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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

It's all Downhill from Here

Sunday, June 29
Laramie to Loveland

It hastens toward the goal and it will not fail

Loveland is 2,090 feet below Laramie. A downhill ride. Maybe so, but it was a thoroughly miserable morning. This was a long leg on the day that we would ride to Loveland, pack up then drive 480 miles to Lincoln, Nebraska. Fighting a headwind out of Laramie, I looked at my computer and thought I'd be lucky to get to Loveland by nightfall. The road was straight and slightly uphill. Trucks whooshed by at regular intervals. The cummulative fatigue of the ride so far had pretty much soaked through and through. A thoroughly miserable start to the last ride of the tour.

Looking ahead I see a lone hill rising out of the plain. The prairie stretches for miles in every direction around it. And where does the road go? Right over the top, of course. And if that weren't enough, after miles of riding into the wind already there is this sign at the approach:

But you know, once through the cut at the top, the wind died down; riding conditions and my spirits improved considerably. The road rolled along, with one four mile stretch providing what were called BIG rollers on the route sheet. I just called them climbs myself. After lunch, the road got really busy, little cars pushing big campers and heavily loaded semis going by almost continuously. The shoulder was OK, but heavy, fast moving traffic takes away from the enjoyment of the ride.

So, it was a welcome relief to turn off of the main highway onto rural roads north and west of Fort Collins. For a while. This was the entree into the area around the reservoir above the city and we were promised a series of climbs as payback for the long miles of gradual descent we had enjoyed since before the picnic stop. And the road did not disappoint. Getting to the level of the reservoir required climbing a nasty hill, credited with being 10% for 1 mile on paper but seeming much more intimidating in real life. After putting this behind me, I go through a series of steep downhills, most ending with sharp curves, each requiring, of course, a climb. At the top of the longest of the climbs a gentleman standing by his car looked over at me and said, "It's all downhill from here." I suspect I looked like I needed some sort of encouragement like this.

Reservoir Road
Once again the road was straight and relatively flat and I was able to make good time. It was here, about 10 miles from Loveland, that I started to notice the discards on the side of the highway. A buckle from a biking shoe, a water bottle, a biking glove, an unopened energy bar. The picture I developed from all of this was of a rider shedding weight, trying to make it into town. I started to wonder, "What am I carrying that I don't REALLY need?" Dirk might have offered, "Start with the bike."

I brought it all in, though and pulled into the campground in Loveland much earlier than I had expected this morning. I didn't do the "I did it" thing here. The big climbs were the challenges. The top of Trail Ridge was the peak in all respects. Still, it was good to be done with the tour. It was good to have done it. So indulge me just a bit here and let me say now, from the comfort of my kitchen with the Olympics on in the background, "I did it."

Today's ride:
83.6 miles
2,985 feet of climbing

Tour totals:
513.6 miles
27,561 feet of climbing

1 comment:

Katie said...

Found your site from your daughter's blog. Just wanted to say that I'm glad you were able to see such a beautiful part of Colorado on this leg of your trip! I went to college in Ft Collins, grew up in Ft Morgan, and spent many days hiking at Horsetooth Reservoir, so I understand the terrain you biked! Can't wait to read more of your biking stories...you should try Idaho (where I moved to from Colorado), it's gorgeous in the southern part!

PS - praying for Stellan!