Buena Vista to Glenwood Springs. The last day and it's 107 miles! Over the Continental Divide AGAIN! Independence Pass and 12K AGAIN! I really can not think of a better way to end the tour.
The details: the day started early. Somehow the great AT&T network switched the iPhone back to the Central Time Zone. The plan was to awake very early since we needed to knock the ride out and hit the road to home. The iPhone alarm was set to 4:30am, which was really 3:30am.
So, we hung out in the cafeteria as we waited for the sun to peak out. I was tired and not happy. For the record though, this same AT&T early wakey wakey hands off snakey call got Portage Park and his crew too.
We rolled out uphill and into the wind. Man-o-man I was not into the first 20 miles. We trudged along taking turns pulling at 15 mph. It's crazy what a constent 2% grade, headwind, and tired legs can do to a cyclist. I was definetly feeling the effects of my Cottonwood Pass effort and early wake up call.
Finally we made a left hand turn, out of the headwind, towards the mountain and the first rest stop.
By design we didnt stay long at the first stop. We rolled out with Portage Park and his crew of three. Actually two of them dropped back and we road with Portage Park for a bit. He would speed up then coast back to us. He was ready to tackle this mountain. Tim and I played it smart and rode a comfortable pace. We still had a couple miles to go until we hit the main road up.
We were not totally sure which mountain top was the one since there were several to see on the approach.
At this point Tim and I rolled along at steady tempo. As we did i started to feel better. I started to get exicited and all giddy inside. We snapped pics and took video. It was weird, but i wanted to go go. however, in non typical Arron fashion I waited. It was way to early to pick up the pace. I remember Portage Park say that the difficult part of the climb didn't start until the big sweeping turn.
Wait for the big sweeping turn Arron.........at mile 38 and 10,800 feet it seemed like the waiting was over. I wish I had a better picture of this sweeping left hand turn. The above was snapped as I was coming out of it.
The road really kicked up from this point. It was awesome. Wwe had the rugged mountain on our right and the cliff with valley views to our left.
The road twisted up up up and away. At one point the tree line broke and I spotted Tim below. Ii yelled out numerous things to him;
-"we are doing it."
-"team flatlanders unite"
-"this is awesome"
To which i think i heard him reply; "what?"
I was riding well, but this climb was hurting. I began looking for cowbell Kathy. I knew she would be there at one mile to go offering encourgement. Ding Ding Ding ding. Mman, that lady put a smile on my face. As I crept by her I informed her she was a saint and thanked her for the help.
One last turn and I could see the summit. I stood of course and stamped it out. I spotted a rider walking back down the climb a bit. It was Portage Park and he was cheering me on and snapping pictures of me as he waited for his crew to summit. That was nice.
After a quick tinkle I too went back and captured some pretty cool video of Tim destroying the final approach.
I was pumped to be at the top of this pass. the ride and trip we not over, but this was the IT of the trip. What it was all about. we just climbed the same pass that Levi, Horner, and some other dudes recently climbed in prep for some upcoming races.
Funny thing was we still had 60 plus miles on the bike and 1150 miles in the car before the end of this journey.
The decent was wicked scary, fast, tight, rough, and not fun. Tim can elaborate on that and the quickie through Aspen.
We climbed 4700 feet the first 43 miles.
Independence Pass Stats.
--17.1 miles of climbing
--3,015 feet climbed
--10.5 mph average
--136 bpm average with 156 bpm max
--79 rpm average cadence
--12,095 feet above sea level
We rolled back into Glenwood Springs where it all started with a smile on our faces and 550 miles in our legs.
It is a cheesy,but a classic cheesy saying; It's not about the destination, it's about the Journey. This trip was never about finishing first or top ten or whatever. Like many on a bike I tend to focus on the end. It would have been a shame to do that on this trip. From Cowbell Kathy to Portage Park to the Continental Divide to US 50 to the Bro Hug. I had a fantastic journey for sure.
*edit: looking for pictures for this post. me too?!@? words will have to do for now.