Who signed up for this thing? Getting up at 4:45 a.m.? Where am I? A bit disoriented, and very tired I stumbled out of bed and started getting dressed for the two days that loomed in front of me. Sarah & I had to be on the course by 7:30, but wanted to be on the course closer to 6, so we were off and on our way very early.
We arrived, checked our luggage and shuttled to the start. The skies looked dark but were so far holding off. The weather forecast had gone from 90 deg and chance of afternoon T-Storms to 70 deg and rain all day in 24 hours. Luckily I had a brand new rain jacket I picked up that should keep me dry in the event of showers. So I thought.
We took off on our way from Highlands Ranch south towards Castle Rock. No warm up here, lots of rolling climbs to get wake you up in a rude manner. I had put my rain jacket on at the start, but quickly had to ditch it as I was burning up in it due to the climbs. We skipped the first rest stop to get ahead of the masses and cruised along to the 2nd where we stopped long enough to turn our noses up at the PB&J sandwiches and rice cakes.
As we left the 2nd rest stop Sarah tells me she thinks its the same road (i.e. big climb) we did on the Elephant Rock. No way I think. This is clearly a different road. Well about 5 miles down the road when I see the asphalt leading towards the heavens I realized she may have been more correct than me here....
So we do Elephant Rock part deux, with me going ahead on the climbs then regrouping at rest stop #3. I've got a time gap on Sarah so I phone back to Jill to give her and update and check on Baloo, our black lab who had just had surgery on Friday. Jill tells me Baloo is doing much better and everything is looking good. I go on to boast to her about how we've knocked out 30 miles, I feel good and even though the skies look really dark it only rained on us briefly.
Open mouth, insert foot.
No sooner than we took off from rest stop #3 did the skies open up on us creating a torrential downpour. No problem, I've got a trusty rain jacket that should keep me dry right? Well sure, it keeps you dry for a little bit but at some point it just gets saturated and does no good. The roads were so wet, the splash back and roost from riders in front was brutal. You couldn't be anywhere in a 20 foot area behind someone in front without getting pelted in the face. To make matters worse, the rains had washed tons of sand into the road, which was creating a brutal sandy water/road grime gunk that was getting pasted all over you. Not pleasant riding conditions.
Gritting my teeth, hunkering down and just trying to stay focused mentally to keep from ending up on the ground like so many other people I had seen I kept going with the promise of lunch ahead. Lunch would be at the 50 mile mark, and it couldn't come soon enough. He had just climbed for the majority of 50 miles, 30 of it in pouring rain, and I was soaked to the bone. My front tire was throwing up so much water that it was hitting the down tube and spraying huge amounts of water directly into my shoes. I kept the idea of lunch in a covered pavilion type area would be my refuge. Well I was partially right at least.
We finally arrived at lunch only to have our fears recognized. There would be no pavilion. It was eat in the rain, which was still coming down hard although it had let up some. Morally defeated I sat down at an exposed picnic table where I had probably the best turkey and cheese wrap of my life.
You can see from the pic, my rain jacket was totally saturated and I was starting to get really cold since I wasn't climbing anymore.
We took our time and ate some lunch, as we talked about the miserable conditions. I went back and scored a second box lunch, as I needed the calories to keep going. I was wasting so much energy shivering that I wasn't sure I could do 30 more miles in these conditions. I was still going forward, but I had mentally checked out a couple times on the ride. So to entertain ourselves, we did things like take pictures of Sarah's prune feet and her ringing water out of her soaked socks. This is what you do when you are delirious from the rain...
I was sporting a super sweet helmet Mohawk that we had to document...
I took some shelter in the bathroom at the lunch area, where I found temporary relief in the form of a hand drier. The warm air was enough to help me dry out my rain soaked jacket and get some internal warmth back. After the quick reheating we started to head back to our bikes.
As we approached our bikes I saw a volunteer guy with a bullhorn starting to make an announcement, so we stopped and listened. He announced:
"We are closing the course due to a large outbreak of hypothermia. If you are on your bike right now, you can go ahead and ride with support but everyone else who is here will be shuttled to the finish line."
Well I didn't like the thought of more riding in the rain, but I also didn't ride this far in the rain to take a shuttle the rest of the way so we hurried to our bikes and took off before they could close the course down. Of course, the first 10 miles after lunch would be you guessed it....MORE CLIMBING!. Ugh. You know you're in for a long day of climbing when the road you are riding on is name "Roller Coaster Rd.". Seriously, Roller Coaster Road. Oh how I longed for a road in west Texas. Flat roads are good.
We did the 10 miles after lunch in workman-like fashion and regrouped at the rest stop at 60 miles. After some Gatorade, we took off for what would prove to be nearly all downhill for 20 miles and finally without the rain. The splash back was still really bad, so there was to be no drafting on this day, but at least we could cruise downhill at a good rate of speed.
We hit the outskirts of Colorado Springs and knew the end (for today at least) was near. We made our way across the city, and as we neared the finish the number of spectators and people cheering grew continuously. It was a cool experience to have everyone cheering you on as you approached the finish, a very celebratory experience.
Upon getting to CO Springs, we were filthy, still soaked and very tired. We tossed around the idea of calling Jill and ending our journey right there, but then decided against it. Our next decision would be one the best decision we made all weekend, we decided to get a hotel room instead of camp like we had previously planned. Once at the hotel, we showered, ate and were both asleep by 8:30.
The hotel was a godsend for sure. It poured rain most of the evening and stormed hard overnight. The thought of sleeping in a tent that would have surely been leaky, wet and loud all night in the rain was too much, and I am so glad that we procured a hotel room. A shower, a hot meal, and a good nights sleep were the only cure for our tired bodies.
Day 1 totals:
6,201 feet of climbing
MotionBased.com GPS Analysis for Day 1
The elevation graph:
This photo of Sarah pretty much sums up how we felt upon arrival in CO Springs:
Pistol Pete took some serious abuse as the figurehead, but still came out looking pretty good:
My legs were covered with sand, dirt and road grime that took three tries to get it all washed off: