I was feeling a bit sporty this morning, and got on the road at 630 dressed in full warmers and vest. The cool mountain air was purely exhilarating – as was the fact that my early departure completely avoided all the construction traffic. [Colorado DOT is completely repaving the north side of Berthoud pass, and the daytime traffic jams are not pretty.] After the initial 8-10% climb from the valley floor, it kicked back to a steady 5-6% grade all the way to the summit. I arrived feeling pretty good, talked to a hardcore cyclist who used to be from Duluth, MN, and then rolled into the descent. Being pretty early in the day, I passed through some bracing spots of refrigerator-like shade, and then back into the sun: thawing out in like 30 seconds.
After about 7 miles of exceeding the speed limit on glorious pavement, I got to the final hairpin and pulled off for a snack. The return climb didn’t have the steep faces of the north side, but simply ascended steadily at about 300 feet per mile. Coasting into the parking lot at the summit while exclaiming the words HOLY CRAP three or four times, I was high-fived by a person I’d never met. WHAT A CONFIDENCE BUILDER. I’m stronger than I’ve ever been on the bike, and super pleased to feel ready for the Copper Triangle on Saturday.
It’s probably worth mentioning that we’re still working hard at acclimating. It’s easy to get rubber legs in the first few days, and feel out of breath. Staying hydrated is a huge big deal, as well as eating lean protein, low carb meals with plenty of fresh fruit and veggies. At least in theory, much less taxing on the body’s energy resources than a diet of, say, spam and ice cream.