I know I wished for less heat... but Im sorry... I didnt mean it... at all!!
I poked my head out this morning to be greeted by pouring rain. Now Im by no means a fair weather cyclist but this was again rainfall of biblical proportions..
I do love to feel the rain in the Summertime but this was ridiculous.. but I had no choice.. so packed up and headed over to the cafe next door for a bit of breakfast before getting back out on the road.
Breakfast consisted of the usual eggs.. fried potatoes.. bacon and sausage patty. Honestly though I think my stomach is starting to complain about something as my digestive tract is grumbling on and off... a little worrying when out on the road. Tom Dumoulin comes to mind! (If you dont know what im referring to... https://youtu.be/7fr90bkmmK8 )
I might lay off the protein overload and avoid eggs for a day or so!
Anyway... today I was navigationally blind.
I was no longer folowing (or close to) the divide route and was making it up as I went along. With a combination of google maps... off line maps.me and my Etrex 20X GPS I worked out a route that involved a bike path and avoided me having to go on the interstate. I dont mind cycling on the interstate as they have a wide shoulder but in the wet and gloom it didnt seem like the best idea... plus I think its illegal in Colorado (stoopid foreigner card aside).
By the time I had finished breakfast.. the rain had at least stopped and it wasnt cold despite all the low lying cloud obscuring the higher peaks.
In order to go forwards I had to go backwards a bit and circled round to Dillon and the dam road. I was hoping that google maps had got this route right as it was a bloody big hill up to the dam road. I started over the dam and was called back by a guard asking that I use the bike path. Im not always a fan of bike paths as they tend to wind round.. up and down when the road itself is straight and flat... however when I got up to the bike path on top of the dam I was greeted by a beautiful view and a lovely smooth path.
Ok so it did wind round a bit but it was quiet..the furry little things were back and the flowers were out amidst tje sapling pine trees. It was a breath of fresh air after the road riding of the day before. Best thing was that this path wound its way round the lake to Frisco where I hoped to pick up another trail which ran right alongside the interstate and the river to Copper Mountain where I would then hit the road again south to Leadville.
I passed joggers and cyclists and regular restrooms. It was a well thought out rec trail and I was reasonably impressed coming from a country where bike lanes often last 100 yards or so and then stop abruptly merging you into the path of traffic.
So this first bit took me to Frisco... a touristy town which seemed like an offshoot of the ski town of Beckenridge. It had gift shops and up scale restaurants and modern 'wild west' style buildings.. an interesting place but not my kind of place so I shot through looking for the start of the trail that would take me to Copper Mountain and the road southwards. I found the trail and once again was hugely impressed. Keeping the river between it and the interstate I could barely hear any traffic. A sign warning of moose reminded me of earlier adventures in wilder places. It was however steadily UP and having started off at 9000ft ... it wasn't going to get any easier. I knew that I had a mainly uphill day to Leadville. I also had an inkling that there was going to be a big pass to climb... but with no definative data ... I was essentially cycling blind... heading into the unknown and taking each pedal stroke as it came.
For now I was blissfully enjoying a bit of peace and quiet along the river.
At one point I came across a large furry creature... unconcerned by my presence he carried on munching on the grass. Am awaiting opinion on what he was but I do know that he allowed me pretty close and didn't turn a hair!
I was stopped catching my breath when another mountain biker came up on a very nice Marin bike. His friends call him Zeke and he was riding some of the Colorado trail essentially heading towards where I was going. He was unloaded... he explained that his cousin had offered to drive a support vehicle for this bit and was currently hauling his kit. I let him go ahead .. given that he was going to be faster. Eventually the trail ended... having climbed another 500ft at least and heading towards the 10000ft marker.
I love having an altimeter on my GPS as it provides a better forcast of suffering than the mileage. E.g the fact that you have 5 miles to the top of the pass to go means nothing really by itself. To know that you have 1500ft to climb in that 5 miles gives a good indication of how much it is going to hurt!!
I thought my LLFF score was around 7 today given how they felt at points on the river trail. I said cheerio to Zeke and headed for the road up the pass assuming that he was going a different way. As I started up.the climb... zeke popped out of the woods and began the climb a bit further ahead of me. It proved to be an imteresting barometer for my performance.
The climb was not a terrible gradient. I managed to stay in the big ring for 2/3 of it. Just tapping away... stopping every now and again for photos and catching breath... although given the altitude I was surprised at how well my lungs were coping. Once I got into the rythm of the climb my LLFF fell to 2-3.. technically... given the terrain... the best they had felt. Not only that .. but I was managing to keep Zeke within my eye range... pretty happy with that as I was on a loaded bike.
I was playing near the high mountains... snow capped.. and high elevation. Not only that but for the first time in a long time I was enjoying a climb. Probably because the gradient was manageable for me. I watched my altimeter ... 9800... 9900... 10000ft... steadily going up and up. Also I had no idea when it was due to end so I just kept tapping up.
The cars were all pretty respectful and most gave a very wide berth. I often wonder what they think when they see me on my bike. 'CraZy' ?? 'Fair Play'?? or do they not see me at all??
The higher I got... the more evidence of mining activities. Scarring the mountainside. Add to that a pipeline also running the length of the climb and it almost ruined the beauty. I say almost because at several points I stopped and gazed at the view. One such place was a valley where the world's highest Masonic Lodge used to reside. Then there was the lake.. surrounded by green flanked hills. And still I climbed.
At around 11000ft I got to a levelling off and celebrated getting to the top of the pass... 318ft prematurely it turned out but the sign for Climax mine gate #23 made me chuckle.
Eventually I did get to the top of the pass and it felt bloody good. But not as good as the long sweeping downhill felt after all that effort. Unfortunately... as often happens with downhills... it was not all downhill... I know the cheek of it. So at varying points I had to peddle. Add to that... my stomach had begun to gurgle and I didn't feel quite so good. So it was relief that I scooted into Leadville and found to my delight... that unlike Frisco.. parts of this seemed genuinely old... and althoygh there were some more touristy shops... it somehow seemed far more genuine than Frisco. So given the intestinal issue and the fact that I was pretty pleased with the days work... and that I was on schedule to meet up with Louize and Mark.. I decided to stop here. Found a motel and proceeded with my stopped schedule as detailed in yesterdays blog (accidently deleted... now recovered)
CNN has been ruined with the Donald Trump Jr email scandal... they are talking about /discussing/ arguing about NOTHING ELSE!!
I am soooo fed up of Don Jr.... Russian Lawyers... secret meeting... denials of knowledge about any of it. There is apparently NO OTHER News.
Shortly after I had holed up for the rest of the day.... the thunder rumbled and the lightening flashed and drops started to fall. Undeterred I ran out to get food. Turns out a pesto/spinich/garlic and caramelised onion pizza is actually pretty good. I also realised that whilst talking to yourself or the animals or birds may be acceptable when there is no one around to hear you... when you are amongst people however.....
I ran back to the motel and sat down to post pics and write blogs..
A reminder ... I am #sufferingforsponsorship to raise money for the fantastic charity Love Hope Strength Foundation. Please donate if you can if you are enjoying the journey... the photos and the blogs!! Help Fight Back against Cancer!