Saturday, June 29, 2013

Day 39 - Our First Taste of the Rockies and the Apocalypse

Part of the team after the beginning of today's ride

With the intimidating snow-capped Rockies looming in the distance, we packed our bags and headed out from Trinidad with our destination city, Walsenburg, on our minds. The road we were traveling on was called the "Road of Legends" and we joked that they had named the road after us. The scenery was stunning and we cruised up and down the foot hills all while getting closer and closer to the huge mountains in the distance. 

Headed towards the Rockies!

Before long, they were upon us and we began our climb up through Cuchara Pass. It was a difficult climb. We started at about 6,000ish feet and by the time we'd reached 7,500 feet, it was getting hard to breathe. I panted, unable to catch my breath as easily as I usually can. The lactic acid built up in my legs faster than normal. Climbing in altitude is definitely a challenge. I was in my "granny gear" quite a bit. 

We reached lunch around mile 40. The lunch spot was at a beautiful mountain lake surrounded by pine forest. It was freezing, but Eliza, Emma, and me went for a swim anyways! It was very refreshing! 

Eliza, Emma, and Melanie

After lunch, we had about 10 more difficult miles of climbing. I was riding with Marcus, Austin, and Dan and they lead the way as we pushed up the pass. We took several breaks to catch our breath but not for long because a thunderstorm was threatening. 

We passed a lake with the bluest water I had ever seen!!

Finally, after one last push up a steep grade, we made it to the top! The altitude was 9,995 feet and the air was thin!

The summit!

We didn't spend too much time at the top though because it was starting to sprinkle and we didn't want to have rain ruin our 15 mile descent. It was great to see the downhill truck sign after climbing for so long. The descent was indescribable. The trees whizzed by as we flew down the side of the mountain at 40 mph. The descent was somewhat technical and we had to navigate several tight turns. I could barely believe my eyes as I looked out into beautiful valleys surrounded by mountains shrouded in clouds. Those 15 miles flew by and we stopped in town at the base of the mountain for celebratory ice cream cones. 

We for into the host site quickly after that. We only had 17 miles and a tailwind carried us in. We looked warily at the mountains we had come from and saw that storm clouds seemed to have overtaken them. We were concerned about our teammates still on the mountains. 

We got in and took showers and lasted heard horror stories about the stormy conditions on the mountain. My friend Nyx described apocalyptic conditions with freakishly strong cross winds and hail that left welts on their arms. Steam rolled up the road as cold rain hit the warm mountain and caused their brakes to slip. Their descent was not nearly as enjoyable as ours as it was difficult for the to stay in control of their bikes. But everyone made it thankfully!!

There are lots of wildfires in Colorado and a lot of the culture around here circulates around fire fighters and the fires they out out. Please pray for rain in Colorado to prevent the destruction of even more homes!

Long day tomorrow! I'm hitting the thermarest!
Marcus, Dan, and me after our descent!

1 comment:

  1. Wow, you made it over a Colorado mountain!! I was scared reading about the group behind you....nothing like slippery brakes going d-o-w-n a mountain. Those run-away-truck ramps make my imagination want to shut it off and not think anymore, because I take on a sense of the outright fear in MY belly! Stay safe and keep up the keen senses on the weather and how that can affect the trip. Have a good ride! Nice here in Chicago today, low 70's sunny, and breezy.