Start: Leadville, CO
Finish: Copper Mountain, CO
Weather: Sunny, 80 degrees
Bike Time: 8 hours
Distance to date: 146
Today was the first day of the Courage Classic, a three day fund raiser through the mountains for the Denver Children’s Hospital. Members of my family have been doing this ride for more than ten years. Coming to Denver to do this ride was the generator of my entire bike adventure.
More than 2,000 cyclists converged on Leadville (Elevation 10,200, the highest town in America) on the brilliant morning. It was a cool 45 degrees as we headed down the route through a beautiful mountain meadow and then rose up to Tennessee Pass (10,400 feet), where we crossed the Continental Divide. We enjoyed over ten miles of downhill, rolling through the Pando Valley, where Camp Hale and the Tenth Mountain Division were based during World War II. The scenery was
breathtaking, from the gigantic mountains to the fragile wild flowers. Fortunately my breath was in good shape after
days of drinking gallons of water (and no alcohol). At this altitude there is only 60% of the oxygen I enjoy in Boston, but I avoided getting an altitude headache.
We took a serious uphill climb to conquer Battle Mountain, my first time diving into my lowest gear. I actually do better on the
uphill climbs, which I just grind out, than the downhill portions. I hit speeds up to 30 mph on the widest areas, but I was getting passed all the time by cyclists who go 40, even 50
From Battle Mountain, we did another 10 miles downhill to Vail (Elevation 7,700 feet), had lunch, and then had to pay for all of our coasting.
Vail Pass is an 18 mile stretch of uphill that has two distinct components. The first eleven miles is a steady rise to 8,500 feet, and then there is a seven mile stretch that climbs to over 10,500 feet – up and up and up. The trail is the old US 40, now decommissioned. It is probably beautiful if you look around, but most of us had our heads down grinding out the climb.
The last four miles is a tranquil descent through a mountain valley with a creek alongside. It is remarkably serene considering that it runs through the middle of I-70, which is separated by almost a half a mile in this section, with westbound on our left and east bound on our right
The day was a total success except that my brother Tim noticed my rear wheel was out of alignment on the final section. I spent over an hour in the bike repair tent back at Copper where a sweet guy adjusted and trued the wheel. He thinks the wheel is not up to the loads I am carrying. This is at odds with the
recommendation of the guys where I bought the bike. Disappointing news, but all part of why I wanted to take a shake-down week before I taking off where there are limited
services. I will ride tomorrow with careful attention to the wheel; it may need attention when I return to Denver.
On top of Battle Mountain with Tim and John