Biking the highest road in north america (and more training)

I kept feeling like getting back into shape after my surgery was going to be hard. This last week I have proven to myself that I’ve still got it.

Back in 2009, I ended up getting suckered in by my girlfriend at that time to volunteer for the Bob Cook memorial hill climb, a bike race from Idaho springs (elevation 7,500′) to the Mount Evans parking lot just below the summit (elevation 14,130′), climbing the highest paved road in the USA, beating out the pikes peak parking lot by 15 feet. I remember thinking that was insane to race all the way up there, but that I could probably do it. At that time, I had owned a crappy schwinn mountain bike that was stolen on campus (the second bike that had been stolen while at CSU). I almost exclusively used it for commuting to school, so I figured when it got stolen, why should I get another mountain bike. I found a old steel centurion le mans road bike, and decided that I wanted to get into biking shape, I rode that bike for two years, then sold it to a friend when I decided I wanted a newer lighter road bike and bought myself my Cannondale synapse alloy in 2011.

With my PT going well, and being cleared to bike and finally to run last week, I wanted to see what I was capable of. Other than a ride last Sunday around town (approx. 40 miles), I haven’t really ridden my road bike since last fall before my shoulder started acting up. When my friend Jason told me about his plans to ride the Mount Evans road, I told him I was in. Even if I didn’t finish it, I would just go along for the effort. I had one week to get ready.

I started my running training this week too. After that Sunday ride, I ran on Tuesday, and walked on Wednesday and Thursday to clear the lactic acid build up. Then Saturday morning came, and before I knew it, I was at Echo Lake (approx. 10.650′). As I started out, I noticed that my front derailleur was jacked up. Somehow between the Sunday ride and yesterday, it has been cracked and pinched. We quickly ghetto rigged it to so that I didn’t have any chain rub in my lowest gear, which I was going to spend most of the climb in.

As we climbed the first few miles to the Mount Goliath parking area, my legs already started to burn, and my muscles felt stiff. After a quick stretch, we climbed back on our bikes to start for the second checkpoint, Summit Lake (approx. 12.850). The second section felt much easier than the first, and my gearing felt fine in the one gear I was limited to. My legs loosened up, and when we stopped at the lake, I just stretched quickly, ate a candy bar, and kept going. The last section felt the easiest and yet the hardest. My legs felt great, but I could feel the altitude. I just kept a steady pace and before I knew it, I was at the parking lot at the top. For kicks, we hiked our bikes to the true summit of Mount Evans (14,265′) and took a few obligatory photos.

The ride down was awesome; however the two guys I was with didn’t enjoy it as much. The freeze cracks in the road were pretty bad, and their bikes were more setup for racing vs. mine being setup for commuting and comfort. At a few points, my bike computer registered 39-40 miles per hour on the downhill side, and just after noon, we made it back to the car. It was an awesome morning, and proved to myself I still have what it takes. I don’t think I’ll be doing the official bike race anytime soon; however I think I will try it again, starting at Idaho springs. Jason half joked about starting from Denver next time, taking the road from Morrison to evergreen to echo lake via squaw pass. Maybe, just maybe.

I’ll be spending the next 8 weeks training for my half marathon, shooting for a 2 hour run. I’ll be following this plan for the most part – http://rw.runnersworld.com/challenge/plans/half/break-200.pdf . I have a few fun trips planned in the next two months too.

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Posted in Alpine, Biking, Planning and Prep

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