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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Physics Lesson

Saturday, June 28
Saratoga to Laramie

...other mountain peaks began to appear.

The tour started in Loveland on the eastern side of the Rockies. It then proceeded up and over the mountains, bringing us to western slopes. The tour ends in Loveland. It had to happen, then. Another trip across the mountains was to be required. And today was to be the day.

Backtracking out of Saratoga for about 8 miles brings us to the turnoff into Medicine Bow National Forest. Here we head east and start a long climb. It's a gentle grade for about 12 miles then it starts to be more like a real climb for the next 14 miles. But nothing, nothing at all like going over Trail Ridge. The road wound through green forests and once again there was the ever present sound of rushing water. Traffic wasn't much of a factor, either, making this a most pleasant morning. We just barely get above the tree line, but there is quite a bit of snow that starts to show about three-quarters of the way up.

The Road to Snowy
The reward for the climb was the view of the stark, gray, rocky faces of the Snowy Range standing out against the deep blue sky and reflected in the lake at their base. Just another day in paradise.

Snowy Range

After lunch at the highest point on the road, I start down. Now I get into groups who are participating in the road race we were told to watch out for at last night's meeting. The stronger bikers had raced up the mountain, dawn a ways from the direction we had come and would then race back. But here there were riders doing the "ride to the top and turn around and go back" version. There was race related traffic control and it actually made for a very nice descent.

There are many principles of physics evident in bicycling and I was part of a demonstration of the one that states "weight beats aerodynamics." After a bit of flattening out 6 miles into the 11 mile descent, I approach the start of the short 8% drop. I'm sort of bent over in the drops, but not really down low. Just before going over the edge, one of the women riders in the race goes by. She is sitting down on the bar, her head below the handlebars. She is probably 100 lbs. soaking wet and nearly invisible on the bike, very nearly perfect aerodynamics. She goes by me with speed and is quickly 10 yards ahead of me. But as a result of my superior skills in post-ride eating, I slowly gain on her in spite of less than optimum aerodynamics. A clear demonstration of this particular principle of physics.

The road flattens out for good at Centennial and I now only have 32 miles to go. And it was probably the quickest 32 miles of the tour. For me, that is. The pace was quick all the way into Laramie, although we had a fair distance to go once we got into town. We set up at the high school and look for a chance to unwind before dinner. The only option was a gas station/convenience store. That had no beer. We sat on the curb and drank Diet Coke. Al came along after a bit and joined us, drinking milk from a quart container. Suave.

Today's ride:
81.5 miles
4,982 feet of climbing

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