When it’s All Said and Done

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The view of the Never Summer Range from Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park

Vacations come to an end. As much as I love them, the itch to come home and get back into a familiar routine finally outweighs the desire to be gone. We have 18 hours before the bikemobile is loaded and pointed east for the 20 hour drive back to northern Minnesota. There’s a certain bittersweet, [Let’s give a shout-out to Big Head Todd and the Monsters], finality that comes with pre-packing and organizing our stuff to take down to the car.

It’s been a momentous journey. I’ve been scribbling on a rough draft for five days, trying to capture the extra-large experience of the Copper Triangle. Three passes and 6560′ of climbing qualify this as both a classic and a lifetime ride. Suffice to say that a top 100 finish in a field of 2500 riders was something to write home about. I still can’t quite believe it…a 55 year old flat-lander preacher from Minnesota? I’ve heard that under many mountain passes lie the bodies of mid-westerners.

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Sinuous line and great pavement on Willow Crk Pass

Equally large in it’s quietness was Willow Creek Pass – a glistening ride through alpine meadows far off the beaten path. And the long descents? My technique is pretty dialed, and I’m relatively calm and composed rolling along at 40-45 mph. Hairpin turns that double back on themselves are a hoot: a rider can get a little dizzy before the road opens up again to straight pavement .

The large disappointment was not having opportunity to ride to 14,000 feet on the Mt Evans auto road. Bad weather descended this morning…and you just can’t mess with high altitude mountain weather. There are sections of road where a lone cyclist can be blown over the edge into a boulder field strewn with small bits of bikes and shreds of rider clothing. And…truthfully, I’m a little cooked after 10 days of hard riding at high altitude. Everything – I mean EVERYTHING – climbs at 200-300 feet per mile around these parts.

So, when it’s all said and done, I rode 312 miles, climbed 25,713 feet over seven mountain passes. When I lamented not reaching my 32K climbing goal because of today’s cancelled ride, my dear wife reminded me of something endurance athletes ought to take to heart and repeat often:

Don’t think about what you didn’t do…focus on what you DID.

Wood-fired pizza, a couple of beers and the new Mission Impossible movie will close out our final evening in this slice of mountain paradise. Then will come the hypnotic hours of watching the white lines until we arrive home and reunite with our bright and beautiful daughter.

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