This morning was a bit foggy and real chilly. We did our chores, had breakfast, and did our dedication circle in the hotel parking lot. Today was dedicated to Roberta Landy, who is a breast cancer survivor since 2011. Because it was so early, we had to do our cheer much quieter than normal.
Teams were separated by athletic wear. Sarah, Steph Kos, Linnea, Katie, Rachel and I were LuLu Lemon. We departed a little after 7 am, beginning a climb at mile 3 on a sandy, gravel road. It was not fun.
But the rest of the day was pretty amazing. There was a lot of gorgeous scenery and huge downhills. We rode along the Colorado River for much of the ride, which was amazing. We passed a lot of docking areas and trucks with rafts and kayaks – we were super jealous of everyone going downriver.
At mile 20, there was a large 7 mile climb. It was hot and steep and a little unexpected after yesterday’s huge ascent into the clouds. No one was really expecting another 7,000 foot ascent after yesterday. But we powered through it and got to enjoy an awesome downhill. At this point, the mountains started turning into cliffs and canyons, reminding me a lot of the Grand Canyon, but with a lot more green. Rocks protruded out of the ground at angles, tiered with different shades of red and brown. On our way to lunch, we crossed over the Colorado River (which we would do many more times). I asked Sarah how cold she thought the water was and she said, “I don’t know, let’s find out.” So we pulled over, ran down to the water, and felt how absolutely freezing it was. But it was also hot outside. So after about 5 minutes of hanging out and getting ready to go, I gave in. I took off my shoes and shirt and walked into the freezing water one painful step at a time. Sarah joined me. Here on the 4K, we also play a game called “Chances” where you ask what the chances are someone will do something. They then say 1 in however much, and then on three, they both say a number in between that range. If they say the same number, the person has to do it. So Linnea asked what the chances were I would completely submerge. And I said 1 in 5 (I kinda wanted to, actually). On the count of three, we both said three. So I dunked myself under and came up screaming. It was cold.
We got back on our bikes and continued to lunch, which was right on the river. We ate and swam some more, relaxing and taking in the sun. It was awesome to hang out by the water, as cold as it was, and finally enjoy time on the road.
After lunch, we rode into Glenwood Canyon, following a bike trail that wove under Interstate 70, the Colorado River, and the canyon walls. It was probably the most beautiful and fun bike trail I’ve ever been on.
We also ran into some obstacles which made the day even more exciting. First, we approached a bunch of guys going down the currents in “creature” rafts – basically rafts with an inflatable cage all around the center seat, so if capsized, the person would remain above the water. In order to follow them downstream, though, we had to trapeze over wooden planks. You see, about three sections of the cement walkway had fallen into the river, leaving nothing but shaky, unstable boards to get over. Later, we ran into huge piles of tree trunks and sticks. A man informed us that recently, the river flooded, reaching levels much higher than the bike trail. Further along, we reached a gate, padlocked, saying “Bike trail closed for the season.” Since we were in a canyon, and the only other way through was the Interstate, which is never an option, we carried our bikes over the fence and then climbed ourselves over.We hit a couple other gates just like this one a few miles down the trail, and simply ignored them. This was the only way through and we were down for a little adventure. To add on, we passed a man walking his cat on a leash (in the middle of this amazing canyon, mind you) and Sarah almost hit a bird.
Right around 5 pm, we rolled into Glenwood Springs, instantly hit in the face with horrendous smells of sulfur. The town itself is really cute, plopped right in the middle of the mountains. With no showers at our host, we were forced to be creative. We did not want to pay $15 for showers at the local pool, so Lauren, Holden, Adam, and I found a hose. A washed ourselves right out front of the church. #4KOK
San Fran 2013 alum Abby is visiting for a little tonight! She lives in Denver, so isn’t too far away! Yay!
By the way, today is one of my favorite days thus far. Trail Ridge was so much fun and so rewarding yesterday, but today was just amazing. Not only did we overcome mountains, but we had beautiful scenery and weather the entire way. Our riding group was so perfect; everyone fun, strong, and down for adventure. I feel like after the Appalachians (which no one was really trained for) and the boring flats of Kansas, this is where the fun begins. We are no longer chasing the sun; we are enjoying our rides and taking in all of our surroundings. I’m already planning on coming back.