August 5th, 2017
4 am. The alarm goes off.
Time to get up, today is the day!
The Copper Triangle.
6,500+ feet of climbing.
I have ridden roughly 1,400 miles in preparation leading up to this day. I was filled with angst. I was filled with adrenaline. I was just ready for it to begin.
I left my house just before 5 am, as the plan was to begin the ride at 5:45 am. My tripometer shows 999. A number of mastery. All signs pointing to a great day. At 5:30 am I am in the parking lot getting myself prepared. A good friend Ross just happens to walk past my car so we joined up for the start of the race. We ended up pulling out of the village a few minutes prior to 6 am.
The Sheriff’s blocked the morning traffic momentarily as the day began.
The first leg is an initial 1,500 foot vertical climb over 8 miles up Freemont Pass. Heeding advice, I kept a nice moderate pace climbing as to not burn myself out later on. Even so, I was climbing pretty easily on my way up the mountain, passing a good amount of riders on my way. I felt strong. I felt like I was settling into the saddle and keeping a very consistent cadence.
Normally, I don’t make many stops when I ride. 10 miles in, my anxiety prior to the race made me fill up so much I already had to urinate! Even after going 45 minutes prior, right before I had started.
Now, I get to bomb down the backside of the pass! WOOOOO!!!! ALIVE!!!! Here I averaged roughly 32 mph over the stretch of 8+ miles!! I hit a maximum of 47.8 mph!!!! Do you have any idea what it feels like to do close to 50 miles per hour on a bicycle??? EXHILARATING!! WOOO!!!!!!
Whoa there, let me pull it back in…tiger got out of the cage. The next 25 miles were epic. Open road in the middle of Colorado, relatively flat with a slight decline, with the Rocky Mountains surrounding me on all sides. One of the most breathtaking rides I have ever had. Truly awe-inspiring as I made my way over a humble Tennessee Pass.
Took a quick 30 second stop here just to take a picture and a brief mental break from paying attention to the road.
My next challenge would be Battle Mountain. A 2 mile stretch that Climbs 500 ft over 2 miles. This equates to an average of about 4% grade with a healthy little section of 1/3 of a mile that topped out around 50% grade…..WORK FOR IT! Then again, the backside was another amazing 3.5 mile stretch of switchbacks where I got to get back to 45+ mph on the descent!
Now we are at 50 miles. I have about 18 miles of relatively flat riding until I hit the West side of Vail Pass. The mother of all climbs around here. The whole picture is 20 miles up hill. The actual climb starts just outside of Vail. It equates to about an hour of non-stop uphill climbing. It is brutal. Especially considering it comes into play after there are already 50-60 miles on your legs.
I made sure to take a pause, eat, drink, and breathe, before I decided to go attack it. 8.5 miles up to almost 11,000 feet of elevation. Let me tell you. Oxygen is not the most abundant thing available. Over this hour I used at least 10 different techniques to distract myself from the pain and just keep pushing. I owe it to myself to see what my limits are.
I pushed. and pushed. and pushed. and pushed. I will NOT be denied.
I finally summit it after 51 minutes of hell.
Now I stand atop my most well known descent. The east side of Vail pass. It is only about 5 miles to the finish, down an insanely comfortable, and well-known, descent.
I pull through the cobblestone village with so many emotions flooding through me. I let out a few roars that bellowed through the streets. I was proud as hell. After worrying about being stiff, or getting a flat, or being unable to climb, etc. I finished. Not only did I finished, but I absolutely crushed it. I finished ahead of my high-side goal. 5 hours, and I would’ve been happy. I completed this course in 4 hours, and 54 minutes INCLUDING time stopped. 4 hours, 44 minutes was moving time to complete.
I was, in fact, the 19th person to cross the finish line(Out of close to 1,000 riders). Although this was not a race, this was a race against myself. I wanted to prove to myself that I could, not only complete it, but complete it in a very strong manner. I look forward to next year and setting a new goal! Under 4.5 hours? Hmm….
When I finished…
About an hour or two later…
3 months ago, I would never have believed that I could achieve this result. 3 months prior, I bought a road bike after years of longing for one. I got on, and started pedaling. Where will I stop? Probably at the bottom of the Gondola! Winter is coming!
I would encourage you to set a goal. Set one that you almost think is on the border of possibility. Then, CRUSH IT.
If you want some help, please reach out. I can show you how I keep myself dedicated!