Saturday, July 4, 2009

BTC Day 2. the Grand Mesa.

this day would be interesting. back to back efforts of climbing at high altitude. how would Team Flatlanders respond? How would the weather be at 10,000 feet? how much would a 20 mile climb hurt? a day of questions that i hoped would yeild positive answers.

*note to self, when uploading to Blogger the first picture will be your last so upload in reverse order. Things may be wacky as a result.

the day started with sun. lots of sun. it was still a bit nippy, but man o man was that sun a beautiful sight.

at mile one into a 98 mile day we hit a steep little climb. somewhere in the 7% to 10% range. i was not ready for that. it takes me hours to warm up and i wishing i stopped at mile .5 on the edge of town for an pre ride espresso.

the first twenty miles were full of short climbs, a couple of cool switchbacks, and a wicked fast descent. Tim was looking good, both form wise and apparel wise.

here he is coming "back up" a switchback. he floated to the top then decided to roll back down a bit to snap some pictures. i caught him the second time.

there was a nice little descent as we made our way to the first Rest Stop. it was short, but steep and i picked up a lot of speed in a hurry. Tim was out front as we approached a right hand turn. the road was a bit rough in the corner, not to mention the cliff to the left. he slowed for the turn and i did not, or could not. i quickly darted to his inside and cut the corner short. before i could regroup a rider ahead was slowing for a gradual left hand turn while riding near the center line. as he floated back towards the shoulder i shouted "inside" and flew past at 40 mph. clearly i was in the wrong here, but once the speed picked up i felt like i had to ride it out and did what i had to do. leason learned.

as we slowed for the Rest Stop Tim said "hey Iban Mayo, try not to kill you OR me." of course he meant this in a nice i love you bro way.

it was heating up. the next 20 miles were uphill all the way to 10,000 feet plus. we stripped down and started to climb. the Grand Mesa awaited.

Grand Mesa didnt feel like a mountain. McClure Pass felt like a mountain. the Mesa is lined with trees and lakes. the largest mesa in the world, with an area of 500 square miles and stretcheing for 40 miles. beautiful none the less.

ten miles into the climb i started to feel good. i started to realize that this climbing is all about tempo. find it and hold it. i felt so good i tried to rock the pro climbing look.

clearly i failed here. shades placed all croocked in my helmet. only a 3/4 zip jersey.

Tim and i parted ways at one point. maybe with 10 or 8 miles to go, but not totally sure. i was picking off a lot of riders and passed by very few. there was this one guy. he was flying up the climb and has he passed he gave me the look back and this;

Him -- "hey Illinois"
me -- "yeah"
Him -- "plainfield right"
me -- "yeah" (thinking my BF fame was going to rear its ugly head)
Him -- "pick it up. lets go go"
me -- "how do you know me"
Him -- "some other Ilinois dudes told me"
me -- "cool"

Later, at the top, i meet this climbing mad man we call Portage Park for the rest of the week. one of the best riders i have ever ridden with for sure.

back to the climb. man, these reports are long, but when it takes you 2 hours 10 minutes to climb 20 miles a lot happens. i ran out of water with 5 miles to go. as i the one and only Park Station/Store i thought i should stop. i hate stopping though and figured it was only five miles. dumb, i mean five miles at 5 to 7% takes a long time to knock out, but in the end i was good.

it was very cool reaching the top. there was this excitement amoungst the riders. 10,000 feet is nothing to shake a stick at. plus, we had a wicked fast 30 mile descent coming.

the road down was wicked fast. we were off that mountain in the blink of any eye. we stopped once near the top to snap a picture or two. speeds were consistently above 40 mph. the road was not technical, but the gust of wind were tricky. we had to stay focused and keep control at all times.

what a great day this was. how could it possibly get any better.......

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