Sometimes living in Colorado is great. This weekend our Big Classic ride saw temperatures in the mid 60s by the time we reached Boulder. We did a ton of climbing, and I got to see some pretty cool views. Sometimes, though, it isn't so great. While my friends back east were enjoying cold, calm rides in the woods, I was fighting very strong headwinds at around 9000 ft. I would be lying if I said that I enjoyed it. I'd also be lying if I said I didn't.
We left The Shop early in the morning and began heading northeast. The plan for the day was about 65 miles of dirt and paved roads totaling about 10000 ft of vertical on our mountain bikes (because we're, you know, mountain bikers). This ride could just have easily been done on a cross bike or a properly equipped road bike, but it makes sense to break out the full knobby tires if your goal is to ride them fast. Horses for courses and whatnot. After the first hour the wind, which had been blowing at the start, died down a bit, and we soon found ourselves in Boulder. Well, when I say we, I mean that I made it to Boulder probably 15 or 20 minutes after the rest of the group did (I may be mostly acclimated to the elevation, but I don't have big mountain legs yet). One of our number turned back to make a shorter day, and we picked up one more for the climb up Sunshine Canyon. Just to give some perspective: Most people (roadies) only do the paved part of Sunshine (5.7 mi, 6%, 1699 ft of gain), and that's considered a solid ride. Something to do after work on a Tuesday. We were doing the whole climb all the way up to Gold Hill (9 mi, 6%, 2938 ft of gain). More accurately we were doing the whole climb all the way to the Peak to Peak Highway (16.3 mi, 4%, 3809 ft of gain). It was a lot of climbing. Once I hit the dirt sector, the winds kicked back up again, and by the time I got to Gold Hill, I had all the clothes back on that I had removed down in Boulder.
If was feeling confident when I got to Gold Hill, it was the seven miles between there and the Peak to Peak that destroyed me. The road goes just about due west, and with an estimated 30 mph wind with gusts up to some speed which stopped me in my tracks and made me put a foot down a few times, the nice circles I had been pedaling quickly turned into clumsy squares. By the time I got to the Peak to Peak, I was ready to be done. Luckily I knew that it was mostly downhill to Nederland. In Ned, I found a cool coffee shop, and called the shop for a pick up. I had about 15 miles of highway to cover to get back to the shop, and I knew there were a bunch of two to three mile long climbs in between. Given that, the fact that the wind on the Peak to Peak is notoriously ridiculous, and the fact that I was running out of daylight, I decided that calling it would be the best idea. Luckily, the shop owner's wife happened to be there to pick up the phone, and she volunteered to come pick me up.
Final tally, I got about 53 miles of the ride, and 8226 ft of climbing. Next time I'll get the whole thing. Maybe even do what Jon did and add in one more climb just for the fun of it.
Thanks for reading.