Evil, Evil Wind!
I was very excited about the ride I had planned, but I knew that it was going to be physically exhausting. So, I made sure to get to bed early, Friday night, and made myself a nice breakfast when I got up.
I should have just coasted on home, but I really wanted to go on this ride. Not only was this the first time I had put the fat tires and clipless pedals on the ti bike, but I haven't over the hill to the South Platte since last year.
I had caught up to a guy, in Chatfield Park, who was turning around to go home. I told him I was attempting a 100-mile ride, so he pulled this sandwich out of his bag and gave it to me. That was the sandwich I was eating as this runner went by.
Thanks, Bob, wherever you are. It was delicious.
I love the section of trail where you are on the ridge above the river (but still 5 miles away from it), and you start getting views like this through the trees.
At this point, I realized that my original plan to continue west on the Colorado Trail was out of the question. At the speed I was able to average on the singletrack, I would not be back to the river before 7:30 if I rode the 13 miles I needed to reach 50 miles out.
So, after some thought, I headed south (again, against that evil, evil wind), toward Deckers where I knew there was a restaurant at which I could get a Coke. For some reason, at this point, all I could think of was an icy cold Coca Cola ( a drink I generally despise, due to all the sugar), and I just had to have one.
Deckers was 15.5 miles from where I was, which meant that my ride was increasing by 5 miles on the round trip. Seemed worth it to get a Coke, so I pushed out against the wind. Again, I was only able to manage 8 or 9 mph.
I filled my CamelBak with water from the bathroom faucet, drank my big icy Coke, and filled my empty water bottle with Gatorade Thirst Quencher, then headed north.
The trip back to the trail took 42 minutes, with the wind behind me.
I sat on the rail at the trailhead parking lot, took my shoes off, and drank some of my Gatorade. I had eaten half of my ham sandwich in Deckers and, when I went to get the other half out of my bag it wasn't there. I had a pb&j sandwich, trail mix, some Clif bars and an apple, but I was crushed that my ham was gone. Looking back, I can see that I was beginning to lose some mental acuity due to the dreaded condition we refer to as "bonk".
I talked with a young guy who was trying to get cell service to call for a ride. He had ridden over from Waterton, and didn't have it in him to even start back up that 3-mile-plus climb to get home. I put my shoes on, and headed uphill, wondering if I was going to make it, myself.
The next 10 miles of singletrack were something of a blur. I climbed that first huge hill, and my legs were done. My stomach was rebelling, and I couldn't eat anything I had with me, so I began pushing the bike up even the small inclines, and only riding the "flats" and descents.
At 7:00 pm, 12 hours after leaving the house, I was at the top of the hill which leads down into the canyon. I was so relieved to be back in the Denver area, I almost cried. I started down the hill, and rode a nice steady pace down the switchbacks, until I hit the road through the canyon.
I passed the dam at about 25 mph (downhill, with the wind at my back), and they were releasing water through the pipes. That cools the air in the immediate area by about 25 degrees, and the cool moist air cleared my head a little bit. I think I might have actually smiled.
About 4 miles down the canyon, I caught up to an emaciated little fox who was trotting down the road. Oddly, he didn't run away when he saw me, but ran in circles until I was beside him, then turned toward me. I was still moving at about 20 mph, and I didn't slow down until I reached a guy and gal hiking toward me. I warned them of the fox's odd behavior (we just had two people bitten by a rabid fox in Denver, this week), and they decided to turn around.
I finally reached the parking lot at the end of the canyon at 7:25 pm. I still had 21 miles to go, but, at tleast, the wind would be with me.
I called Carol, to tell her I was still alive. She worries when I am out of cellphone range all day, on these rides. As I talked to her, she asked if I wanted her to pick me up. She was only about 5 miles away, leaving the field where Colin had just played ball. I assured her that I was able to get home, on my own.
As I spoke with her, my stomach hurt more and more. Finally, I realized that I would not make it home if I tried to ride it out, tailwind or no tailwind. So, at mile 84, 12 and ahalf hours in, I did the unimaginable and pulled the plug on the ride.
Carol drove down to the canyon to pick me up, and took this picture of me when she got there:
This morning, I rode over to the coffee shop for a cuppa and a scone. The first tenth of a mile was excruciating, but the legs loosened up on the way.
Yesterday's failed 100-miler was, without a doubt, the hardest ride I have done in at least 15 years, if not ever. So, even though I didn't reach the 100-mile mark, I can't be totally disappointed. I gave it my all and, under the conditions, I'm almost proud of the ride.
Next time, hopefully, the wind won't be so evil and I will actually complete the 100 miles.