We had decided the previous day to attend the morning festivities at 7am, and woke up in time. But for some reason, we didn't go. When we were ready to leave, I discoverd that we had left some stuff at the hotel room. So we rode over there to pick up my water bottles filled with Gatorade, and my sunglasses. That added about 3.5 miles to our ride.
The first part of the ride was deceptively easy climbing. We could barely even tell that we were gaining elevation. My dad had started ahead of us. So Bruce and I were riding together. We caught a paceline for about 10 miles. Whee! I had never drafted behind someone, so it took a little getting used to. But it worked. I never pulled, and the paceline gave me an additional about 2 mph of speed. It was great! Several other people also joined the line; it was a nice pace. We were all excited by the time we reached the aid station at how well we were doing.
I was surprised at the diversity of bikes, people etc. There were tandems, mountain bikes, hybrids, recumbent bikes and trikes. Lots of kids too, aged as young as 11. There were lots of father-son and father-daughter teams on tandems. They were good too. There was one 14-year-old girl who smiled sweetly at me, as she passed me quite easily on an ascent. It was starting to get to me.
Bruce dropped me on the next climb. It wasn't bad, but he was just a whole lot stronger. I set my own pace, latching on to different people along the way just to have someone to pace myself by. I caught up with Bruce just as he was leaving the next aid station. On his advice, I went to check out the burrito place for lunch.
Lizard Head Burrito was one of the businesses selling riders lunch. A little girl with a big voice and cowboy hat was standing outside the canopy calling to people to come on in. Lizard Head Burrito was voted best burrito in town by locals and visitors, we were informed.
So I grabbed my burrito, refilled my bottles with Gatorade, and settled down for a hearty lunch. It turned into a nice 45 minute break. I needed it for the next 12 miles to Lizard Head Pass.
Those 12 miles were in three sections of increasing grade. The first two were doable. I kept a decent pace, and felt good. I managed to stay in my second chainring and still spin my way up.
The last three miles, I died. It was the steepest section of the climb. I was down into my granny gear. I stopped, and took a three minute break. I felt better and got back on my bike and started climbing. 100 feet later, I stopped again. I just couldn't do it. I took a two minute break. By this time, my Dad caught up with me (I had passed him after Rico). We struggled our way up for a while, but I dropped him soon. Once I realized how slowly I had to go, it was better. I managed to finally make it to Lizard Head Pass.
Appa came in while I rested. We got some pictures, took some pictures, and generally felt good about our accomplishment. We saw a storm approaching, so we decided to leave. It was a fairly steep descent. I was hitting 34 mph just coasting. There was supposed to be another small climb. I saw one coming, and climbed it up thinking, that wasn't so bad.
It turned out that wasn't it. The climb was further ahead. It was a three mile section uphill. When I got to it, I was a goner. Every little hill was forcing me into my lowest gear. It was a cruel joke, this extra climb. I stopped twice to recover. I finally found someone at my pace (4 mph). When he stopped, I gave him a rest, and I set the pace while he followed. I think I dropped him the last 500 feet.
After that, we were screaming downhill again. As we approached Telluride, we turned off onto a bike trail. There were some very minor climbs, but they still slowed me down quite a bit.
I finally made it into Telluride, to cheering crowds of volunteers, and my family. Net stats: 80 miles, riding average speed of 11.2 mph. I had started at 7:15am and finished at 4:30pm.
In Telluride, we were wiped out. It was starting to get really cold. We decided not to camp. My dad had a luxurious hotel, so we would sleep there instead. For dinner, we wandered around. Found some decent pizza, but I couldn't eat much. Later, at the hotel room, I had a little of what my mom had cooked, but that was it. Not nearly enough calories. I wonder how I'll feel tomorrow.