Bump, Set, Spike: A Recap of Day 1

Well, that was interesting. There is a lot of hype & lore surrounding the Ride the Rockies, and day one lived up to all of it. It was a challenge the night before to get some solid sleep in the inside gym, I was truly amazed at how many riders were up at 4 a.m. to get an early start. Especially considering we were greeted (albeit unwelcome) with sub-freezing temperatures. I waited around a bit until the sub came out & began my ride at 7 a.m. It was a very chilly downhill ride for the first 45 minutes or so until we reached the first rest stop. Much ado had been made about the breakfast that greeted riders each morning at the first rest stop. There were delicious breakfast tacos & coffee from a guy & his son all the way from Texas! Then the industrial pancake line. They were turning more flapjacks than IHOP.
We began a gradual ascent after the stop for about 20 miles. Not too painful & some beautiful scenery along the Taylor river & reservoir. One we hit the rest stop at mile 40, I knew it was game on. And by game on, I mean a legit Cat 1 climb up 14 miles of dirt road to the top of Cottonwood Pass (12,126 feet). I felt great for the first 10 miles. Some of my friends like to give me crap about my triple chain-ring on my bike. But it was made for days like today. I rocked that little ring happily all the way up. Which brings me to my only gripes of the day. There was a LOT of vehicular traffic on the dirt road. Apparently there are a lot of riders who thought themselves too important for their “personal sag wagons” to take an alternate route like instructed. The scariest part of the day was on a steep climb, and I came up to a group that was riding 4 abreast. I called out on the left, but not before the final rider almost forced me off the cliff. I gently scolded their riding 4 in the interest of safety, but they could care less. Another rider behind me saw it all & was amazed.
The final 6 miles up the mountain were a grueling ascent. There were a few times when I stopped to regroup my heart rate & questioned my sanity. The dirt on the last couple of miles was loose & the winds had started to pick up. I finally made it! I was ecstatic & relieved. I completed the hardest, longest & highest climb of my life. We were greeted with much fanfare, music & awesome food at the top. Being a Texan I gladly partook of a fajita taco. I took a few obligatory pictures at the conte rental divide sign & headed out for the 20 mile descent. Wow. Let’s just say I’ve never done anything quite like that either. What a rush coming down the mountain to locals cheering us on as we made our way downtown Buena Vista. So far I have been very impressed with the local & state support for the ride. Kudos Colorado, a job well done. I’ll see you in Edwards tomorrow.

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