Average speed: 10.4 mph!
Vertical gain: 2,704 ft.
Max Elevation: 11,990 ft.
Current Elevation: 7,526 ft.
Today was mostly a very good day, despite the asterisk in the title. More on that later.
Today was a big day, Loveland Pass, probably the biggest climb of the entire ride, and at high elevation, to boot. So I planned and executed my morning carefully to get an early start. I was ready to go at 8:05 a.m., breakfast and all.
The only problem was the weather. Despite a good forecast, it was raining and the sky was filled with dark clouds. I was undecided whether to start riding or wait until tomorrow. Finally sunshine and blue patches appeared as the clouds started to move away. Then a magnificent double rainbow appeared, almost right over my head in the motel parking lot. That was it, I was riding.
The first 10 miles or so was either flat or slightly uphill.
Then, at about the Keystone Ski Area, it started to get steep, and stayed steep the rest of the way.
I think it was the elevation that got to me more than the climb itself. I was terribly dizzy, whether pedaling or walking. (And I was mostly walking for the final 10 miles.)
So I broke. About two and a half miles from the top, after passing Arapahoe Basin Ski Area (where I skied about 30 years ago, and got stuck in a white out above the tree line), and while trying hard not to fall over while gasping for breath, I stuck out my thumb at an approaching pickup truck.
This was the second time on this trip that I have tried to hitchhike. The first time, there were maybe six vehicles in an hour and a half, and none of them stopped.
Today, the first one stopped. I unloaded my bike, put everything in the back of the truck, and climbed into the cab. He drove to the top of the of the pass, and parked, as he intended to do anyways. He had work to do from his “office”, and his “office” was wherever he was parked. This was a very nice spot to park.
I unloaded my stuff, put my luggage back on the bike, and walked across the road to take some photos at the monument. I didn’t stay long, maybe 15 minutes. It was cold. Blue sunny skies, and not much wind, but it felt really cold, although my thermometer said about 60°.
Even though I didn’t ride the entire way up, it was still a pretty significant ride for me – 21.5 miles, 2,100 vertical feet, all uphill, at an average speed of 6.1 mph, to an elevation of around 10,000 feet.
I’m sure that if I had been a little bit tougher mentally, or if no one had stopped to pick me up, I would have made it to the top without incident. But you never know for sure, and I was feeling pretty knackered. Especially considering my medical history (minor heart attack 17 years ago), sticking out my thumb seemed like the smart thing to do.
Several times during the climb I tried the Boost, the canned oxygen mentioned in previous posts. It didn’t seem to make much difference. Maybe I needed to breathe more of it.
The ride down was pretty thrilling, a good solid 16 miles to the town of Georgetown, many of which were done on Interstate 70. There I had a late lunch, a hamburger at 3 in the afternoon. What a huge mistake! I think the lack of oxygen has addled my brain.
Then it was an additional 13 downhill miles to the town of Idaho Springs, where I checked in to the H&H Motor Lodge, from which I am now writing this post.
This was my second big mistake of the day. For some reason, I was confused and thought that Central City, my real goal for today, was an additional twenty miles, when in reality it was only seven. No way am I doing twenty more miles today, but 7 would have been reasonable. I wish I’d gone on to Central City. Oh well, I’ll deal with it.
So here I am in Idaho Springs. Buzzy & Kim live in Ward, which is only 46 miles away, but with over 6,000 feet of climbing. Also, I’m very concerned with actually finding their house, considering the lack of cell signal in the area.
So the plan for tomorrow is I’m going to ride towards Nederland, which is about 20 miles from their house. Buzzy is going to drive out and meet me either in Nederland or somewhere on the road. In any event, I should be at the Busey’s house tomorrow night.
I can hardly wait.