Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Hanging with the Boys - Part II

And now, for the rest of the trip. To be honest, my original plan was to create a blog for each day of the 3-day Courage Classic. However, between the riding, relaxing, laughing, sight-seeing, etc., that just wasn't going to happen. So here is an update on the entire event broken into each day.

Courage Classic Day 1 ~ We met some of Brian's friends from Colorado at 6:30 a.m. at Copper Mountain to start the day. From there we drove the FJ Mobile (the affectionate nickname of the Fitness Journal RV) to Leadville, that day's starting point. The problem was the finish was back at Copper Mountain 30 miles away. So Jenny, Larry's wife (one of Brian's CO friends), saved the day by driving the FJ Mobile back to Copper Mountain.

The route that day was 58 miles with 3 climbs. Once the ride began I knew I was in a little trouble. If you read the previous blog, then you know we climbed Mt. Evans the day before. Although it was beautiful, a 27-mile climb to an elevation of 14,130, it used up a lot of strength. I definitely felt the fatigue starting with the first few pedal strokes. But my biggest issue was my stomach. It was all jacked up and I spent portions of the ride trying not to puke. Still, I managed to ride an even tempo and persevere over all 3 climbs that day. The scenery was once again stunning. The route was excellent with long slow climbs and long fast descents. The other guys were feeling great and kept launching trains off the front in the 30-35 mph range. The final descent was on a bike path that was better maintained then most Sonoma County roads.

So with the ride done, it was back to the house for first chance to hang out since we started the trip. Brian told me he has the same stomach issues at altitude and it should pass. He was right. By dinner I was feeling much better and did not have any more issues the entire trip.

Courage Classic Day 2 ~ This was going to be a 74-mile trip with no significant climbs. Can you say pace line? We started with a beautiful (it is impossible to overuse this word to describe this trip) descent along the bike path. Chris and I decided to take the day easy and just enjoy the ride. Once we left the bike path we hit the road and found ourselves in the town of Dillon. Coming out of Dillon was the least scenic portion of the trip and we were traveling on a very slight downhill. That was enough to launch the train and Tim put us on the front. It looked impressive. You had all 6 FJ'ers on a rotating pace line pulling at least 50 other riders between 30 and 35 mph. After about 15 minutes I was beginning to run out of gas when Chris asked if I was ready to shut it down? So he and I sat up and watch our 4 speed demons carry on. They managed to maintain the train all the way to the turn around point shelling riders as they went. In the end, there were only about 10 people left.

So we mostly rode back together to the lunch stop. From lunch, Chris and I left early knowing the rest of the group would catch us which they did with about 4 miles left in the ride. We basically all hung together for the rest of the ride and rode into Copper Mountain as a complete team. The finish line each day was great! We had to ride through part of the resort which was barricaded off and lined with fans. It was like finishing a real race.

Courage Classic Day 3 ~ This was a short ride of 44 miles with 1 large climbed and plenty of large rollers. Chris decided to be the official FJ photographer so there were only 5 of us on the road. The coolest thing for me about this day was the trip around Turquoise Lake. For the first time I felt like we were in the back country of Colorado. The climb was decent and the descent was absolutely magical. A non-technical drop with mostly smooth road and turns just tight enough to fly around without touching the brakes.

Towards the end of the ride I had my most exciting moment of the trip from a cycling perspective. We stopped on a small climb so Pat and Tim could dance with a woman in a bikini who was always on the course each day blasting Beach Boys music. So fun over, we get ready to head out. There were other riders in the area as well and long story short, I touched Brian's back wheel and dead bugged (for non-cyclist, dead bugging is falling over at a slow speed still connected to your pedals). As I hit the ground, on my right side, I naturally ended up on my back looking behind me. And that's when I knew I might be in trouble. All I could see was a front wheel and the face of panicked rider heading for my head. I immediately curled into a fetal position and braced for impact. Surprisingly, I didn't feel anything at first. But as I collected myself, I was noticed I was sore and there 3 Air Force Academy guys down.

We all took stock of bodies and bikes. With no bike damage or major injuries, they head out and we followed just a short time later. As I start to ride, I notice my left thigh is really sore. This is when I get the full story from my guys who watched the whole thing. I basically dead bugged into the path of these 3 guys as they came flying over the hill, in a congested area, and passing on the right (not a smart move). The first guy was the one who barely missed my head but he still went down. The second guy, to quote Tim, "used my ass as a ramp" and went flying over his handle bars into a ditch of tall grass. Brian said he actually completely disappeared. The third guy also manage to miss me but still went down as well. So, we ended up with a 3-1 ratio. Once Tim realized I was not hurt, only a little bruised (no biggie) he called it "the best crash ever." The rest of the ride was straight forward and we all came across the finish line, 5 abreast, to complete the greatest 3-days of cycling ever. At the finish, kids from The Children's Hospital were handing out medals, which was very cool and inspirational.

We then enjoyed a great lunch, loaded into the FJ mobile and started the trip home. We also started telling and re-telling the stories of the 5 days cycling in the Colorado Rockies that will stay with us a life time.


1 Comment(s):

Sarah said...

OMG Lee what a great WRITE UP!!! Wow. I just can't get over what an incredible trip that must have been for you guys. And that crash...NUTS!!

Congrats on such a fantastic job well-done and having such a super fun time together. You guys will remember this forever and I'm so glad you shared your stories!