Tuesday, June 30, 2009

BTC Day 1 - McClure Pass

We departed for Glenwood Springs on a Friday afternoon. We arrived there on Saturday, some 1150 miles later. With the iPhone in hand and conversation a plenty the time really did seem to fly.

Once checked in we unloaded the car, parked it, and made our way into the grade school. The gym was full, but we found space in a hallway corner. For the next 7 days our accommodations would be similar.

Tim gave his bike once last check up before securing it to a fence then we were off to bed.

**Well, this is not really his bike for the BTC, but it was someones. How crazy is that?!?!

We have not climbed many mountain passes, zero for me, but we at least did some research to know you must get up early and get over the pass before noon. After that time the weather is extremely unpredictable and nasty. With this knowledge were up at 6am in the cold rain ready to tackle day one.

I did not take too many pictures once we got rolling. It was raining. I was excited and nervous. I really just wanted to focus on staying with Tim and getting up AND over my first mountain pass.

McClure Pass is not a long climb compared to the others we rode during the BTC. However, the ride gradually ascended all the way to mile 35. The last 4 or 5 miles of the climb is where the fun started. It was a consistent 8% grade at this point with a couple of switchbacks. The road had a real nice "mountain" feel to it.
Tim seemed to be in his comfort zone. He was riding up the mountain pass zooming past me, behind me, next to me, riding one handed and taking about a million pictures. He looked strong.
With one mile to the summit we got our first glimpse at Cowbell Kathy. A wonderful lady with cowbell in hand offering encouragement near the top of the rides most difficult climbs. With bell a shaking we heard "Great job. You are 11th and 12th up the mountain today"
Well, like any cyclist would do, we immediately picked up the pace to over take the last rider in sight. We reached the summit as riders 10 and 11. Sure, most of the other 1750 riders slept in a bit waiting for the early morning rain to pass. Whatever, we were doing it and doing it well.

A self portrait at 8,755 feet! Also, a note to self, never wear that cycling cap again.

The view from the top.

See that smile on Tim's face? It is there because he knows there is a nice little payoff coming. After climbing all morning we now get to descend the mountain. See how the road just disappears! I only recall that it was fast and cold.

Day 1 was a success. The BTC picked a perfect pass to start with. Not too high and not too difficult, but with enough mountain feel to get us juiced for the remainder of the tour. Well done BTC.

We're back

We're back after an unexpected Saturday night stay at the Ritz-like North Platte, NE, HoJo and unexpected detour on I-280 around the Quad Cities.

Great trip. Still getting back into the work groove and starting to load pictures, but here's something to keep you occupied until I get around to writing up each day's ride....

Try to spot Arron in this photo. (click on the photo to see a bigger version)

Sunday, June 28, 2009


After 560 miles on two bikes and 1600 miles in a car we have our first
mechanical. Rear blowout on I80 last night at 10pm near N Platte, NE.

Trying to get a new tire on Sunday in Nebraska is not easy. After 60
miles on the spare we are sitting at a WalMart getting new rubber.

First trip wrinkle will put us way behind schedule. I will take this
kind of flat over one on the bike while descending a mountain pass any

Arron Hampton via iPhone.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Yes we are still in Colorado

Day 7

What a mountain. The first 46 miles on the ride were uphill. The climb
up the pass was 17 miles long.

The road up was unbelievable. At one point we were at 10,000 feet with
the mountain on our right and the valley AKA cliff on the left.

The decent was wicked scary. The road down was sketchy and steep. I
was all over my brakes.

It was 107 miles today. We went up hard and once off the mountain we
kept the pedals turning fast. I think we are ready to get home.

I have great pics and video from the last two days to share with you
when we get back.

On the road now. Missing the family and can't wait to see them. More
to come in the next couple days.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Summit View



Dirt road climbing.
14 mile climb with 3000 feet of gain. On dirt. 12,126 feet. This is Cottonwood Pass.

*Network down. Pics coming.

Day 6 Cottonwood Pass

14 mile climb with 3000 feet of gain. On dirt. 12,126 feet. This is
Cottonwood Pass.

My favorite day so far. No mistake about this climb, it was up a
mountain. This is a road that the likes of Horner, Levi, and Lance
have recently trained on.

The flatlanders road it well. I found my tempo early and kept it
rolling until the top. I felt really really good. Not a single rider
passed me.

Riders are still coming in. They are saying there was rain and hail on
the mountain. They are cold and shakey.

The flatlanders are warm and cozy. We already had our 5$ footlongs.

Independence Pass is "all" that is left.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

And on the fifth day they rested

I'm sitting in an internet cafe watching the rain fall here in Crested Butte and realizing I left my freshly laundered cycling clothes draped across my bike to dry. Dang. Well, at least when the rain stops the clothes will dry out again rather quickly here at 8500 feet and almost no humidity.

Crested Butte is a perfect spot for a rest day. What a great town. All the locals ride cruiser bikes to get around and they are so welcoming.

Tomorrow we'll ride up Cottonwood Pass, which has 7 miles of hard pack and tops out around 12,300 feet. Thankfully it's only a 76 mile day (if we don't get lost, that is). Should be an adventure getting to that elevation.

More soon.... Tim

Day 5

Aproximately 370 miles down & 180 ish to go. Started today with a real
breakfest and COFFEE. Then off to the coffee shop for more relaxing
and, uh, COFFEE.

I am thinking a nap is in order then a second visit to the Coffee Shop
sounds good :)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


They don't serve Hammer, but Tim says one of these will work.

Crested Beautiful

92 miles from Montrose to the amazing town of Crested Butte. Great
ride over two steep climbs, through canyons, along the Gunnison River,
and up to Crested Butte. Great day.

Tomorrow is the much needed rest day...... So see the next post for
how we're prepping for the day out of the saddle.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Detour of the Moon and the slog to Montrose

Another brutal day, but one worth the effort. We rolled out early to
do the optional loop of colorado national monument,but ended up doing
12 extra miles because the BTC markings had not been painted on the
road. Eventually we got there and the switchback climb and ride along
the canyon rim were jaw dropping. Pictures when we get home.

The subsequent transfer to Montrose was not quite as fun. 60 miles
along busy US 50. A steady headwind that kicked up in the last 15
miles and temps around 100 on the road were soul crushing. Arron went
on ahead with about 5
miles to go and I withered to a crawl. Then I stopped at Burger King
and ordered a large chocolate shake.

The last mile to the school was no problem after that.

112 miles. Wow. And 93 uphill miles on tap tomorrow. I'll be ready
for the rest day in Crested Butte.

(posted by Tim)

Day 3 - Easy Day?!?

This day was 77 miles to Montrose with a 30 mile optional loop in the
Colorado National Monument Park. Of course it wasn't an option for us.

The Park was breathe taking. Tight switchback climbs, canyons, cliffs,
rim rock......Amazing.

Not so amazing was the two hours it took us to find the loop due to
poor or no route markings.

Or the 70 miles on a 4 lane highway.

Or the 100 degree heat.

Or the nasty headwind.

Or being talked out of "sagging" at mile 85.

Or or or or.

We ended with 110 miles and maybe 6000 feet climbing. We have a big
climb tomorrow. I am fried. So you only get a pic of my recovery meal.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Beautifully Brutal

Monday's ride up Grand Mesa was crazy. After a stiffer start to the
day than expected, the real climbing began. Beginning right at mile
20 all the way to the mountaintop aid station at mile forty there was
nothing but incline. No flat to the road and no downhill respite.
Arron made it all the way without stopping. I stopped three different
times, but eventually made it to the top of the Mesa at 10800+ feet.

The payoff came immediately after refueling. The descent off the Mesa
was epic. About 25 solid miles of downhill with fast speeds and
buffeting winds. Then a fast ride along a rushing river through a
beautiful canyon.

Another amazing ride.

(posted by Tim)

Day Two.

94 miles, a 20 mile two hour climb, the Grand Mesa at 10,800 feet,
wicked fast decents with an Iban Mayo reference, amazing scenery.
Amazing I say!

Arron Hampton via iPhone.

The Grand Mesa

We spent 2 plus hours climbing 20 miles to this summit. 90 plus total
miles and over 7000 total feet climbed. The 30 mile decent was off the
charts fantastic. What a day!!!!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Almost Nighty Night Time. We will keep the iPhone pics coming. Tim is taking some great pics with a real camera too. Those will come at you when we get home.

Grub Spot.

Tent City

Not a bad backdrop for camping.

Day One.

McClure Pass 8755 feet. We departed in the Rain at 6am. The fist 25
to 30 seemed fast. I was kinda thinking this wasn't such a big deal.
Well, it became a big deal when we started up the pass. Incredible is
all I can say. As we approached the summit they told us we were the
11th and 12th riders to reach the top. We ended up 10 and 11. The
flatlanders are representing. :).

Read Set......

Rain. Day one is 77 miles climbing up to 8500 feet. Up since 430am and
it's been raining since midnight. Gearing up to roll out soon.

Who's idea was this?

Arron Hampton via iPhone.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Carbs Are Good.

Beer has Carbs in it, right? :)



Arron 958 traveled. I see snow covered mountain tops.

Where are the mountains?

Har Dee har har.

Blurry, but we've been welcomed to colorado. Word.


How appetizing

Has anyone ever eaten at Runza? We've seen them throughout Nebraska
but have yet to indulge. Don't really want the runzas right now. -T.

Iowa is hilly...

...Nebraska is not.

Friday, June 19, 2009

600 miles down with several to go. Hoteling it in Kearney NE. Rolling out tomorrow at 6am.

Hey Tim I got shotgun tomorrow!

The Heavens

Have opened!

Hello Iowa

200 down and counting...

Sketchy weather on the roll out

Just getting ready to roll out to meet up with Arron. The weather here in the lovely Fox Valley is quite wet.

We just had a wicked t-storm with heavy rain roll through from the northwest. The stormline was ominous as it passed by and we got tornado sirens. Down to the basement for a little while.

The radar shows more of the same headed our way. Maybe it'll be sunny in Iowa.

Here's hoping it's a bit drier when we make it to Glenwood Springs on Sunday.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

packed. the big bag is 32 pounds. i hope that means i have everything?????

hey Tim, i call shotgun.

Packed and ready.

I've got the bags packed and am ready to head west tomorrow.

Rob gave the Felt a good once over and put on some new brake pads and Michelin Krylions.

Let's get this show on the road.

That is all.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Snow No!

Let me tell you this: If it’s snowing when we get to the top of Independence Pass on the final day, I ain’t stopping for any videos like Lance, Levi, Simon and Horner.

Man, watching that makes me feel so unprepared. Actually, being uprepared is what's making me feel unprepared.

I'm going to have to start adding Snickers and Cokes to the training table.

Praying for sunshine starting next week!

It's The Final Countdown

Departure date is this Friday. Tim and I will trudged over 1000 miles via car to Glenwood Springs, CO.

I am 66.6666% ready. The engine is as tuned as it will get and in rest mode. Metnally I feel confident I can finish the BTC. The last third of the equation is my bag. I don't even have a duffle bag yet. Plus, there are two or three key items I still need to purchase.

I have been to busy training!!! :)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Hi, My Name Is...

BTC Training, originally uploaded by aham23.

Arron. If you see me out and about at 12,000 feet say hello.

Bring fudge rounds too.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Preparation Trepidation

Though I’m fairly sure I’ll acclimate with time during BTC, it’s been a long time since I have been at high altitude. The last time I was in Colorado was in April of 2001 (Megan hopefully remembers that trip…).

555 miles in a week over 6 days. That’s averaging ~92 miles per day, though seeing photos of previous BTCs, I’m thinking that I’m fit enough, even with my steady training diet of Biggie sized Wendy’s #2 combos, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Pop Tarts and Pibb Xtra (when did it stop being Mr. Pibb, anyway?).

Plus, this 2009 BTC escapade is going to be whirlwind, given hectic work and life schedules leading up to and immediately following the trip. As it is, we’re not going to get to Glenwood Springs until the afternoon prior to the Sunday start. That gives us all of half a day to chill out, find some food, and chill out some more before starting the first ride across McClure Pass at 8700 feet.

I’m not worried about Arron. He’s all healthy eating, core training, and quintuple shot cappuccinos. He’s going to laugh at everyone as he cruises skyward at two miles above sea level.

The biggest concern I have is do I have all my gear in order. Should I get one of those fredly handlebar bags that will hold enough warm gear to make it to Everest base camp, or do I stuff some arm warmers and knee warmers in the back of the wind vest and call it good? What am I going to forget that I’ll really wish I hadn’t forgotten?


Time to go throw some fresh brake pads on the bike and load some more Rossini on the mp3 player.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

What Have We Done?

Bicycle Tour of Colorado’s 15th anniversary tour… This trip is spectacular: you will need to test your mettle on four, count them four, near century days, two 12,000 foot passes, the Grand Mesa, and a lower pass. Total route mileage, if you partake in the must-do Colorado National Monument ride on the second day is about 555 miles for the week. This is easily the longest tour ever for the BTC. Despite the length, I believe that the ride will be worth just about every mile. The Grand Mesa (which is a first for the BTC, I believe), Colorado National Monument (another first), Independence Pass, Cottonwood Pass (another first), and Crested Butte all offer incredible scenery and fantastic cycling challenges.

Summary: 555 miles. 40,000 feet of climbing. two 12,000 foot passes. 15 miles of dirt road.

Should be fun!

The Official Blog of Tim and Arron's BTC Adventure

It's almost here, people. Bicycle Tour of Colorado starts on Sunday June 21.

We'll hopefully be updating this blog with details and progress.