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.