isn’t possible on a trip like this to take in too many calories. Every day of Ride the Rockies is calorie deficit day!

I wasn’t aware of just how close to Frisco we were and I probably could have gotten back on my bike and ridden down to it to look for a Covid test had I not been so fortunate to find one. We also weren’t terribly far from where we had started Ride the Rockies with Copper Mountain just being on the other side of the mountain to our West.

With everyone gathered, we set out from the RVs to join today’s route. I started a little disoriented thinking we were going in the wrong direction, but I soon realized my error. The entire route to Frisco was an excellent quality bike path that in general followed the accompanying highway, but took its own turns out and away from the highway. I did my best to not go too fast and simply ride along with everyone else. We were being led by the two Toms, Tom Schwein and Tommy Dea. Tommy Dea stopped a few times to capture images of the group, and Tom S led us as the path snaked through various neighborhood developments.

Soon we could see Dillon Reservoir approaching, where the bike path had to do some navigating to avoid “wasting” mileage on dead-end segments that jut out into the reservoir like necks creating large coves to get around. In getting around a rather large dead end section, the path hit some fairly steep short little climbs before settling in for more comfortable grades as we started around the Northern section of route. We didn’t give Frisco a second look, but I did notice the High School where they usually stage an Aid Station for the Triple Bypass Ride which this year goes out August 20th.

Somehow (maybe not really surprising), we got pretty stretched out, and when the part of the group I was with reached the Ute Pass spur point, I think we made a wrong turn, and it took some efforts to locate the rest of the group (and the route) again. We were given the name of an eatery, which we found quite easily, but we didn’t see anyone else there when we arrived. Now, to be fair, the place was mobbed, and I believe we found out that it would be an hour wait, at least to be seated, and considering the size of our group, which no one really knew, they might not have even been able to accommodate us. However when no one else showed up, we re-contacted Tom S, and found that they had moved on already having been given the same wait information, and so we moved on.

It was on this next section where I believe we encountered the best views of the Dillon reservoir against the backdrop of the mountains, and where we ran into Joe Tilman and Gina Calleo, two friends of mine from Jersey, who regularly use RTR to prepare themselves for the 200+ mile Longest Day Ride (No longer an organized ride) from the Northern tip of New Jersey to its Southern tip in Cape May. Tommy Dea and I stopped to chat, and we grabbed a few images together there before setting off again.

It became pretty clear that though we started as a large group we were going to finish as a bunch of smaller groups. I think that is simply because little things happened to break a group up, from simple things like stopping to take pictures, to some wrong turns, to perhaps some mechanicals, but Tommy Dea and I were still with a fair number of team members when we started up Swan Mountain with me learning that “No, other than turning around, there was no way to avoid Swan Mountain”. So, up Swan Mountain I went. Now Swan is not a big climb, but while it is often climbed by bikes, it doesn’t really have the full bike lane infrastructure that it should have. The shoulder shrinks as elevation is gained, and at some point a separate path does branch off to bring the rider to the apex of the climb and thus avoid the dodgiest section of roadway where the shoulder is near non-existent and the traffic behind possibly most annoyed. There was a course marshal guiding everyone onto that path, but Tommy Dea wanted to stay on the road, and so I followed him to keep him company to the top, and maybe provide either a bigger target for the vehicles trying to hit us, or a bigger obstacle for those trying to avoid us. Take your pick! Tommy and I reached the top and awaited on the others who took the bike path (which actually loses elevation before gaining it back). Apparently the bike path didn’t take you around the summit, it took you to the summit. All together again, we descended and all met up again at the Aid Station at the bottom. Did they need an Aid Station? I guess that depends on how many riders took in Ute Pass, then maybe “Yes”. We didn’t really need it, but it was an opportunity for us to regather again. Even though it was a short descent, that was enough to stretch it out again. I seem to recall that Tommy Dea found people he knew at this Aid Station where it always seemed like he was seeing people for the first time in years. “Everybody loves Tommy Dea” was a refrain I heard often from Paul spoken in his Irish brogue, and that is what it looked like to me.

From the last Aid Station we simply had to re-connect with the bike path, and I am not sure exactly what we did, but it seemed like we had to do something that was counter-intuitive to get under the highway, and back onto the path. I was noodling1 along when who should pass me but Joe and Gina, so I spun my wheels a little faster to catch on and ride a few miles with these two. Joe and I chatted, while Gina sat just behind us with music playing from her Buckshot Bluetooth Speaker (I have one as well), which I think she had an issue with because she lost the handlebar mount for the device. I might need to look for mine and send it to her, as I always just put the speaker in my back pocket. In any case, Joe and I chatted, and before I knew what was happening, we reached the camping area in Breck, and I bid adieu to Joe and Gina and rode over to the RV. Some of the gang was there, and some of the gang was behind me. It was BBQ night again, and rather than make any more exceptions, I decided that after I showered up, I would walk over to City Market and pick up some Beyond Beef or Impossible Burger so that I would have something to eat. Little did I know, because again being the only Vegan on the trip I didn’t want to impose any restrictions on them, Jon had already purchased some plant-based burgers for the grill.

With everyone back in camp, we had a terrific BBQ with plenty to eat, and certainly plenty to drink. Oh yeah, I almost forgot. It seemed that walking back from my City Market purchase, I walked past a liquor store, and somehow, I walked out with a bottle (paid for of course) of Tullemore Dew Irish Whiskey. We had finished off a small bottle of Johnny Walker Red that Tom S had found in either Basalt, or Salida where he paid a premium on the 375 ml bottle. My bottle of TD was 750 ml, and was only about $40, if that, so apparently good whiskey doesn’t incur such a local surcharge here in Breckenridge. Anyway, Tom and I put a wee dent in the TD, but not such a big dent, as we still had to get over Loveland Pass the next day.

As the sun set that evening, a beautiful light was scattered in the western sky bringing to an end the last night together for this year’s RTR adventure. With the light fading, clean-up commenced and soon people were heading off to their various accommodations and soon we were just the RV crowd. There was a discussion that got taken up inside one of the RVs, which I decided not to participate in, and I started to get my things together for the next day. The plans were loose, but both Andy and Ken wanted a fairly early start as both had bikes to break down at the end of the ride. I believe we agreed that 6:30 in the am was early enough to cover their concerns, and so day 5 came to relaxing end. I might have even slept well.

1 A term of unknown origin that simply means turning the crank without really trying as in “I noodled along until everyone caught up” or “Frank had a mechanical, so I noodled along until they got him straightened out and caught up.”

A Story

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