Sunday, July 15, 2012

Across the Great Divide... Twice

Getting Ready

Last weekend we were invited on a three-day bike trip with Duane and LeAnne Parsons. Our first mistake? Not asking XDP how many mountains he planned to take us over. Our second mistake was agreeing to do anything XDP thought of as fun... period.

Day One

We camped over a nice viewpoint in the National Forest near Pagosa Springs the first night. The next morning, we got everything ready and began our ride from downtown Pagosa Springs. We knew we were in trouble when we reached the base of the mountain and the sign read "Wolf Creek Pass: 8 miles." 8 miles, a 6% uphill grade and 2 hours later, I knew exactly how many pedal strokes were in 1/100 of a mile and that the road planners had rounded down precisely 0.29 miles when they said the pass was "only" 8 miles away. We made it  and officially crossed the Continental Divide for the first time this trip. The next 20 miles of easy downhill gliding into South Fork were wonderful.

Where we're from, there are only two mountain
peaks higher than this road...
Unfortunately, by the time we were 15 miles from Creede my legs were so beat that the 1% uphill grade between us and our destination almost killed me as much as Wolf Creek Pass. A light rain had also become a minor hindrance but good training for us all the same. We arrived at Kip's in Creede for dinner after 64 miles and 5 hours of saddle time.
Stretching saves!

Day Two

After camping just outside of Creede and spending an evening streching and recovering on the edge of a cliff, we woke up on top of a cloud (camping at 10,000'+ can do that to you). That morning we biked from Creede to Lake City, where we enjoyed not only a 11,000' mountain pass, but a second crossing of the Continental Divide.

You can check out the stats from Day One or Day Two here.

Day 2 Total Elevation Gain: 4,500'

Lessons Learned

Thankfully, we survived and the trip turned out to be the perfect opportunity for us to practice our cross country skills. An empty trailer was a bit of a lighter load, but a good transition towards the eventual reality that everything we want to bring with us will be another ounce of weight holding us back.

Biking on unfamiliar roads was also good practice. I was surprised to find out that I felt safer biking on more remote roads with no shoulder than I did biking on busier highways even with decent shoulders. There's something about being unmistakably IN the road that reminds cars to move over to pass you, rather than being tempted to squeeze by so close because they think you have plenty of room in your 2 foot shoulder.

Another lesson for us was getting used to biking multiple days in a row. The soreness and fatigue seemed to compound by the second day. It also sprang up in a ton of new places, not the least of which were my triceps which couldn't help but protest at my demands that they maintain the cycling position 5 hours each day.

All in all, it was a successful trip and we're even more excited to make biking an everyday reality for us! Can't you tell how excited I am? 

Refueling at the top of Slumgullion with a PB&J

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