1998 Ride the Rockies Reports from the Field, Day Three

Tuesday, June 23 - Granby to Steamboat Springs

80 Miles - 3500 Feet of Climbing
Report Posted on 24 June 1998

The frost on my tent was thick and the air was cold at 5 am when I emerged dressed for the ride. I woke up at about 4:30 visited the toilet truck and in the blackness of my tent put on my sunscreen and my riding clothes. It is my morning ritual. When it is cold, as it was this morning, I'll head off to breakfast in the high school to eat and wait for the sun to melt the frost or ice off my tent.

Dan Contemplates Rabbit Ears

At breakfast I was joined by Mike, Jeremy, Dan, and Lou. Unfortunately Dan has been sick these last few days. He's not at all sure he'll ride today. He doesn't look too great either. Mike has had similar complaints but his, it seems, is not quite as severe. Today's ride put both of their constitutions to the test. Jacks reserves were also tested today since he rode without breakfast because they had simply run out of food by 6 am.

The story of the day it seemed was head winds and pace lines. An overblown story from my point of view. Sure we had head winds but for the vast majority of the distance we covered we also had gravity working for us to counteract the wind. That meant that working alone against the wind I was averaging 17 mph. Which is slightly faster than I'd normally go on a flat road with no wind. Head winds, yes. Big deal, no.

Biking in pace lines during Ride the Rockies is like Midwestern weather. You're never quite sure what it will do next. People jump on and off pace lines as they snake in and out of a maze of slower cyclists and faster cars and trucks. There are pace lines of experienced cyclists and there are teams of those. If you're lucky they'll like the way you look and invite you to join them. There are also slower and more social pace lines where a few extra inches are allowed between tires and the conversation is friendly and filled with humor.

Rabbit Ears, Jack, and Muddy Pass

The best pace lines consist of three people, one of which you have biked with before. Jack is especially good at getting a third to join the two of us. In a pace line such as this, you get to talk to some one new and you know that they won't let you fall off or work too hard. When a serious wind makes the going tough, this is the best way to travel. I also enjoy getting picked up by a twosome. Especially two cyclists that know each other. It is easy to fall into their well rehearsed rhythm. Today, however, too many cyclists combined with too much traffic to make me weary of pace lines altogether.

Adam and Evan enjoyed life in the pace line today. By doing so they slowly gained on me throughout the day but fell behind when they lingered at aid station four. They discovered, as we all did, that this was another tough day to get food. The aid stations were anything but aid to the bonk bound cyclist. Dan, Jack, and I toughed it out and climbed to the Rabbit Ears summit to find all kinds of food. From fajitas to vegi rollups the food was good and the lines were short.

The best part of the day was the descent from Rabbit Ears pass to Steamboat Springs. It was a trip that made you feel like a kid at an amusement park with a pass for unlimited rides. Traffic was light when we headed down and although there were some rough spots, the road was mostly smooth. It was also long. Just when you thought that your head was going to fall off because your neck has decided that has had enough of holding it in one position, a sign appears indicating that there is four more miles of steep downhill to go.

Evan found a pace line even on the downhill, racing another cyclist to the bottom. Each trading the lead and softening the head wind for each other in turn. Even so, Mike and Jeremy had the fastest descent of the day as is to be expected when you ride a tandem on a downhill with only a few soft turns.

Tomorrow we rest. Although Dan completed the ride he is still feeling ill and needs a day off, maybe two. Jack made it though with little food and he too is ready to take a day off. Lou's feeling saddle sore and I don't have a clue. Strangely enough, I'm having thoughts of another visit to the Rabbit Ears Pass amusement park but the entry fee is one heck of a climb.

Joseph King

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Day One, Day Two, Day Three, Day Four, Day Five, or Day Six.

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