A.K.A., the journey to find the Colorado National Monument option and the death march.
I think Tim will do a better job of documenting the fun of day 3. I did not take many pictures and I did not retain many thoughts from this day. It was odd.
The BTC did NOT have the optional route through the park marked when we departed. It took us two hours to find the park. When we got on track we rolled up on an accident, 87 Bronco versus BTC Cyclist. It did not look good, but we did not stop as there was already a large crowd and plenty of assistance.
We stopped at the entrance to the park loop for a couple pictures and removal of arm warmers. I just didn't feel it. I was already mentally tired, still physically tired, and not ready to climb.
These feelings lasted a couple miles. Then we started to climb up to a section of switchbacks. Despite the heavy traffic, due to us entering the wrong entrance due to the BTC dropping the ball on the route markings, this section was awesome. As we climbed up the road we could look back and down at where we had just come from.
Tim was clearly loving this. He was once again zooming up and down the climbs taking numerous pictures. He looked fresh and energized as we climbed the 8% grade and almost 4000 feet of climbing the 40 mile loop had to offer.
Since this was a loop the first 20 miles were climbing and the second 20 descending. The descent was a little tricky due to road construction and traffic, but not extremely technical. We rolled out of the park and all I could think was; "How the heck could this be optional!!" The Colorado National Monument was AMAZING!
Immediately out of the park and we were into the wind with just the two of us. It was slightly uphill as we headed back to where we started, Grand Junction. The rest of the day would be Highway Miles. I was begging for the first Rest Stop and wondering why oh why were the miles ticking off so slowly....
It was. At the first stop we discovered that numerous riders went in numerous directions this morning looking for the Colorado National Monument loop. Some had an extra 25 miles already in their legs. Tim and I had 12 or so. Not a big deal right? Did I mention it was hot? There was a headwind? And we were traveling the next 60 miles along one single highway?
Let's pick up the pace here. At mile 85 I wanted to stop. I wanted to SAG wagon it. I saw no point to continue along the highway into the headwind. Did I mention it was 100 degrees out? There was no scenery to be seen. The rest of this day could only hurt. It had no benefit, but plenty of risk (mentally & physically).
Out of character, I sorta mentioned these thoughts to Tim. I pointed out that numerous strong riders were and had called it a day. We had 85 miles and 6000 feet of climbing. No shame in that.
"No. I have all day to finish." End of that.
Eventually we finished this 112 mile journey. A journey of two separate rides. The good and the bad. Part of the reason I ride is for the challenge. This day was an mental and physical challenge to the extreme. Looking back, I am glad we rode on, but initially I was pissed. A massage and dinner at DQ helped me get over it.
Well, I guess I had more to say about this day then I thought. Time for photographic evidence.