On Friday, I set out with Chris and Mat to do another long ride. After almost a decade of endurance training these long rides begin to sort of blend together. In other words, the need to remember some of them is wasted space in my brain (assuming space is limited). However, every now and then you get frazzled a bit in the midst of another common day and then, all of sudden, you no longer have a ride. Instead, you have a story. One of my best friends from Texas and I used to always say "do it for the story" whenever one of us was hesitant to go forward. I don't know if that was the best strategy for 16 year old kids to have, but it did manifest itself into the idea that all we are ultimately left with are our stories.
Back to Friday.
Mat, Chris and I were enjoying the Indian summer weather and opted to ride a loop into the mountains via Glenhaven and Estes Park (for those outside CO its a 90-100 mile loop topping out around 8500-9000 feet). I actually thought to myself that this was likely the last day I would do a five hour ride in the mountains until next season.
We're riding along enjoying the tailwind up the canyon and I cannot help but notice a few dark clouds hanging out amidst the peaks.
Riding in the mountains requires equal parts of luck and preparedness. On Friday I found myself lacking both.
We began to encounter some light rain. Then the rain was heavy enough that our tires started streaming water into air and our feet were getting soaked. Soon enough it was raining kinda hard. Then it was raining really hard. Then it was raining really hard and it was hailing. Then it was raining and hailing so hard that ice was piling up on our handlebars, arms and anything else that was running perpendicular to the path of the said precipitation.
Why didn't we turn back?
Well, we were sort of in a tough spot. We had to basically get to Estes Park to try to warm up (it was below 50 degrees at this point and we are soaking wet) instead of trying to descend back to civilization because going downhill doesn't allow us to generate any heat from pedaling hard (probably 30 minutes of descending would have been required).
Every time I get s**t on in the mountains I have essentially two thoughts running through my head:
1. This is funny.
2. This could be bad.
I say that because being uncomfortable is initially sort of humorous, but once you become miserable things aren't so funny any more.
Fortunately when we hit the peak of the climb we rode out of the gnarly storm and quickly ran into Safeway seeking shelter and something warm. Mat chose to warm his hands on the rotisserie chicken heater while I grabbed newspaper and started stuffing it into my jersey (traps heat). I've had my fair share of rough days in the mountains and I've found that nothing rivals the effectiveness like stuffing your jersey with newspaper.
We were pretty certain that we only had a few minutes to make it down and out of Estes Park and fortunately we got out of there just in time. I was particularly fortunate because I told Chris that if I encounter another storm like that on the ride that I was going to retire from triathlon (or at least move to the beach). I guess I have to stick around a little longer.
Mat had a particularly interesting time because he has never had the pleasure of getting hammered by mother nature in the mountains (since moving here last summer). Its a particularly amazing statistic to have ridden in Colorado for so long without getting a dose of mountain-induced humility.
And now he has a story.
Its always good to regain respect for going high. I'll probably take a little more than arm warmers a wind vest next time I go up.
I heard the mountains are supposed to get 6-12 inches of snow tonight.
Think I'll ride east next week.