Black Hawk was scheduled to get a round of snow on Thursday afternoon, so I decided to squeeze in a ride before it arrived. It was 38 and cloudy- not usually weather I’d ride in, but I wanted to test out the “dry cold” of the mountains to see if I could extend my own limits of personal comfort. The route Jon gave me was ~30miles and about 50-50 dirt vs. pavement. The dirt roads here might as well be pavement. They’re graded and sealed to well that, aside from the occasional brake bumps, you can’t tell the difference beneath your tires.
The first part of the ride went by quickly because it was mostly downhill. It got chilly, and I did end up stopping halfway to put on an extra layer, but the view the whole way was astounding… basically par for the course any time you leave the house when you’re in the mountains.
Soon, the road pitched upwards on Highway 72. I am a slow climber at altitude. Sooooo slooooooow. The road wasn’t busy, but the “Colorado pass” that drivers have perfected takes some getting used to. They’re accustomed to cyclists, and none of them passed too closely, but they seem to have nailed an exact 3-foot buffer at about 30 mph… frightening at first, but not bad once you realize that they seem to know what they’re doing.
With weather rolling in, the top of the climb was in the clouds. I was gassed and a little shaken by the fact that I was in the clouds and didn’t have enough light on my bike to feel like I was visible. Then, I heard music…
Take this photo in just a little. It’s cold, the fog is thick, and you’ve just climbed ~1000ft up a road to the parking lot of a Mexican restaurant that feels like it’s in the middle of nowhere. Now, listen to this…
I couldn’t help but laugh a little as I zipped up all my layers and headed back downhill. Luckily, the descent was fast, and, as I thought about Pina Coladas, I was able to match the posted speed limit and worry slightly less about cars. I made the turn to go back up Gap road towards Hwy 119, and, just as the climb started to get meaty, I saw this sign, and had to take a picture.
I smiled the rest of the way up, mostly on my lowest gear. I can’t even begin to explain how amazing it is here. The temperature dropped while I was out, and, even though I had “enough” clothing, I was still chilled, miserable, and a little exhausted when I arrived back at home base. It was the greatest chilled/miserable/exhausted I’ve ever experienced, though.
After some food and coffee, I went to the shop and started a killer build on a Mach 4 (and finished it Friday morning, after the snow came through).
Twenty three pounds of awesome.
It feels great to be back in a shop again.