the ride out of CB started with a short 7% climb right out of the school parking lot. I had some odd tightness and soreness in the legs, which I blame on Crested Butte. I spent way too much time on my feet, walking around and enjoying that fabulous little town in the mountains.
Luckily this would be the only climbing we did for the next 20 miles. It was downhill and fast to the first rest stop. Something I really needed to shake everything loose. The decent took us down to 8100 feet. It was all uphill from there. We would gain 4000 feet in the next 30 miles.
The rest stop was near the little river town of Almont. Actually, you could call this a little three river town since three seperate rivers converge here. This is in the Gunnision National Forest and I thought the views from here to the top were the best of the trip.
The next 20 miles, or so, to the second rest stop twisted in and around the canyons of Gunnision National Forest. The sun was still coming up and I cannot explain how amazing it was. I wish I could find the words to convey it. We would climb up to roulghly 9100 feet to Taylor Park Reservoir and the second rest stop.
The road up Cottonwood Pass was dirt. Hard packed, but by no means smooth rolling. Tim has a great little video he took when we first hit the dirt that shows the "bumpyness". Despite rain the previous night it was not messy and barely splashed any mud on the ride. The next 14 miles would be on this road, gaining aproximately 2800 feet as we climbed to over 12k.
I am not sure where Tim and I parted ways on the climb. We both understood that we each had to ride our own ride to reach the summit. If we parted ways, we parted ways. Neither of us would ever leave our wingman intentionally, but sometimes on the road up it happens.
I felt like I was flying up the dirt road. Likely due to the large number of riders I was passing. Let me just say, not one rider passed me on the way up, but maybe the fast guys slept in again?? As I passed other riders I let them know the elevation and grade. They all seemed to enjoy having that knowledge. We would exchange words of encouragement as well. With each one of these exchanges I gained power, strength and excitement. I was alone, but not alone.
My legs were painfree and my mind was clear. Dare I say a cycling zen moment??
10,000 and counting...
The Summit, looking down the dirt road approach.
Yes I was rocking the Belgian National Champ Jersey. Hey, maybe that was the motivation and reason for my zen like ride. I mean, I had to represent.....or not. Not sure why I look so odd, but I will blame it on the climb.
While at the top taking in some PB&J I was approached by a man who asked:
Ohio Belgian: "Are you Belgian" he asked as he pointed at my kit.
me: "Uh, no. I'm from Chicago dude."
Come to find out he and his family are from Belgium, but currently live in Ohio, and were in Colorado on vacation. They were amazed at all the cyclist coming up the dirt road to the summit. After several fun minutes of discussion about what was going on he asked if he could take a picture with me. Of course, I said yes and his son lined it up and snapped away with some very large and fancy looking camera. I must have still been dizzy from the ascent and totally failed to pull out my own camera to capture the moment.
Climbing Stats: Cottonwood Pass
--13.54 miles of dirt road to the top
--2,730 feet climbed on that dirt road
--9.4 mph average
--148 bpm average with 160 bpm max
--79 rpm average cadence
--12,126 feet above sea level
The descent was the most technical yet. At the top it was fast with sharp u turns. I was hesitant to say the least. Near the bottom it straightened out and I let loose a bit. It is crazy how fast you lose the elevation you just spent hours achieving. Crazy I say! As you can see by my long arse post this day was amazing for me. One I will never forget.