Kat and I were sweeps today so we patiently waited for everyone to leave while dancing to our own song selection. We danced to calm our nerves and get pumped as well as to warm up. It was a very cool Colorado morning and we had on our arm warmers and an extra long sleeves layer on to stay warm.
Finally, Kat and I started off and began the 19 mile climb up Independence. The grade was not to bad but the climb was relentless. We stopped often to catch our breath and take pictures. As we rose higher and higher, the mountains seemed to become more and more beautiful. I can't even describe it, you would have to see it yourself to understand.
The closer we got to the pass, the steeper the grade got. We reached the base of mountain, where the switchbacks began, and looked up at the road we would be taking. Cars came down at what seemed to be an impossible angle. It was really intimidating, but we knew we had to climb it.
We went around the first switchback and started the real climbing. It wasn't as bad as we thought it was going to be! Slowly, we zig-zagged our way up the mountain, taking breaks to catch our breath and eat snacks. A few times, we caught up with other riders and rested with them as we tackled the pass. The switchbacks grew closer and closer together as we neared the top. Kat was killing it! I shouted words of encouragement to her between pants as we pedaled and pedaled. "C'mon, Mama!" I called to her by her nickname. Even though our legs ached, the only way to go was up.
Suddenly, we heard a shout echo across the valley. We looked up and saw all of our teammates standing at the top of the pass, cheering us on. They looked like ants! But their encouragement spurred us on and we tackled the last few switchbacks knowing that there was a party waiting for us on top of the mountain.
As we came up the final slope, the team lined up on either side of the road and made a tunnel for us. "Sweeeeeeps!!" they shouted, hailing us. They were going absolutely insane, screaming for us, jumping, and swinging their jerseys around their heads. Kat and I rode side by side through the tunnel and everyone went wild and closed in on us like we were finishing a stage in the Tour de France! As we finished the climb, our teammates surrounded us and ran with us as we pedaled up the peak. It was the most amazing welcome I have ever experienced!!!!!!
After we got to the top, there was a giant (and smelly) group hug followed by a dance party. We sang and danced to "All These Things That I've Done" by the Killers, which is a Bike and Build theme song. The whole team had waited for the sweep riders to summit so that everyone could party together at the top. We took tons of pictures with the summit sign!
The descent was awesome. Picturesque mountains landscapes flashed by at 40 mph as we undid all the work we just completed by cycling up he mountain. We had a lot of extra time, so we stopped to sight-see at some ice caves and went cliff jumping at the Devil's punch bowl, a waterfall that flows into a deep rock "bowl."
We descended all the way into our destination city, Aspen. We ate pizza, shared stories, and even attended an awesome rock concert in Snowmass in the evening. It was a glorious day, definitely one of my favorites from the trip so fad! I wish we never had to leave Colorado but our days in this state are growing short. We must enjoy it while it lasts!!! Tomorrow is another cruiser, 60 miles and rumor had it that it is a gradual descent all day! Goodnight all!