ROAD TO LEADVILLE: TGIF
Friday July 30, 2010 – With a jam packed day off the bike, I woke up to the iphone Timba ringtone at 445am, which felt too early. The usual cup ‘o joe and a crazy diced mini-bagel French toast topped with the last of our artificially flavored maple syrup, yogurt, applesauce and rice crispies extravaganza and I was out the door and driving east on Highway 50. I parked about 25 miles from the summit of Monarch Pass, took a quick picture – check it out – and began pedaling toward the pass at 555am. Nice start!
I was riding my MTB because my road bike had some issues that I couldn’t solve before the ride, plus, my MTB gearing is much friendlier. I pumped up the tires to 50 psi. That’s the pressure I used to race with all the time. I raced a lot in the late 90’s with Panaracer Mach SS’s pumped up to a robust 50 psi. Does anyone remember that tire? I think it defined semi-slick and Stan’s Crow is a burly mud tire in comparison. Good times.
2.5 hours of AMU was the goal of today’s ride. My plan was to spend 10 minutes in each of the five HR zones on the flats leading up to the beginning of the climb; likely go harder for the climb, which would take about 50 minutes, also; and then 50 minutes more on the flats back to our super blinged out ’98 Ford Explorer (way to bling to photograph; I don’t want it to get stolen!) A warm-up before and a cool-down after and I should have a three hour ride.
The morning was killer and there was little traffic on the road. There is a good shoulder on 50 until you get close to the base of the pass. At that point and for the first bit of the climb there is no shoulder and it’s sketchballs. Once you’re a ways up the pass, it becomes a three lane and the comfort level increases dramatically. Another good reason to go early is barely any traffic. There was a cloud layer hanging in so the no shoulder portion of the lower climb was actually double sketchballs because I had to ride through this layer of poor visibility. I rode off to the side for this part as a few posses of trucks hauling uranium ore from Nucla to a mill in Canon City thundered by. Skewy!
I finally broke through the fog and then just had a couple moments where I was riding directly, and I mean directly, into the rising sun and I was pinned to the road by a guardrail. If a car had been coming up from behind, I would have been very hard to see. I hammered through this section thinking about our old Diamond Back teammate from Italy, Claudio Vandelli.
I got to hang around with him a good bit in the Bay Area during the spring of ’91. He spoke little English and I spoke even less Italian and the main thing we could do was to insult each other using our only common point of reference: Happy Days. “You? Ralph Malph.” Anyway, one thing he would say about a sketchy trail or section of a race course, and we repeat it often in a variety of contexts was, “Much Danger.” Vandelli was on the Italian team that won a gold medal in the Olympics in the Team Time Trial in…1988, perhaps? He’s more famous to me for winning the ’91 San Jose Sizzler, Shasta Lehmurian Classic and kicking ass in either the first or second Sea Otter on….Hostess fruit pies! Tell me about your special breakfast before a bike race!
Man, I can get pretty off topic, eh? My ride today was great. Actually, I don’t like this ride and dread doing it. It’s kind of like lifting weights for me: I don’t really like to do it but I love being done with it and having done it. Here are the basic stats, Data: Average HR not including the descent down Monarch: 149; average HR with this descent: 146. Total climbing: 3,500+ feet; elevation at the top of the pass: 11,300 feet above sea level.
Oh yeah, I also split the time 50/50 between spinning at around 100rpm’s and slogging along at around 60rpm’s. Tomorrow will be little or no riding but there is a trip to the weight room in my day somewhere. The other pics are downtown Gunnison at 530am and the same spot as the first pic but after my ride at around 9am.