Prologue: Colorado Bike Tour

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The Allure of the Rockies.

It may be that allure has trumped good sense, but I’m about to embark on a seven day, 460 mile cycling tour. The Colorado Rocky Mountain Bike Tour leaves from Loveland, CO on Sunday morning, and makes a loop through Estes Park, Golden, Winter Park and Steamboat Springs in six days of riding. Our day off will be in Steamboat – home to some fabulous hot springs in which to soak my weary bones.

We spent 5 days in Winter Park to get acclimated. The days have been filled with hiking and touring above 11,000 feet and three short, but intense, rides. The most notable ride was the 10.6 mile climb that gained 2666′ to the summit of Berthoud Pass. I rolled to the 11,300′ summit with a victory fist thrust into the air. It was challenging, but not terribly hard…a true confidence builder, and a worthy way to christen the Black Pearl. The 35 mph descent was a hoot. I blew past our lodging at the ski area and met Deb and Eleora for ice cream in town.

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Berthoud is the first CAT 1 climb I’ve ever done. [In international climb ratings there’s only one harder rating: HC, or above category] I’m pleased to say that I felt strong enough to take the climb in  a single effort without any rest breaks. The key continues to be controlling heart rate by using higher gearing and lower cadence. In high altitude cycling it’s very easy to get out of breath and burn-out on the bigger climbs. The gory details are posted here.

A final 40 miler will take me 10 miles into Rocky Mountain National park before returning to the town of Grand Lake. After a day in Denver to breathe some THICK air, on Sunday we head to the start for a 630 am rider briefing and first day’s ride.

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